Central thread earbud vs in-ear - about hearing damage, SPL, open backed IEMs etc
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Ruben123

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Hello all,
 
I think the discussion about IEMs vs open backed IEMs (such as ADEL, but also cheap IEMs like KZ HDS1 [$6]) vs earbuds is interesting and of highly importance, with the growing use of music on the go and hearing damage of the youth. 
 
Ive come across several points of view, of whichI think could only 1 be scientifically correct. For instance, SPL should be less in non isolating earphones (such as open backed IEMs or earbuds) vs IEMs on the same subjective volume. This seems to be correct, but
There is a but. I almost freaked out yesterday when connecting my earbuds to my media player set to line out (+2 dB), my ears bled for a second. Measuring the SPL of it, which came to my surprise, was about 75dB. When connecting a normal IEM to the same player, set to about -10 dB volume, I measured 78 dB. 
 
Now before going into detail, my normal listening volume with the earbuds AND IEMs is around -32 dB on this player. This means that for the same SPL the volume needed to be raised much higher for the earbuds, although at around -32dB, they both seem about as loud as the other (because I generally listen to -32dB). With those ADEL, for instance, earphones on the market, claiming less outputted decibels at the same "hearing level", I think this is an interesting discussion. How can the outputted volume seem to high even though the measured ¨volume" was quite low?
 
So, there is more to hearing damage than only SPL.I think.
 
Ive also read that IEMs create a high pressure in the middle ear, which, even with low volume, could create hearing damage. In that light one would need open-backed IEMs or earbuds, but Im not convinced. Enough about me.
 
 

 
Hereby Id like to open this thread for a central discussion.Not about my experience, that was only an introduction to the subject lol
 
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castleofargh

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 how long we spend with our IEM and how loud we listen, are the real 2 points that will determine how damaging they can be. IMO everything else is just a list of tricks to try and help with how loud we'll listen.
if someone is concerned about his hearing, he should take regular breaks from noise/music, and try to be self aware of how loud he listens. I doubt very much that anything could ever be as important as that.
 
sealed vs unsealed require the IEM to output a different energy at certain frequencies to "sound" the same. it's one of the stuff I can't agree with on the last vid I've seen on the ADEL topic http://www.head-fi.org/t/800882/adel-technology-discussion-thread/30#post_12418710 
yes there will be a resonance close to 3khz, so what? you just tune the IEM accounting for the resonance like everybody does.
and same thing for bass, an earbud will have to output a lot more bass than a sealed IEM for both to sound as loud(understand to move our eardrum the same way). why should we care? the all pressure thing from a sealed IEMs is merely one of the tricks used so that a weak tinny crap of a BA driver can still make us ear some ok bass while never moving enough air for an unsealed system to work. lose the seal and cry at how much bass you've lost. it's not like all sealed IEMs use the exact same output as earbuds and sound massively bassier and with a louder 3khz or whatever.
so looking at such points as if they weren't accounted for when creating IEMs does sound to me like a candid/motivated argument.
 
 
now, not even counting health issues, I find it much more comfortable to use vented IEMs or even earbuds. and IMO the sound is more enjoyable. but that's in a perfect world with no outside noises. in practice I listen to sealed IEMs when I'm in a noisy environment and in such places, not only would I disagree with the "sealed being worst" idea, I'm very convinced that sealed IEMs are what saved me from ruining my ears. who would want to use an eardbud in a train or in a noisy town? not me! how loud would I push the music to "cover" the noises? well certainly to a frightening level.
with good noise isolation, that is almost a non issue. and that's how I end up with etymotic on my trips. I doubt very very much that there is a solution out there where the tech/signature would overall be better for my ears than tremendous isolation when in a noisy place.
now in a calm environment, I'm all for non sealed stuff, I go walk in the mountain with at least, vented IEMs most of the time(if only to hear if a ninja is coming at me). only super strong wind can make me go back to isolating stuff.
and at home... well IMO IEMs are way inferior to headphones so I don't use IEMs much at home.
 
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ClieOS

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... I doubt very much that anything could ever be as important as that.sealed vs unsealed require the IEM to output a different energy at certain frequencies to "sound" the same. it's one of the stuff I can't agree with on the last vid I've seen on the ADEL topic...
 
Have to say I read through the ADEL stuff a couple of times and still can't wrap my head around it. A lot of theory and assumption, but still not enough hard proof (as in peer reviewed scientific study).
 
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Ruben123

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To me it seems that earphones with enhanced bass can "save" our hearing, by the fact that a warmer sound, sounds louder (to me at least). Also there is more energy in the higher frequency, so a mild treble roll off combined with enhanced bass seems to have you turn the volume up less to hear the same "dynamics", than with a bright one: I find myself regularly turning the volume up too much when listening to bright earphones because the bass and mids are too far dialed back (even though I like neutral earphones and prefer sort of anemic bass then). I think the best way to save your hearing is a good isolating, warm, IEM.

But what about the different sound pressure levels and different perceived volumes? Are there any scientific researches done about inner ear pressure, sound pressure levels, and IEMs vs earbuds? I have read a research about earbuds vs IEMs but it didnt make sense to me
 
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Jon Sonne

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To me it seems that earphones with enhanced bass can "save" our hearing, by the fact that a warmer sound, sounds louder (to me at least).

I feel the opposite. Bright IEMs are more 'piercing' to me, so I turn the volume down. I can listen to music at much louder levels on a balanced earphone.
 
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