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Are headphones bad for your ears? - Page 3

post #31 of 43
Originally Posted by Jespiir View Post

Is there a good way to measure or make sure that you are listening to 80 or 85dB?


Even if I start out listening to a low volume it is easy to increase the volume as you get into the music...


The obviuos method would involve purchasing a SPL meter and stick it into the headphones, but perhaps

someone knows an alternative way of doing things?

i would like to know this aswell!


edit: should've read the second page :)

Edited by AndyT87 - 7/27/10 at 2:58pm
post #32 of 43
Originally Posted by wind016 View Post



Personal music player on high is considered not safe. Put what you hear in your headphones in perspective with everything else on this graph. Also headphones create a lot of pressure. I heard that is very bad.

Air Raid? That seems a bit odd to be listed as an example. I'd assume you would have more pressing issues to consider at that time.

post #33 of 43
Thread Starter 

What are IEM's? I am also curious as to how bad the pressure that cans create on your ears can be. Is it significant?


When I was young I blasted music all the time. I have definitely affected my hearing.


edit: nevermind I figured it out.

Edited by Sonic Atrocity - 7/27/10 at 9:21pm
post #34 of 43

I always thought IEM's are more risky, because you plug them directly in your ear canal. But seems like majority of people think otherwise because they isolate noise and you don't need to raise volume higher compared to headphones.

post #35 of 43
Originally Posted by moaksb View Post

Air Raid? That seems a bit odd to be listed as an example. I'd assume you would have more pressing issues to consider at that time.



On a serious note, I think this is a great topic. It should be common practice to use a sound level meter to check ones hearing level. I'd like to figure out the best way to measure and shoot for just under the suggested limit and enjoy music to the fullest with the comfort of knowing I won't be suffering any damage to my precious earhole and its delicate innards.


I wonder how accurate those sound meter apps are...


post #36 of 43

well, mechanix, think about it, as far as SPL goes, what is 1 in  gonna do? its like comparing cans to iems. the difference is how far the drivers sit. the difference isn't significant. ambient noise is completely cut out so your music can be a lower volume.

post #37 of 43

Actually there's no difference in damage between IEMS and speakers provided the SPL is the same at the eardrum, as far as I know.

post #38 of 43

Headphones are good for my ears if i listen to normal volume levels...no matter if  i use Iems or headphones. 

post #39 of 43

Headphones can be pretty bad for your ears if you aren't careful. 


Hearing damage usually starts in the higher frequencies, 3-6kHz and above. The hair cells in your ears vibrate sympathetically to the frequencies you are receiving. Imaginably, the faster these tiny hairs are vibrating, the more damage can be done over a shorter period of time, if the amplitude is high. So anyway, higher frequencies are more dangerous at a given volume. 


When hearing sound produced acoustically or from speakers that are further from your head, these high frequencies attenuate quickly through the air, more so than lower frequencies, since the wave goes through more oscillations in the same distance (I'm sure my terminology is wrong there). So high, ear-damaging frequencies are attenuated before they reach your ear. 


Headphones don't allow this natural attenuation to occur, since the sound source is so close to the ear. That's why headphones can sound so detailed (some folks love that aspect, some, like me, find it a bit unnatural and fatiguing unless the FR is fairly well recessed in the highs), but also have a high potential for hearing damage. 


So be careful! Don't crank them up! When I'm wearing open cans, I rub my fingers together about six inches from my head. If I can't hear that, it's too loud. Of course, brief peaks in the volume are going to happen, and are pretty safe, if kept within reason (~100 dB for a few seconds, ~90 dB for a minute or so).


This is a great, informative article on the subject:



The article quotes a good tip from Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth:


[S]et the volume of your radio to a level where you can barely hear the words. A talk show works best, as sometimes it is hard to understand lyrics in music. After [listening to loud music], turn on the radio to the same setting. Can you still hear and understand the words? If not, you're experiencing a form of short term hearing loss called temporary threshold shift. When this happens too many times, the damage can become permanent.

post #40 of 43

The noise factor is a big part of the reason why I hate going to movie theaters. There, they have the volume set so loud that my ears are screaming back at me through the entire movie (especially in action movies). The sound quality is pretty poor, too, with all the distortion from the sheer volume they use.



If anything, I would think IEMs are safer. Mine are practically earplugs with speakers in them, so they block out a lot of external noise, allowing lower volumes. Earbuds are wide open, so you'll need to adjust the volume well above the background noise, which can be significant on busy streets.

post #41 of 43
Thread Starter 

DSGant, thanks for posting that article. It was very interesting and informative. I am going to admit right off the top that I refuse to listen to music above volumes that I should. I did it for years when I was a kid and no longer want to do it anymore. But, I still want to hear the details of the music I am listening to. Would you (the members of this forum) say it is relatively safe to use closed headphones if at quieter volumes? Or will that defeat the purpose of having closed headphones? 

post #42 of 43

Here is another great article on the subject:




The author makes an interesting point that "the outer ear and ear canal act as an efficient collector and amplifier of sound" and that "a production line worker, standing in a steady 95 dB(A) factory noise, would probably have a much higher sound level at his eardrum - depending on the frequency of the sound, possibly 105 dB(A) or even more." This makes me worry that even if I check my headphones with something like a Radio Shack SLM fitted with a proper coupler, that it still would give an inaccurate measurement of the sound level at my eardrum because my setup would not be correcting for my ear canal's ability to "collect and amplify" sound. 

post #43 of 43

I would imagine that the "aatural amplification of the ear canals" is compensated for on the various dB exposure risk charts, otherwise it would defeat the purpose. I would also think that everybody has slightly different ear canals and thus the actual effect is not entirely consistent.

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