This is part of the problem. If the guitarist wants the sound of a big overdriven Marshall stack (and what guitarist doesn’t ) thats what he will use. Then everyone else beefs up their gear to balance, and suddenly you have close to 100dB just for the band on stage. Then the front of house kicks in as well, and the sound man has damaged hearing, so he is cranking up the volume…
The other advantage of in-ear monitors is that you can pump stuff to the band that no-one else can hear - even in the front row. This includes click-tracks, backing lines and (for dodgy singers) vocal lines.
Would you be able to provide a citation for this? It’s my impression even cheap $.50 earplugs have been balanced to provide a relatively “flat” noise reduction.
All of the literature that I’ve read on ear protection suggests that hearing protection increases peoples hearing ability in loud environments. The most important customers for hearing protection probably aren’t musicians but people in industry that need to be able to hear subtle shifts in mechanical noise to pick up on problems in machinery. It’s simply not true that hearing protection isn’t designed to provide a good listening experience as well. For instance, I actually find it much easier to talk to people at rock shows with plugs in than without. If one plans to be a consumer or producer of music over a long period of time, in the end certainly one will come out far ahead to protect one’s hearing (again, both dynamic range and avoiding clipping or distortion through frequency loss) by wearing hearing protection.
Again, I’ve never come across any good evidence that earplugs reduce one’s ability to hear very loud noises at all, and I’d be interested to see any objective evidence of such.
I think that “musical” or “audiophle” type earplugs have been available for at least 10 to 15 years, possibly longer.
I first heard about them in a “mini” review (just a user evaluation, not real lab measurements) done by one the editors at Stereo Review magazine. These was one of the people who routinely did listening and lab tests on all kinds of middle and high end audio gear, so he has at least some idea of what to listen for.
As I recall, he was fairly impressed with their frequency response, but wished they had even a little more attenuation. I seem to recall the rated attenuation was something like 20 or 25 db.
I’m pretty sure this was at least a decade ago (Stereo Review doesn’t even exist anymore, it became Sound & Vision or something like that several years ago, and I’ve let my subscription lapse). I would expect that there are earplugs available today better then those, and probably less expensive. I know I have seen and heard of several manufacturers who make them.