Michael Santucci, AuD, merits the 2023 Samuel F. Lybarger Industry Award for his innovative contributions in engineering, technology, and advocacy for promoting hearing health among musicians, their crew, and music enthusiasts. 

As a young audiologist and musician in the 1980s, Dr. Santucci saw an unrecognized appreciation for protecting the hearing health of performers working in the unregulated music industry. He then founded Sensaphonics and dedicated his life to increase acceptance of effective hearing loss prevention approaches, without compromising musical experiences. He has now pioneered multiple products that meet those targets.

He was the first audiologist to work with professional musicians, using the custom high-fidelity ‘musicians ear plug,’ the ER-15 filter, embedded in medical-grade silicone. Dr. Santucci developed unique in-ear monitors (IEM) with drivers that improve bass response without requiring high-volume inputs. His line of IEMs with ambient in-ear mikes allow performers and engineers to mix ambient sound without removing one “ear” to reconnect with audiences or other performers during a loud concert.

Beyond his technological achievements, Dr. Santucci has extended himself with public outreach and education in national and global hearing-related initiatives. He chaired the Academy’s 2020 task force that produced our consensus for recommended audiology-best practices targeting musicians and music-industry personnel.

While serving on the Academy’s Foundation Board, he inspired the Music and Hearing Research Grant Program for research in music-induced hearing disorders, and he secured contributions from guitars autographed by famous musicians. He is internationally respected and recognized by the World Health Organization, National Hearing Conservation Association, and Audio Engineering Society for his efforts regarding safe listening practices and promoting the safe use of personal audio devices.

He has truly championed audiology’s recognition of the opportunities in, and importance of, preventing hearing loss among musicians and their audiences.