Originally Posted by tendou
Rebel: At normal listening level, I guess it's ok. But If I'm not mistaken listening to a headphone at low volume for a long time is not the same as listening to headphone at a the same low volume for a short time with frequent rest. I tend to listen for a long time.
Tilpo: I read somewhere the hair inside the ear (cylia?) for high frequency is nearer to the eardrum so most people lost high frequency hearing first.
Speaker is quite far from the ear and there are air as buffer and based on what I understand the air did attenuate some of the high frequency so listening to speaker at a moderate volume could be safer? I personally found it's less fatiguing.
There is not much high frequency get attenuated when we use headphone as there is not much air between the driver and our eardrum. So eventhough high frequency/high detail headphone sound is said to be much better(and more addicting) for the same price by most people I wonder if it's really good for our health?
For me if I can still hear outside sound/ engage in normal conversation when listening to open headphone I think that it is still a safe volume. However for iem or closed headphone I don't know at all because that is completely perceived loudness which we can't compare to anything.
The two type of fatigue that you wrote above, is it something related to permanent damage?
Yes, high frequencies are closer to the oval window (beginning) of the cochlea which is the reason hearing loss occurs here more often, but that is mainly for age-related hearing loss. Hearing loss due to exposure of loud sounds also occurs a lot in mid frequencies, due to reasons related to the middle ear transfer function. And it's indeed the cilia that are damaged. These cilia (stereocilia to be more precise) are located on the outer and inner hair cells, but it's usually the outer hair cells that get damaged first. This results in a loss of frequency selectivity and loudness at the central frequency of the damaged hair cell.
The high frequency attenuation of speakers is minimal in normal listening rooms. This is only really important if considering live venues, where the distance to the loudspeaker is much greater.
In general I do think speakers are safer for your hearing than headphones, but that is mainly because with speakers it's a lot easier to notice how loud you're listening by reference to familiar sounds. E.g. the sound of walking over a floor, typing, creaking of a chair, the fans of a computer. This is always a bit crude, but precise enough to know whether you're listening at too high volumes.
With headphones some isolation occurs, and external loudness references are obscured. If you have headphones with minimal isolation (i.e. open headphones), you can still use references like the volume of speech of other people. If it isn't much louder than normal speech then you're good. With closed headphones you could try putting them off and comparing the loudness to something else that way, but this is of course rather crude.Edited by Tilpo - 7/1/12 at 6:01am