If You Love Listening to Music, Think About These Guidelines to Safeguard Your Hearing

Woman enjoying music with headphones but protecting her hearing.

Noise-related hearing loss doesn’t just impact individuals who work in loud surroundings, like construction workers or heavy metal roadies. It doesn’t even have to be work-related, leisure-related noise exposure can be dangerous, too. What type of exposure are we dealing with? Music, gaming, streaming video or anything that you would listen to through headphones or earbuds.

You may be surprised to discover that a mobile device can go that loud. But these devices can attain continuous volumes of over 105 dB, which is close to the normal human pain threshold. This is the volume where noise begins to literally cause pain in your ears. So what’s the answer for safeguarding your ears against volume related damage.

The volume level here is essential. A quick shorthand that’s widely suggested is the 60/60 rule: Listen with the volume at no more than 60% for 60 minutes or less in a single session (because how long you listen for matters, too).

Make a Setting on Your Hearing Aids For Music

Be sure, if you’re utilizing hearing aids, you don’t attempt to drown out other sounds by cranking your streaming music up too loud. In addition, ask us about how to best listen to music. If you’re a musician or someone who loves music you may have recognized that most hearing aids are developed to enhance the quality of voices…not necessarily music. While enjoying music, we can most likely make a few adjustments to help enhance the sound quality and minimize the feedback.

Selecting Headphones

When getting headphones there are lots of options, specifically if you have hearing aids. It might be a matter of personal choice, but there are some things you should think about there as well.

Headphones That go Over The Ears

While the foam-covered earpieces that was included with your old Walkman are generally no longer used, over-the-ear headphones have made a comeback. Often unexpectedly pricey, they feature lots of color options and celebrity endorsements, and yes, exceptional sound quality. And unlike those little foam pads, these go over the entire ear, blocking outside sounds.

Main-stream wisdom is that these are safer than in-ear headphones because the source of the sound is further from your eardrum. But because the speakers are larger they are normally capable of much higher sound level. Noise cancellation can be a helpful thing as long as you’re not losing important sounds such as an oncoming car or truck. That said, because they cancel out outside noise, you can typically lower the volume of what you’re listening to so it’s not loud enough to hurt your hearing.


The normal earbuds that come with devices like iPhones are much maligned for their inferior sound quality, though lots of people still use them because hey, they came with the phone. Specifically, with newer Apple phones, it’s just easier to use the earbuds that were provided with the device because it probably doesn’t have a headphone jack.

Earbuds also don’t cancel out noise so the downside is, you have a tendency to turn up the sound level. It’s commonly believed that sticking earbuds so close to your eardrum is the main problem but it’s actually the volume.

Occluding or Isolating Earbuds

Many people prefer earbuds with a rounded, rubbery tip both because they’re more comfy than standard earbuds and more effective at blocking outside noises. The rubber molds to the shape of your ear, producing a seal that stops other noises from getting in. But these earbuds can also block out noises you might need to hear and volume is still the biggest concern. And if you use hearing aids, obviously these won’t work for you.

A number of pairs might have to be evaluated before you find headphones that meet your specifications. Your expectations, acoustically, will vary depending on what type of use you usually give them. The significant thing is to find headphones that make it comfortable for you to listen at a safe volume.

How to be Certain Your Hearing is Safeguarded

Is it Safe, How Can I be Sure? If you own a smartphone, you can get an app for that, you can get the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s free Sound Level Meter app. You can get other apps, but research has discovered that the reliability of these other apps is hit-and-miss (additionally, for unknown reasons, Android-based apps have proven to be less accurate). That prompted NIOSH to create their own app. You can measure outside sounds using the app, but sounds coming out of your device’s speakers can be measured too, so you will find out precisely how much volume your ears are subjected to. It’s a little bit of effort, but putting in place these kinds of protective measures can help protect your ears.

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