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Saving your hearing with Big Ear: An interview with Glenn Hood

Big Ear Inc. started as an idea amongst a small group of friends back in 2003. That small idea has grown into a global business and today, Big Ear has committed providers across North America, Australia and the United Kingdom. Big Ear specialise in providing customers with comfortable ear protection services, using the Perfect Fit Technology to capture a perfect impression of the client’s ear.

Glenn Hood is the CEO and founder of Big Ear, having taken his vision from concept design to implementation. Thankfully, he was able to answer a few of our questions about Big Ear!

Big Ear has been working with marching bands and they found that more than 50% of incoming freshman have Tinnitus and noise-induced hearing loss, watch this video:

How common is hearing damage and how can it be prevented?

This problem is more common than most people think. When we hear of an epidemic, we think of this as a bad thing, when in fact it is 15 people per 100,000 people.

What we have found in incoming freshman into the college and universities marching band is more than 50% have Tinnitus and noise-induced hearing loss at the beginning of their 4-year marching band experience ahead of them.

As a result, if their hearing has already been affected, imagine what a further four years of marching band routine could do to their hearing?

The really bad thing is most participants in the college marching band usually pursue a professional or amateur career in music after their college days. This is not good for a lifetime of hearing.

How do Big Ears compare to other earplugs on the market?

We have a new patented hearing protection device that allows a wearer to hear everything going on around them perfectly and not cause back pressure in their heads when they play their instruments.

This is a breakthrough in hearing protection for a musician that has not been seen before.

A lot of musicians complain about generic earplugs causing a sense of “backpressure”, however, our nifty design ensures that users don’t have that plugged up feeling.

There are a few products that use an orifice or filter that is open, but because of the design it only gives 11dB reduction on average and marching bands are 110-128dB during practice for 2 hours or more hours at a time. It is often the case that the user is still damaging their hearing even though they think they are wearing hearing protection.

Are your earplugs customisable?

All our products are custom made to the exact shape of a person’s unique shape.

You are talking about a musician who must hit an exact note or sound that is perfectly repeatable. When you make a hearing protection device, it must go down the ear canal to an exact depth as not to cause an occlusion sound on each footstep.

It must be perfectly tuned so that every time it is used, it blocks out the sound cleanly. If you use any other hearing protection device on the market, you can never achieve the exact sound reduction that our products achieve, and on top of this, you’ll still have that plugged up feeling.

You should be practicing from a very young age with custom hearing protection. This will help you get used to what your instrument will be sounding like when you finally get to play live.

Can anyone use Big Ears or only band members?

Marching band users is only one category that we make hearing protection for. We make more than 1,000 different hearing protection variations and materials for any situation. Personal hearing protection varies from person to person.

The biggest thing is to educate yourself on the need to protect your hearing and have it for life.

Our lives have changed over the last 50 years. People are becoming more conscious of their hearing and the gift of being able to hear. No longer are people working in large industrial workshops without some form of hearing protection. Likewise, people listen to music via earplugs on public transport to and from work/school every day. This certainly doesn’t bode well for a person’s future hearing and is a big reason why they should consider our services.

Who shouldn’t use earplugs?

That’s a great question.

Once you have retrained your thinking and turn down the volume and learn how to avoid loud environments, then you are on your way to reduced hearing protection use.

But if you get ear infections, fly on airplanes, go to concerts, listen to headphones, need a good night’s sleep, shoot guns, ride motorcycles or are a doctor, then you will still need hearing protection.

In short, unless you’re a person who, for some reason, does not require their hearing, hearing earplugs will have some value for you.

You’ve made some big strides lately – what does the future hold for Big Ears?

We are now in the process of educating the educators. We need to teach the next generation about the need for hearing protection and the root causes of hearing damage.

Once we have them on the right path, then we will start legalisation processes, as a way of protecting participants, not just the workers at events and venues.

It is a very strange situation that the workers at an event must be in a hearing protection program but the participants that are paying for the participation are not safety regulated.

It all comes down to education and understanding the long-term effects and damage caused by our actions.

Big Ear is doing some big things to ensure that people have access to high-quality ear protection products. The company specialises in a wide range of sectors, not just those playing instruments in a marching band. Led by Glenn Hood, the company has big aspirations for the future! We’d like to thank Glenn for taking some time to answer a few of our questions.