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IEMs - how do you know what a safe volume is?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I've been getting more and more into IEMs lately and I'm started to get a little concerned about how to tell what a safe prolonged listening volume is. I think it's just because I've been using ordinary headphones and speakers my entire life so I've pretty well got down how loud is too loud, but I'm getting old enough where I'd rather not lose any more hearing to figure this one out.

What's the general consensus with canalphones? Do they seem louder than they are due to the isolation? Or does the fact that they insert into your ear mean you have to be extra careful to not play them loud? Are there telltale signs, other than ringing ears, of unsafe listening volumes?
post #2 of 25
Double post sorry.
post #3 of 25
if your ears are ringing after you finish listening then yes they are too loud.

I find you don't need to listen as loud with iems as the isolation makes it just you & the music.

I listen to iems for am average of 10 hours on a week day & have done for the last 2 years. I'd say if anything my hearing has improved as i've blocked out a lot of otherwise harmful noises over that period.
I work in an environent that requires ear protection so the iems are implemented well.
post #4 of 25
Thread Starter 
I haven't had any ringing ears, but I didn't know if that was just something that occurs if you're well into permanent hearing damage land or if there were other signs to watch out for.
post #5 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by justaguy93 View Post
I haven't had any ringing ears, but I didn't know if that was just something that occurs if you're well into permanent hearing damage land or if there were other signs to watch out for.
Another sign is a temporary threshold shift -- if you have a harder time hearing things after listening to music, it's too loud. I'm not sure how easy it is though to be doing damage before you notice that effect, though.
post #6 of 25
What if you find it hard to hear things because the ambient noise is WAY too loud after you take the IEMs off?
post #7 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by st4r0c3an View Post
What if you find it hard to hear things because the ambient noise is WAY too loud after you take the IEMs off?
Heh -- that might be an exception
post #8 of 25
You might be asking the wrong question.

Instead, you should ALWAYS ask yourself the following: 'Can I turn the volume down and still enjoy the music?'

If the answer is 'yes', than you are listening to your music louder than it should.

Check out the IEM guide in my signature, section: IEM and Health. You might also want to read the second scientific reference I linked in that section.
post #9 of 25
The best way is to go to an audiologist with your IEM. They can put a small mic in your ear with the IEM and measure how loud it is. Unfortunately, I haven't found one in my area that can do it.

Short of that, here is how I measured with an Radio Shack SPL meter. I don't know how accurate it is, but I figure it gives me at least a rough idea.

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/2850576-post102.html
post #10 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by scompton View Post
Short of that, here is how I measured with an Radio Shack SPL meter. I don't know how accurate it is, but I figure it gives me at least a rough idea.
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Not a bad way to measure SPL at all, but I will suggest the following:

1) Wood absolves sound wave, therefore it might not be the best material to use.

2) An air tight seal b/w the IEM and the SPL meter is a must, or else you'll lose some SPL.
post #11 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Instead, you should ALWAYS ask yourself the following: 'Can I turn the volume down and still enjoy the music?'
That's the million dollar question isn't it? I generally have found three levels: a) I'm pretty darn sure it's quiet enough to not be a problem, b) a little louder where the music is really at it's sweet spot, and c) louder than that where it's fatiguing. I could stick with a and be in the clear, but if b isn't a problem is just sounds so much better, and as I'm sure everyone here knows...it's all about trying to get the most out of your music

Very interesting reading in your sig though, I'll have to devote some time to going through that in detail tomorrow. And the wooden board test looks interesting too, I wonder what materials would be best for simulating the human head? Anyone know where the mythbusters get their ballistics gel?
post #12 of 25
^^^^^That's a great idea!! I'd like to see a test like this done on MythBusters(if it already hasn't been done).

It would be great if someone did this test in an accurate, conrolled environemnt so we have a better idea of just how much volume comes from an IEM at what levels.
post #13 of 25
My own habit is, if I am planning to listen to my music for a long time (>2 hrs in my case), I'll use your [a] setting. If I am only gonna listen to music for a very brief time during the day (less than 1 hr in total the whole day), I might choose [b] setting. The main point is, hearing damage is accumulative thus controlling the exposure time is just as important as controlling the degree of exposure.
post #14 of 25
I used wood because it was handy, plus I'm not sure what else to use. The problem with ballistics gel is that you'd have to make a batch every time you want to do a test. Maybe the wood can be coated with latex or some other material so it can be reusable. Since my SPL meter has sloping shoulders, I get a fair seal with the wood. I imagine blue tack or some other gasket material would be better, but most gasket material would absorb some sound just like the wood.

At any rate, I use this method just to get a ball park figure and error on lower volume that the test indicates. Better safe than sorry.

I use my IEMs on my daily mass transit commute and when working with power tools, vacuuming, etc. Since I normally use my UM1 that doesn't isolate very well, I tend not to listen to quiet music with IEMs. Especially on my commute, quiet music tends to get drowned out by the ambient subway noise giving me the urge to turn up the volume.

At home I wear 30dB ear muffs over the IEMs so isolation is not a problem. While commuting and walking on the street, I don't really want total isolation anyway. If your oblivious to your surroundings, it's too easy to walk in front of a car or be a target for muggers.
post #15 of 25
Hello, i just noticed. Did you guys too? when you listen to long periods of time and when you take out your earpieces, do you feel hot in your ear canals? would it be safe if only a such a small volume of air in the ear canals keep moving continuously? any harm? just wondering lol
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