Headphones are a godsend, make no mistake about it. Where would we be without the ability to zone out and listen to our own choice of music on the bus or in the gym? They’re not exactly a new invention but the use of headphones is far more common since the digital music revolution, and they often get a bad press (quite rightly in some cases), if you have your headphones too loud you could be doing yourself damage, and you might not even realize it is happening. However, we don’t believe that you should have to compromise your listening experience because of this, so fear not audio lovers…
Risks of Headphones Being Too Loud
Exposure to loud noises is not good for our ears. There has been a lot of talk about headphones for kids and the sensitivity in their young ears which could lead to permanent damage, but the truth is that we are at risk of damage whatever our age.
Tinnitus – Tinnitus is a ringing or humming noise which our brains perceive even if it is not there. Unlike the sound we hear after a loud gig, Tinnitus never goes away and there is no known cure, sufferers have to endure the annoying sounds forever. There are other ways Tinnitus is caused but one of the most common causes is listening to loud sounds for too long.
Hearing Damage – Other forms of hearing damage can occur if you are exposed to loud music a lot of the time, such as a loss of sensitivity to certain audio frequencies.
How can I avoid damage?
Usually when we are listening to music loud it is not only because we like to hear it in full and get a good solid listening experience, it is because of interference. I know that when I am in the gym I am often guilty of turning my headphones or earbuds up because of the other noises going on around me, and trying to drown them out, but this is unwise and can do a lot of damage as you are exposed to not only those other sounds but to the noise you are trying to drown them out with. To avoid this being the case I recommend you get a set of noise cancelling headphones or earbuds. These will create a seal that will stop you from hearing background noises and allow you to focus on the tracks you are listening to with no interference, so you don’t have to keep hitting the volume button.
Getting your EQ right
I talk a lot here about EQ, and it is a big part of the listening experience. EQ allows you to boost and cut certain frequencies and most iPods or MP3 players have a function to let you alter these settings. If you can’t hear the bass, just give it a little boost instead of turning the whole track up!
Give Your Ears a Break
If you are going to listen to loud music, don’t do it for a prolonged period of time, your ears are like a muscle and you need to give them a rest from time to time to avoid strains or injuries.
It can be really tempting to blast out your favourite tracks during a workout or after a bad day at work, and that is fine, but you need to take precautions. Remember that your long term health is more important.