Whether it’s music, gaming, or work, the use of headphones has become quite common these days as they allow you to isolate yourself from your surrounding and focus on what you’re up to.
However, if you listen to music or play games at a loud volume for a long period, then you might compromise your hearing ability in the process.
Whichever type of headphones you own, whether they are open-back or closed-back, over-ear or on-ear, you need to tune their volume at all times.
In our guide below, we will get you up to speed with all that you need to know about safe volume levels for your headphones.
How Loud is Too Loud?
Image source: Widex
The unit that we use to measure the volume is decibels (dB). The basic rule of adjustment of the volume of your headphones is that the longer the duration of usage, the lower should be the volume.
According to the scientists, for prolonged utilization of headphones, the volume should be strictly within 60 to 85 decibels while for shorter usage, say 15 minutes, it should be kept within the 100 decibels mark. However, it varies from one age group to the other.
For instance, since young people are more sensitive to higher volumes than older ones, the maximum threshold of their headphones’ volume should be around 82 to 83 decibels for longer use.
Aside from this, there are other ways to determine the safe volume of your headphones. Some experts believe that for 60 minutes of usage, your headphones’ volume should be kept up to 60% of the maximum volume of the device.
On the contrary, some experts recommend the 80/90 rule which says that for usage within one and a half hour, the maximum volume that you should adhere to should be no more than 80% of the device.
Most of the MP3 devices, phones, laptops, and other gadgets can reach up to a volume of around 105 decibels. As mentioned above, if you’re listening at this level, you need to keep the usage of your headphones within 15 minutes.
How to Determine if Your Headphones are Too Loud?
It is important to look out for the volume level of your headphones to protect your ears.
For that, you can take decibel measurements of your headphones, but since you will need professional equipment for that, this method is not very feasible.
Another way is that you check the details of your headphones’ manufacturer. You might find the maximum volume of your headphones there. However, you cannot rely on that completely.
Thankfully, there are more reliable ways through which you can find out whether or not your headphones are too loud.
1. The Ringing Test
For this test, you need to suspend the use of your headphones for 2-3 days. After that period, go to a quiet room and put on the headphones.
Try to concentrate on your hearing. You’ll be able to hear a slight ringing sound in your ears during the silence. This sound determines your basic volume level.
On the next day, resume your headphones usage as normal and repeat the same test in the evening. If the ringing sound feels louder than during the first test, then it means that the volume of your headphones is too loud.
2. Hold Your Headphones Out in Front of You
Switch the volume of your headphones to your preferred level and place them at an arm’s distance from yourself.
If you are unable to hear any sound coming from them, then you are fine. Otherwise, you need to turn down the volume accordingly.
However, this test varies according to the type of headphones you are using.
For example, in some cases, while performing this test, you will hear a pretty loud sound coming from your headphones.
This is probably because you are using a pair of open-back headphones. Their closed-back counterpart won’t produce nearly as much noise when held at an arm’s length.
3. Adjust the Volume Control
All you have to do is navigate to the volume control of your device and see whether or not the volume of your headphone is over 60% of the total volume.
If so, then try lowering it down to no more than 60%. Keep a regular check on your headphones’ volume control and you’ll get used to a safe level of volume.
4. Take Help from Your Friends/Family
If any of your friends or family members can listen to the sound of your headphones while beside you, then it probably means that your headphones’ volume is above the safe threshold.
This test works best with closed-back headphones since they don’t usually cause any leakage of sound.
5. Look for Signs of Hearing Loss
If you’re a regular headphones user, there is a good chance that you might already be experiencing hearing loss symptoms.
If you are hearing muffled sounds or having difficulty hearing sounds in noisy places, or if you keep feeling the urge to raise the volume, then you must go and get medical attention immediately.
6. Make Use of Volume Limiters
There are also some applications that you can install in your operating system to oversee the volume level of your headphones and keep them within the safe range.
In iPhone Operating System (IOS), the pre-programmed Health app warns you when your volume level reaches the danger zone. If an app like Volume Sanity is installed, this volume level will get regulated to a safe level automatically.
Android also has apps like Volume Limiter that warn and limit your volume level automatically.
Safe Headphones’ Volume for Kids
Since children are in the growing stage, their hearing loss can occur in fewer decibels of volume as compared to the adults.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), for prolonged use of headphones, the maximum safe volume for adults is 82 dB as discussed while for children, it’s around 80% of that i.e. roughly 70 dB.
The best way for you to ensure your children’s safety is to buy them headphones suitable for kids. These headphones come packed with a volume limiter which you can set yourself.