I love the nightlife, and I love electronic music.  I have spent too many nights on the dance floor than I could possibly count, with plenty of those evenings spent at Spybar. With such a beautiful twenty-five thousand watt line array Dynacord sound system and the friendly staff it’s one of my favorite clubs in Chicago, if not the world.

I also love hearing protection.  This should come as no surprise from the founder of a hearing protection company.  However, it’s not safety that keeps me wearing earplugs.  The reason I love high fidelity earplugs is that I get better sound quality while enjoying music at Spybar and other clubs. The safety bonus, that I also protect my ears so I can enjoy that live music for a long time, is just icing on the cake.

Make no mistake; hearing protection is a necessary precaution if you live the sonic lifestyle.  Almost anyone who’s been to a concert or club has experienced some element of short-term hearing damage. This could take the form of partial deafness, where you can’t hear the same sound levels as when you started, a symptom known as Temporary Threshold Shift. Or you could have a slight ringing in your ears, otherwise known as tinnitus. Those are annoying in the here and now, but they do go away.  In some cases, however, those conditions can become permanent, and unfortunately modern science has no way of reversing noise-induced hearing loss or tinnitus.

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  Even worse, hearing damage is cumulative, so if you go to a lot of shows, it can and probably will get worse over time.  If you’re like myself and go to at least one club or concert every week, you’re at a high risk for developing such symptoms, and those conditions could put a harsh damper on a lifestyle you’ve grown accustomed to.  A life without music is not a life I’m looking to lead anytime soon.

Downbeats - Hearing Protection for Concerts

Downbeats – Earplugs & Hearing Protection for Concerts

Ultimately, I wear earplugs because I want a better experience.  For the price of a drink I can improve that experience.  In the short term that means that I can hear music and my friends’ conversation better, for longer periods since my ears don’t suffer from audio fatigue, and that I wake up in the morning and can hear everything clearly and without any ringing.  But in the long term it’s also because I want to continue having these experiences for many, many more years.  Earplugs aren’t for people that are old.  They’re for people that won’t ever grow old and continue to have great nights at Spybar.

– Derin Alemi

Derin Alemli is the Founder of DownBeats, a Chicago-born brand of high fidelity hearing protection for concerts, and a frequent patron at Spybar. DownBeats and more information on hearing protection are both available at