by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com
Here's a solution for motorcycle helmets that combines earplugs and hearing protection with speakers to listen to music while you ride.
wBW Visitor "B.Y." recently wrote us about an interesting solution that combines hearing protection with the ability to listen to your favorite tunes.
I too have chronic tinnitus or "ringing" in the ears from very much the same origins(!) as you.
Plus I have been a paramedic for over 20 years and in my early career was exposed to unprotected siren noise in excess of 110 decibels for extended periods of time...
(I always try to) protect my hearing, and have been using disposable earplugs since the onset of my tinnitus two decades ago.
As a new motorcycle rider, I noted how loud both the engine noise and rushing air around an inside my helmet were.
Ear plugs certainly are effective in reducing this noise and protecting ones hearing (from further damage hopefully).
Shame on any states that have laws making it illegal to protect ones hearing... this certainly should be addressed by the health care community
However, I'm also a big music lover (one of the origins of my hearing problem), and have decided it enhances my riding experience tremendously to have my portable CD player.
My first solution was to purchase a relatively cheap ($15) set of Panasonic earphones, which I temporarily "Velcro'd" into the ear strap recesses of my helmet.
This was very comfortable, but with the earplugs in place the CD player could not produce enough volume to overcome the attenuation of the ear plugs to be heard over the still present (but reduced) road noise.
Basically this was a signal to noise ratio problem, so I purchased a Radio Shack headphone volume booster ($22) and this worked fairly well.
Still not satisfied, however, I believe the best solution has come from modifying a pair of KOSS "the plug" earbud phones ($20).
The soft moldable plug that comes with with these are not really suitable for the purpose of noise attenuation for a motorcycle.
And I have used a disposable moldable ear plug as a replacement, and believe I have found the best solution.
Remove the plastic string that connects the ear plugs allows for the insertion of the earbud sound tube, and the fit and comfort is much better.
The added volume provided by the volume booster gives a much larger range of volumes that can be achieved safely for enjoying music "on the road," while not requiring potentially high volumes that further could damage hearing.
Motorcycle riding, music, and hearing protection do not necessarily have to be exclusive to each other...or expensive.
Attached photo shows the setup, with the original earbud mold and the modified earplugs as replacements.
P.S. I have learned over the years it is possible to reuse disposable earplugs many times simply by washing them in the washing machine.
Then throw them in the drier, or using a little warm water and hand soap, followed by thorough rinsing and air drying... doing my bit for the environment as well."
Thanks for the tips, B.Y.!
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