The Serato DJ Blog as an interesting piece on how to protect your ears in loud environments such as clubs when djing that got me thinking about the subject. Hearing damage is a serious thing and can lead in extreme cases to even suicide, so if you are serious about djing, you should be serious about protecting your ears as well.
A while ago I posted my review of the UE 11 Pro custom in-ear monitors, and to me these are probably the best option to protect your ears. The UE 11 Pro cost over USD 1000 so not an option for everyone, but you can find cheaper ones on the market, from Ultimate Ears (UE) themselves or from other manufacturers.
Why do I say custom in-ears are the best?
- Comfort: since they are custom-made for your ears, they should fit perfectly and as such wont strain your ears upon prolonged usage.
- Volume levels: mixing through custom in-ears has the distinctive advantage that you can fully control the amount of volume that you need, independently of how loud the outside environment is. The UE 11 Pro I reviewed reduce ambient noise with -26 db, enough to keep most of the damaging noise outside.
- Precision: since you are not depending on monitors or worse, the club installation, the quality of your mix will improve since you are hearing everything right in your ear, with full detail.
- Freedom: headphones mean that you need to keep adjusting them and/or take them off and put them back on, and that actually means you don’t have always both hands free to work the decks or the mixer. With in-ears, that problem is gone as once they are in, they stay in, unless you have to take them off the check sound levels, or to address questions or requests.
Unfortunately there are some disadvantages. The main one being that while you are hearing the perfect mix right in your ears, your audience might be hearing something totally different coming out of the club system. Monitoring sound levels and adjusting accordingly on your mixer will help, but as a pro dj you cannot escape checking from time to time if the final mix in the room is of the quality it should be.
Also mixing with in-ears doesn’t look as cool as mixing with headphones, but some very famous DJs have been mixing with them for years, and I bet you have seen them performing and didn’t even notice the absence of headphones.
Good example is Laidback Luke, famous for his advanced skills behind the decks. Check him out in the video below, rocking @ Tomorrowland Brazil 2016 with in-ears from… Beats by Dre.