I started 2016 so well. Dry January went without too much pain, with me enjoying hosting a Sunday Roast on the 31st with a few glasses of wine to lubricate proceedings (let’s not mention the Bloody Marys at the start which we forgot to put vodka in though…). I then decided to see it through until my friend’s wedding on the 12th, a thought which lasted precisely 5 days, me ending up absolutely plastered on the first Friday of February. And of course, not only did I get drunk, eat about 4876235239592 calories worth of pizza, beigels and sweets at 4am, and miss Saturday morning Yoga, I also managed to lose my custom earplugs. As a man who spends most evenings in a club environment, this is what is technically known as A Bad Thing.
I resigned myself to forking out for a new pair, and rationalised the unexpected expense by remembering that I needed to get some new filters anyway (they come in 9db, 15db and 25db versions, which take out that many decibels volume, and eventually need replacing), and that I’d had these ones for a couple of years, so maybe my ear canals are a slightly different shape from changing over time… Anyway. I made the appointment, and then by sheer chance clocked a tweet a day later saying that it is Tinnitus Awareness Week 2016! Apart from being a neat coincidence (How neat is that?), it meant an extra 10% off the cost, after already getting the famous Eddy Temple Morris discount, so I was looking at £135 (which went up to £155 after I elected for a custom colour and getting my name on them for a tenner each feature).
I know that to a lot of people that seems a big lump of cash for something so tiny, and I felt the same with my first pair. But you know what? Its probably one of the best purchases any DJ, musician or clubber will ever make. You get one pair of ears, and if you knack them, tough shit, they are knacked for life. Nobody wants knacked ears, its rubbish. Tinnitus in particular can be utterly unbearable in severe cases, it’s been known to lead to suicide in extreme cases – if that’s not enough to motivate you, I’m not sure what is…
The process itself is relatively straightforward – a simple putty mixture is combined, placed into a plastic syringe-pump-thingymujig, and after a small cotton bud on a string has been placed halfway down your ear-canal, the putty is slowly syringed in to get an impression of the shape.
Its quite an odd sensation – the putty is a little cold, the pressure in the ear changes, and it feels a little like being underwater (only less wet, in my experience). You wait around for a few minutes (no talking as it might upset the moulds because of the link between your jaw and inner ear, that’s why when you yawn the sound changes a bit), then they gently wiggle the moulds out, and you are left with something like this (apparently my ear-canal is ideal for this, but I bet they tell all the patients that!).
As you can see, lefty is a bit straighter than righty. Everyone’s ear canals are unique, and come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.
And that’s basically that – you can have them mailed direct to you (it takes a couple of weeks to get them done usually, but does vary depending on demand) or collect. It does take a while to get used to DJing with them in, but when I’ve forgotten or lost them I know about it when I get home after a loud gig. “Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee…” til I fall asleep! I got mine done at Harley Street Hearing, but my first pair were from Boots, and I know that there’s plenty of places all over the place where you can get them done.