Photo by: See Ya Damara
The American Tinnitus Association (ATA) estimates over 50 million Americans experience tinnitus. Of these, 12 million have tinnitus which is severe enough to seek medical attention and roughly 2 million persons are so debilitated by the tinnitus they cannot function at a normal level on a day-to-day basis. Tinnitus is usually a ringing in the ears but it may also sound like a clicking, hiss or roaring. Rarely, unclear voices or music are heard. The sound may be soft or loud, low pitched or high pitched and appear to be coming from one ear or both. Most of the time, it comes on gradually. In some people, the sound causes depression, anxiety or interferes with concentration. Tinnitus is not a disease but a symptom that can result from a number of underlying causes. One of the most common causes is noise-induced hearing loss.
There is no cure for this and it’s crippling not only the DJ’s and producers of our culture but the attendees as well.
We speak with DJ ODI about the subject who recently was diagnosed with Tinnitus earlier today and get his insight and suggestions to protect one of your most valuable assets… your ears.
For new, and seasoned DJ’s, out there, how important do you rank using ear plugs at shows?
Ok. Well as for importance. It’s number 1, without our ears we can’t do a damn thing musically. Stuff like a sub pac is great but if you can’t hear you can’t mix. Anyone telling you otherwise is an amateur and shouldn’t be doing this.
For those that don’t know, what’s a sub pac?
A tactile bass system you wear like a backpack. It’s awesome, Google it! All of the vibrations without the volume.
Do you have a favorite ear plug to use or any recommendations?
I haven’t had custom plugs made but many people do and they are great. Jo-s I am looking at you.
Do you have any tips for DJ’s to minimize hearing damage while playing such as turning down the monitor or monitor positioning?
Don’t kill yourself with sound. If there’s no sub on stage turning up midrange tops isn’t gonna make up for it. You just blast yourself. Another thing I would recommend is making sure that you cover your ears when people are talking to you on stage people trying to yell into people’s years when they’re on stage and that does just as much damage as allowed monitor does
Yes, oh man I hate that. People always yell and then I hear ringing for 10 mins and I’m deaf the rest of the night.
I would also recommend being really being very careful with your headphones. You end up doing a lot of damage when you try to turn your headphones up to compensate for bad monitors. I would also highly recommend getting to the club early doing a proper sound check making sure that the monitoring system is set up the way you like it.
So you suffer from Tinnitus, correct?
Yes, I do suffer from Tinnitus. And I tend to believe that more of us in this industry do then do not.
When did you first know or suspect that you did? and how did you go about getting diagnosed?
I’ve known I’ve had it for a long time and even after any gig where I wasn’t able to sleep and I would hear ringing in my ears. Eventually the ringing just never went away. I went to the doctor today because I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t losing a lot of higher/lower frequencies for producing. Of course, you hear stories about people like Pete Townsend from The Who or Optical who have made their living on their ears and how Tinnitus is.
Is there anything that can be done to suppress the hearing loss and ringing?
Once the damage is there it’s pretty much there for the rest of your life. You can try to eat some vitamins or treat your hearing better but it’s not gonna change the fact that the hearing is gone and the damage is done. For example, I’ve been told that now I need to use a white noise generator in order to sleep, stuff like that.
I wasn’t diagnosed with anything more serious than Tinnitus today but I think that at least knowing my status is going to help me take care of myself better.
Do you think most people do not think about their hearing until it’s too late?
Absolutely I think many people just do not think about it or think there isn’t any damage being done until it’s too late. No matter who you are, no matter what level of the game you’re at, your ears are the first line of creativity and you need to take care of them. When you can hear the noises it’s already too late, that’s why you need to preemptively attack that stuff and take care of your hearing.
Thank you for talking about this man. I think it will help and bring attention to the issue for our readers
Of course man, anytime. Just know that free hearing tests are available in most major cities once a year. If you can’t go get it done at least get earplugs and use them.
For more information on Tinnitus and hearing loss