jrmasteringsmall

5 sound engineer prevent tinnitus

Millions of people suffer from tinnitus.  A new study shows around 10% of the U.S. population suffers from it in some form, but many have never even heard of it until they get it!  Unfortunately, I was one of those people.  It can happen quickly and it lasts a lifetime... 

 

As a sound engineer, your hearing is your most important asset.  It's critical that you protect it for as long as possible.  In this section, I will discuss the causes and prevention of tinnitus, and general safety practices that will help you keep your ears healthy.

 

What Is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is the constant hearing of a sound when there is no sound present. 
Some describe it as a ringing sound, a hiss, or a high pitched tone.  The sound is continual, and it varies from one tinnitus suffer to another.

 

How Is Tinnitus Caused?
Tinnitus is caused by either a single extremely loud sound or by loud sounds over a period of time. 
I know a military vet who got severe tinnitus from the sound of jets taking off in close proximity.  Another guy I know got it from a single bomb explosion that was right next to him.  Listening to loud music at a concert or club, if you're in a band, if you play music loud on your iPod, or monitoring music very loud as a sound engineer, over a period of time any of these scenarios could cause tinnitus.  If you cut grass for a living and don't wear earplugs, I would imagine that could eventually cause it too.

It can also be caused by prescription drugs in the benzodiazepine family or even by over the counter drugs like ibuprofen.  I heard of a man who got severe tinnitus from MSG in Chinese food.  The cook made a mistake and loaded it up heavy with MSG.

 

How Did I Get My Tinnitus And How Did It Sound?
I got tinnitus in 1999, working on one of my very first mastering projects the day I opened my studio, JR mastering.
  At that time, I needed to listen to the songs much longer than I do now because of my lack of experience, and I listened to them WAY too loud. 

I was reviewing my final masters at a high volume level (105-110 dbs) for about 30 minutes non-stop.  When I was finished I didn't really notice anything.  But, when night time came I could hear a high-pitched tone.  It sounded like a 40db test tone @ 5k.  I could hear the tone in both ears, but my right ear was twice as bad as my left.  The first few days it was hard for me to sleep because I kept thinking about this sound.  The sound was also very annoying when sitting outside in a quiet area.

 

Is There A Cure For Tinnitus?
No.  There are many pills and snake oil products online, but I have never heard of a valid cure.
  But, experts say it gets better over time as long as you don't make it worse.

The first few months I suffered from tinnitus, I would say it was very annoying at night but not too bad during the day.  It did not effect my sound engineering.  After six months, it improved about 25%.  After a year, roughly 50%.  Now, many years later, I would say I have maybe 20% of the original tinnitus I got in 1999 (an 80% improvement).  It's pretty much gone because it was a mild case of tinnitus to begin with.

 

Can You Mix And Master Music With Tinnitus?
Mine was not severe, so it did not hinder me at all.  The noise I heard was a 40db loud test tone @ 5k (at a narrow range).  I started doing my initial mixing and mastering at around 85dbs, so the tinnitus tone was pretty much masked (drowned out).  Its kind of like when someone records mic hiss.  You can hear it when the music stops, but when the guitars are playing you can't hear it at all because the hiss is being masked.

Singer Phil Collins retired because of his tinnitus.  Bono also has very severe tinnitus that greatly affects his everyday life.  If your tinnitus is very severe like those two, I'm sure your sound engineering skills would be greatly affected.

 

How To Prevent Tinnitus In Everyday Life
Always use hearing protection (earplugs)
when at a concert or a club playing loud music, when cutting grass, when using a blower or electric power tools, and for sure when shooting a gun.  Any situation where a continuous 100db sound is present. 

Also, don't listen to music over 100dbs for long periods of time.  OSHA recommends no more than 1 hour @ 105dbs.  I would NEVER go more than 20 minutes straight at 105dbs, if that.  Also, be careful with ibuprofen and prescription drugs.

 

How Loud Is Too Loud When Mixing And Mastering?
Well,
105-110dbs for 30 minutes straight was too loud for me.  I had tinnitus at the end of the 30-minute session!  Everyone is different, so I don't want to give you specific sound ranges and upper limits.  All I can tell you is what gave me tinnitus, and what's worked for me to improve my tinnitus 80% since 1999.

 

How To Protect Your Hearing As A Sound Engineer

THE GUINEA PIG EXPERIMENT
I read a study online where a scientist exposed guinea pigs to extremely loud music.  The results were that the guinea pigs who listened to extremely loud music continuously, say for 30 minutes, had severe structural damage to their internal ears. 

The guinea pigs who listened to the same extremely loud 30 minutes of music, but it was not continuous (roughly 2 minutes of music and then a 2 minute break), the damage to their internal ears was FAR LESS severe compared to the first group. 

Now remember, both groups listened to music the same total time (30 minutes).  But, continuous listening was far more damaging than intermittent listening.

 

The Rules I Follow During Music Mixing And Mastering
I initially mix and master at a lower level.  I keep levels around 80-90dbs.  I listen 10-15 minutes at these levels, then take a 5-minute break.  I will do this for between 2-4 hours, then I take a full two-hour break.

When it comes time for the finalization (loud listening @ 105-110dbs) I NEVER go more than 2-3 minutes continuous and I pretty much split time.  If I listen to loud music for 5 minutes, I take a 5 minute break before starting up again.

Above is what I've doing since 1999 and it works for me.  Maybe you can go 100dbs for 8 hours a day and never have a problem, but I'm not risking it.  105-110dbs for 30 minutes continuous ruined my ears pretty good, and I had to make sure they didn't get any worse. 

Tinnitus isn't fun.  I might be going overboard a bit with my silence rests, but it's working for me.  Better safe than sorry with tinnitus because it lasts A LIFETIME!


The Music Production Secrets Serie
by John Rogers

  

My Best Mixing & Mastering Articles

Top 20 Audio Mastering Tips, Techniques, And FAQ
 
 

 

 

 

 

Here are the top 20 audio mastering tips, questions, and answers that I've been asked over the years.

 

 

Read more ...
How Much Should I Charge For Mastering?

I've mastered over 40,000 songs since 1999.  I've charged $10 a song, $20, $30, $50 even $100!  Some prices worked better than others.  Here are a few facts to consider when deciding on what prices to charge.

Read more ...
Best Mixing Levels Before Mastering

set mixing level meters

Correctly setting your mixing levels before mastering is essential for great mastering results.  Having the best DB levels for mixing is critical.  Here's how to properly do it! 

 

Read more ...
What Is Reverb Effect In Music | How To Use Reverb

This article discusses what is the reverb effect in music and how to use it?  The reverb effect is used to simulate space. When reverb is applied to a dry vocal or instrument track, it will sound like it was recorded live in the space size that was selected on the processor. Common space size options include a small room, vocal plate, large hall, etc.

 

Read more ...
Mid Side EQ In Mastering

This is a quick video on how a mid-side processor works, and how to check the stereo field of your mix using a mid-side processor equalizer.

 

Read more ...
Should Your Mix Sound Close To A Mastered Song?

13 mix sound like master

Note - This section is basically a tip for those of you working with clients or if you plan on submitting your mixes to a mastering engineer.

 

Read more ...
#1 Best Website Hosting For Musicians, And Music Recording Studios

If you're looking for the best website hosting for musicians, bands, and music recording studios, here's my own personal experience with website hosting companies.

 

Read more ...
Mastering Compression Techniques

This video shows one of the more imptotant compression techniques I use in audio mastering.  In my audio Mastering Secrets Video Series, I explain everything you need to know about audio mastering.

 

Read more ...
Which Is Better For Audio Mastering Analog Gear Or Digital Software Plugins?

18 analog digital equipment

I started my career using the old analog stuff, since that was the only option.  I incorporated digital software plugins as soon as they became available, but it took many years before computers were fast enough to run them in realtime.  And also before they started making very high quality plugins. 

 

Read more ...
John Rogers - Danceur Magazine Interview (July 2018)

Since the begining of his solo career in 2008, I mastered over 80 songs with the top French recording artist NYLS.  Great pop dance music with a lot of remixes.  During his entire career (as of now), I mastered most of if not all the song he released.  It was a great pleasure working with NYLS and Nico at Icon Records!

Read more ...
What Does Channel Mean In Music And Mixing?

It's the most basic of all questions, but someone asks it at least once a week.  In this article, I will explain what channel means in music and mixing

 

Read more ...
What Does Mastering Do To A Song?

10 what is audio mastering

What does mastering do to a song?  Your main goal in audio mastering is to replicate the sonic qualities of a well professionally mastered commercial song, in the same genre and style as the song mix you are working on.

 

Read more ...
Stereo Widening Techniques | How To Use Stereo Widening In Mastering Music

Here are a few great stereo widening techniques and how to use them in music.  When you listen to music on a car radio, you want that wide stereo sound that extends from the left door to the right. Not just two feet wide right above the stereo!

 

Read more ...
Can You Master A Song That's Already Been Mastered?
Can I master a song that's already been mastered?  Yes!  Every month I master songs that have already been mastered.  Read more....
 
Read more ...
Mastering A Song For Radio

14 song ready for radio

Here's another popular question I see online, always with the wrong answer! "There's no such thing as radio ready mastering!"  REALLY?  Read more....

 

Read more ...
My First Music Video!

Here's the first music video I directed, Mahalin Muli by JAI, released on July 10th, 2018.  I also wrote more than half of the script. 

Read more ...
How To Prepare Your Songs For Mixing
prepare songs for mixing

In this article, I'll show you how to prepare your songs for mixing.

 

Read more ...
Why Does A Mix Need Headroom And Dynamic Range?

16 why do songs need mastering

Why does a mix need headroom and dynamic range?  In one sentence, it gives the mastering engineer more room to work with.
 

Read more ...
What Is Headroom In Mastering?

15 what is headroom in mastering

In order to produce a good master, a mix needs proper headroom and dynamic range.

Read more ...
How Much Headroom Before Mastering Should I Leave?

mastering headroom

How much headroom before mastering should you leave in your mix?  Here's the correct amount of headroom you should leave, using detailed graphic examples.

Read more ...
What's The Difference Between Mixing And Mastering

8 difference between mixing mastering

What's the difference between mixing and mastering?  A lot of people new to music don't know the answer to this.

 

Read more ...
What's The Vibrato And Tremolo Definition In Music | Differences Between Tremolo And Vibrato

The vibrato and tremolo effects both have their differences.  But the vibrato and tremolo effects also sound very similar; both slightly wave and pulsate the pitch of an audio track. You have to hear it for yourself to understand the sound.

 

Read more ...
What Is Audio Mastering?

9 what is audio mastering

What is audio mastering?  I've seen a lot of different answers on the Internet to this simple question.  Some were pretty technical and confusing.

 

Read more ...
Monitor Speaker Placement For Your Home Recording Studio And DAW Setup

4 speaker placemnt daw home recording studio

Here's the monitor speaker setup I use for my DAW, and the setup I recommend for your home recording studio.

 

Read more ...
Audio Mastering Software Processors

Here are the series of audio mastering software processors I've used on the over 30,000 songs I've mastered since 1999.  In this video, I use mostly izotope ozone plugins because it's easier to explain using them.  In real-life, I do mix in a few hardware pieces, and a waves plugin.

 

Read more ...
Go to top