Sep 27, 2012

How loud is too loud? What?

Now we have such busy lives, always on the move, more people are discovering the joys of music and audio books that they can listen to while they jog, drive, craft or otherwise multi-task. There are great collections of audio books and music at your local library and they are free to borrow. But with the use of audio material there are always important safety tips to consider.

When listening to music or audio books there are two important considerations, hearing health and hygiene.

The following diagram from Sound Advice shows the levels where the frequency is becoming dangerous. 
The level of decibels for a rock band or even an orchestra are around the levels where hearing protection should be considered. However, some of us then use earphones to channel this sound right into our ears. Please consider that when you are listening to a sound recording such as a talking book, the introduction (or when it is time to change CD's) can sometimes have quite loud music as well. This needs to be considered so you don't get a sudden burst of sound into your ear. 

This diagram from Dangerous Decibels shows when permanent hearing damage can occur. 

National Hearing Care states that the following can be symptoms of hearing loss:
• difficulty following conversation in a group
• difficulty following conversation in competing background noise 
• difficulty hearing the television at normal volume 
• a lack of clarity of speech in a one to one listening situation 
• distortion of music sound quality 
• reduced tolerance to loud sounds 
Tips and Hints:

  • Consider using your speakers rather than earphones to listen whenever possible.
  • If you are using headphones try to choose the ones that cover your ears as shown below, rather than the earbuds that you put inside your ear. 
  • If you must use earbuds, then don't share them with anyone, and clean or change them regularly. This is because dangerous bacteria can accumulate in the buds and cause harm to your ear through infections. 
  • Ensure your earphones are in good working order, so you don't get any crackle or interference.
  • Whether you are using speakers or earphones, keep the sound at a tolerable level. Your ears should not be ringing afterwards. 
  • Rest your ears - give your ears a five minute break every hour so they are not constantly bombarded with concentrated sound. 


  1. This is excellent, I keep telling my son not to use ears buds but didn't know why, only that I heard it was bad for kids. Also what would be a safe way to clean my husbands ear bud headphones?

    1. The young people really do seem to like the earbuds. Best to limit their time on them and make sure they don't have them too loud.
      This is a great question, about cleaning the earbuds. You can use a little bit of soapy water, or any alcohol or toner suitable for the skin. Use a cloth or cotton tips to clean the area that gets placed in the ear. Make sure it is dry before using again, and of course don't submerge them in the water.
      Here's some great tips for cleaning:

  2. This was very informative, thanks for the post!

  3. Thanks for the great info. With the damage I have sustained over the years, I wish I had known this when I was younger as hearing damage is not reversible


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