Are your ears being damaged? Do you attend loud concerts? Set up mics on fidgety drummers? Rehearse in a small room? Ride the subway? I don’t think that most of my friends are aware of the damage that is being done to their ears, and this is why I’ve started recommending (and handing out) the affordable and effective FliteMates. The problem with typical foam-based, disposable earplugs is two-fold: you can’t really wash and re-use them; and they also take out so much volume and high-frequency information that you can hardly experience intelligibility from the source. The reusable FliteMates, though marketed for air travel, are the best hearing protection I’ve found. Their small size fits everyone’s ear canal, unlike larger designs; the case they come in is the smallest I’ve seen; they lower enough volume and transients without blocking clarity and frequencies out; and they’re also the cheapest earplugs out there. The fact is, nothing lasts forever – including health and hearing – but as musicians and engineers we have to take care of our most valuable investments. We’ve been given the gift of hearing not only for our own enjoyment, but also to serve the world around us. It is not only wise to take care of all we’ve been given, but it’s a responsibility to the people we care for as well. ($4 street;

–Brad Kelly,

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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