Each month Fader Plugs, LLC will be highlighting musicians, producers, entrepreneurs, and innovators. Fader Plugs is on a mission to raise awareness of hearing conservation and preservation! We are excited to announce that our first highlight story is seasoned producer, audio engineer, and entrepreneur, Joel Wanasek! Being a producer and mixing engineer, Joel is exposed to music for countless hours each and everyday. To get the best mix for his clients, Joel is dependent on his hearing. We had the unique opportunity in speaking with Joel about the success of his career, as well as his thoughts and feelings regarding hearing preservation.
Joel Wanasek has been producing and mixing artists in a wide variety of genres since 2003. Having built JTW Recording from the ground up into a midwestern power house, his self-taught background in music production has given him a unique perspective on music business as well as the technical side of making music. With a finely tuned ear, Joel has found great success in mixing music for artists that have received national radio airplay and topping the billboard charts. His compositions have been placed many times over on national television networks and other major media outlets. Joel is the founder of Insaneguitar.com (served over 1 million guitarists since 1999). He has published over 60 articles on guitar playing as well as published a book on guitar learning. In the studio, he has worked with artists such as Vinyl Theatre, Trapt, Phinehas, Machine Head, The Bloodline, and many more. Joel has also written songs that have been featured on ESPN, Fox Sports, The Speed Channel, Food Network, etc...
1.) When you're in a loud environment, what are some of the things you notice about your hearing sensitivity? (For example, ringing in your ears, sound sounding dull, etc.)
I played in a band for over 10 years. I always wore ear plugs. However, I do have mild tinnitus in my left ear. Because of this I’ve always been sensitive to loud sounds and hate it. I always turn down car stereos and avoid concerts. I monitor quiet in my studio.
2.) What precautions have you taken over the years to protect your hearing?
I ALWAYS keep a box full of ear plugs in my car. I wear them anywhere there is loud music. I don’t mind looking like a fool because I make a living with my ears.
3.) As an audio engineer, someone who relies on their hearing, are you or have you ever been concerned with hearing loss?
Yes. Very. I mix records so literally all I do is listen all day to speakers and turn knobs. As a result, I always try to be very aware of loud sounds.
4.) Is it possible for you to imagine to do your job with a high frequency hearing loss? Can you at all imagine what it would sound like to not have auditory access to those high frequency sounds?
It would be very difficult. It happens to all of us though as we age.
5.) What lengths have you gone to protect your hearing when you know you will be exposed to loud noise? What precautions do you currently take today?
Like I said earlier, I always have ear plugs on or near me.
6.) Some of the issues with conventional types of earplugs has been with comfort and durability. If you had a quality pair of earplugs, is this something you would be more willing to use?
Probably. Though I always lose and smash my ear plugs through negligence. Generally I buy the crappy foam ones for convenience. I’m not sure if that is the best decision. A lot of my high profile musician clients like the in ear monitor style custom molded ear plugs.
For more information on Joel Wanasek and his career, you can visit the following links:
Personal Website - joelwanasek.com
Drum Forge - drumforge.com
Studio Website - jtwrecording.com
Guitar Impulse Library - jtwrecording.com
Joel’s Guitar Book - Guitarvirtuoso.net
CEO and Founder, Blaise Delfino, is currently a graduate student at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania studying speech-language pathology. Each month, Blaise will be interviewing and sharing the stories of musicians, producers, innovators, and entrepreneurs. He will be sharing their story, as well as their experience with hearing protection devices!