Whether the headphones I'm wearing are isolating, closed, or IEMs, I always do the same thing before commuting:
- Find the loudest track I'll be playing,
- Set the volume to a reasonable level for said track and
- Set the ceiling of all tracks to that same level.
If I can't hear enough bass on a train or bus, sobeit. That only means I'll have to wait to listen until I reach a quieter environment, and the decorative aspect of my headphones will be foregrounded while my ears are on temporary vacation. That's the point when I'll turn off the music and allow my headphones to muffle (if only slightly, in the M-100s' case) the sounds of the outside world.
Loudness is lovely, but tinnitus is eternal.
If you haven't touched the volume once you arrive at your destination and discover you were playing your music too loudly during the commute, then the chances are good you've been doing the same thing for a long while: damaging your hearing over time.
No environment should become a reason to listen at unhealthy volumes. Studio musicians have to be vigilant about that, but so do headphone aficionados.
If they're not, then they might have to learn to live like Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine:
Shields also addresses another concern I have for certain Head-fi members: The ill-considered habit of falling asleep while wearing headphones, which essentially exposes the ear to hours of potential damage caused by sound -- which the sleeping mind cannot even remember or appreciate -- and increases the likelihood the listener will do even more damage once they're awake.
Remember: Damage is caused not only by volume but by duration.
Are you suggesting that listening to music for 6 hours straight through headphones, regardless of volume, is bad for your hearing? Because I do that literally every night. I never turn the volume up to point where it hurts my ears.
Edited by Tman5293 - 8/20/13 at 2:01am