I was lately watching and re-watching a-ha's MTV Unplugged, and noticed Morten Harket adjusting an earphone while performing the acoustic "Take On Me", and I noticed he has it during all their concerts.

I realise musicians use earphones to protect themselves from the extremely loud noise during full-scale concerts (as do the listeners), but in this case it seems unnecessary as the acoustic version is as quiet as it could get.

What other reason is there to use the earphones, especially for a vocalist, and especially during a quiet, acoustic performance?

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    Maybe it was needed for cues from the TV crew ? No personal experience of performing on TV, so can't really say for sure... – Angst Dec 11 '18 at 22:51

I can't speak for this particular case because I can't identify exactly what he does have in his ears, but I can have a few hypothesis based on my experience.

Slight attenuation of outside sound, even with a few dB will prevent fatigue. In loud live shows, musician can protect themselves with higher protection (for example -35 dB) to prevent ear damage, but even in a non harmful environment, a long term exposition to sound and music can reduce concentration and discernment. Wearing a -10 dB earplug will not drastically reduce the overall loudness but still make the working session more comfortable and delay hearing fatigue.

Another effect is by reducing the outside sound, the singer will increase his own sound and hear his voice better. Anyone can experiment this, by clogging oneself's ear (by simply pressing the tragus inside the ear for example) oneself's voice will sound louder.

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