Coastal Hearing Aid Center - Encinitas, CA

Woman enjoying music with headphones but protecting her hearing.

Noise-related loss of hearing doesn’t just impact people who work in loud surroundings, such as construction workers or heavy metal roadies. Leisure related noise exposure can be just as damaging as work related noise exposure. What kind of exposure are we discussing? Music, gaming, streaming video or anything else that you would listen to through headphones or earbuds.

You might be alarmed to discover that a mobile device can go that loud. The normal pain threshold for human hearing is about 150 db which is in the range of these devices. Your ears will actually start to hurt at this volume. So what’s the answer for protecting your hearing against volume related damage.

It’s important here to consider the volume. Listen with the volume at no more than 60% for no more than 60 minutes each session (how long you listen for also matters), this is called the 60/60 rule.

Your Hearing Aids Can be Set up For Music

Be certain, if you’re utilizing hearing aids, you don’t try to drown out other sounds by turning your streaming music up too high. Additionally, ask us about how to best listen to music. Hearing aids aren’t designed to increase the quality of music like they do with voices so if really like music, you might have observed this. We might be able to change the configuration to lessen noise and feedback while increasing some frequency ranges to enhance the quality of sound when listening to music.

Choosing Headphones

When purchasing headphones there are lots of choices, specifically if you use hearing aids. There are some things to consider, though it’s largely a matter of personal preference.

Headphones That go Over The Ears

Over the ear headphones are becoming popular again but you probably won’t find the old foam covered speakers that used to come with a walkman. They have a lot of choices in style and color, are often endorsed by celebrities, and can be surprisingly pricey. And these headphones go over the whole ear stopping unwanted sound, unlike those old foam ones.

Conventional wisdom is that these are safer than in-ear headphones because the source of the sound is further from your eardrum. But the fact is they’re frequently able to reach louder volume than the smaller kind, the speakers are a lot bigger. Also, noise-canceling could possibly help you ignore the crying baby on your flight, but in other situations, it can silence sounds you need to hear (such as a honking car). But on the upside, you don’t have to contend with outside sound so you can enjoy your music at lower volumes.


The standard earbuds that are included with devices such as iPhones are known for their inferior sound quality, even though lots of people still use them because hey, they were included with the phone. Moreover, with newer versions that lack a headphone jack, staying with Apple’s earbuds can simply be easier.

Earbuds also don’t cancel out sound so the downside is, you have a tendency to crank up the volume. Once again,, though it’s often said that earbuds are problematic because you put them in your ear so their speakers are really close to your eardrum, volume is really the biggest problem.

Occluding or Isolating Earbuds

More comfortable than regular earbuds, models with a round rubber tip are the choice of many people because they help stop outside sound. The rubber molds to the shape of your ear, creating a seal that blocks other noises from entering. Not to sound like a broken record, but these have the same downsides as the other two (volume is the main problem), as well as carrying the same caution as over-the-ear headphones (they can block out warning sounds). Obviously, these won’t work for you if you wear hearing aids.

You might have to test out more than one pair before you find headphones that work for you. Your expectations, acoustically, will be different dependant on what kind of use you normally give them. The relevant thing is to seek out headphones that make it comfortable for you to enjoy at a safe and secure volume.

Don’t Cut Corners When it Comes to Your Hearing

Is it Safe, How Can I be Sure? There’s an app for that…If you use a smartphone, you can get the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s free Sound Level Meter app. You can get different apps, but research has discovered that the accuracy of these other apps is spotty (in addition, for unknown reasons, Android-based apps have been shown less reliable). That motivated NIOSH to create their own app. You can measure outside noise using the app, but sounds coming from your device’s speakers can be measured too, this means, the true volume of what’s going to your ears. It’s a little bit of work, but taking these types of preventative measures can help safeguard your ears.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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