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IEM Warning

post #1 of 67
Thread Starter 
hello everyone - again.

i just wanted to mention something that may have relevence here. we all know about volume level and not to extend our listening sessions for too long but i think i may have another suggestion.

firstly, may i preface this by saying that i am quite a close-sighted person seeing only about 10-14 cm in front of my clearly. it is sad, my glasses weigh more than my shoes. in any case, my eyes got steadily worse when i spent more time indoors studying and then much worse in the 2 years that i worked for a small company publishing small insignificant magazines. i was always at the computer, letting my eyes always rest on the monitor. i would spend hours setting things up and down in illustrator and indesign and then go home to check out headfi or so.

they are bad, worse than ever after a period of no change at all - until the dreaded computer everyday for so long.

well, for iems, i think that some of the same logic may apply. i do as many have tinnitus now and i am quite sure that iems have affected my hearing negatively. surelly what i am about to say will not apply to everyone - just as some eyes are better than others.

in any case, i listen to the very lowest of sound levels with my iems - always have and probably always will. my cowon d2 is set around 3-5 out of 50 volume bars and my supermicro iv is set to the smallest fraction of a movement that is needed to get the same image in both ears. however, despite the fact that iems need much lower volume levels than headphones or even canalphones (these also apply) your ears are 'focussed' if i may use the word on a space that rests within the very canal of the ear.

your ears never have to reach out and hear around. i think that much of the fatigue that we may be experiencing as iem users is from a variety of reasons, but surely it would be silly perhaps to rule out the fact that our ears are being trained for a world that really rests within our own heads. for the longest of times, i simply shunned this idea with the facts: iems need less volume and seal out deadly external and loud noises.

they do, but i think i will stop using them unless i am travelling as i am only 28 and want to be able to use my ears well for many years to come. cheers
post #2 of 67
I don't think that made sense, eyes do focus by muscle action, ears however don't in fact, having less noise will vibrate your drum less, helping with longetivity. So ears don't reach out to begin with
post #3 of 67
Thread Starter 
however, your brain then or whatever mechanism controls gets used to not listening for signals - just as many things are psychological, i think this is too. we certainly are training our ears for nothing better than a closed lifetime.

i know that many doctors too tend to ask people to shy away even from iems (in canada now) even though the volume is much lower. there really must be a connection.
post #4 of 67
i dont think that makes any sense either, iems can be damaging because the sound is right in your ear (so like all other sound sources dont listen too loud)

you cant damage the ear by focusing on a sound, unlike eyes, the same air compression waves are still hitting the soft ear drum membrane whether you concentrate on it or not
post #5 of 67
Thread Starter 
certainly it is training to hear music or sound from a very limited space - what it is training - head or ears who knows but i have read a few reports that are just coming now from doctors that this is something to think about - if it it is just phsychological or physical, it is not the best of ideas perhaps.

i love iems and have used them and canalphones for about 5 years - im not setting off on them as a bash.
post #6 of 67
No, I'm sorry to say, the damage to your hearing was likely done long ago, long before you even got into IEMs. Most hearing damage takes many years to fully develop. This is why they're warning people against children using Ipods at loud volumes - children and teens, and even young adults, don't fully comprehend that what they do now may not have consequences today but many years in the future.

As others have pointed out, ears don't work like eyes. They simply respond mechanically to sound, whether it be from far away or near. They, the tiny structures of your ear, do not know whether it is coming from a tiny speaker in your ear or from something 20 feet away. Your brain processes the sound and, in combination with your knowledge, you "know" that you're listening to speakers in your ears (along with some other important cues that aren't generally represented in speakers.)

Forgive me if I sound condescending, it is not meant that way, but it sounds like you're having spiritual problems with IEMs. I don't know how, or understand how that could be, but the mind can do really unusual things to make you feel things that really are not happening. You may be right that you need to take a break from them, but maybe try to understand that it's not for the same reason you think it is.
post #7 of 67
I love my iem's as I hate earbuds but I have been thinking about limiting their use but from a completely different angle. I usually use them for 3-4 hours at a time as that is how long my stretches of transport often amount to. What I'm wondering is whether the fact that you don't get fresh air circulating to the ears could have some effect just like some people have problems using contact lenses because they don't get air enough to the eye.
post #8 of 67
Originally Posted by nc8000 View Post
What I'm wondering is whether the fact that you don't get fresh air circulating to the ears could have some effect just like some people have problems using contact lenses because they don't get air enough to the eye.
I think that if this were an issue, it would be just as much of a problem with earplugs and hearing aids as it would with IEMs. Hearing conservation programs have been required in loud workplaces for decades, requiring workers to wear hearing protection for the entirety of their 8-hour shifts, and I've never read any literature that indicates this is an issue.
post #9 of 67
I've already experienced what Shigzeo is reporting, and I think it absolutely makes sense. IEM use should be limited (even if I don't do it). Earbuds don't give the same problem because they don't block outside signals, so sight and hearing still work together.
post #10 of 67
i agree that it may be possible to adapt your mind to a certain way of sound after a while, but all you'd need to do is subject yourself to real noise and over a period of time you should balance out. as others have said IEM's need to generate much less pressure on your ear drum, causing less damage compared to other sources. the difference with eyes is that your eyes are actually damaged or misshapen, while what you're explaining is all mental since IEM's generate less vibration on your ear drums than regular hearing/headphones.
post #11 of 67
Actualy, earbuds are worse as they will need more volume in contrast. Employing your theory, iems are better since the outside noise will be more silent, which means your brain needs to focus more to hear it.
post #12 of 67
Not buying any of it. The hearing problem developed when using IEM is almost always the result of improper usage by the user.

A person eye is getting worst by looking at computer screen all day cause (s)he never read/care about the heath and safety section in the manual that remain that person NOT to look at the screen for a prolonged time without any rest. A person hearing is getting worst cause by listening IEM (even in relatively low volume) cause [1] (s)he forget that listen to any sound level over 75dB (rough estimation) for a prolonged time will cause damage to hearing ("cumulative noise dose"). This is actually not the fault of IEM, but nature. [2] (s)he forgets that even with music less than 75dB, his/her ear still need to rest from time to time, and continuously listening to ANY headphone for a few hours a day without sufficient rest in between is not good for hearing ("fatigue"). Again, the user should know better.
post #13 of 67
Thread Starter 
Fornsome people it is not a matter of Reading incorrectly but I had no choice other than to be at computer for that long. As for iems I never listen to volume over one tenth. If I am wrong I am wrong however it is not from proper use I can assure you. One final thing to perhaps think about is that we are already enamoured by not only iems but headphones in general. There is a reaction that we would have to anyone saying that we must be much more careful.

Even doctors are suggesting to be wary of iems now here and a news programme begun with broadcasts with troble with iems.

I am quite sure that my thinking may be wrong but certainly the idea that iems are safe is also I think a mistake to take for granted. Fatigue, headaches, tinnitus and hearing loss are threads that pop up on headfi quite often even among we who practice safe hearing. As I said I am a fellow user and am not an authority coming down so please don't smash me - I am fragile!
post #14 of 67

- do you have a link to any of these doctor reports that you mentioned more than once?

- im in the camp that believes that anything that is overdone is eventually detrimental - things balance out for a reason

- in terms of my mental processes, hearing, and active listening, i've found that if i make the extra effort to not space out and keep my mind and attention focused, i can greatly compensate for some supposed deficiencies: this is true of my violin playing, my ability to hear what's around me (i.e. the clock ticking in the other room that if im not focused i am unable to hear), muscle tension, and my effort to remove the word "like" when used out of context from my speech - relating to your issues, i believe that if you practice hearing and listening when your IEMs are not in and your ears have rested, you might be able to overcome certain misperceived conceptions - if you get good at it, you can start to notice the tiniest sounds (like in the movie, The Incredibles, where in one scene you can hear in the background the strangest sound design like in the office where someone in the back says, "i found a quarter" which is barely audible), getting a sense of space at a public/loud area (i.e. a mall), and making sense of two separate yet simultaneous ongoing conversations around you - if you ever feel your hearing is going out - try for active listening and increased mental awareness and focus; this obviously won't work for physical damage such as tinnitus or eye problems (as the others have said)

- also to protect your hearing, you may want to start wearing earplugs while commuting or in loud areas
post #15 of 67
You are right that the believe among many people who take the idea of 'IEM listening is always safe' as granted is actually one of the most dangerous side of using IEM.

As is any headphone, IEM has its own set of rules of application. However, with the rapid expansion of IEM market due to the ipod boom, it will be more and more (unavoidable) report on the issue of IEM hearing damage. The real problem is not that IEM has became unsafe over the year, but rather the fact that the increasing user group has became more and more ignorant on hearing safety. This is the same kind of problem a few years back when everyone is talking about putting volume limitation on ipod.
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