Medical Problems of Performing ArtistsMedical Problems of Performing Artists

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Ear Canal Resonance as a Risk Factor in Music-induced Hearing Loss

Miriam A. Henoch, Kris Chesky
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 14 Number 3: Page 103 (September 1999)

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Abstract: The purpose of the present study was to examine the effects of ear canal resonance on the spectral characteristics of sounds produced by musicians' instruments in relation to risk factors associated with noise-induced hearing loss. Nine musicians, each playing a different instrument, were chosen as subjects for the investigation. The spectrum levels of sounds produced by musical instruments were measured both inside and outside of the ear canal during performances of sustained Gs, paired at constant intensity levels and for three different octaves. With direct reference to the measured peak resonance of the musician's ear canal, comparisons were made between sound pressure levels inside the ear canal and sound pressure levels outside the ear canal. It was found that ear canal resonance has the potential to generate an increase in the sound pressure levels inside the ear canal of the performing musician by as much as 30 dB SPL. The implications for increased risk for hearing loss as a function of the interaction between ear canal resonance and the frequency spectrum of specific instruments are discussed.

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