Today try to turn the levels down for a while. Better: switch it off completely – even if just for a matter of minutes.
I was reading an article some days ago, that somehow confirmed what I’ve always thought: silence does not only relieve us from stress (and ear fatigue – in case you work with music or sound in general), but it is also actually good for you, as it helps to regenerate brain cells… and boost your creativity. Let’s see how this happens, but, first of all (since we are talking about knobs)…
…In the article picture there are some cool potentiometers you can build yourself, by following the steps here at instructables.com
And now, back to the topic. All of us know about ear fatigue: it is a simptom that occurs when your ear are stressed by too much stimuli. Monitoring levels set too high, and for too many hours, the wrong set of headphones, disturbing frequencies, unwanted noise… even city traffic: our ear are built to respond to all sounds, sending constantly messages to our brain. Of course our brain can discriminate between sounds that we actively listen to from sounds that we hear in a “passive” way, but we can’t close our ears (as, for example we can close our eyes).
The question is: are we giving our ears a break – at least once or twice a day? In his article “The mental benefits of the sound of silence”, Bill Howatt gives some tips to help finding the silent spot in our great sounding but sometimes noisy days. It is worth trying, even if the ear fatigue generated by monitoring a live gig cannot be swiped away by a couple of minutes of silence.
Monitoring at average levels will increase your performance as a mixing engineer – and save you from being half deaf when you’ll get older. You can find hips of online literature about this, but I suggest ledgernote.com’s “Ear fatigue symptoms when mixing with headphones and monitors”
Also, not many people know that from the age of 18 onwards, we naturally loose HF and even some LF, and that is considered normal hearing loss. When we get older, then we are exposed to major hearing loss, and that is because we get old, there’s nothing to do about it, really.
But before we get to that stage, we can do something to preserve our ears. Basically we can to two things:
- Avoid repetitive exposure to loud sounds.
- Wear ear protection in places where there are loud sounds.
Ok this may sound hard, I know, but at least lets try to relieve our ears from time to time, by playing some silence. Our ears – and brain – will be grateful.