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Can Headphones/Earphones Damage your Hearing?


Conversations about hearing loss caused by headphones gradually faded away. Despite this, headphones still pose a serious risk to your ears. In this article we will try to figure out at what maximum volume you can listen to music and how to protect your hearing.

85 dB – hearing damage threshold.

Most doctors agree that 85 dB is a hearing damage threshold. After prolonged exposure to 85 dB sounds, it can lead to partial or complete hearing loss, as well as ringing in the ears. You can probably assume that such an indicator is too loud. However, our ears are subjected to such a load almost daily. For example, lawn mowers or busy restaurant halls can produce noise at 90 dB.

Do not immediately panic. Mowing the lawn or dinner at a restaurant will not make you deaf. Doctors agree that our hearing organs are fully capable of withstanding the effects of 85 dB for up to 8 hours. As the volume level increases, the length of time that can cause irreversible effects decreases. 

What is beyond 85 dB? 

Sound music mixer control panel

As a rule, most sources of playback artificially restrict users. It is worth noting that some devices can significantly exceed the threshold of 85 dB. Some headphones can operate in the range from 110 to 120 dB. At this volume, our hearing can stand for about a minute before it gets damaged.

Listening to a 90 dB sound for four hours results in permanent hearing loss. If you add volume up to 95 dB and our ears can withstand no more than two hours, and if you turn up the volume up to 110 dB, then the organs of hearing will be able to hold out no more than 1.5 minutes. 

Is it possible to measure the db level in headphones?

If you want to know if the headphones exceed the 85 dB threshold, then this may be a problem.Accurately measure the noise level in the headphones is quite difficult. Most of the available sound level meters are designed for ambient noise levels, for example, in a room, at a construction site, or in a restaurant. The sound of the headphones is directed to the ears. Thus, to measure it is necessary to lean the headphones against the sound level meter sensor, and this method does not guarantee the accuracy of the indicators at all.

It is unlikely because of such inaccurate indicators you want to buy a separate device. Alternatively, we can recommend using one of the free applications for measuring the noise level using a smartphone – Sound Meter or Sound Analyzer . However, their accuracy also leaves much to be desired. 

How to protect your hearing?

One of the best ways to limit the volume is to turn the volume down, no matter how funny it sounds.When using headphones, try asking yourself if it’s too loud. Try to find for yourself the most comfortable volume and set this value as a limit. In addition, you can also set a volume threshold for playing music in any streaming application that you are using. Most services have a function of “loudness normalization” with the ability to adjust the value.

It is worth mentioning separately the phenomenon of hearing tiredness. During prolonged listening in the ears, the ears start to get tired. As a result, there is a feeling that the music began to play quieter. And what we do in such cases is correct, turn up the volume. Do not forget about it and let the ears rest. 

Focus on quality, not volume.

Do not rush into the pool with your head and buy some kind of exclusive audiophile copies for 1000 dollars to get high-quality sound. There are many fairly high-quality models in the middle price segment, the main thing is to make a competent choice. For example, if you often listen to music in a noisy environment, then in this case there is a reason to think about headphones with an active noise cancellation system. It is also worth noting that it will be important to spend a few minutes of your life adjusting the equalizer to choose the most comfortable sound for yourself.

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