Live-music sound engineers often experience hearing problems and tinnitus, a study finds.

The risk of hearing injury in the music industry has often been reported but mostly among musicians. But for live music sound engineers, the occupational hazard to their hearing also arises directly from the music that they help to create.

A study has found that among live music sound engineers, hearing thresholds were poor across several frequencies. A substantial number of the live music sound engineers reported a constant tinnitus (30%) and reduced sound tolerance (41%). The use of hearing protection was relatively low with many reporting an interference with their job when using hearing protection.

Hearing at risk

In the study, 74% of participants said that their hearing was very much at risk in the industry. Self-reported symptoms of music-induced hearing injury (MIHI) were high with 37% reporting hearing difficulty and 48% reporting difficulty following conversations in background noise.

Symptoms of temporary threshold shift were also high with 52% reporting having experienced hearing dullness.


30% reported experiencing constant tinnitus and 56% reported issues with discomfort in the presence of high sound levels. 81% said that they experienced tinnitus during or after work.

The study

In the study, the participants were invited to complete an online questionnaire exploring their hearing health, use of hearing protection and history of music-related sound exposure. Hearing tests were carried out by an audiologist where pure-tone thresholds were measured in the frequencies of 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 8kHz.

The study, “The hearing health of live-music sound engineers”, was published in the journal Archives of Environmental & Occupational Health.

Sources: and the journal Archives of Environmental & Occupational Health.

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