What’s a Safe Listening Volume?

friends performing guitar duet at small concert

Do you think about the volume you listen to when you play music or an audiobook through your device? Most people don’t, they simply play the sounds at a comfortable volume and effortlessly raise it if the environment becomes noisier, but this might have consequences in the future. 

In this article, you will find out how soundwaves reach the brain and turn into electrical signals, and you will also find out how the inner ear can become damaged. Frequently, this results from loud noise exposure and extended listening periods. Lastly, you will find out about listening volumes and which ones are safest.    

Why Does Listening Volume Matter? 

Most people don’t think twice about the volume of the music or audio on their devices; they simply play the tracks at whatever volumes feels comfortable at that moment. But, if they’re in a noisy environment, they might put the volume up more that is healthy and damage hearing. 

Listening to sounds at high volume – above 70 decibels (dB), for instance – destroys or damages the tiny hairs of the inner ear called cilla. These tiny hairs are responsible for sending soundwaves down the ear canal to the cochlea to make sound, but once damaged, they don’t grow back.   

Short Term Effects

If you’ve ever been to a loud rock concert or you’ve listened to loud music in your earpiece, you might notice a ringing sound or a low humming in your ears, this is commonly called tinnitus, and it’s the impact of sound on the cilla hairs that struggles to send soundwaves to the brain.

The short-term effects of high-volume listening are not serious, and it should go away in a day or two. However, it is something of a wake-up call. If short term damage to cilla is incurred regularly, it will accumulate and lead to long term hearing loss which has more implications.  

The Long Term Effects 

In the long term, listening to sounds at high volumes leads to hearing loss. Eventually, the cilla in the inner ear become permanently damaged or destroyed; they can no longer send soundwaves to the cochlea to be transmuted into electrical signals for the brain to interpret. 

If you experience long term hearing loss, it can reduce your quality of life and your mental health. When people are unable to hear what is being said in social situations, it can make them anxious and lead to negative thoughts and feelings. To avoid this, have your hearing checked.  

What’s a Safe Listening Volume?

The conventional advice is not to listen to sounds that are over 70dB, although 60dB is better. Over 70dB puts pressure on your inner ear and can lead to long term hearing loss if this exposure is regular. Devices these days normally have a warning signal at a safe level. 

For your information, 30dB is the level of normal conversation and doesn’t cause any damage long or short term. Between 80-85dB are the sound of heavy traffic, air conditioners and lawn equipment – exposure is less than two hours. One hundred decibels are the sound of a sporting event and can harm your ears after 15 minutes; over 120dB can damage them instantly.  

How to Check Your Listening Volume 

Most people use devices to listen to music, audiobooks and streaming services, and often they use earpieces to send the sound signals directly into the inner ear. If these sound levels are not appropriate, they can lead to significant short term and long-term damage to the inner ear.  

Luckily, most of the major brands are aware of the issue and have software installed that signal to users when they are listening at dangerously high volumes. This is one way you can track your volume levels; another is to use earplugs in your daily life in places with high noise levels. If you think your hearing might be damaged already, it’s time to visit a hearing specialist.    

Experts suggest that safe volume levels are anything around the 60dB mark, although it is still safe to listen to volumes that are higher – 70-80dB – you can’t spend as much time on these volumes without damaging your long-term hearing. If in doubt, listen at lower levels. 

If you think your hearing is already damaged by high volume listening, there is still some action you can take to prevent hearing loss and to ensure your hearing remains optimal long term. Learn more about Hearing Science of The Foothills, Inc by calling us today at (818) 698-8056.