Hearing in pop/rock musicians: a follow-up study

Ear Hear. 1995 Jun;16(3):245-53. doi: 10.1097/00003446-199506000-00001.


In 1975, the threshold hearing levels (HLs) of 83 Swedish and British pop/rock musicians were examined with pure tone audiometry. At that time we found 13% of the musicians with a hearing loss > 20 dB HL at a high frequency pure tone average (3, 4, 6, and 8 kHz). The aim of the present investigation was to conduct an audiometric follow-up study of these musicians 16 years after the first examination. Fifty-three of the 83 pop/rock musicians were retested in 1991 to 1992. They also filled in a questionnaire concerning occupational noise activities, leisure noise activities, general health problems and subjective symptoms related to loud music exposure. The median pure tone audiogram was within 20 dB HL at all test frequencies. On an individual basis, 63% had normal high high frequency pure tone average scores and another 15% had a very limited high frequency hearing loss (< or = 25 dB HL). It seems surprising that pop/rock musicians after performing for 26 years have such well-preserved hearing. There might be a protective effect by the generally positive attitude from the musicians toward their performance and their audience. Regarding the loud and more or less continuous sound levels over 85 dBA there might also be a protective effect from a continuous contraction of the stapedius muscle.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Amplifiers, Electronic
  • Audiometry, Pure-Tone
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hearing Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Music*