Woman enjoying music with headphones but protecting her hearing.

People who work in loud surroundings such as construction sites or at heavy metal concerts are not the only ones impacted by noise related loss of hearing. Recreation associated noise exposure can be just as dangerous as work related noise exposure. What type of exposure are we dealing with? Music, gaming, streaming video or anything that you would listen to through earbuds or headphones.

You might not think your smartphone or tablet can get that loud. But these devices can achieve continuous volumes of over 105 dB, which is around the average human threshold for pain. This is the volume at which noise starts to literally hurt your ears. So what’s the answer for protecting your ears against volume related damage.

It’s relevant here to think about the volume. Listen with the volume at no more than 60% for 60 minutes or less at a stretch (how long you listen for also makes a difference), this is known as the 60/60 rule.

Create a Setting on Your Hearing Aids For Music

Make sure, if you’re using hearing aids, you don’t attempt to drown out other sounds by turning your streaming music up too high. And there are more appropriate ways to listen to music so consult us about that also. If you’re a musician or real music aficionado you may have recognized that most hearing aids are created to improve the quality of voices…not necessarily music. We may be able to change the configuration to lessen noise and feedback while maximizing some frequency to improve the quality of sound when listening to music.

How to Select The Right Headphones

When shopping for headphones there are lots of options, especially if you use hearing aids. It might be a matter of personal preference, but there are some things you should think about there too.

Over-the-Ear Headphones

Over the ear headphones are becoming popular again but you probably won’t see the old foam covered ear pieces that used to come with a walkman. Often shockingly pricey, they feature lots of color possibilities and celebrity endorsements, and yes, exceptional sound quality. And unlike those little foam pads, these go over the entire ear, limiting outside sounds.

Conventional perception is that these are less dangerous than in-ear headphones because the source of the sound is further away from your eardrum. But because the speakers are larger they are usually capable of much higher sound level. Noise cancellation can be a helpful thing as long as you’re not losing useful sounds like an oncoming car. With that being said, because they cancel out outside noise, you can normally reduce the volume of what you’re listening to so it’s not so loud that it will injure your ears.


The normal earbuds are well known for poor quality of sound, but because they come with your phone many people still use them. Especially, with newer Apple phones, it’s simply easier to use the earbuds that were provided with the device because it most likely doesn’t have a headphone jack.

The drawback, besides the poor sound quality, is that basic earbuds can’t cancel outside sounds, so that it’s more likely that you will pump up the sound level. It’s generally thought that inserting earbuds so close to your eardrum is the main concern but it’s actually the volume.

Occluding or Isolating Earbuds

Many people buy earbuds with a rounded, rubbery tip both because they’re more comfortable than standard earbuds and more effective at stopping outside noises. A seal that stops outside sound from entering is formed by the rubber tip which conforms to the shape of the ear. But these earbuds can also block out sounds you need to hear and volume is still the primary issue. And if you use hearing aids, obviously these won’t work for you.

You might need to test out more than one pair before you find headphones that meet your specifications. Your expectations, acoustically, will be different dependant on what type of use you normally give them. Enjoying your tunes at a healthy volume and finding headphones that assist you in doing that is essential.

How to Make Sure Your Hearing is Safeguarded

How can you be certain it’s okay? There’s an app for that…If you use a smartphone, you can download the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s free Sound Level Meter app. There are other apps you can get, but studies has discovered that the dependability of these other apps is hit-and-miss (also, for reasons yet unknown, Android-based apps have proven to be less accurate). That prompted NIOSH to develop their own app. You can measure outside sounds using the app, but sounds coming from your device’s speakers can also be measured, so you will know exactly how much volume your ears are subjected to. You have to do a little work, but taking these kinds of protective steps can help protect your ears.

Why wait? You don’t have to live with hearing loss. Call Us Today