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 enjoys music. While he’s out jogging, he’s listening to Pandora, while working it’s Spotify, and he has a playlist for everything he does: gaming, cooking, gym time, and everything else. Everything in his life has a soundtrack and it’s playing on his headphones. But lasting hearing damage might be happening due to the very loud immersive music he enjoys.

As far as your ears are concerned, there are healthy ways to listen to music and unsafe ways to listen to music. However, most of us choose the more dangerous listening choice.

How can hearing loss be the result of listening to music?

Over time, loud noises can cause degeneration of your hearing abilities. Typically, we think of aging as the principal cause of hearing loss, but more and more research indicates that it’s really the accumulation of noise-related damage that is the problem here and not anything inherent in the process of aging.

It also turns out that younger ears are particularly susceptible to noise-related damage (they’re still developing, after all). And yet, younger adults are more likely to be dismissive of the long-term risks of high volume. So because of widespread high volume headphone use, there has become an epidemic of hearing loss in young individuals.

Can you enjoy music safely?

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

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

About five hours and forty minutes per day will be about forty hours a week. That seems like a lot, but it can go by fairly quickly. Even still, most individuals have a pretty reliable idea of keeping track of time, it’s something we’re trained to do efficiently from a really young age.

Keeping track of volume is a little less intuitive. On most smart devices, smartphones, and televisions, volume is not calculated in decibels. It’s measured on some arbitrary scale. Maybe it’s 1-100. But perhaps it’s 1-16. You may not have any clue what the max volume on your device is, or how close to the max you are.

How can you track the volume of your music?

There are a few non-intrusive, easy ways to determine just how loud the volume on your music really is, because it’s not very easy for us to conceptualize what 80dB sounds like. Distinguishing 75 from, let’s say, 80 decibels is even more puzzling.

So utilizing one of the many noise free monitoring apps is greatly recommended. Real-time volumes of the noise around you will be obtainable from both iPhone and Android apps. In this way, you can make real-time adjustments while monitoring your real dB level. Or, when listening to music, you can also modify your configurations in your smartphone which will automatically tell you that your volume is too loud.

As loud as a garbage disposal

Your garbage disposal or dishwasher is usually about 80 decibels. That’s not too loud. It’s a significant observation because 80dB is about as much noise as your ears can cope with without damage.

So you’ll want to be extra mindful of those times when you’re going beyond that decibel threshold. If you do listen to some music above 80dB, remember to limit your exposure. Maybe limit loud listening to a song rather than an album.

Over time, loud listening will cause hearing issues. Hearing loss and tinnitus can be the consequence. Your decision making will be more informed the more mindful you are of when you’re entering the danger zone. And ideally, those decisions lean towards safer listening.

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.

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