Management of Hearing Loss Prevention in Live Entertainment
Robert M. Ghent Jr., AuD
December 15, 2014
Editor’s Note: This text course is an edited transcript of a live webinar. Download supplemental course materials.
Dr. Robert Ghent: Today I’m going to discuss management of hearing loss prevention in live entertainment. I’ll cover why this area has not been more recognized and what opportunities are available for audiologists. I’ll also talk about what management of hearing loss means in the live entertainment industry. Live entertainment includes sporting events, racing events, and concerts of all types, not just rock and roll, but the primary focus today is on music events.
I work for Honeywell Safety Products. Many of the pictures in your handout are of Honeywell products because I have easy access to those images, but there are other products that are included as well. The use of these images does not constitute an endorsement any of these products. I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge Mr. Nick Mayne of the Canterbury City Council in Kent, England, for providing me with some data from a study that I’ll be discussing. Additionally, portions of this presentation were previously presented at the 47th Conference of the Audio Engineering Society (AES), on Music-Induced Hearing Loss in 2012, as well as at the 38th Annual National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA) Conference in 2013.
In 1964, the Beatles came to the United States and performed at Shea Stadium. Few fans could hear them, and the Beatles could not hear themselves well because the audience was so loud. There was a problem with getting sound distributed over a crowd of screaming people that large. In the ensuing 10 years, we significantly advanced the technology of concert sound reinforcement.
When I was a senior in high school, I got a job at Tycobrahe Sound Company. They were contracted to provide the sound for a large festival show, second only to Woodstock at the time. So, in 1974, we did The California Jam. A magazine article covering this show touted 54,000 watts of audio power. We generated 105 dB SPL a mile away, and we were awed by such a great achievement. Can you imagine how loud it had to be in front of the speaker tower in order to measure 105 dB SPL at one mile down wind? This is how I started my career.
Hearing conservation has never been a part of the live entertainment culture, despite knowledge of the problems and risks. The entertainment industry knows there are some regulations, but those typically apply to brick-and-mortar industries, and entertainment does not know how to apply them in their own industry. Fortunately, we see this starting to change, and this is a good opportunity for audiologists to do something to help this industry.