One in 10 Australians is exposing themselves to harmful noise levels with their personal listening devices (including smartphones and tablets), says new research out of National Acoustic Laboratories at Macquarie University. Those at risk are often listening through the earphones included with their devices, at volumes exceeding the noise limit allowed in workplaces — that’s 85 decibels over 8 hours. Higher risk groups were more likely to be younger, and include slightly more females.
Study participants at the highest risk listened at 84% of their device’s maximum volume, on average. Those at lowest risk listened at an average of 49%.
People were also more inclined to crank the volume way up to 90% in noisy environments, like a busy gym.
Volume + listening duration determine the level of hearing damage you inflict.
The higher the level of sound and the longer you exposure yourself to it, the more likely you’ll start to notice signs of hearing loss.
Initial signs may include such as trouble understanding speech in background noise, and ringing in your ears (tinnitus).
National Acoustic Labs recommend keeping volume below 80% of maximum levels, and limiting listening time to no more than an hour and a half a day. They also recommend taking advantage of affordable technology designed to reduce the need to turn up the sound, like in-ear earphones or noise-cancelling headphones. I agree.
I always say that, as a general rule, volume is too high if you can’t clearly understand someone talking to you from around a metre away. And if you’re listening through earbuds or headphones, you’re probably doing yourself damage if the person next to you can hear what you’re listening to. If you’re on your own, you can test volume levels yourself by removing your headphones and holding them at arm’s length.