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Hands-On Review: High Fidelity HEAROS

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Frequency-balanced protection for your most valuable resource.

By Mikey Lank

"There is nothing more precious to a musician than his hearing. Even the most outrageous, loudest-playing guitar players I know always protect their ears. Besides being a loud guitar player, I am also a connoisseur of fine earplugs and the only ones that work for me are the HEAROS. Even if you don't like my music, take this precious advice and protect your ears when you're wailing away."
— Steve Vai

Playing loud music is a dangerous business. Most dedicated electric musicians have risked their financial stability, the longevity of their relationships (with everyone from spouses to neighbors to landlords), their sanity, and-most importantly—their hearing. For a musician, no risk could be greater. Beethoven composed his ninth symphony almost totally without benefit of hearing, but you can bet it wasn't by choice. If you don't want to wind up like Ludwig Van, best take preventative steps now before it's too late. Fortunately, HEAROS has made saving your hearing entirely painless—even from a musical point of view—with their revolutionary High Fidelity Ear Filters that cut the decibel levels to your ears without muting the highs in the music.

Occupational Hazard

While the electrification of music has brought untold joy to the hearts of millions, we've paid a high price. In the late '50s and early '60s, huge concert turnouts and the pursuit of distorted guitar tone led to an ever-increasing volume level onstage, which finally maxed out in the early '80s. Unfortunately for all of us, it peaked way too high, usually somewhere around 115 to 120 decibels. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, human ears can only endure seven-and-a-half continuous minutes at 115 decibels before hearing damage begins.

And taking it on the ear drums is not like taking it on the chin; you don't see all the blood and swelling. The only way you know you've been injured is by the ringing—which is a certain indication. For many, hearing loss takes the form of ever-louder ringing until you can't hear anything else. That ringing (known as tinnitus) is the result of hearing nerve cells being destroyed. You're born with a set number, and when they're destroyed they never come back. Never.

For musicians, the constant exposure to high sound-pressure levels constitutes a very real and very permanent occupational hazard. If Brett Favre pulls a hamstring on the gridiron, chances are he'll be as good as new before next season. If you blow out your ears onstage, that's it—there won't be a next season.

Unfortunately, I have to count myself among the many musicians I know who suffer from varying degrees of hearing loss. There's even a nonprofit organization called Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers that counts such luminaries as Pete Townshend and Lars Ulrich among its supporters. It's a serious issue for tens of thousands of musicians like you and me.

Hearos HiFi Ear Filters

The Problem

The idea of shoving something in your ears to cut the volume level is hardly a novel one. When I was 17 and "practicing" with the band in a tiny room down in the bass player's basement, the volume level would begin to escalate immediately, each player cranking up to hear himself over everybody else. I would jam some toilet paper or whatever I had handy in my ears and sit down right next to my amp in order to hear myself at all.

As I got older, I began to use more-advanced foam earplugs, but they basically ruined my listening experience by killing all the highs in the music. In order to attenuate the road noise in my car, I had learned to put in ear-plugs, turn up the stereo, and crank the treble all the way. This would provide a fairly natural tone in the car, but in a performance setting I obviously couldn't boost the treble without ruining the sound for the audience.

The Solution

A couple of years ago, my good friend and fellow guitarist Phil Montoya told me about High Fidelity HEAROS. I picked up a couple of pairs right away and was completely amazed. I was so used to the muffling effect of normal ear plugs that it seemed like the HiFi HEAROS were doing nothing at all, until I pulled them out. Then it sounded just like somebody had cranked up the volume with no EQ change at all. In fact, HEAROS cut the volume level by up to 20 decibels with almost no change in the frequency balance of the music. It's as if you suddenly have the power to tell everyone in the band and everyone in the audience to TURN IT DOWN!

Much of my musical inspiration comes from the quality of the tones I'm getting from my rig. Until HiFi HEAROS, I was losing that extra musical boost because the sparkling overtones and high harmonics were completely blocked out by my foam ear plugs. The HEAROS Ear Filters let through all that musical beauty without all that potentially damaging volume. They are easier to use than the foam plugs, they're more comfortable, and they last longer—with care you can get a year or more out of a single pair.

How They Work

Hearos Reusable Ear Plug

The cap and stem that extend out of the HiFi HEAROS form a folded horn and resonance structure that vibrates at the same 2.8kHz resonance as the human ear. When combined with the concha resonance of the ear canal at the end of the HiFi filter, the physics of the HiFi HEAROS result in an eardrum pressure frequency-balanced like that of a normal, open ear but with sound pressure reduced by 20 decibels.

In other words, they're not as simple as they look. But the proof is in the pudding—they do what they're supposed to do. And they do it amazingly well.

Workingman's Price

A lot of musicians are paying up to $200 for custom-molded ear molds that fit their ear canal precisely and dampen sound levels. HiFi HEAROS Ear Filters cost less than one tenth that amount while providing frequency-balanced attenuation unmatched even by custom-designed ear plugs.

In sum, HiFi HEAROS are an easy, comfortable, effective, affordable way for musicians at all levels to protect the one sense that grants access to our biggest buzz-music! I feel like I'm doing a public service by encouraging you in the strongest terms to order a pair of these amazing ear filters today.

Tags: Stage Accessories

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