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

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

Aiden loves music. While he’s out running, he listens to Pandora, while working it’s Spotify, and he has a playlist for all his activities: gaming, cooking, gym time, and everything else. His entire life has a soundtrack and it’s playing on his headphones. But permanent hearing damage may be happening as a result of the very loud immersive music he loves.

There are ways to enjoy music that are healthy for your ears and ways that aren’t so safe. Regrettably, most of us choose the more hazardous listening choice.

How can hearing loss be caused by listening to music?

Your ability to hear can be compromised over time by exposure to loud noise. We’re used to thinking of hearing loss as a problem related to aging, but current research is revealing that hearing loss isn’t an inherent part of aging but is instead, the result of accumulated noise damage.

Younger ears which are still growing are, as it turns out, more vulnerable to noise-induced damage. And yet, young adults are more inclined to be dismissive of the long-term hazards of high volume. So there’s an epidemic of younger people with hearing loss thanks, in part, to high volume headphone use.

Is there a safe way to listen to music?

Unrestricted max volume is obviously the “hazardous” way to enjoy music. But there is a safer way to listen to your tunes, and it usually involves turning down the volume. The general recommendations for safe volumes are:

  • For adults: No more than 40 hours of weekly listening on a device and keep the volume lower than 80dB.
  • For teens and young children: You can still listen for 40 hours, but the volume should still be below 75dB.

Forty hours per week translates into roughly five hours and forty minutes per day. Though that could seem like a while, it can seem to pass rather quickly. Even still, most people have a pretty sound idea of keeping track of time, it’s something we’re taught to do successfully from a really young age.

Monitoring volume is a little less intuitive. On most smart devices, smartphones, and televisions, volume isn’t calculated in decibels. Each device has its own arbitrary scale. Perhaps it’s 1-100. But maybe it’s 1-16. You may not have a clue how close to max volume you are or even what max volume on your device is.

How can you monitor the volume of your tunes?

There are a few non-intrusive, simple ways to determine just how loud the volume on your music really is, because it’s not very easy for us to conceptualize exactly what 80dB sounds like. It’s even harder to understand the difference between 80 and 75dB.

So using one of the many noise free monitoring apps is greatly advisable. 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 adjustments while monitoring your real dB level. Your smartphone will, with the correct settings, let you know when the volume goes too high.

The volume of a garbage disposal

Typically, 80 dB is about as noisy as your garbage disposal or your dishwasher. So, it’s loud, but it’s not that loud. Your ears will begin to take damage at volumes higher than this threshold so it’s a relevant observation.

So pay close attention and try to avoid noise above this volume. If you do listen to some music beyond 80dB, remember to minimize your exposure. Maybe minimize loud listening to a song instead of an album.

Over time, loud listening will cause hearing issues. You can develop tinnitus and hearing loss. The more you can be cognizant of when your ears are entering the danger zone, the more educated your decision-making will be. And safer listening will ideally be part of those decisions.

Give us a call if you still have questions about keeping your ears safe.

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.