The More Sound, the Merrier

Speaking as the inventor of Earglasses® Sound Magnifiers, I was recently delighted by the kindness of one our fans. This gentleman, a former loudspeaker designer and audio technician, took the time to carefully measure sound volume differences between using our acoustic lenses, or using nothing at all. Here’s a graph showing his findings:

New gain chart

What’s even more gratifying for me is to note that this is the measured performance for our new model. I was afraid that, because our new model is more compact, and thus less noticeable than our old model, that it would not amplify sound quite as well. Surprise! It’s clear from the graph of the amplification provided by our old model that our new model amplifies significantly more sound. See for yourself:

Old chart

Defensive Listening 2

Bear screamHere are some more tips for things you can do to protect and preserve your hearing ability:

Scream. If you find yourself standing beside a firing jet engine or artillery piece without ear plugs, or any extremely loud sound source, voicing a twenty-second long, escalating scream may cause your strapedius muscle to tighten for a bit of extra protection.

Drive safely. If you wear earplugs to protect your hearing when you drive, just stay alert. Despite state laws against using headphones while driving, statistics show that deaf drivers are safer than the rest of us.

Avoid misuse of “personal electronics.” The abusive volumes sent through headphones and portable music systems caused high frequency hearing loss among a third of the fad-prone new students at the University of Tennessee in 1981.

Set vanity aside. If you’re caught without earplugs when you need them to block noise – say, in a subway or at an airport, forget your self-consciousness and press your hands tightly to your ears. Save yourself!

At worst, double up. If you must attend or perform in a heavy metal rock concert, or face other extremely noisy environments, try wearing both ear plugs and earmuffs.

Work soundly. If you work in an office, cut distractions and the destructive effects of noise: turn your desk to face the wall, and surface the wall with a sound absorbent material like carpet, fabric, or fiberglass insulation material. You’ll have to turn to face visitors, but you will do so without a barrier between you.


Defensive Listening

Eccentric Young Musicians Singing into Microphone bxp140418h
These screaming musicians may be heading for a serious loss of hearing due to damaged hair cells in their inner ear’s cochlea.

There are a number of steps you can take to protect and preserve your hearing. It’s important to put up a good hearing defense. Here’s just a few things you can do to protect yourself against an increasingly noisy world. 

Opera singer? Change jobs! Opera performers generate sound volumes in their heads which are as loud as jet engines heard at close range. As a result, they often suffer deafness as they age. If your job endangers your hearing, either wear ear protection, or quit. The same applies to sports or hobbies: gun lovers, don’t forget to wear ear plugs on the firing range! 

Put your ears on a low noise diet. We recommend avoiding all sounds whose volumes exceed 80 decibels. Physiological stress measurably begins at this loudness level. Living with less noise can provide big health benefits, from less anxiety and lower blood pressures to improved immune response. 

Use earphylactics. Ear plugs and “earmuff” noise-blocker headsets are a must for noise dieters. These devices can cut volume levels of ambient noise by up to 30 db. Don’t try cotton balls or tissue wads; they don’t stop much sound. There are several inexpensive types of ear plugs. You’ll find one or more in most drug stores: disposable models in ear-canal-insertable plastic foam or a waxy “formable canal cover.” Industrial supply shops carry more expensive, washable pre-molded plastic or rubbery shapes – wild mushrooms, lawn lights, pagodas, etc.

Another option: connected pairs and singles. The cords on the back ends of the connected models make them easier to remove, and harder to lose. If you can, buy in quantity from a catalog house like Global Industrial (800-558-9966), where they have a wide selection and low unit prices—as low as 12 cents a pair. But wear whatever model you select for two hours before buying a large lot. The rough surfaces on some models can make them uncomfortable to wear for extended periods.

You can see even see a hearing specialist and have him make impressions of your ear canals; he’ll then be able to order custom plugs which will fit your ear canal perfectly, and that will pass the sounds you hear without frequency distortions.

If you don’t like wearing earplugs, or if you lose them too often, or if you need to be able to put your ear protectors on or take them off in a hurry, try sound-blocking ear muffs instead. These are the kind of protectors you see on the ground crew at airports. They offer between twenty and thirty decibels of sound attenuation, at prices ranging from ten to fifty dollars a unit.

WHAT Problem? Say again?


People with hearing losses are often unaware of, or may even deny, their deficits. So the National Center on Deafness cites these warning signs for risk of hearing loss:

1. A history of ear infections
2. Tinnitus — squeals or ringing in the ears
3. Talking loudly
4. Turning up the TV set’s volume
5. The feeling that talkers too often mumble
6. Frequently complaining that “I can’t hear you”
7. Confusing one word with another with a similar sound
8. Needing to watch a talker’s face and mouth in order to understand what they are saying

White males with a history of exposure to high noise levels (on the job, from concerts or listening to loud music via earbuds, etc.) are also at higher risk. The advice in this blog is critical for those who suffer any of these conditions.

There are some ways to do crude “do-it-yourself” hearing tests. If you have an old “tube style” TV set around, turn it on and let it warm up with the volume turned all the way down. All such sets emit an audible high-frequency squeal which good hearers can hear from several feet away. If you can’t, have a friend come up
from behind you with a ticking watch or clock. See how close it must be to each of your ears before you hear it, then ask a friend with good hearing to take the same test. Compare your “distances to audibility.”

Better yet, have an audiologist give you a professional hearing test. If (1) you experience any of the symptoms noted above, or (2) you can’t pass our do-it-yourself hearing tests, or (3) if you are over fifty, you should have a hearing health professional test your hearing every five years, or annually if you are over sixty. Hearing aid sellers may even give you a quick test, free.

And remember: good hearing aids the chance of having a good life. If your hearing is seriously impaired, face it, and take heart: it’s now possible for even the profoundly deaf to hear. Hearing aids tend to produce satisfaction proportional to investments made in their purchase, and in learning their proper use. Don’t let pride, or an isolationist’s ideology, stand in the way of your ability to communicate with the people who care about you.


Hearing Loss Risk Factors

People with hearing losses are often unaware of, or may even deny, their deficits. So the National Center on Deafness cites these warning signs for risk of hearing loss:

  • A history of ear infections
  • Tinnitus — squeals or ringing in the ears
  • Talking loudly
  • Setting TV volumes to levels that others protest
  • Feeling that talkers often mumble
  • Frequently complaining that “i can’t hear you”
  • Confusing one word with another with a similar sound
  • Needing to watch a speaker’s face to understand their speech

White males with a history of exposure to high noise levels (on the job, from concerts or a Walkman®, etc.) are also at higher risk.

Surprised Young Man Removing Headphones from Ears bxp140412h
Are you a headphone addict? Yes? So is it time to get your hearing checked?

If your workplace or residence exposes you to sustained high noise volumes, test the levels to see how much risk that sound level poses to your hearing. You can buy a used Radio Shack sound level meter for under $30 on eBay, or get a new one for under $70 online. Use one to measure the loudness of noises in your life, so you can find ways to block out the ones that threaten to damage your ears and your hearing.

Basic Training

Dangewr sink(Note: the following article is excerpted from the free booklet “New Secrets of Better Hearing”) The first step in conserving your hearing is to learn more about what may cause you to lose it. You’re doing that already, just by reading this. What else do you need to know, right now?

For one thing, you should learn where noise hazards lie. We all live in a surprisingly a noisy world; the risks are all around us:

  • Standard home toilet flushing: 74 db. – safe
  • Water running in the kitchen sink: 76 db. – safe
  • Frigidaire washing machine: 76 db. – safe
  • A ticket desk at L.A. airport: 77 db. – marginal
  • In a concourse near the airplanes’ gates: 84 db.
  • Takeoff from a runway in a Boeing 757: 100 db.
  • Cruising at 30,000 feet in a B-757: 93 db.
  • Home stereo system at realistic volume: 82 db.
  • Wahl electric hair trimmer: 84 db.
  • Running the shower, shower door closed: 85 db.
  • Sony telephone ringing: 86 db.
  • Hoover upright vacuum cleaner: 88 db.
  • Front door slamming shut: 89 db.
  • Garbage disposal: 91 db.
  • Craftsman® lawnmower, electric chain saw: 95 db.
  • Electric leaf blower: 96 db.
  • In an open-windowed Acura cruising at 65 m.p.h.:
    • with the radio at normal volumes: 100 db.
    • with the radio turned off: 98 db.
    • with the windows rolled up: 90 db.

Moral of the story here? Protect yourself: avoid prolonged
exposures to any sound source not marked “safe.”

Free: “New Secrets of Better Hearing”

Booklet2It’s the most untreated health problem in America. A 2010 survey by the Better Hearing Institute revealed that one person in nine suffers from a hearing loss. The incidence of deafness is doubling every forty years. This will continue to climb as Americans’ average ages increase. But it doesn’t need to grow: the typical seventy-year-old Sudanese Mabaan tribesman shows the same hearing ability as an American eighteen-year-old. Why?

Leading authorities say that three factors other than aging are the most common causes of hearing losses:

  1.   Atherosclerosis, the buildup of fatty deposits on blood vessel walls
  2.   A reduced rate of blood flow to the inner ear
  3.   Most importantly, noise

My booklet “New Secrets of Better Hearing” explain how you can do a number of things to prevent these and other causes of deafness. These important steps will help preserve your hearing for the rest of your life. It even reveals a number of little known “secret” ways, short of a hearing aid, for you to actually improve your hearing. In some cases, these improvements will be only temporary, while others can provide lifelong benefits, if you work at them.

Now for the really good news: this booklet is available for free. Just visit the “For Users” page of our website, at, to download a .pdf file copy.

The steps listed in this booklet came from a huge number of sound scientific sources.  The benefits of the steps we suggest will not only improve your hearing, they can dramatically increase the length and quality of your life.

“Hyperlisten” to Hear Better

A recent Time magazine cover article about “mindfulness” made me pause for mindful reflection. “Can mindfulness improve how much we can hear,” I wondered. And soon I concluded, “yes, but only if you keep the right attitudes in mind.”

I once trained myself to become an expert listener. That practice gave me good reason to see that the right mindset can open doors to new and more subtle perceptions. My experiences in designing and improving my Earglasses® Sound Magnifiers invention reinforced that conclusion.

I formed my first company to market my product using the corporate name “The Listening Institute.” The name reflected the inspiration for the product. The idea for ear-focused acoustic lenses came to me because I was a serious audiophile. I even wrote for a small audio review magazine for a while. I worked hard to be able to discriminate between the sounds produced by one audio component versus another. Attentive listening for subtle audible details was critical, as was the need to develop descriptions for the differences I noted.

Basically, my experience reminded me that “listening” is very different than “hearing.” Hearing is latent, a sensory capability. But for that sensory apparatus to work, one must listen. What’s the difference? Listening is a product of combining hearing with concentrated attention — or “mindfulness,” as Time puts it.

It’s just like our mothers’ told us: “listen to me! Pay attention!

I’d like to add a few further observations about how to make that process work at its best.

Whenever I have trouble hearing something that interests me these days, the first things I experience are: (1) anxiety about what I may be missing; (2) a temptation to deny my interest in the sounds that confuse me, so that I don’t have to work at increasing my attention; and (3) fear that my senses are declining with age, and that I may look foolish or weak as a result.

All of these negative feelings result in even more confusion and annoyance until I either turn my attention elsewhere or my brain somehow figures out how to better hear what I had been missing. Let’s focus on this second outcome and see if there are ways we can increase the odds of arriving at such a result.

How does our consciousness puzzle out the solution to mysteries contained in sounds at the outer limits of perception? I have no idea. But I do know from experience that if I maintain a calm, empty but attentive mindfulness while listening to sounds that at first cause me confusion, I will be able understand them sooner than if I panic and start to indulge in a fearful interior retreat.

I call the process “hyperlistening.” Hyperlistening calls for keeping an open, uncluttered mind. It requires one to stay confident of the mind’s ability to solve problems when calm, patient attention is paid to the source of one’s former confusion.

As my own hyperlistening skills advanced, I became capable of doing things that sound engineers considered impossible. I became able to reliably identify the differences in the sound envelopes produced by audio amplifiers with identical electrical profiles. When listening to well-engineered recordings, I became able to identify the location of individual members of a performing ensemble. I could pin down not only their position on my stereo’s auditory stage on a left-to-right basis, but could even determine whether their position was toward the front or rear of the recording venue. The size of the venue, even the qualities of its furnishings (“wet” or “dry,” depending on the degree of reverberation) became matters I learned to hear, and to reliably articulate.

If you too experience the kinds of hearing anxieties I noted above, try sharpening your own hyperlistening skills. You can do that by using your own audio system. Even the sound system in your automobile can provide you with challenges that can help you to sharpen your senses. Practice may not make perfect, but it can help, to a surprising degree.

Fan Mail

The inventor: Michael D. Riley

As the inventor of Earglasses® Sound Magnifiers, I was gratified to recently read a message posted by a fan of my humble device, a man apparently named Roy Clark. His comment appeared on the page that sells our product. It was posted as a reply to a snarky comment posted by a third party regarding a previously posted favorable review of the product. The snarker, a “MacBobT,” commented that our fan, the reviewer, was “…Not an Amazon Verified Purchase!”

Here’s how our fan’s response to BobMacT‘s snark went:

“Thank you, Oh Guardian of Amazon Purchase Verification. The inventor of these Earglasses sells them through Amazon, has for years. How is verification logged in? Is there a link to see a list of accredited purchasers? If so, believe you me. my name’s proudly on the list.

“My liking Earglasses isn’t cronyism or nepotism nor capital gain, just that I bought my set at Amazon and think Amazonians deserve to know Earglasses simply work so well, providing an effective and versatile alternative to ear horns (clumsy), hands cupped behind ears (dangerous when driving or distracting when making a move on a potential romantic target), hearing aids’ power surges, electrical hearing amplification units (hair raising) which also cost many $$$’s more.

“And radiate Heaven know what. (Have you read of the Russian experiment with cell phones? Two cell phones with a plate between them on which sat a pair of raw eggs. All it took was just 19 hours of the phones being on before the eggs were were fried) Look it up! It’s true. For electronic hearing devices too; why do so many octogenarians lose their hair? Obvious connection, scary scientific proof!

“My hearing problem’s slight, but my 13-year-younger wife’s hearing is fading (rock n’ roll, rap, surround sound, loud people, advertising). Curled cozily enjoying Breaking Bad with me it’s nice she can hear with- without being plugged into a distracting electronic gizmo which would’ve cost me a bundle. Sans wires or strap-ons thanks to Earglasses!

“I call them my EG’s. Sounds cool, huh? H’mmm, sounds like ‘ergonomics’; after all, they obviously are ergonomic. Hope Earglasses management hear that. Maybe I should copyright the name?

“I bought this new version of Earglasses for about ten bucks a year+ ago. At Amazon, of course. I price check everything. The wife and I trade off my Earglasses; I can use my prior set, the still-fine original Earglasses. No fixing or fussing, the new model’s sound sounds even better, sharpest from where you point your head. Background noise diminishes. The new Earglasses are a fine furthering of hearing comfort, stability. They work even better than my original set, which still works fine (still uses as a spare). I keep them handy for traveling in our SUV. I pick ’em up and take them to sporting, musical events, rallies, riots; crowd chatter fades just enough and the initial, natural sound comes cleaner.

“Oh, and Earglasses are waterproof too. Walk in the rain wearing EG’s, you’ll hear the pitter-patter splatter better. They’re even zany conversation starters at ball games, bars, wrestling matches, bingo games and on and on. They’re even much better than big ears. They keep your ears dry too.

“The new Earglasses design looks better, works better. I carefully tested, compared before and after versions. Checked them on me in a mirror, cool. Okay, somewhat odd, but soon you’ll become accustomed to their complementing your head. I even tried different sound levels, hard/soft surface sound reflections and high/low frequencies from my stereo system – the new version is audibly, noticeably, blessedly better.

“Okay, okay… I’m a Virgo, somewhat compulsive; I bet the Earglasses genius creator is like that too, desperately seeking simple sonic perfection. Heaven help me, I can’t stop myself vis-a-vis detail digging and alliterating.

“So, how do you find Earglasses on The Mighty Amazon? This link, go for it:

“To be fair, Amazon has a category called “Personal Sound Amplifiers.” Check those products; compare and consider versus Earglasses, particularly durability/style/savings/uniqueness/convenience/cost/use ease/lower prices/fidget-less-ness/economy and a real senior concern nowadays, maintenance costs.

“Earglasses have more reasons to buy: Put Earglasses on backwards to better hear what’s being said behind your back/turn head left, right, up, down, to target specific amplification directional sensitivity/as ear ‘shells’ are made of hard yet very workable plastic, you can etch any designs or slogans over your ears without interfering with sound catching characteristics. Think translucent tattoos, gang or club mottoes, open or closed attitudes to attract or ward off desired or grisly types, action…

Stickers and decals can turn Earglasses® lenses into a personalized fashion statement.

“Do you jog? Put an LED light inside each Earglasses shell, to glow through a translucent or transparent shell surface. Maybe aroma pods inside to attract new friends of chase flies away? Ultimately, Earglasses can have mini phone elements call or be called from around the world. Mini radar antenna. Someday a miniature laser device can immolate threatening perverts; maybe voice or muscle-flinch/twitch/blink activated; maybe a mini radar module to detect sudden movement behind or above you. Or a smoke/noxious gas detector, emergency help summoner. Or… well, possibilities are legion.

“Back to your immediate buying decision; Earglasses are just platforms for exciting, extraordinary additions in so many dimensions, attributes, operations. So go see Earglasses’ competition at Amazon. Earglasses are just starting; those others have nowhere to go. They’re done inventing, even improving and expanding their capabilities. Check out the competition, back there in the dust of the 20th Century:

“Okay, MacBobT: I’d be glad to hear any comments on my comments re your comments. I’ll hear them clearly because I’ll wear my Earglasses; eventually there’ll be telephoto video augmentation for visual (broad spectrum, infrared, units for audio and video transcription. Think micro transistorized Robot Cop enhancement; I see cyborgs just around the corner!.. Manbots!

“(But first, Bob… Verify you’re not some shill for a Hearing-Aid Association. Or the infamous PLBMM – the Pricy Lithium Battery Marketeering Mafia). As Christmas 2014 is almost here, put some Earglasses on your shopping list for grampy, grammy or your favorite, Uncle Ernie.”

Wow. All I can say is “thanks, Roy Clark, whoever you are.”

New Book: Good News for Governments

Front cover smallGovernment officials facing a crisis in municipal finances may find a fresh set of answers in a new book. Titled “$ave Your City – How to Get Businesses to Help Pay Your Taxes,” the text details a comprehensive collection of business sponsorship strategies.

The book’s author, Michael D. Riley, M.S., maintains that these strategies can generate up to two percent of local governments’ General Revenue requirements. Riley was one of the founders and President of Public Enterprise Group, Inc. This innovative California-based agency was the leader in providing comprehensive municipal marketing consulting services to a wide variety of institutions – hospital networks like New York City’s HHC, school systems such as the Los Angeles Unified School District, counties and cities of all sizes, even the Department of Parks and Recreation for the State of California. The firm’s accomplishments for its clients generated enthusiastic coverage from NBC-TV Nightly News, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times.

Riley says his new book provides a tried and true collection of more than three dozen entrepreneurial recipes for tapping new sources of government revenue. He notes that conventional sources of government funding, such as raising tax rates, increasing borrowing, reducing staff costs or the sale of public assets all face increasing resistance, from voters as well as beneficiary constituencies. In contrast, Riley points out that private sector businesses are quite happy to guarantee public funding in exchange for access to public sector assets.

“’$ave Your City’ is designed as a workbook,” Riley explains. “Its large, letter-sized page format provides enough space for careful readers to make their own notes. The prose is designed for engaging reading rather than being as dry as the typical textbook. But the contents are also comprehensively indexed. I’ve also included extensive reference appendices, such as an RFP template.”

“$ave Your City” is published by Books of Destiny, and includes over 200 pages of text plus index. It is now available on order in paperback, Kindle, and e-Pub editions at booksellers everywhere. The book is also a featured offering of the Alliance for Innovation (“Transforming Local Governments” – see