I have always been obsessed with protecting my hearing. I wear ear plugs when ever the sound is louder or prolonged (commercial flight, riding my motorcycle, mowing my lawn etc…) I started learning the violin a couple years ago and love it! But… I worry about my hearing, especially in my left ear. I bought a couple types of musicians earplugs and practice with one in my left ear if I don’t have a mute on. They have different filters for different levels of sound reduction, and I usually just use the lowest filter of about 10 decible reduction. I’ve also tried every mute Fiddlershop offers (no joke!) and the heavy metal mutes do a great job making it quiet enough to play that I don’t disturb others in other rooms of the house. But I like to hear myself play, and I want to hear/feel the resonance and improve my intonation and even wearing a mild ear plug makes that hard. I bought a digital sound meter for the sole purpose of testing various mutes and to see if I really was playing loud enough to cause damage…and I am. I took lots of readings but basically at about the distance of my left ear, when I play forte, I get up to 103.8 decibles! That’s too loud for an extended practice session if I want to still hear the birds when I’m 90! My electric violin (no mute of course) is 81.8 A steel mute: 83.8 Iron mute with rubber coating: 86.5 Plain rubber mute fully down: 92.0 Plain rubber mute partially down: 94.5 (but I don’t like the way these sound, I’d rather use the metal mutes). This tourte mute is 100.3 when I’m trying to play loud. Decibles is a tricky thing to think about (or explain) but a decrease in only 3 dB is half of the sound energy (10 dB decrease is sound energy decreased by a factor of 10, 20 dB decrease, decreases sound energy by a factor of 100!). So when I’m playing regularly (forte) the sound intensity goes from high enough that I worry I’m damaging my hearing without an earplug, to just where it would be comfortable and I’m probably okay for my 60-90 min practicing when I use the torte mute. Ideally I’d get it down below 90 dB but the tourte mute doesn’t change the sound quality and it allows everything to still resonate and it isn’t this huge thing to take on and off. Plus if (when) I accidentally drop it on my violin I won’t do any damage! I recommend using a metal mute to practice a new piece to get the fingering down, then use the tourte mute to start polishing things up. When nobody else is home, I take off the mute and put in an ear plug and play as loud as I want. When I get close to passing off a piece or when I go to lessons, I don’t use anything, but that’s for shorter durations. I hope to hear the birds, and crickets and whispers when I’m old, and plan to play the violin until I die, so this is the compromise I’ve worked out.
As stated on review of the other Tourte Mute.. Everyone needs one of these..
Fine. Mute is cheap enough that I can afford to lose it (as happens sooner or later).
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