Question

How loud is ‘too loud’ that would potentially damage my hearing?

Answer

The effects of loud environmental noise and loud music playback on the ear are similar. According to various studies, permanent hearing loss may occur for prolonged exposures over 85 decibels (85 dB).

Decibel level reference: 

However, it is not only the loudness (measured in dB) that matters, but also the duration – the longer the exposure to the loudness, the greater is the damage:

Loudness Maximum hearing period a day
85 dB 8 hours
88 dB 4 hours
91 dB 2 hours
94 dB 1 hour
97 dB

30 minutes

100 dB 15 minutes
103 dB 7 minutes
106 dB 4 minutes
115 dB 30 seconds

*Maximum hearing period is only a reference. Seek medical advice if you have any doubt.

A notice ‘Long hour and high volume damage hearing’ will be displayed when the volume of this MP3 player attains 80dB-85dB (you can take this Decibel level as reference of a medium truck passing by). This notice is to comply with a regulation in the European Union for protecting your hearing safety (EN 60950-1). It is not suggested to adjust beyond this volume level because long exposure to this volume level may damage your hearing. If you really need to increase the volume level beyond this level (80-85dB), shorten the hearing period to protect your hearing.

Reference and extended reading:

  • US government (Texas) – Noise and Hearing Protection Fact Sheet 
    http://www.tdi.texas.gov/pubs/videoresource/fsnoise.pdf
  • EUROPA-DG Health and Consumer Protection
    http://ec.europa.eu/health/opinions/en/hearing-loss-personal-music-player-mp3/l-3/3-hearing-protection-limits.htm
  • Canadian Academy of Audiology
    http://www.canadianaudiology.ca/consumer/how-loud-is-too-loud.html

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