I got a bit of sobering news for you today. You might think that your #1 DJ asset is your crazy mixing skills, your music collection or maybe even your connections with promoters. Wrong. Your #1 asset is your hearing – because without it, there’s not much you can do as a DJ.
Unfortunately, the club environment isn’t your hearing’s best friend. The music is pounding on the dancefloor, the monitors in the DJ booth add up to the noise level, and you have to really crank up the volume in your headphones just to hear anything.
All that can lead to temporary, and then permanent hearing loss, which is a very real danger for a DJ. (Ever had that ringing in your ears after a party?) And let me tell you that losing your hearing, even temporarily, is no fun. Just go watch the “It’s All Gone Pete Tong” movie.
There are three characteristics of the sound that determine how negative its impact on your hearing is. Those are duration, intensity (i.e. loudness) and frequency. High frequencies for a long duration are harmful even at moderate levels. Any frequencies are harmful at high levels, let alone for prolonged periods of time.
So here is what you can do to protect yourself from hearing loss.
Turn it down! Music is supposed to be loud in a club, but at least you’re in control of the monitors in the DJ booth. Turn them down a bit, and you also won’t have to make your headphones so loud. It’s a win-win.
Get headphones with good isolation. Good DJ headphones do a good job blocking outside sounds, so you don’t have to turn up their volume as much. That makes them much easier on your ears.
Use earplugs. No, I’m not talking those 3M bedtime earplugs here. Look for professional musician earplugs that attenuate the music evenly and still let you hear it clearly.
Get magnesium supplements. Some studies have shown that regular intake of magnesium helps prevent hearing loss caused by noise exposure. I’m no medical authority though so do talk to your doctor first.
Finally, here’s one thing about hearing loss: When you start noticing it, it’s usually too late. So start protecting your #1 DJ asset today.
How do you go about protecting your hearing? Do you use earplugs? Chime in in the comment section below.
JM has played open-air gigs, shared the stage with the likes of ATB and had mix albums released commercially. He has been teaching DJing since 2008.
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