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Can anyone explain this biological aspect of hearing?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Why is it that sometimes you will temporarily diminish your hearing, for an hour or maybe a few hours, after listening to slightly (but no where ear damaging levels of) loud music, but then your hearing will come back perfectly after, say, a night's rest?

post #2 of 11

This is called a 'temporary threshold shift'.

 

It is probably because the cells responsible for hearing (in your inner ear) are injured and don't function properly. This is dangerous because if you do not allow them to rest  (by minimising loudness), this can result in permanent hearing damage.

 

Permanent hearing damage may not be noticeable initially, but everything adds up over a long period of time.

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks. It seems it's more serious than I thought. It happens to me if I wear headphones while outside next to cars for a while. In that situation, I have to turn the volume up to hear the music (but definitely not ear damaging levels, never past 35-40% on the smartphone volume meter; I never turn it up high enough that car sounds are drowned out). I noticed that when I come home after these outings, I need to turn the volume up higher than usual. But by morning, everything is restored to normal.

post #4 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by ag8908 View Post
 

Thanks. It seems it's more serious than I thought. It happens to me if I wear headphones while outside next to cars for a while. In that situation, I have to turn the volume up to hear the music (but definitely not ear damaging levels, never past 35-40% on the smartphone volume meter; I never turn it up high enough that car sounds are drowned out). I noticed that when I come home after these outings, I need to turn the volume up higher than usual. But by morning, everything is restored to normal.

We only get one set of eyes and ears but often it's hard to tell something is wrong until it's too late.

 

Maybe you could switch to earphones that block out cars more effectively? Headphones tend to be poor at cutting out the lower frequencies that cars make. 

IEMs (e.g. etymotics) are far better at cutting out noise; with the foam tips they're basically earplugs so they can actually protect you from outside noises.

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

Interesting. I had read that inner ear headphones are the worst for hearing loss. Not sure if that was accurate. The ones I wear outside are closed back headphones so they muffle out some noise.

post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by ag8908 View Post
 

Interesting. I had read that inner ear headphones are the worst for hearing loss. Not sure if that was accurate. The ones I wear outside are closed back headphones so they muffle out some noise.

That was what everyone said in the past, but we now know that hearing damage is due to a combination of loudness and duration.

Speakers or headphones at loud volumes are no less damaging than IEMs - it doesn't matter how the sound is making its way into your ear canal as long as it gets there, and is loud enough.

 

Closed back headphones are good for attenuating higher frequencies, but the isolation is close to 0 at lower frequencies, where car noise is probably concentrated. Innerfidelity has a lot of nice graphs that demonstrate how well different 'phones isolate.

post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks. I'm looking at the se535 LTDs which are reviewed as having the sound signature I like (low bass) and excellent isolation. Need to research them.


Edited by ag8908 - 2/6/14 at 6:05am
post #8 of 11

Try downloading a sound meter app on your smartphone and search for recommendations on how loud is the maximum recommendable volume you can listen to. I made sure to always listen below 60 decibels by using one of those sound meter app and memorize the volume know position. For IEMs, I suggest reducing the numbers to probably about 45-50dB. 

 

Listening at loud volume is much funner and more engaging, we can concede to that. But it is wiser to be able to enjoy less, for longer, than enjoying more for a short amount of time :wink_face:

post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by ag8908 View Post
 

Interesting. I had read that inner ear headphones are the worst for hearing loss. Not sure if that was accurate. The ones I wear outside are closed back headphones so they muffle out some noise.

It has to do with the direct bass presure they can reproduce. Many iems are bass (long excursion) heavy to begin with so you're extending your ears diaphragm more than you might expect at normal volumes. Of course, with the added noise isolation usually associated with in ears and by using more balanced examples, amplitude can actually be reduced so there's no fundamental cause and effect here just because they are in ear.

post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by ag8908 View Post
 

Why is it that sometimes you will temporarily diminish your hearing, for an hour or maybe a few hours, after listening to slightly (but no where ear damaging levels of) loud music, but then your hearing will come back perfectly after, say, a night's rest?


whatever it is that put you in that state, stop it! the simple fact that it's happening is your body telling you that it is at ear damaging level.

 

in ear could be more damaging simply because they are more sensitive so they can go louder than a headphone from the same source weak source. but as long as you have good isolation, you end up listening at lower volume levels because once you've put a good -25db between you and external sounds, you have no more need to crank up your music.

try to see how much your headphone isolates (easy if it's been measured on inner-fidelity) and see how you could improve this with other cans or IEMs.

but I repeat, be careful, what you're describing is not a normal state.

post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advice everyone. i purchased the SE425 (it was the best the store had and it's probably good enough) and the sound isolation blows the Bose QC15 away, and certainly beats the sealed back headphones I previously used outside. Now when I'm outside walking by cars, I listen to music at the same volume I use to listen to music in a quiet room. Still trying to figure out which sleeve is best but this is a huge improvement.


Edited by ag8908 - 2/6/14 at 8:24pm
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