Damage my headphones to my ears

Can listening to music through headphones damage my hearing?


As Garstecki notes, most headphones can handle up to 125 dB1that prolonged exposure may cause hearing loss.

Check out this sound comparison chart to get an idea:

Sound level comparison:

- Source

Garstecki's claim is based on studies on the subject in which he was directly involved.

On comparing two methods of measuring the preferred hearing levels of personal hearing aids

Preferred listening levels for self-selected music were determined in soft and background noise using a probe microphone and in the DB-100 ear simulator installed in KEMAR. The ear canal measurements were compensated for the diffuse field. It was found that only one of the subjects listened at a dangerous level once reported daily use was taken into account using industrial workplace standards .

From the effects of the listening environment and headphone style on the preferred listening levels of normal hearing adults with an MP3 player:

Most MP3 players are sold in the earphone style of headphones. The preferred listening levels for this type of headphones are higher than for the over-the-ear style. Additionally, as the noise level in the area increases, the more noise they are in, and consequently increase the music level to overcome it . The result is an increased sound pressure level at the eardrum. However, the levels chosen by our subjects suggest that MP3 listening levels may not be as important as was recently reported in mainstream media.

(Emphasis mine)

As Garstecki also notes in the passage cited in your question, some people are more vulnerable than others. The risk varies from person to person.

A 1993 study confirmed the wide variance in susceptibility to hearing loss. On Individual Susceptibility to Noise-Related Hearing Loss: An Old Topic That Has Been Revisited:

Researchers and hearing protectors alike were fascinated by the great susceptibility to noise-related hearing loss. Some of these differences in variability have been attributed to various intrinsic factors such as eye color, gender, age, and so on. However, a controlled research review shows that the impact of these intrinsic variables is relatively small and cannot explain the wide range of hearing loss observed in demographic studies.

The above studies have shown that most people do not listen to music through headphones at a dangerous volume. There is little doubt that it is possible to listen to music through headphones at dangerous levels that could damage your hearing.

1 - Not the most reliable reference, although it supports what I found looking up average headphone performance.


It is unfortunate that the second study behind a paywall has been completed. I'm incredibly curious about the fact behind the last sentence of the abstract's summary.

Strange thinking ♦

Could you please provide a reference for "Most headphones can output 110 to 120 decimal places"? Is that also just headphones or earphones?

Sonny Ordell

@Oddthinking Added a reference, although not the most reliable. There does not seem to be a reliable statement anywhere that is explicitly stated, although it is repeated multiple times on semi-reliable websites. It also seems to be supported when looking at the headphone specs e.g. B. Monster Beats by Dr. Dre to 115 and Sennheiser IE8 to 125. There doesn't seem to be a difference between different types.


iPhones produce around 100-115 except in Europe.