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Audio gear and hearing safety

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Posted · Original PosterOP

So i have decided to make a little thread where I share my findings, and you can comment.

It is informative, i decided because there is not much ( or at all ) debate about hearing safety, some people dont know, some people dont care. And some people would ignore it even if you told them. Please dont.

 

Disclamer: I am not audio professional. Nor did I dug deep, read scientific papers or made my own tests.

I just care and my own user experience that lead me to it and now i am spreading the info to you so you can research. Or just throw the info out of the window... its up to you.

 

What we know for sure for better hearing safety:
- Lower volume is always better, as low as possible for you to hear

- Passive isolation of headphones blocks outside noise so you dont need to raise volume

- Its good to quiet down computer / environment, so you dont need to raise volume as well. Listening to your music on  the busy street, train, loud environment is a bad idea.

- Time spent on high volume has to be decreased

 

Even if you just follow those points, you made a favor to your ears and you can continue life as usual. But there is more.

 

First point are In Ear Monitors. People recommend them and say they are safe because they seal well and you can play them at very low volume. Thus reducing pressure / decibels.

 Just because of that seal, in ear canal it creates pressure. It can create pneumatic pressure that can reach dangerous levels, compared to sounds rated  120db. Safe levels are considered lower than 85db for 8 hours. The ear drum also moves in and out because of the seal. There are efforts made by professionals to remove this effect either by opening the seal so no pressure can occur ( or is lessened) or making a separate "bubble" that "takes the blow". But solutions arent cheap and not well known either. People care more about sound and price theese days.

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Pretty much one of the reasons I bought a pair of Adel. As for headphones,  the easier way to tell if it's too loud is if you can't hear what someone in the same room is saying while listening to something. 

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Just now, EUD said:

is my english so bad? sorry lol. i thought "bashing" is actually a good term. o well.

 

so what do you prefer speakers or headphones? maybe IEM?

 

i know that i prefer muddy sound of my old genious speakers ( yes i know :P ) because its kinda warm, has nice lows, but not much highs. i dont have luck with IEMs and they make my ears bleed, cheap headphones aswell, hard to find decent for cheap.

Back onto topic, I much prefer headphones, as my PC is in my lounge and my family like to watch TV. Also, I listen to music that my family dislike. My headphones are cheap though, I can't afford high-end stuff.


Main Gaming Rig:

Spoiler

Core i7-4770, Cryorig M9i Cooler, ASUS B85M GAMER, 8GB HyperX Fury Red 2x4GB 1866MHz, KFA2 GTX 970 Infin8 Black Edition "4GB", 1TB Seagate SSHD, 256GB Crucial m4 SSD, 60GB Corsair SSD for Kerbal and game servers, Thermaltake Core V21 Case, EVGA SuperNOVA 650W G2.

Secondary PC:

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i5-2500k OCed, Raijintek Themis, Intel Z77GA-70K, 8GB HyperX Genesis in grey, GTX 750 Ti, Gamemax Falcon case.

 

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Posted · Original PosterOP
1 minute ago, NinjaJc01 said:

Back onto topic, I much prefer headphones, as my PC is in my lounge and my family like to watch TV. Also, I listen to music that my family dislike. My headphones are cheap though, I can't afford high-end stuff.

do you EQ?

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Just now, EUD said:

do you EQ?

Software, yes. Otherwise, my Turtle Beaches that I got as a guest sound rather tinny.


Main Gaming Rig:

Spoiler

Core i7-4770, Cryorig M9i Cooler, ASUS B85M GAMER, 8GB HyperX Fury Red 2x4GB 1866MHz, KFA2 GTX 970 Infin8 Black Edition "4GB", 1TB Seagate SSHD, 256GB Crucial m4 SSD, 60GB Corsair SSD for Kerbal and game servers, Thermaltake Core V21 Case, EVGA SuperNOVA 650W G2.

Secondary PC:

Spoiler

i5-2500k OCed, Raijintek Themis, Intel Z77GA-70K, 8GB HyperX Genesis in grey, GTX 750 Ti, Gamemax Falcon case.

 

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Posted · Original PosterOP
23 minutes ago, iShad said:

Pretty much one of the reasons I bought a pair of Adel. As for headphones,  the easier way to tell if it's too loud is if you can't hear what someone in the same room is saying while listening to something. 

What is Adel? Never heard of it.

 

I just know i am more interested in buying speakers now and will check reviews of them, up till now i just ignored. Will not go 5.1 (price wise), but next purchase must be a nice pair stereo speakers. Might not be as good for gaming, but movies and especially music will do great.

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Interesting, but not a lot of actionable information in this article, other than "don't listen to headphones and IEMs".

 

The whole thing about expensive vs cheap headphones being safer is bullshit. Evidence of this? Most headphones apply some kind of curve in order to replicate the natural ear response. Why would an expensive headphone be less likely to have higher SPL at 2000Hz than a cheap one?

 

Speaking of ear response, you need to understand that even though a speaker may measure flat, the sensitivity of the ear IS higher in the upper midrange due to the effects of the ear and body structures reflecting and focusing the sound. The compensated SPL at these frequencies can be 10-20dB louder than the measured value. So are speakers really safer in this regard? I would suggest no.

 

Anyway, it's also well established safety practice that SPL is inversely proportional to safe listening time. What would be really useful to know is how that varies with IEMs, headphones and speakers. The knowledge that IEMs and headphones may be less safe is not very useful because I am not going to stop listening to them; what I need to know is how long can I listen without causing significant damage.

 

25 minutes ago, iShad said:

Pretty much one of the reasons I bought a pair of Adel. As for headphones,  the easier way to tell if it's too loud is if you can't hear what someone in the same room is saying while listening to something. 

 

What if you're wearing closed headphones? That volume is going to be different than for open headphones or IEMs due to the amount of passive attenuation. Not a very useful rule of thumb in my opinion.

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20 minutes ago, SSL said:

What if you're wearing closed headphones? That volume is going to be different than for open headphones or IEMs due to the amount of passive attenuation. Not a very useful rule of thumb in my opinion.

Yeah, pretty much only for open headphones, but that's the one you're most likely to turned up high to drown outside noise. For other stuff, if one were to care just get a db meter app on the phone.

 

22 minutes ago, EUD said:

What is Adel? Never heard of it.

 

I just know i am more interested in buying speakers now and will check reviews of them, up till now i just ignored. Will not go 5.1 (price wise), but next purchase must be a nice pair stereo speakers. Might not be as good for gaming, but movies and especially music will do great.

 

https://www.1964ears.com/adel

These, iems with release valve to reduce pressure.

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Posted · Original PosterOP
38 minutes ago, SSL said:

Interesting, but not a lot of actionable information in this article, other than "don't listen to headphones and IEMs".

Dont listen to IEMs and take care what headphones you use. Etc...

 

Quote

The whole thing about expensive vs cheap headphones being safer is bullshit. Evidence of this? Most headphones apply some kind of curve in order to replicate the natural ear response. Why would an expensive headphone be less likely to have higher SPL at 2000Hz than a cheap one?

Yeah i will delete comment about that. I dont have info on that.

Quote

 

Speaking of ear response, you need to understand that even though a speaker may measure flat, the sensitivity of the ear IS higher in the upper midrange due to the effects of the ear and body structures reflecting and focusing the sound. The compensated SPL at these frequencies can be 10-20dB louder than the measured value. So are speakers really safer in this regard? I would suggest no.

Can you explain this i dont understand. Is body reflecting sound to eardrum somehow?

Should look into it more. But i am sure from speakers it meets more ressistance than headphones directly into your ear at same decibels.

After all "pressure is pressure, no matter how its applied" :P Joke. I actually have no idea. 

Quote

 

Anyway, it's also well established safety practice that SPL is inversely proportional to safe listening time. What would be really useful to know is how that varies with IEMs, headphones and speakers. The knowledge that IEMs and headphones may be less safe is not very useful because I am not going to stop listening to them; what I need to know is how long can I listen without causing significant damage.

Theese are your own priorities. I dont care. Ive heard from you before, and again you are ignoring the fact that IEMs are dangerous, because of multiple reasons but mainly closed up space.

That you continually ignored during when i first told you about it, and you continue to do it now.

 

The pneumatic effect and some frequencies are dangerous. This is a fact.
I dont care how much db you measure your earphone at, even "safe SPL time levels" or how you call it, pneumatic effect will make it unsafe. And dangerous frequencies, i dont know the impact, but they can and are dangerous at "normal listening levels"

so it would be smart to buy different cans if you have spike there. Same goes with IEM closed up space effect.

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1 hour ago, EUD said:

Purity of sound is a factor for headphones AND speakers. For example, newer Concert-grade gear outputs very pure sound and you can listen them for some time on 105db for houres without any fatigue.
If you did that 30 years ago, you would be deaf in couple minutes.

You're talking out of your ass with that statement nothing has changed in the way of speakers designed in 100 of years we've just homed in the craft of making speakers with better materials and skills. And for the comment about hours listening to 105dB is pure bullshit you will have fatigue, you get fatigue after leaving a night club playing at 90dB for a couple hours. "Concert-grade gear outputs very pure sound" what the fuck does that even mean, it produce the same type of change to air molecule positions as anything else on this god dam planet and if you think that concert grade equipment gives out brilliant sounding audio that audiophiles dream of your insane, its there to be loud and produce a noise which is similar enough that people are happy and thats pretty much it.

 

1 hour ago, EUD said:

Second point are Headphones of all kinds and partially Speakers

On ear, in ear, over ear, .... all of them.

You would think that listening to audibly perceived safe/comfortable sound levels of music is... well safe.

 It depends on headphones. You can measure decibels, match it to 70db on some music. This was done on Takstar Hi2050 / ISK, often recommended headphones, very cheap and good sounding. Then you turn on 2000hz (very dangerous for your ears) sine test, decibel meter show 87db.... loudspeaker did 72db on same test. Look that difference...

 Its one of the most dangerous frequencies for your ears.

There is a reason why you dont test shit with sine waves because higher frequencies have a higher power octave
Also what weighting was these SPL recordings using, because that sound like someone using a Z or C I bet it was a C because it was someone trying to prove a point with peak levels.


The Dick of the audio page!

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1 minute ago, EUD said:

Dont listen to IEMs and take care what headphones you use. Etc...

 

Yeah i will delete comment about that. I dont have info on that.

Can you explain this i dont understand. Is body reflecting sound to eardrum somehow?

 

Should look into it more. But i am sure from speakers it meets more ressistance than headphones directly into your ear at same decibels.

 

It may be that headphones are more likely to cause the pneumatic effect. In any case, the pinnae and shoulders cause a 10-20dB peak in frequency response at the ears. A free-air microphone won't record this accurately. This is why A-weighting is often used, to compensate for situations where a measurements was taken without a dummy head or other appropriate steps.

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Posted · Original PosterOP
1 minute ago, EndlessOyster said:

You're talking out of your ass with that statement nothing has changed in the way of speakers designed in 100 of years we've just homed in the craft of making speakers with better materials and skills. And for the comment about hours listening to 105dB is pure bullshit you will have fatigue, you get fatigue after leaving a night club playing at 90dB for a couple hours. "Concert-grade gear outputs very pure sound" what the fuck does that even mean, it produce the same type of change to air molecule positions as anything else on this god dam planet and if you think that concert grade equipment gives out brilliant sounding audio that audiophiles dream of your insane, its there to be loud and produce a noise which is similar enough that people are happy and thats pretty much it.

 

There is a reason why you dont test shit with sine waves because higher frequencies have a higher power octave
Also what weighting was these SPL recordings using, because that sound like someone using a Z or C I bet it was a C because it was someone trying to prove a point with peak levels.

i dont. this is coming from and audio engineer. Its you who is talking out of your ass. :)
its known that different frequencies effect ears differently also. thats why some headphones might give your ringing and some wont. etc...

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8 minutes ago, EUD said:

i dont. this is coming from and audio engineer. Its you who is talking out of your ass. :)
its known that different frequencies effect ears differently also. thats why some headphones might give your ringing and some wont. etc...

 

I think there are a couple issues.

 

One, you are not expressing yourself clearly. "Pure sound" is ambiguous and not apparently rooted in any objective characteristic of sound.

 

Two, you don't appear to be well-informed on the subject of psychoacoustics or the basic principles of headphone and even speaker engineering.

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Posted · Original PosterOP
6 minutes ago, SSL said:

 

It may be that headphones are more likely to cause the pneumatic effect. In any case, the pinnae and shoulders cause a 10-20dB peak in frequency response at the ears. A free-air microphone won't record this accurately. This is why A-weighting is often used, to compensate for situations where a measurements was taken without a dummy head or other appropriate steps.

look at this and tell me what you see.

pneumatic-1.jpg
Very tight seal. Headphones? Not so much. Earphones? Oh yeah.
And this has been measured. IEMs do create this effect.

I also heard from same engineer that the eardrum moves in and out just because of tight seal.


 

I will look into that amplification. I am interested the frequencies it amplifies and how. As that would mean, if whole perception is raised, then obviously can listen at lower decibels. But many variables.

Surely, there is even more things to take care about with measuring.


 

 

 

 

 

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7 minutes ago, EUD said:

i dont. this is coming from and audio engineer. Its you who is talking out of your ass. :)
its known that different frequencies effect ears differently also. thats why some headphones might give your ringing and some wont. etc...

What audio engineer thinks that concert festival large event speakers are high fidelity specialist things which also dont give ear problems are you talking to because they sound like a bull shitter and a half. There made to be loud and directive, they will cause as much hearing problem as anything else at that volume. If you play them at 80dB they will sound the exact same and will not harm hearing anywhere near to comparison as at 105dB which is fucking loud. There is a reason why audio engineers/ everyone else who works anywhere near the speakers, all wear ear plugs because 105dB for any period of time damages your ears, and they do it as a job so they do this regularly but even after a hour you have had hearing damage. When you leave a loud night club a event what ever and your ears are ringing that is hearing damage, if its only short periods of time it passes doesnt take a noticeable affect, you do that for a couple hours regularly you will have hearing problems that ringing may not stop, people kill them selves because it never stops.


Long periods of reasonable volumes 80-90dB has a mild affect on hearing
Long periods of 90dB+ has a major affect
Short periods of 90-100dB has a small to mild affect
Long Periods of 100dB+ will have a mild to major affect depending on how regularly and for how long each time.
Short periods of very loud 125dB+ has a major affect. ( I fall into this bracket when I was microphoning a drum kit and some dick hit the bass drum as I had my head near it, I have poor hearing because of this.)


The Dick of the audio page!

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7 minutes ago, EUD said:

Very tight seal. Headphones? Not so much. Earphones? Oh yeah.
And this has been measured. IEMs do create this effect.

I also heard from same engineer that the eardrum moves in and out just because of tight seal.

 

Neat. Not denying that it is an issue. Clearly it can be fixed by adding pressure release measures, so I don't see the big deal. I don't listen to IEMs at all so I don't really care either way.

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Posted · Original PosterOP
1 minute ago, EndlessOyster said:

bull shitter and a half.

okay.

 

11 minutes ago, SSL said:

 

I think there are a couple issues.

 

One, you are not expressing yourself clearly. "Pure sound" is ambiguous and not apparently rooted in any objective characteristic of sound.

 

Two, you don't appear to be well-informed on the subject of psychoacoustics or the basic principles of headphone and even speaker engineering.

i said, i am not engineer or a specialist. and my english is bad. and my expressions are terribad. sorry.

 

just the fact that some frequencies are dangerous and if those are alleviated, they cause more harm than raising music few decibels.

 

18db alleviation at 2000hz is worrying for a headphone.

its comparable to that amplification of sound the SSL talked about if its relevant and how its same perception. 10-20db. yeah, but 18db constant is very close to being worse than this range.

 

 

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Posted · Original PosterOP
3 minutes ago, SSL said:

 

Neat. Not denying that it is an issue. Clearly it can be fixed by adding pressure release measures, so I don't see the big deal. I don't listen to IEMs at all so I don't really care either way.

i do care.

 

finaly you understand my lingo :D ahaah long enough.

yes engineers are working on making it not sealed, or even adding a protective "bubbl" of some sort.

 

wont be cheap tho.

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3 minutes ago, EUD said:

18db alleviation [elevation] at 2000hz is worrying for a headphone.

 

No, it isn't.

 

The human aural system does this naturally. The headphone by-passes the reflections and diffraction that creates the effect, so it is up to the headphone to do it to effect a natural ("flat") frequency response.

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15 minutes ago, EUD said:

i said, i am not engineer or a specialist. and my english is bad. and my expressions are terribad. sorry.

You don't say.

2 hours ago, EUD said:

Purity of sound is a factor for headphones AND speakers. For example, newer Concert-grade gear outputs very pure sound and you can listen them for some time on 105db for houres without any fatigue.
If you did that 30 years ago, you would be deaf in couple minutes.

 

Still pissed off with the comment about concert grade gear outputs not causing fatigue over hours of use at 105dB.


The Dick of the audio page!

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Posted · Original PosterOP
11 hours ago, EndlessOyster said:

You don't say.

Still pissed off with the comment about concert grade gear outputs not causing fatigue over hours of use at 105dB.

apparently old equipm. was overdoing low and high-mid ranges to the point where you eardrum would itch

 

11 hours ago, SSL said:

 

No, it isn't.

 

The human aural system does this naturally. The headphone by-passes the reflections and diffraction that creates the effect, so it is up to the headphone to do it to effect a natural ("flat") frequency response.

 

i bet nobody bothered to look at Spectral decay plot and harmonical distortion on inner fidelity before recommending any headphone anywhere.

 

i found out that spiral shape of cochlea enhances snesitivity to low freq by ~20db

still browsing

 

"pinnae and shoulders cause a 10-20dB peak in frequency response at the ears"

 

witch frequencies? high mids only?

found something http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2317-17822014000200112#B03

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14 minutes ago, EUD said:

i bet nobody bothered to look at Spectral decay plot and harmonical distortion on inner fidelity before recommending any headphone anywhere.

 

What the hell does that have to do with anything?

 

15 minutes ago, EUD said:

i found out that spiral shape of cochlea enhances snesitivity to low freq by ~20db

 

The increase starts at about 1kHz and rises to 3khz before gradually falling off again.

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Posted · Original PosterOP
1 minute ago, SSL said:

 

What the hell does that have to do with anything?

thanks.

 

well you would want to see if there is any peaks, amplifications etc...?

 

anyway, at least now i know that you have to care about headphone choice if you dont want ringing ears or even damage after a while.

 

what i want to do now is check what headphones are good this way. but have no idea where to turn to. might go to inner fidelity forum, but if you could direct me somewhere, that would be very nice of you.

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36 minutes ago, EUD said:

thanks.

 

well you would want to see if there is any peaks, amplifications etc...?

 

anyway, at least now i know that you have to care about headphone choice if you dont want ringing ears or even damage after a while.

 

what i want to do now is check what headphones are good this way. but have no idea where to turn to. might go to inner fidelity forum, but if you could direct me somewhere, that would be very nice of you.

 

I just got through saying that most headphones follow this curve. I have no idea what you're going on about.

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Purity of sound?

105db = deaf in couple of minutes?

 

You're not an audio engineer and you lack the ability to communicate adequately, yet you feel you are in a good position to tell if audio engineers are correct and communicate it to us? If frequencies @ 2khz are getting boosted by 18dB, either it's boosted alone (in which case the sound would be terrible and nobody would continue using the headphone) or it's boosted along with other frequencies as the person turns up the amp, in which case a cheapo dB meter is enough for the user to get a feeling of whether their levels are dangerous or not.

 

An audio engineer is not a consensus and in the world of audio it's hard to get a general consensus on anything. You might not like the way people are disagreeing with you, but to say that they are criticizing you like mindless zombies is just not the case. People are pointing out specific points where they disagree with you and why.


In Placebo We Trust - Resident Obnoxious Objective Fanboy (R.O.O.F) - Your Eyes Cannot Hear
Haswell Overclocking Guide | Skylake Overclocking GuideCan my amp power my headphones?
Stop worrying about your audio gear and start jammin' to your favorite tunes already!

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