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Do in-ear earphones cause damage to ears?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Hello, I am trying to decide between the Bose QC20i and the Etymotic (HF-5 or ER4PT). We all know that the Bose cannot block all the noises such as conversations while the Etymotic can do a better job, some feel uncomfortable with the plugs. Do in-ear earphones such as the Etymotic cause damage to ears? For example, pushing earwax further into the ear canals, cause pain (my Shure 115 sometimes do) in the ear even at low volumne, etc.? Thanks.

post #2 of 15

Take the chance to bump this: http://www.head-fi.org/a/basic-guide-to-in-ear-canalphones

 

Section 16 btw.

post #3 of 15

No.  High volume for extended periods can damage hearing.  The vehicle that provides the volume wouldn't matter.

post #4 of 15

You may get an excessive build up of ear-wax in your ears due to extended periods of foreign matter placed into your ear. (i.e. too much ear wax in your ear, enough to make your IEM tips to feel icky everytime).

post #5 of 15

I have used IEM's, earbuds and standard free earphones since the early 80's when I got my first cassette walkman.The only damage i have to my ears was at a pub gig when one guitar and amp went into feedback about 5 years ago. I find this most annoying since i had worked in some extremely noisy environments in my time the loudest would have to be hands down when i had to cut stone blocks for housing where, even though i never had the opportunity to check the spl, I wore two sets of hearing protection. soft in-ear and over the ear phones, just to be on the safe side. 

After a few years of living with mild tinnitus, in my right ear as that was facing said speaker, I hardly notice it now.

So if used correctly IEM's are quite safe IMHO :)


Edited by oldblueviffer - 12/21/13 at 7:46am
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks. It seems that IEM is safe "if used correctly". I guess whether or not I will be able to use it correctly is the point.

post #7 of 15

i would say yes, yes they do. when improperly used, extended periods of time with volumes that extremely high. find your limit with volume, know your limit, and all will be safe.

 

EVERYTHING well ALMOST EVERYTHING can be dangerous, a pencil can be dangerous to your ear....

post #8 of 15

Can they? Yes.

 


It's up to the user. When used with most players, yes, if listened to for more than a half hour a day a full volume. These headphones will produce between 98 and 105 dB SPL when driven with one milliwatt at their nominal impedance. For a 32-ohm impedance earphone, which most are, that is 0.187 volts rms. The standard "line" output for most players is 2.0 volts rms. Doing the math says that, for broadband signals such as music, an earphone with a sensitivity of 100 dB SPL @ 1 mw can produce 110 dB SPL. That's an unsafe level regardless of how long you listen. Therefore, my advice is that if you are going to use any earphone for extended listening, keep the input level down. For most smart phones and players, that means at slightly less than 50% volume. 

 

Some earphones say they are safe, but except for one, they just decrease the sensitivity. With enough voltage, they can reach high levels as well. I know, I have tried them. 

 

Here's a good way to adjust volume to a safe level: Put the earphones in and seat them so that they are sealed. Now hum at a normal level of vocal effort - that is at the same level at which you normally talk (assuming you don't normally yell). Now adjust the level of the music so that the sound of your humming blends with but is not overpowered by the music. The subsequent listening level should be safe for as long as you wish to listen. If you notice you aren't hearing enough bass, lower-frequency, sounds, either get a better seal of the earphone in your ear or buy a better earphone.

post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by shch13 View Post
 

You may get an excessive build up of ear-wax in your ears due to extended periods of foreign matter placed into your ear. (i.e. too much ear wax in your ear, enough to make your IEM tips to feel icky everytime).

I have my ears regularly syringed for wax removal and the nurse claims that use of IEMs  makes the removal easier as it comes out in larger plugs, but who knows...

post #10 of 15

Read the reviews. The Bose QC20i are probably the best earphone made to date, period. Read the InnerFidelity review. Sorry Mead. 

 

They have one artifact, the little high-pitch wine that you can hear when there is no background noise any only very soft music. But level of that whine has been reduced even more than for the QC15. These earphonoes are a fine piece of engineering.

 

Because the HearHooks that Bose uses, don't occlude the ear, the bass has a different feel, even though its all there. Any, unlike with many earphones for which you might consider a custom earplug, the QC20 HearHook is a vital p;ices of the system and so they don't lend themselves well to other coupling methods. 

post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrJohnOH View Post
 

Read the reviews. The Bose QC20i are probably the best earphone made to date, period. Read the InnerFidelity review. Sorry Mead. 

 

 

hmmm, that's quite a claim... I've had many IEM and I certainly wouldn't have them in my top 3...

post #12 of 15
post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClieOS View Post
 

Take the chance to bump this: http://www.head-fi.org/a/basic-guide-to-in-ear-canalphones

 

Section 16 btw.

this 

/thread

post #14 of 15
The true concern that will absolutely affect many head-fier's when they get older is tinnitus. The tendency when enjoying music, especially via headphones, is to turn it up. When you're younger you simply aren't concerned with what may or may not happen later on, I know I wasn't! From what I read here, the types of music, played on the go outside, at noise-cancelling levels suggests problems in the future for many!
post #15 of 15

Two other key factors is hereditary factors of tinnitus....and the duration of the "loud" listening sessions.  Our ears have a pretty good tolerance for short spurts of loud music versus longer ones.

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