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Headphone volume: up to what volume are your ears safe?


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Almost all music lovers love to turn up their favorite piece really loud. This applies of course as well to listening to music with headphones as well as without. While neighbors, friends, family, neighbors or other roommates quickly complain when playing the music over loudspeakers, when listening through headphones – at least as far as others are concerned – you can crank it up as much as you want. A fallacy that is often associated with gradual hearing loss. But what headphone volume is still healthy, and when is the healthy level definitely exceeded? You can find out in our article!

The facts first: Experts assume that a volume of 60 to 85 decibels does not cause long-term hearing damage. If you want to be on the safe side, you can also choose 80 decibels as the upper sound limit. But pure decibel numbers don’t tell you that much – with which everyday noise sources is the upper limit comparable? 80 decibels correspond roughly to the typical ringing of a telephone or an alarm clock .

So if your headphones are set much louder than your nearby alarm clock or phone, you should turn the headphone volume down significantly. Even if some devices issue a warning by themselves if you exceed a certain volume, it is good to get a feel for the critical maximum headphone volume yourself. Because other devices have no problem at all if the user turns up the volume to over 100 decibels in the long term – an area in which hearing damage is very likely to occur with long-term use . Even if nightclubs often exceed the 100 decibel limit, this is not a measure of healthy headphone use. It can be about 20 decibels quieter.

Overview of everyday noise:

Volume: Example:
40 to 55 dB normal conversation
53 to 64 dB Room volume
63 to 74 dB printer
68 to 84 dB Cars
78 to 88 dB Trucks
88 to 104 dB Discos
109 to 120 dB Rock concerts
108 to 120 dB Aircraft in local transport

A brief exposure to noise is fine:

Volume: Maximum duration of exposure:
90 dB 8 hours
92 dB 6 hours
95 dB 4 hours
100 dB 2 hours
102 dB 1.2 hours
105 dB 1 hour
110 dB 0.5 hours
115 dB 0.25 hours

Headphone volume: This is how it looks in occupational safety

A few more facts: Legally regulated in the area of ​​occupational safety is that the employer must provide the employee with hearing protection if they are exposed to a sound pressure of over 80 decibels over a long period of time. Above 85 decibels, the use of hearing protection even has to be monitored by the employer. It is not for nothing that you see gardeners, construction workers and other users of noisy machines regularly working with this type of hearing protection. Therefore, the limit value of 80 decibels should of course best also be adhered to with long-term use of headphones, even if this takes place in leisure time. Otherwise, damage to the ears could result.

Noise-canceling headphones: enjoy quieter music undisturbed

If ambient noise disturbs you while listening to music and you feel compelled to turn up the headphone volume, then noise-canceling headphones may be the right choice for you. These suppress the ambient noise with a physical process, so that the bottom line is that there is more audiophile space for your favorite music in the dynamic range. Complex pieces of music can also be enjoyed in areas with pronounced ambient noise.

Don’t turn the volume up all the way

Ideally, the maximum volume of your system, smartphone or MP3 player should not be used to the full. Most of the time, it’s too much for your ears. Turn the volume down as much as possible by turning the control before putting the headphones back on, or try to find a good average. Over time, you will get used to enjoying music even at a lower volume.

Take a hearing test

A hearing test, such as the one you can do at an ENT doctor, is usually the most careful to detect any hearing damage that you have already suffered. This is because over time you get used to damage to your ears that you have already suffered and consider it normal. The ENT doctor, on the other hand, can accurately assess whether the hearing ability is actually normal for your age or whether something is wrong. At the latest, if you are diagnosed with age-atypical hearing damage, you should reduce the volume of your headphones in order to protect your ears and keep them as healthy as possible. It is of course even better to reduce the volume before such damage even occurs.

Alternatively, you can have a hearing test done by a hearing aid acoustician you trust. Online hearing tests are also a possible option to get a rough overview of your hearing ability. However, only the ENT doctor can prepare a medical certificate and order further treatments.

Options for a hearing test

  • ENT doctor
  • Hearing aid acousticians
  • Online test
  • Protection for the ear even without headphones

If you want to protect your ears even when you are not wearing headphones, you should think about suitable hearing protection. After all, you are regularly exposed to a considerable level of noise on the street, on a motorcycle, in the discotheque or at concerts: jackhammers, engine noise and throbbing bass all contribute to the ambient noise and are often in excess of 100 decibels. Here, the right hearing protection, adapted to the respective situation, can offer important protection for the left and right ears. There are many ways of adapting the protection. Fitted frequency filters ensure, for example, that only the particularly harmful part of the acoustic spectrum is attenuated by the hearing protection.

Conclusion: If you pay a little attention to the volume while enjoying your music through headphones, your hearing health is good for your hearing. Our tips should help you get a feel for the right volume and turn the control down if it’s definitely too loud. We wish you a lot of fun with your personal favorite tracks!

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