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Do headphones and IEMs do damage faster to your hearing?

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by dnzgamer, Apr 30, 2012.
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  1. DNZGamer
    Was very curious about this because I was talking to my doctor who owns a nice speaker system. I told him I was into headphones (cause I'm not a doctor :D) and he told me that those things are really bad for your hearing. 

    Now, he is a doctor but he could still be pretty much talking out of his ass on that one. Is there actually a difference whether you are listening to music over speakers, headphones or IEMs? IEMs concern me the most since they seem to be injecting the noise right in there so if any of these are bad for your hearing, I would assume IEMs. Obviously I know that listening to anything really loud is bad for your hearing but will the same volume on headphones and IEMs be more destructive?
    He also told me that treble is really bad for you too which concerns me a lot as a Grado user...
    Please help me confirm or dismiss these statements!
  2. headphonatic
    What did you say, can't hear you! He's bs-ing, he just mad cause he only use's speakers, and doesn't own a good pair of headphones. JK, don't worry, the human ear can hear at 70-80 db's for 9-10 hours a day without any problems, that's around the normal range I play my music. 98db for 7 hours. Treble? Bad for your hearing, nonsense, I'm starting to wonder where your doctor got his degree, high frequency's are much more audible then other type of frequency, which may be bad for you hearing, if you turn up your headphones to 110-115 db, which probably distorted the heck out of your cans. Headphones have been around for more than 80 years, and there not any louder than sounds you hear everyday. But always remember to take a break every hour or so, and don't turn up your music too high and there should be no problem.
  3. DNZGamer
    I knew it... that jealous bastard!
    Thanks for the quick response. Is there any frequency that is bad for the ear? Like bass or sub bass?
  4. aamefford
    I am not an audiologist, ENT doctor or other expert.  That said, I believe the risk of listening too loud is great, and the potential for consequent hearing damage is great. If one listens quietly, then I believe there is no additional risk.  I'm over 50 and listen quietly.  I can still hear (barely) 20 Khz.  My 2 cents, my opinions, of course.
  5. DNZGamer
    Yeah I know. The question really is specific to whether headphones or certain frequencies are more damaging than others. I listen to moderate levels these days. Actually, I listen to music quieter than I use to when I had crappy headphones where I couldn't make out a lot of things without cranking up the volume. 
  6. esn89
    I think it depends on where you are listening to your music and with what type of head-gear.
    If you are wearing the stock iPod earbuds in a public setting, let's say a train station where you are competing against the noise of the crowds and trains, then you will crank your music up into volumes that will cause damage.  This is the same for open-headphones, I find (I only use my open-headphones for home listening).
    Since then, I've invested in some quality IEMs that really isolate noise well.  I am able to enjoy music anywhere with at a reasonable volume.  When people balk at the idea of my dropping that much money on a pair of UM3x, I simply ignore them; don't try and argue, they won't hear you. 
  7. DNZGamer
    Sweet, I recently bought the UM3x as well. It isolates amazingly. I have my music at fairly moderate volumes and I swear, with my large olive tips, I cannot hear the subway cart roaring around me. Good to know that is actually GOOD for my hearing :D.
  8. Papander
    Anything over 85dB is harmful to your hearing.
  9. jupitreas
    Doctors usually say that headphones are bad for hearing because they can be bad for hearing, but only if used incorrectly. As has already been mentioned in this thread, blasting earbuds at full volume in a crowded bus is a quick way to cause hearing damage, as is hearing anything over 80dB for extended periods of time. The reason why doctors always use this cautionary argument that headphones are harmful is because there is no way easy way to tell how a person uses their headphones. For some, very quiet levels may be more than appropriate, while others might define 'quiet' as 90dB. It is easier to just say that all headphones are harmful than to account for all these variables. 
  10. DNZGamer
    Am I suppose to know how much 80dBs actually is?
  11. lvrhs
    How to measure loudness of headphone or iem? With smartphone?
  12. jupitreas
    If you want to protect your hearing, yes. 80dB is quite loud, so as long as you have a ballpark idea of how loud it is, you should be able to adjust your listening levels accordingly. 
    You can find out how much 80dB is by getting an SPL meter and walking around town. A commonly given example of this kind of sound pressure level is the sound of a car at 10m. Naturally, car noise varies significantly so this is not a great example. 
  13. Benjamin6264
    It's hard to quantify sound, but just in case not everybody knows, the decibel scale is exponential. That means a jump from (x) to (x+10) decibels multiplies the volume by ten.
  14. DNZGamer
    So 90 decibels is 10x louder than 80 decibels?
  15. bmiamihk
    Yes they do but due to them sounding so good I will continue destroying minez.
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