How to Safeguard Your Ears From Loud Music

Woman enjoying music with headphones but protecting her hearing.

People who work in loud settings such as construction sites or at heavy metal concerts are not the only people affected by noise related loss of hearing. It doesn’t even have to be work-related, recreation-related noise exposure can be harmful, also. The most prevalent kind? Loud noise heard through headphones, whether it be music, gaming, streaming video, or even an audiobook with the volume cranked up.

You might not think your smartphone or tablet can go that loud. But these devices can attain continuous volumes of over 105 dB, which is around the normal human pain threshold. Your ears will literally start to feel pain at this volume. So what’s the solution for safeguarding your ears against volume related damage.

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

Create a Setting on Your Hearing Aids For Listening to Music

Make certain, if you’re utilizing hearing aids, you don’t try to drown out other sounds by cranking your streaming music up too loud. And there are better ways to listen to music so consult us about that as well. If you’re a musician or real music aficionado you may have recognized that most hearing aids are developed to sharpen the clarity of voices…not necessarily music. While enjoying music, we can most likely make some adjustments to help improve the sound quality and reduce the feedback.

Selecting Headphones

If you don’t use hearing aids, there are many choices for shopping for headphones. It might be a matter of personal preference, but there are some things you will want to consider there too.

Over-the-Ear Headphones

While the foam-covered speakers that came with your old Walkman are generally a thing of the past, over-the-ear headphones have had a resurgence. Often surprisingly pricey, they offer a large variety of color options and celebrity endorsements, and yes, superior sound quality. And these headphones go over the entire ear blocking out noise, unlike those old foam ones.

Main-stream wisdom is that these are less dangerous than in-ear headphones because the source of the sound is further away from your eardrum. But the fact is they’re often able to reach louder volume than the smaller kind, the speakers are much bigger. Noise cancellation can be a good thing as long as you’re not losing useful sounds like an oncoming automobile. That said, because they block out outside noise, you can normally lower the volume of what you’re listening to so it’s not so loud that it will harm your hearing.


The normal earbuds are widely known for poor sound quality, but because they come with your phone many people still use them. Especially, with newer Apple phones, it’s just easier to use the earbuds that came with the device because it probably doesn’t have a headphone jack.

The downside, besides the inferior sound quality, is that basic earbuds can’t cancel outside sounds, so that it’s more likely that you will crank up the sound level. It’s commonly thought that placing earbuds so close to your eardrum is the main issue but it’s actually the volume.

Noise Canceling Earbuds

More comfortable than ordinary earbuds, models that have a round rubber tip are the choice of many people because they help obstruct outside noise. A seal that blocks outside noise from entering is formed by the rubber tip which molds to the shape of the ear. But these earbuds can also block out sounds you need to hear and volume is still the main problem. And if you use hearing aids, clearly these won’t work for you.

You may need to check out quite a few pairs before you find headphones that do the job. Depending on what you regularly use them for talking on the phone, say, versus listening to music, you’ll have different acoustic requirements. The essential thing is to find headphones that make it comfortable for you to listen at a safe 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 have a smartphone, you can download the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s free Sound Level Meter app. There are different apps you can get, but studies has discovered that the dependability of these other apps is spotty (in addition, for unknown reasons, Android-based apps have been shown less accurate). That prompted NIOSH to create an app of their own. You can measure outside sounds with the app, but sounds coming out of your device’s speakers can be measured too, so you will learn exactly how much volume your ears are subjected to. It’s a little bit of effort, but taking these types of protective measures can help protect your hearing.

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.