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When the fortissimo causes one's ears to ring

PTB is developing sound protection for orchestra musicians


[es]  "Music is always noise-related - and often not appreciated", the German poet and humorist Wilhelm Busch once mocked. Even though the subject involving beauty is a matter of taste, the sarcastic saying contains some bitter truth: Orchestra musicians jeopardise their ears with their own music. In a Wagner opera, sound values of 120 decibels (dB) and higher can be attained. Even the average sound level, depending on the repertoire and instrument, often takes on a magnitude that is considered hazardous to health. Nevertheless, the EU Noise Directive, also in effect for German orchestras since 15 February, has been implemented too rarely in practice; there is a lack of effective noise-protection measures. Therefore the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) has developed a noise protection shield. It can in the critical range above 250 Hertz lower the sound level at the ear of the musician by up to 20 dB. The noise protection shield can be reconstructed with little time and effort. In initial cases, this has already been accomplished with extremely positive feedback.

Dr. Ingolf Bork, PTB Working Group 1.72 Noise Measuring Technology,
Phone +49531-592-1531, e-mail: ingolf.bork@ptb.de

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