How do you protect our most valuable property: our ears?

Especially, what's your behavior during editing/mixing sessions? I'll try to take a brake every our or so, even only for a few minutes, but it isn't always easy when you have clients or when you're focused on your work.

And I don't smoke, so no need for nicotine! ;)

5 Answers 5


During mix sessions, I takes breaks as often as possible. If I'm doing panning and general levels and nothing extremely critical like EQ and fine level control, I'll put in flat response ear plugs (custom molds). They don't change my hearing too much, so they allow me to do some work with them in.

I also make sure I have them in for screenings or if I'm showing anybody else my work.


I take breaks as soon as I start to notice a diminished ability to hear the difference in frequencies, usually for about half hour every 2 - 3 hours. Remember that 85 decibels for 8 hours is roughly equivalent to 110 decibels for about 2 minutes. You can still get some hearing damage at 80db and above, even if it takes a long time. Remember that the longer the exposure, the longer recovery time you need, so it's better to take breaks more frequently than have to stop work for several hours after a long mixing session.

Like Colin said, if you're dealing with clients, pop in some EQd ear plugs. It's a great investment and you can get them in several db levels. Usually the -15 db have better EQ responses than -10 db or less. Most people want the sound cranked up because "it sounds better that way."

There should probably be another question that covers standard mixing levels and room calibration for film, tv, video games, etc.


Its easy enough to control your monitoring level & take breaks in your own edit room but its predubs & final mixing on films that can be damaging, with the necessity for going over & over loud sequences refining them... Under such circumstances I tend to wear ear plugs and only remove them occasionally to check a final balance, but I'm not the mixer... I'd imagine people who mix a lot of loud horror or action films will be buying hearing aids in later life, as aside from damage from sudden over-loud moments its also the cumulative effect that is damaging... Relatedly theres a good thread at gearslutz about this very subject that has some great strategies, especially with regards to predubbing loud FX like guns & explosions.. worth a read:



I got a huge volume knob called the level pilot. Let's me change the level very quickly and precisely. My old mixer had problems at low levels, the level would be a little off between L and R.

Make sure you know what 80db sounds like - I think that's the level which will cause damage. It's surprisingly low if you're used to blasting the monitors.

iPhone has a cheap level meter which would at least give you a rough idea of where you are listening.

  • In my studio, the level isn't such a problem... I use the digidesign interfaces to control level, and I have marks for 85db spl, and 65db, until I'll move to a better speaker system (dyanaudio Air, I'm looking at you! :)) It's more on the dubbing stage, where the mixing level is alligned with the Dolby level.. And directors and editors often ask for louder and louder sound. May 29, 2010 at 8:51

Ear plugs is something that I have been thinking about for a long time but... here in Italy (i would love to be corrected), I never saw anybody using them on a mixing stage (and I've been in quite a few mixing stage in Rome). On the other side, I know lots of people working in the live music industry that use them daily.

And one more thing: when you put ear plugs, isn't like mixing at 4 (on a dolby scale(CP650))? But you cannot mix at that level; cinema theater doesn't have a flat response (nor our ears): mixing at lower level affect the EQ response of the mix, doesn't it?

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