Ear Buds-DB's-Hearing Loss [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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07-18-2006, 04:05 PM
Lately I have been going for walks with a CD diskman. I would be very aware of keeping the volume low since my walks usually lasts about 1 hour and at 35 years old, I'm too wise to abuse my hearing. I decided to pull out my digital sound pressure meter and to my surprise, 1 earbud put right up against the meter was registering from 92-95 db's. I thought, HOLY $HIT, that can cause some damage.

Now if you pull the earbud a couple of mm's away, you can register about a 10 db drop. At the same volume I registered up to 95 db's, I inserted the earbuds, put the sound pressure meter at arms length and I would hum a note which I could clearly hear over the music and my meter would register from 75-80 db's.

Am I right to assume the the distance between the earbud and my eardrum would lower the db's enough from my initial reading of up to 95 db's, since I could clearly hear my voice registering no more then 80 db's, that I am not damaging my hearing, or are earbuds just that dangerous that I could possibly damage my hearing without even noticing. I'm assuming that from where the earbud sits, that the distance to my eardrum would probably lower the db's a good 20 db's from my reading of 95 db's with the earbud right against the mike. What do you think?

07-18-2006, 05:09 PM
In your case, decibels are going to be difficult to measure. Making more noise than the earbuds out in the open air is not comparable, because in the ear, the diaphram of the bud is closely coupled to the diaphram of the ear. As long as the earbud is sealed, moving it in or out will make little difference. In my own opinion, harshness and distortion are an important component of ear damage. Try to use earbuds which do not give you listening fatigue. Be forewarned, they may be expensive...


07-18-2006, 05:25 PM
All points taken. After 1 hour I do not have any ear fatigue whatsoever. But when I was able to read up to 95 db's with one ear bud right up against the mic of my sound pressure meter, I got a little concerned with hearing damage. Everything sounds different with earbuds as opposed to sitting on my couch listening to my home stereo. It's really hard to judge and compare. All I know, is that when I reduce the volume on my diskman from my initial setting that read up to 95 db's, it becomes harder to hear the recording, that's why I'm thinking that every mm from the earbud to the ear drum really amounts to a lower db level. In big increments. But it is really hard to judge.

07-19-2006, 06:47 AM
"In my own opinion, harshness and distortion are an important component of ear damage."

I've never heard of this. Are you saying that music with distorted electric guitar causes hearing damage? I think you are making things up.

Anyway, if your earbuds don't seal out any outside noise and you are in a noisy environment, then you will need to turn them up louder to 'hear' the music at the same level. Otherwise if they are isolating 'in-ear' headphones, you will be listening at a lower level since outside noise is blocked out. There is really nothing different about listening to an earbud or listening to speakers; it's just that people do this for an extended amount of time and at higher volumes because it is private; they are not having to worry about bothering anybody else with blasting music for an hour at a time. I am estimating I listen at about 80dB, with peaks of 95dB for only short periods of time. I think 85dB is supposed to be fine for up to an hour.