Friday, October 17, 2008

Acoustic Smog, Headphones, and Your Ears

Maybe you just left the amphitheater from an amazing concert. Maybe you were mowing the lawn, working near a construction site, or at a Nascar race. were listening to your iPod (or any music player) for an extended period of time.

Are your ears ringing?

As a musician, especially one with rock band experience, I know. If your ears are ringing, they're hurtin' and being permanently damaged. A recent study written about in the New York Times showed that many people are listening to music at a higher concentrated volume than even the loudest workplace or factory. Even the iPod (which has an upper volume limit, should you choose to enable it), can put out more decibels than your ears can safely handle. Length of listening increases the chances that you're doing damage.

Sound is even affecting our wildlife, most notably whales, who are suffering because of acoustic smog coming from cruise ships, oil tankers, etc. Whales, like humans, communicate through sound. If they can't communicate, they have trouble finding mates, fellow pods, and raising offspring. TreeHugger has a great post about it.

I won't bore you with the science of hearing loss. In fact, I shouldn't have to. The simplest solution to preserving your hearing, is to follow my 3 rules:
  1. Listen through headphones at the lowest possible volume. If you need to "drown out" outside noise, consider getting noise-cancelling headphones instead of blasting the volume.
  2. Protect your ears, anything that sounds "loud" to you, probably is. Use ear plugs (or noise-cancelling headphones) while mowing, at rock concerts, car races, or in any job that deals with heavy machinery.
  3. Give your ears a break! After an hour of headphones listening, give your ears a chance to heal (and they will, provided you didn't do permanent damage, i.e. ringing or short-term hearing loss).
Please...take care of yourselves :)

photo credit: e-magic


  1. People should listen to music at a low voice because it might cause harm to their ears.

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