What’s a Safe Volume to Listen to Music on Your headphones?

Woman with long dark hair relaxing in a chair in the park listening to headphones

Music is an important part of Aiden’s life. He listens to Spotify while working, switches to Pandora when jogging, and he has a playlist for everything: cardio, cooking, video games, you name it. Everything in his life has a soundtrack and it’s playing on his headphones. But the very thing that Aiden enjoys, the loud, immersive music, could be contributing to lasting damage to his hearing.

For your ears, there are safe ways to listen to music and dangerous ways to listen to music. But the more dangerous listening choice is frequently the one most of us choose.

How can hearing loss be caused by listening to music?

As time passes, loud noises can lead to degeneration of your hearing abilities. Normally, we think of aging as the principal cause of hearing loss, but more recent research is showing that hearing loss isn’t an intrinsic part of getting older but is instead, the outcome of accumulated noise damage.

It also turns out that younger ears are particularly vulnerable to noise-induced damage (they’re still developing, after all). And yet, the long-term damage from high volume is more likely to be dismissed by younger adults. So there’s an epidemic of younger people with hearing loss thanks, in part, to high volume headphone use.

Can you listen to music safely?

It’s obviously dangerous to listen to music on max volume. But there is a safer way to listen to your tunes, and it usually involves turning down the volume. Here are a couple of general recommendations:

  • For adults: Keep the volume at no more than 80dB and for no more than 40 hours a week..
  • For teens and young children: 40 hours is still fine but reduce the volume to 75dB.

About five hours and forty minutes a day will give you about forty hours a week. Though that may seem like a long time, it can seem to pass rather quickly. Even still, most people have a fairly reliable concept of keeping track of time, it’s something we’re taught to do effectively from a very young age.

The more challenging part is keeping track of your volume. On most smart devices, computers, and televisions, volume isn’t measured in decibels. It’s calculated on some arbitrary scale. It may be 1-100. Or it could be 1-10. You might have no idea what the max volume on your device is, or how close to the max you are.

How can you monitor the volume of your music?

It’s not very easy to know how loud 80 decibels is, but thankfully there are a few non-intrusive ways to know how loud the volume is. Differentiating 75 from, let’s say, 80 decibels is even more perplexing.

That’s why it’s greatly suggested you utilize one of numerous free noise monitoring apps. These apps, generally available for both iPhone and Android devices, will provide you with8 real-time readouts on the noises around you. In this way, you can make real-time alterations while monitoring your real dB level. Or, when listening to music, you can also adjust your configurations in your smartphone which will efficiently let you know that your volume is too high.

The volume of a garbage disposal

Typically, 80 dB is about as loud as your garbage disposal or your dishwasher. That’s not too loud. It’s a relevant observation because 80dB is about as loud as your ears can take without damage.

So pay close attention and try to stay away from noise above this volume. If you happen to listen to some music above 80dB, don’t forget to limit your exposure. Maybe listen to your favorite song at full volume instead of the whole album.

Listening to music at a loud volume can and will cause you to develop hearing issues over the long term. You can develop hearing loss and tinnitus. The more you can be aware of when your ears are going into the danger zone, the more informed your decision-making will be. And safer listening will ideally be part of those decisions.

Still have questions about keeping your ears safe? Contact us to explore more options.

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.

Questions? Talk To Us.

    Dr. Laura Padham, Audiologist

    Ocean Gate, NJ

    143 W Barnegat Avenue
    Ocean Gate, NJ 08740

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