Dr. Gene McHugh
Mountain Time USA
© Copyright 2017
Standard behind the ear (BTE)
hearing aids require a custom earmold. Earmolds have four
functions: 1) direct amplified sound from the
hearing aid into the patient's ear canal and eardrum; 2) act as
an anchor to keep the BTE securely on the ear; and 3) modify the
acoustic properties in a manner that can either enhance word
clarity and/or sound more natural to the user; and 4) when
necessary, act a barrier to reduce feedback. Earmolds
require an ear impression. Cost varies between
styles, but generally the cost is $75 for one or $150
for a binaural set.
EAR IMPRESSIONS (for all custom ear
products without ordering products)
Custom ear impressions should be performed by a qualified
audiologist or hearing aid specialist for which you will need to
schedule a short (10-15 minute) appointment. He or she
will make sure your ear canals are clear then make a silicone
representation of the canal as shown in the picture on the left. Normally, the fee for
checking your ears and taking ear impressions is included in
the custom product. However, the cost for custom ear
impressions without ordering any products is $35.00.
Hearing Protections Devices (HPD's)
devices, or HPD's are made to provide maximum sound attenuation
in order to best protect your residual hearing. If you are
a shooter, it is especially important to use HPD's. If you
work in a noisy environment, as determined by OSHA (Occupational
Safety & Health Administration), you may be required to use
HPD's. Do it. Research and personal experience with
patients who have not protected their hearing shows a clear
cause and effect, with the "effect" being devastating
permanent. Simple custom plugs for noise (Westone 40-4) run $120
for a set.
Shooter's plugs with sonic valve protectors (Westone #42)
that activate (i.e., close) at 92dB SPL are $150.00. And
for the best and most comfortable, consider custom fit
"Electronic Shooter's Plugs" or ESP's.
A basic binaural set
is just $775.00, approximately 15% lower than the MSRP. ESP's require ear impressions.
If you perform music professionally, you are well aware that
your ears are an extremely important part of your overall
skills. You also know that constant exposure, especially
if very loud may result in permanent hearing impairment. It's
not worth the risk.
Musician's plugs are comfortable and retain the normal sounds of
the music you play. It involves having an ear
impression taken (described above). Be sure to move your
jaw around just like you do on stage. This makes the
custom product the most comfortable.
We use Westone Laboratories in Colorado Springs to fabricate our
custom ear products. It takes about two weeks from the time
the mold is sent in until you have your plugs.
Musician's earplugs have also helped our patients suffering from
hyper-acusis (i.e., over-sensitivity to loud sounds) resulting
from serious head trauma. It has been found to augment
cognitive skills, especially in noise, take the edge off of very
loud environments and reduce stress levels commonly seen in
closed head injuries.
On left, shape
of custom musician's plug along with specially designed acoustic
filters from Etymotic Research.
attenuation effect using various filters. Musicians tend
to prefer the ER-9 and ER-15. Patients with
acoustic hypersensitivity prefer the ER-25.
In-ear monitors are "high-end" technology for the
professional musician. There is no better way to monitor
on stage sound, while protecting your hearing from over powering
on stage monitors. The picture on the right shows the
Elite Series with custom plastic shells with internal
receivers. The stereo sound quality is
spectacular! MSRP is $700.00. Our price for
custom in-ear monitors ranges from $275 to $700, but requires ear
impressions, as described above. Please call for details.
Swim Molds are custom earmolds that float.
They can be made in a variety of color including multi-color
swirls that kids really love. The cost at our clinic is just