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Steve Rothkin's DJ Info 

Hearing Damage & DJs  


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So, what is a DJ? 

Different Kinds of DJs 


I want to learn how to DJ, what should I do?  

CD or Vinyl? 

 - Mixers          
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CD Player Care   
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 - Record Cleaners    
 - Needle and Tonearm     Set-up   

A special thanks to all the people who contributed to this section of the FAQ. The information is invaluable to all DJs no matter what their niche is. The people I've managed to credit for their contribution are: DJ AJ (andrew.burns@canrem.com) KODIAX (kodiax@aol.com) ProformDJ (proformdj@aol.com) 

A DJ's hearing is the ultimate gift. Without it, not only can they no longer perform, they miss out on a lot of life too. It's important that you think about your hearing from the start -- not after the damage may have been done. The typical nightclub DJ plays at around the 100 decibel range. Based on the Ontario Health and Safety Act, this means a maximum exposure time of approximately 2 hours. (See table below) Realize of course that these levels are coming from the speakers -- the headphones are another story altogether. Research has shown a hearing loss of 10dB at 4kHz after five years with 0.35% of this listening population losing enough hearing to impair speech intelligibility. 

There are three kinds of hearing loss: 
o Acoustic Trauma -- This causes immediate and permanent hearing damage. This happens when a person is exposed to a sudden and excessive noise. (ie: an explosion, 140 > dB) 

o Temporary Threshold Shift - This is a noise induced chemical imbalance in the inner ear and will go away when time is spent away from the noise source. 

o Permanent Threshold Shift - This is noise induced hearing loss caused by damage to the cochlea, an organ covered with tiny hairs and nerves. The higher frequencies are where this type of hearing loss is first noted because the hairs for those frequencies are more fragile. This is the usual type of damage that leads people to believe that they are "getting used to the noise." What is really happening is that the damaged ear can no longer hear the damaging frequencies as well and therefore the perceived volume is lower. 

So what can you do to help protect your hearing? Several things... Position the DJ setup behind the dancefloor speakers. It's obviously not nearly as noisy behind the speakers as it is in front of them. Earplugs. Surprisingly, there are many earplug options for musicians which protect ears while allowing for a clean enough sound to effectively play their instruments. If you DJ regularly and are exposed to loud noises for extended periods of time, you should see an audiologist to make sure your hear remains in check. Customized earplugs can also be made for a perfect fit in your ear. Nutritional supplements. Research found correlations between serum magnesium levels and noise induced permanent hearing threshold shifts. What does that all mean? Go down to your drug store and buy a bottle of magnesium supplements. You'll be less likely to receive permenant ear damage once you do. 

For beginning DJs, train yourself to mix and monitor at very low volume levels. You'll find that there is a natural tendency to turn the headphones and/or monitors too loud while learning to mix thereby requiring the same (possibly damaging) level once you've gotten the knack for it. If you're working in a club where the dancefloor is overpowering your monitor, turn the monitor off. With a little practice and warm-up you can learn to compensate for the delay created by signal processors, remote amplifiers, and echo. Leave the headphone slightly off your ear to soften the impact. If you've learned your music well enough, you don't need to hear the music clearly, just well enough to discern the beats. These simple tips will greatly help you keep your hearing. A cause most definitely worth the time and effort. Useful Tables: The Ontario's Health and Safety Act 
Sound Level (in dB)         Max Allowable Exposure (in Hours) 

      90                       8 
      92                       6 
      95                       4 
      97                       3 
      100                     2 
      102                     1.5 
      105                     1 
      110                     0.5 
      115                     0.25 
      Over 115            No Allowable Exposure

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