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How loud is too loud

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone, Im really new to the world of decent headphones and only recently upgraided from these awfull plastic I-Pod in ear headphones everyone seems to be so fond of.

 

So I have a question for the experts. How loud should you listen to music, In the absence of any form of microphones or other testing equipment how can you tell if your music is at a safe volume?

post #2 of 18

It is partly contextual. If you are at a gym, with music going, machines whirring, and so on, the level of volume you need to overcome all that is probably 5-10 dB over ambient. You may very well be at levels exceeding 80 dB, meaning, 1 hour of exposure is a maximum.

 

In a quiet living room (30-40 dB ambient), you should be able to use a much lower volume and still hear the music well, and prolonged exposure is less of a concern. Anytime you are concerned that you may be listening too loud, take a 5 minute break. I gaurantee you will twist the knob down and be OK with it when you return.

 

With In-Ears, however, I try to limit myself to 1 hour not matter the volume. The In-Ears always heat up my drums, and moisture can build. If they are not kept clean, it is easy to get infections this way. Not to mention, they hurt my ears.

post #3 of 18

As MrMateoHead has pointed out the context is significant. The biggest risk of listening to music too loudly is when there is some background sound, such as when travelling on a train for example. What people tend to do is simply increase the volume to listen to their music above the background sound around them. If you are going to be listening to music in situations with noise then the best thing is to get headphones will good isolation from that sound. This means closed backs and good seals. Reducing the background sound will reduce the requirement to increase volume to overcome it.

 

I don't know if anyone has ever made headphones that give some feedback on the sound level they are reproducing. Some kind of LED indicator placed on the cable would be neat imho. Without something like this I think one thing to try is to sit in a quiet situation, such as in your home, and just get an idea for volume levels compared with, maybe your own Hi Fi. You could try music first in you regular Hi Fi through speakers, then listen to the music with the headphones.

post #4 of 18
Around 90dB for 8 hours or more can be bad for your hearing. 6 hours for 92dB, and 4 for 95dB. That's what Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says.
post #5 of 18
As stated, use closed or iem in loud situations. If you can feel the bass stressing your ear drums, ITS TOO LOUD! smily_headphones1.gif If the bass hurts, the highs are already causing damage.

At home, listen as low as you can without loosing detail and fullness, and after 5 minutes turn it up just a little bit. Then after 10, see how low you can go very slowly until you can't hear the music. Really listen to the faintest sound! Then, without looking at the knob and removing your hand from it after each tiny increment and fully concentrating on the sound: slowly turn it up until you can clearly hear everything. Look at knob.

Learn to listen, there is much more to it than volume. If you want feel the music in your body, use speakers and subwoofers.

I have used my headphones AND the subwoofer with the mains switched off. Quite the interesting experience!
Edited by ev13wt - 1/24/13 at 3:52pm
post #6 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by shilohkid View Post

Hi everyone, Im really new to the world of decent headphones and only recently upgraided from these awfull plastic I-Pod in ear headphones everyone seems to be so fond of.

 

So I have a question for the experts. How loud should you listen to music, In the absence of any form of microphones or other testing equipment how can you tell if your music is at a safe volume?

 

Answer me this, how spicy is too spicy?

post #7 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrMateoHead View Post

With In-Ears, however, I try to limit myself to 1 hour not matter the volume. The In-Ears always heat up my drums, and moisture can build. If they are not kept clean, it is easy to get infections this way. Not to mention, they hurt my ears.


If they're hurting your ears regardless, maybe you should look into a different set of IEMs? They shouldn't hurt at all, you should be able to find a set that fit comfortably and can be worn without pain. I personally find flex or black foam to be the best fitting and most comfortable, though the triple flange (xmas tree) attachments give me the best sound isolation.

post #8 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by stacker45 View Post

 

Answer me this, how spicy is too spicy?


Is that really an applicable comparison? You can build up a spice tolerance without many negative side effects, whereas building up a loudness tolerance means you're losing your hearing! wink.gif

post #9 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by mAnthony View Post


Is that really an applicable comparison? You can build up a spice tolerance without many negative side effects, whereas building up a loudness tolerance means you're losing your hearing! wink.gif

 

I agree, but if someone's too stupid to lower the volume when it's seems too loud, they might be losing more than their hearing, they might be losing they're minds too.wink.gif


Edited by stacker45 - 1/24/13 at 8:03pm
post #10 of 18

I usually start at the lowest volume and go up slowly until I find it just enough.  What is too loud?  I guess when vocals seems like they are shouting to you vs as if it sound as if someone is talking to you.  I think to me reasonable volume is when vocal sound as if they are singing slightly louder than when someone is talking to you.

 

If you feel like you are listening louder than what is acceptable, than make sure it's brief and take a lot breaks.

 

This is just make take.

post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 

Cheers guys, Im just so used to turning up my old crapy headphones to the point they block out background noice and when Im at home I just listen to music through my laptop speakers so have never really concidered volume before.
 

post #12 of 18

Forgot to add that, IEM usually offer 10-20 dB of isolation relative to your surroundings. This helps ensure you can reach a reasonable volume level even in a noisy environment. The same is true of new "noise cancelling" designs.

 

The very obvious downside is that not hearing the environment around you can be dangerous. The other is that noise cancelling always created a weird sensation of "pressure" on my ears, and the Senns I used also kicked in an EQ when I turned it on. That and the nasty infected ears.

 

This is why I'd rather have a pair of buds for street walking, and over-ears for home listening. The former dont' close me out to the world as much, and the latter are more comfortable and tend to sound better.

post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by soundeffect View Post

I usually start at the lowest volume and go up slowly until I find it just enough.  What is too loud?  I guess when vocals seems like they are shouting to you vs as if it sound as if someone is talking to you.  I think to me reasonable volume is when vocal sound as if they are singing slightly louder than when someone is talking to you.

 

If you feel like you are listening louder than what is acceptable, than make sure it's brief and take a lot breaks.

 

This is just make take.


This ^^ If I feel I am being shouted at then it's probably too loud. Also if highs feel too sharp while the volume is also high, you may have to kiss your hearing goodbye. I have Amperiors and use them on the train every day, so I try to listen at very moderate levels.

 

On another note if you listen at lower volumes, I find that you can hear a lot more detail.  

post #14 of 18

I keep the volume high just about enough to hear what's going on outside. I think anything more than this is damaging your drums!

post #15 of 18

I would say just go by your instincts, if you notice that the muscles in your ears feel tense after listening for a period of time it is probably too loud. Most people don't even realize when they're doing this, just like they don't realize if their shoulders are tense from stress. Just remember to check periodically if you're ears feel properly relaxed. If your ears ring or if there is pressure that lasts after you stop listening, it is definitely WAY too loud. I admit sometimes I can't resist cranking music up that loud when it's something I REALLY like, but I try to do it as briefly as possible. I've had a few people say I listen to music too loud, but I think I probably listen at a quieter volume than most people. People have different sensitivities to volume so it's not easy to say. I like to listen to music at a volume that makes it sound "full", but not loud enough that anything becomes overbearing, and a volume that stays comfortable to listen to for a long time (an hour +) If my ears start to get fatigued, I turn the volume down, or take a break.

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