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Sepura Contributes to Success of World’s First Cross-border TETRA System

We take it for granted that when we move around the country our mobile phones connect to the nearest mast, or we go abroad and our phones automatically connect to the network, with tetra, this is not as easy, but this article is about a test that Sepura completed connecting two TETRA networks in Norway and Sweden, interesting stuff.

Sepura radios have successfully participated in interoperability trials for the world’s first cross-border TETRA communication system, linking RAKEL and Nødnett, Sweden and Norway’s public safety networks.

More than 350 first responders were involved in the trials, which took place in Meråker, close to the Swedish border, in a crisis response exercise involving public safety users from both countries.

The cross-border system utilises TETRA Inter-System Interface (ISI) functionality to connect networks together, effectively allowing users to roam to another network. This allows first responders to use their radios in both countries – vital for smooth collaboration in emergency situations.

The initiative to strengthen co-operation between national emergency services started in 2013 with the EU-funded Inter-System Interoperability project, designed to improve the ability to respond to natural disasters and security threats. The RAKEL and Nødnett networks are scheduled to be ready for bi-national operational use in early 2017.

Sepura’s STP9000 hand-portable radios and SRG3900 mobile radios were used by both Swedish and Norwegian emergency services during the exercise, although all Sepura radios – including the new flagship SC20 range – meet the technical requirements of the ISI system.

“This is one of the most advanced multinational radio communication projects in Europe,” said Tariq Haque, Product Manager for Sepura.

“After two years’ development, bi-national interoperability has become a reality, bringing cross-border mission critical communications to Sweden and Norway.

“We are extremely pleased to have played a part in this ground-breaking event.”

Source – http://www.tetra-applications.com/33643/news/sepura-contributes-to-success-of-world-s-first-cross-border-tetra-system

MIT’s new method of radio transmission could one day make wireless VR a reality

VR is the Buzz word for this year, every technology company clambering to get their headset out on to the market. Much of the market needs to catch-up though, the power of home computing needs to improve and removing the inevitable extra cabling and wires that come with current headsets. Luckily this article is about the future technology of VR headsets, see what we can expect as this technology grows.

If you want to use one of today’s major VR headsets, whether the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive, or the PS VR, you have to accept the fact that there will be an illusion-shattering cable that tethers you to the small supercomputer that’s powering your virtual world.

But researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) may have a solution in MoVr, a wireless virtual reality system. Instead of using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to transmit data, the research team’s MoVR system uses high-frequency millimeter wave radio to stream data from a computer to a headset wirelessly at dramatically faster speeds than traditional technology.

There have been a variety of approaches to solving this problem already. Smartphone-based headsets such as Google’s Daydream View and Samsung’s Gear VR allow for untethered VR by simply offloading the computational work directly to a phone inside the headset. Or the entire idea of VR backpacks, which allow for a more mobile VR experience by building a computer that’s more easily carried. But there are still a lot of limitations to either of these solutions.

THE MOVR PROTOTYPE SIDESTEPS TETHERED VR ISSUES

Latency is the whole reason a wireless solution hasn’t worked so far. VR is especially latency-sensitive, along with the huge bandwidth requirements that VR needs to display the level of high-resolution video required for virtual reality to work. But the MIT team claims that the millimeter wave signals can transmit fast enough to make a wireless VR headset feasible.

The issue with using millimeter wave technology is that the signal needs a direct line of sight, and fares poorly when it encounters any obstacles. MoVR gets around this by working as a programmable mirror that can direct the direction of the signal to the headset even while it’s moving to always make sure the signal is transmitting directly to the headset’s receivers.

For now, the MoVR is simply a prototype, with the team hoping to further shrink down the system to allow for multiple wireless headsets in one room without encountering signal interference. But even as a proof-of-concept, it’s an interesting perspective on how virtual reality could one day work.

Hytera Awarded Multi Million Dollar Contracts in Dominican Republic

Hytera are the fastest growing radio country this year, they have opened offices all over the world and are taking market share from Motorola. When you look at their Hytera earpieces, Chargers, repeaters, hand portables and base units they are of an excellent standard and quality. That is probably why the Dominican Republic was persuaded to use them for two big projects.

Hytera, a world leading solution provider of Professional Mobile Radio communications, was awarded two projects by the Ministry of the Presidency of Dominican Republic. In order to establish a nationwide emergency response network for National Emergency Care System and Security 9-1-1 (Sistema Nacional de Atención a Emergencias y Seguridad), Dominican Republic government selected TETRA (Terrestrial Trunked Radio) technology for mission critical communications, and launched two public tenders at the end of 2015; one is to cover two cities, Haina and San Cristobal, adjacent to the capital city Santo Domingo, with 5 sites and 528 terminals, while the other is to cover Santiago, the second largest city of the country, with 30 sites and 2,155 terminals.

The existing TETRA network in the Santo Domingo area was delivered also by Hytera as a result of a contract awarded by Dominican Republic’s Ministry of the Presidency in 2013. The project includes several components: the 911 system, a camera surveillance system and the communications infrastructure with its respective terminals which was awarded to Hytera. “The system in Santo Domingo offers reliable communication services to the public safety forces, and it is a very good testimony of Hytera’s solutions and supports,” said Fernando Camelo, regional director of Hytera international business.

“Dominican Republic government officials have spent a lot effort to choose the right technologies for its public safety forces. Obviously, TETRA has been widely adopted and proved. We are proud to be part of the initiative of building a united nationwide mission critical communication system for the country,” commented Ming Kam Wong, deputy general manager of Hytera international business.

The TETRA digital standard as a global open protocol provides secure, encrypted communications for mission critical operations as well as promoting a more efficient use of spectrum. More than 750 interoperability (IOP) certificates have been awarded to more than two dozen manufacturers by the TETRA + Critical Communications Association (TCCA), the governing body, globally, for the TETRA standard.

Source – http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160912005706/en/Hytera-Awarded-Multi-Million-Dollar-Contracts-Dominican

Sony Announces AI Assistant Earpiece to Go on Sale in November – See more at: http://aibusiness.org/sony-announces-ai-assistant-earpiece-to-go-on-sale-in-november/#sthash.nm99apky.dpuf

Smart earpieces are the next frontier for the smart generation, we have all seen the earpiece that can translate instantly But that is just the start, as we can see from this article about this Xperia Ear wireless earpiece, it updates you from your phone when you put it in your ear. It won’t be long before we won’t need a smart phone everything will be in our ear.

Sony has revealed its ‘smart personal assistant’ that include a bluetooth earpiece will go on sale in November.

At the IFA show in Berlin today, the firm confirmed it will launch this November ‘starting in select markets,’ although its price has still not been revealed.

The Xperia Ear wireless earpiece can update you with any missed calls or messages as soon as you slot it into your ear.

The firm also showed off a Xperia Agent, a robot measuring just over one foot tall, that also works as a PA.

‘It will navigate you to where you want to go and make your life eye-free and hands-free,’ said Sony Mobile’s President and boss, Hiroki Totoki of the ‘her’ earpiece when it was unveiled at the MWC show earlier in the year.

‘It is also powered by Sony’s voice technology and will respond to a number of commands.’

The firm says the smart earpiece ‘is a next-generation wireless ear-piece that brings a new way of communicating, without compromising on enjoying the world around you.’

It reads users information such as your schedule, weather and the latest news to keep you up-to-date on the go.

Powered by Sony’s voice technology, it responds to verbal commands, so you can ask it to make a call, perform an internet search, dictate a message or navigate to a certain location.

It connects to an Android smartphone via NFC or Bluetooth and talks to a host application, where you can customise settings, including the info you need when you first connect in the morning, touch commands and app notifications.

‘Its lightweight and comfortable soft silicone ear-bud is built for continuous wear, with IPX2 water-protection and all-day battery life3,’ Sony said.

It’s available in Graphite Black and the innovative case doubles as a charger, so you can simply pop it in when you need to recharge.

It also unveiled the Xperia Eye, a wearable camera that acts as your personal sidekick, capturing everyday life moments with a 360 degree wide-angle lens.

Unveiled at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, the Xperia Eye can be attached to clothing or worn around the neck.

It forms part of a suite of connected gadgets designed to free people up from their phones.

Sony said the Xperia Eye is ‘a vision for a personalised assistant’ and joins three other smart gadgets that are connected to a Sony smartphone that acts as a hub, feeding information to them such as notifications.

These are Xperia Agent, Xperia Project and Xperia Ear.

Xperia Agent is a security camera-style device which acts as a home monitoring system, keeping an eye on what’s going on around it and projecting notifications fed to it from a Sony smartphone onto surfaces around it.

‘It will provide you with useful information, communication assistance and home appliance controls,’ Sony said.

Xperia Project projects an interactive interface onto any clear surface, meaning you can manipulate images, webpages and screens you would usually find on your smartphone, onto a hard surface.

Sony claims this projected image will respond to touch, voice and gestures just as someone would interact with your smartphone screen.

The Xperia Ear is a wireless earpiece that will update you with any missed calls or messages as soon as you slot it into your ear.

‘It will navigate you to where you want to go and make your life eye-free and hands-free,’ said Sony Mobile’s President and boss, Hiroki Totoki.

‘It is also powered by Sony’s voice technology and will respond to a number of commands.’

The wearable camera is the first time Sony has shrunk its image sensing and camera technology into such a small device.

How Many Walkie-Talkies Can Operate on the Same Channel?

Theoretically, you can use an unlimited amount of walkie-talkies on the same channel (although in practice you might experience a few problems if you took that suggestion literally). Basically, there isn’t really a set limit. You could use as many as you like provided they are set up correctly. Anybody set to the right channel and in range at the time of transmission would then be able to pick up the signal and respond to it.

Most radios have access to 8 channels. These channels each have 38 separate ‘identification tones’. The user sets his/her channel up with the desired tone and then only other users who know the channel/tone will be able to hear the transmissions. As a result, there are, in any given area, about 304 different combinations, so signal interference is unlikely to affect you.

Please do not interpret this answer as saying that your radio has access to 304 possible channels. It does not. It will likely only have access to 8. Some less reputable manufacturers tend to falsely imply access to 304 channels; this is simply not the case. You will have access to 304 possible tone/channel combinations, that’s all.

To better explain the CTCSS codes and how they work; we’ll include a little information from Amherst.co.uk’s FAQ page.

“CTCSS stands for “Continuous Tone Coded Squelch System”. These codes are also often called “Privacy codes” If a CTCSS tone is selected; a CTCSS sub-audible tone is transmitted along with the regular voice audio by the transmitting radio. The receiving radio, set to the same CTCSS tone, will only receive audio if it contains that sub-tone. Interference from other users on the same frequency is therefore rejected (unless they are also on the same sub-tone). This is a way of allowing groups of users of walkie-talkies on the same channel to avoid hearing messages from other nearby users”.

So, in conclusion, you can probably use as many walkie-talkies as you like on the same channel. As long as the units in question are of the same type (either VHF or UHF) and have the same CTCSS setup, then you simply shouldn’t have a problem. You also shouldn’t suffer from signal interference due to other users (although you may still experience signal loss/interference/degradation from other sources). We have talked about combating signal loss elsewhere, so please see the other questions if you have any problems in this area.

What’s The Earpiece Performers wear What Perform Singers have in Their Ear

Every time a singer gets on stage, he or she wants to put on his/her best performance ever. This is why he/she will try to avoid any distraction that might otherwise affect his or her performance in a negative way. They will ensure that their concentration is really high and that they can hear themselves sing during that moment. One of the distractions that is usually in almost every concert is noise. The noise can be coming from the speakers, the echoes and even form the audience itself.

The music and the song that is normally heard when a singer is performing is referred to as house mix while the song that the singer hears from the speakers is referred to as monitor mix. Usually, a singer stands at the back of the main speakers that are normally placed in front of the audience. Most of the time especially on a big stage, the song that reaches the audience is reflected back to the stage (but not immediately). Such background music will prevent the singer from hearing his or her voice.

Stage monitors are small speakers that are directly aimed at the singer for him or her to hear himself or herself sing. Stage monitors were previously used in concerts and they are still being used on some small venues where cover bands do gigs e.g. in some private parties, bars etc. In the current concert venues, stage monitors do not work very well. This is because singers and musicians move a lot on stage when they are performing. Although the stage monitors enable the singer to hear the music on the stage, they are not as clear as personal monitors (referred to as earpieces, very different to Radio Earpieces).

Earpieces give the singer a detailed information regarding his or her performance. They make him/her hear both the song and the orchestra. They enable the singer to constantly hear his/her song regardless of his or her physical movement on the stage. This is unlike the stage monitors that usually provide the band’s and the singer’s voice based on their distance from the speaker. With stage monitors, the sounds usually vary especially if the singer is moving all over the stage.

When a singer has the earpieces on, he gets to choose what he wants to hear. For instance if he wants to hear himself sing or even hear the lyrics, he can. The earpieces help in drowning out the background sounds like the noises made by the crowd or even those from the band. In fact on average, the earpieces can help the singer reduce the background noise by up to 30 decibels. This can extremely help the singer during the performance.

Usually, the earpieces are tailor- made to perfectly fit the singer. They also come in different styles and colors and therefore the singer can pick the one that suits his/her outfit on the stage.

The most important benefit of having the earpieces on is that, they help the singer in eliminating or reducing the echoes. In an auditorium specifically built for concerts, sounds usually radiate through the entire building when the singer is performing. The audience really enjoy the music that echoes back to the stage however, the singer can easily get confused with such echoes. Note that, by the time the echo reaches the stage, it will be one or two seconds off from what the singer is singing at that moment.

Earpieces also help in blocking the sounds that are coming from the band. The instruments are extremely loud especially those that use electric amplifiers. This noise can make it really hard for the singer to hear himself or herself sing.

The earpieces give the singer the sound feedback and therefore he/she is able to hear everything that is in the song. This makes it easier for him/her to keep on with his or her performance.

Sometimes, you may notice that some garage bands who work in small areas are not using earpieces. The members of such bands usually monitor one another while performing to ensure that they keep up and stay in tune during the performance. However in large crowds of say a 100000 people (i.e. in huge stadiums), one will definitely need earpieces otherwise he/she may not hear anything and may even end up with off key sounds.

What Every Headset Purchaser Needs To Know

Closed Back Headphones vs. Open-back Headphones

Open-back headphones have pads which rest on the outer ear. They’re designed such that the outer shell of the ear cup has perforations usually with horizontal cutouts. The Open back headphones design of the ear cup enhances better natural sound because of less coloration as compared to the Closed back headphones.

Closed back headphones have much larger earpads which encircle the ears. They are designed such that there’s a big pad which cups the ears, and it features an insulated outer shell of plastic which covers the ears. The Closed back headphones actually have a very solid outer shell which doesn’t have any sort of perforations such that the outer shell effectively cups/encircles the entire ear. The Closed back headphones are excellent at isolating noise. They block most of the ambient noise, but they’ve a smaller sound stage, which gives the user the perception that the audio/sound is originating from within their head. Closed back headphones also tend to produce much stronger low frequencies as compared to Open back headphones.

Low Impedance vs High Impedance

Headphones normally come in various different impedance levels, such as 8 ohms, 16 ohms and 32 ohms. The power that’s supplied by an audio source may be at varying levels because of a variety of factors including being limited because of being battery powered. Generally, as the impedance of the headphones increases, much more voltage will be required in order to drive it, and the audio loudness of headphones for a particular voltage decreases.

The determination of impedance is usually disregarded by many headphone buyers, however, the truth is it’s one of the most important factors to consider when choosing the best headphones for your particular needs. Impedance is basically just how much power the headphones can put out so that it can overcome resistance to move the headphones’ diaphragm.

Low impedance headphones (that is, less than 25 ohm), usually require little power in order to deliver high audio levels. Low Impedance headphones play well with devices which have weak amplification. These can include; mobile phones, portable music players and various other portable devices. This type of headphones can be used at home and also while jogging with your mobile phone; this is one of the reasons why most of the on-, in-, and over the ear headphones, are low impedance. Low impedance headphones are normally designed to get plugged directly in to a single (one) source, and generates sound more efficiently from a lower level input signal. This headphones tend to be much louder and much more efficient, however, they will also require a much more capable amplifier.

High impedance headphones (25 ohms and above), generally require more power in order to deliver high audio levels. As a result, they’re protected from damages caused by overloading. High impedance headphones are typically designed for studio like applications where there might be multiple phones/devices wired in parallel and receiving input signals from a single source. High impedance headphones are more tolerant of the amplifier limitations, however, they will produce less volume for a particular output level. They are also a little more durable (that is, electronically), however, they require much higher signal levels in order to produce the same level of output level of the low impedance headphones. This type of headphones can be used with a wider range of audio equipment.

Passive Headphones vs. Active Headphones

Passive (noise cancelling) headphones are made of materials which help in blocking out sound waves from the surrounding environment. The same way ear muffs soften the outside noise, so does this type of headphones employ passive noise canceling. This type of headphones are typically used for both professional mixing and monitoring, like in broadcast and recording studios, and such other applications. Passive headphones are basically designed to playback music/audio true to the actual original recording, with minimal, compression, EQ, and such other sound enhancements.

On the other hand, Active headphones use batteries in order to power the built in Digital Signal Processing (also abbreviated as DSP) technology which processes play back for a particular reason, for example, to enhance the bass and the high end. Due to the enhancement of playbacks with sharper high ends and more bass, active headphones are more popular for general listening and listening to music for pleasure. Active noise cancelling headphones are also made of materials which help in blocking out outside noise, however, they take things a step further by making their very own sound waves; the sound waves created mimic the outside noises, but are a mirror image of each other, thus cancels each other out.

Wired Headphones Vs Wireless Headphones

When choosing a pair of headphones, deciding between wireless vs. wired is among one of the most overlooked factors. Wireless headphones might be a more popular choice, however, the wired headphones also have their own set of benefits. Well, that being said, as a general rule of thumb, between wireless headphones and wired headphones, assuming a similar price between the models; the wired headphones usually offer a much better quality. Also, the audio quality may get compromised over Bluetooth.

You can opt for the wireless headphones if you are not much of an audiophile, and you tend to travel a lot. If you really don’t like getting the cables of your headphones getting tangled, or caught while listening to music/audio, then the choice should be rather simple; go for wireless headphones.

You can opt for the wired headphones if you are an audiophile, and you do not necessarily bother with the wireless options unless absolutely essential like using them when traveling, or keeping the headphones as a backup. As aforementioned, the wired headphones are way ahead in terms of output quality as compared to the wireless headphones. You will never have to worry about running out of batteries, unless you happen to opt for wired headphones which cancel noise. In addition, you will never suffer from interference from the other commonly used wireless electronic devices. However, you will need to take good care of the wired headphone cables, or they will eventually break.

Innovative radio technology keeps New Zealand’s Firefighters safe

We champion the advancement of communications within the emergency services, not only because it is an important part of their working day, but because they still have a long way to go before it is perfect. This news story comes from New Zealand and focuses on the fire service and is supplied by Motorola themselves.

Firefighters serving with New Zealand Fire Service will benefit from improved safety and communication while working in fire grounds through an innovative two-way radio solution.

The new solution from Motorola Solutions and Spark will enable the service’s 10,000 career and volunteer firefighters to stay connected to their colleagues in the field via reliable and robust voice communication.

Having attended around 73,000 incidents in the past year alone, New Zealand Fire Service needs the best tools for the job. The organisation will receive more than 4,500 new radios designed for use in the most severe fire ground environments.

A major feature of the solution is a cornerstone Motorola Solutions innovation, a remote speaker microphone that will be fully integrated within firefighters’ breathing apparatus. This will be combined with the radio’s convenient push-to-talk button, which enables firefighters to communicate easily and safely in the harshest conditions.

Paul Baxter, Chief Executive & National Commander of the New Zealand Fire Service, said,

“Communication is critical to safety on the incident ground, and much of that communication comes from the use of incident ground control (IGC) radio. That’s why we were so exacting in our requirements for these new radios.”

“The radios will help us to resolve radio interface issues with firefighters’ breathing apparatus while also delivering improved noise cancellation and battery life.”

By using a combination of single and multiband radios operating across both VHF and UHF bands, the solution aligns with the fire service’s vision of leading integrated fire and emergency services for a safer New Zealand.

“This radio solution enables us to move away from using a mix of models and frequencies and toward a nationally consistent standard that will make it easier to work with our emergency service partners,” Baxter said.

Murray Mitchell, Director ICT for the New Zealand Fire Service, said, “We wanted a solution that is safe, easy to use and doesn’t distract firefighters from their work during critical incidents.The design features incorporated in these new radios will help our firefighters work more safely and efficiently.”

Spark will provide in-country support including service management and a customer support desk.

Spark Digital CEO Tim Miles said: “Radios are life-saving tools for our emergency services, and great team communication can be the difference between a managed incident and a disaster. We are very proud to play a part in improving the on-ground experience for our Kiwi Fire Service heroes.”

Motorola Solutions Managing Director for New Zealand and Australia Steve Crutchfield said the solution drew on his company’s experience in providing tailored, mission-critical communications for public safety agencies all over the world.

“Firefighters depend on reliable and robust voice communications in emergency situations so they can concentrate on the job of protecting our communities and potentially saving lives,” Crutchfield said.

The radios are part of a five-year contract, giving New Zealand Fire Service operational and cost certainty throughout the life of the contract.

The contract also provides access provisions for related government agencies wanting to take advantage of the new radio technology.

This ‘Smart’ Earplug Can Be Your Language Translator In Real Time

We have all watched star trek or ‘Allo ‘Allo! (bare with us) and wondered how we can understand all the different languages. Well it is all down to the tardis! It translates the persons speech from their mouth to your ear so you can understand in perfect English. But now you don’t need to keep a Tardis about with you, as they have designed a earpiece that can translate different languages, just pop it into your ear and talk to some foreigners. You can find the original article here.

How many times did you give up on befriending a foreign national due to language problem? Even if you have befriended the person who doesn’t speak your language, it becomes difficult to converse with him or her. You always feel  the need to have a translator, whether it is a face-to-face conversation or a telephonic interaction.

Technology has the solution for any or every kind of problem in this world. It is advancing day-by-day so language barrier can no longer make you behave like an alien. Communicating with a foreign national in real time is no longer a pain as a company has come up with the Pilot earphones that let two people who speak different languages communicate smoothly with each other.

So there won’t be any awkward pause the next time you speak with your friend who doesn’t know your language. Also, there is no need to consult either a dictionary or search online the next time you want to talk to your French or Spanish friend.

In fact, Wavery Labs, a New York-based company that launched the wireless earphones, will add more languages as soon as possible. Currently the earphone translates only three languages – English, French and Spanish. The company will soon add Italian to its list.

You must be wondering about its functions. It works when you connect the earphones to two different people, speaking different languages and translates what they say in the ear.

Waverly Labs calls it the first ‘smart earpiece’. But it hasn’t disclosed much detail about how it works. According to the company, the earphone uses “translation technology” embedded in an app. The Pilot will cost $129 (around Rs. 8,646) and will be available for pre-order on their website.

DJs Shouldn’t Have to Live With Constant Ringing in Their Ears

When you think about DJs you don’t worry about their hearing, but this is a real issue in the music world, they seem to be slow in picking up this issue, probably because the industry can be full of bedroom DJs, that don’t consider hearing protection. As the article below says, it interferes with the mixing. This article was originally published on THUMP Canada. 

I’m waiting to get my hearing tested and I’m scared. Most of my work as a music journalist, along with my social life, has revolved around loud music for more than two decades. While I often wear cheap foam earplugs, I haven’t been as consistent as I should have been, and I’m particularly worried about is the damage I’ve done while DJing.

I was never a famous touring DJ, but spent many years playing long shifts on a weekly basis at Toronto bars, sprinkled with occasional club and warehouse party gigs on larger sound systems. I’ve never worn any hearing protection in the booth, as I found earplugs interfered too much with mixing. Gradually I’ve noticed that I’ve been turning up the monitors over the course of a long night, and the ringing in my ears was taking longer and longer to fade away after each gig. A few years ago, I started to realize I was having trouble keeping up with conversations in situations where there was a lot of background noise.

Then one day that familiar ringing never stopped.

Even though hearing loss caused by loud music is a well-known reality, most working artists view it as an issue they’ll deal with when they’re retired, not aware of the fact that it can often impact artists at the height of their careers.

“I would go home after a gig and my ears would be ringing really badly, and then one day I noticed that they never stopped ringing anymore,” says Toronto house DJ and producer Sydney Blu, who’s been playing regularly since 2000. “Not long after that, I noticed that whenever I’m in a nightclub and someone talks to me in my right ear, I have to stop them and put my left ear to their mouth.”

She eventually got herself fitted for custom musician earplugs, but found she could never get used to DJing while wearing them. Instead, Blu just tries to keep her monitors as quiet as possible, and turns them down completely in-between mixes. “Most of the older DJs that I know all have tinnitus. I wish I had thought about it earlier, and realized how bad it could get.”

There is no way to reverse tinnitus currently, and the treatment options for hearing loss are still in their infancy. For busy DJs who are constantly touring and playing festivals around the world, many don’t notice the ringing in their ears getting worse until it’s too late.

“I think it’s rife in the DJ field,” says NYC house music veteran Roger Sanchez. “A lot of people have tinnitus and they haven’t even identified it. They’re just so accustomed to their ears ringing, and they think it’s just because of their gig the night before. But if you’re playing three or four times a week, your exposure is almost constant. Then when they step back, they realize they have tinnitus.”

Sanchez has been performing for 36 years, and started to experience permanent ringing towards the end of the 90s. Like Blu, he got himself fitted for custom earplugs, and feels they’ve saved him from further damage. However, he admits there was a learning curve when it came to mixing while wearing hearing protection.

“In the beginning, I felt like I couldn’t hear things clearly. It was like someone had put their hands over my ears. It took me a while to acclimate, but what I started noticing was that I could turn my monitors up, but it didn’t sound piercing any more. I also had them put bass bins in a lot of booths, which helped compensate.”

Sanchez says that it’s become much more common in recent years for big name DJs to wear custom earplugs while performing. He finally got tested properly in 2010, and found there was a significant dip in upper range of his hearing around the 800hz range, but was relieved that the loss wasn’t worse. The persistent ringing in his ears is still there though.

“Right now I hear the ringing, but I’ve just become accustomed to it. I don’t notice it when I’m walking on the street, or if I’m not paying attention to it, but the second I quiet everything down, the ringing starts. It’s not too loud, thank god. I think using the filters prevented it from getting to that level. I know some people who have it very loud.”

Custom musician earplugs can cost more than $200, but they’re one of the few options for DJs who need to be able to accurately hear the effect of their EQ tweaks and filtering. The cheap disposable earplugs you can buy at the drugstore will protect your ears the same amount, but change the sound so much that few performers use them.

“A cheap foam earplug might bring the sound down by 25db at one frequency, and 10db at another,” explains Adam Rhodes, the US director of hearing protection company ACS Custom. “They muffle the sound, because it’s not a true response. You can’t hear anything, it takes away the enjoyment of the experience, so you just end up taking them out. When you’ve got the right filter though, you’re not sacrificing the quality at all: you’re just turning it down.”

ACS works with many of the biggest names in electronic music, from Tiesto to Zedd to Deadmau5. Rhodes says that there’s much more awareness of the issue now, although too often artists come to them after they’ve already done permanent damage. “Pretty much every week we hear someone say they wish they’d heard about this ten years ago. We hear that often,” he says. “I think it’s all about education. We’re at a festival every weekend in the summers, trying to make it as accessible to them as possible.”

Many touring musicians have switched to in-ear monitors in recent years, which block out external sounds, while amplifying what they need to hear. In the electronic music world however, they are far less common, as they require DJs to completely rethink their approach to mixing.

“In-ear monitors haven’t always worked for DJs,” admits Rhodes. “They like to wear the cans over their ears, so they can take them off, and do a mix with one ear covered. There are some DJs who use them though, like Deadmau5. We have one model now that have ambient microphones built in, so that they can still hear the mix. That’s kind of the next level, but it’s still hard to persuade DJs to use them. They’re so used to wearing headphones and it’s almost part of their outfit when they’re performing.”

One artist who has transitioned to in-ear monitors is Dutch DJ and producer Laidback Luke. He started wearing custom earplugs in the early 2000s, after becoming concerned about tinnitus and a growing lack of sensitivity to loud volume levels. Around 2008, he decided to give in-ear monitors a try and has used them ever since.

“I just wasn’t getting the definition I was looking for in DJ monitors. We tried the in-ear monitoring, and I was so happy with the clarity. Even in big halls with lots of reverb, my monitoring would always stay the same,” he says. “It was a revelation to me. I could keep the volume low, and still hear every little detail in the song. I couldn’t hear the crowd anymore, but that just made me work harder to get applause.” It wasn’t until three years ago that he finally got up the courage to get his hearing tested.

Thankfully, it turns out that his early adoption of ear protection had a huge impact, and the results were completely normal. Even the constant ringing and beeping that panicked him early in his career has subsided.

My own ringing isn’t nearly as bad as it was a year ago, but it sure seems loud in the complete silence of the soundproof booth in the downtown Toronto clinic where my hearing is being assessed. I struggle to hear the tones, but feel optimistic that I’m able to notice some of the very high-pitched signals they’re feeding me. However, I’m also noticing that there are long pauses during where I probably should be hearing something.

“Do you work with heavy machinery?” the doctor asks me as he looks at my results, which makes my heart skip a beat. When I explain that I’m around loud music constantly, he tells me that explains what the chart is telling him, and why the highest frequency range of my hearing is still decent.

“It’s not actually too bad. Your left ear has a dip at 1K, but it’s still within the normal range. Your right ear has a much larger dip though, at 4K. You should really get yourself a pair of custom musician earplugs.”

I leave his office feeling relief that my hearing isn’t worse, but embarrassed that it’s taken me this long to take it seriously. Thankfully, it’s not too late for me to stop things from getting worse.

Benjamin Boles is on Twitter.