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The Safety of Your Ears is in Your Hands

MP3 players have become a popular way to listen to music on the go.  Get the most out of your equipment by playing it at a level that lets the sound come through clearly without annoying blaring or distortion – and most importantly, without affecting your sensitive hearing.
Sound can be deceiving. Over time your listening "comfort level" adapts to higher volumes of sound. Prolonged exposure to anything over 85 decibels can cause gradual hearing loss. Here are a few basic tips that will protect your hearing and improve your listening experience in the process.

  • Turn down the volume on your MP3 player, set the dial and leave it there. Taking a minute to do this will help preserve hearing.
  • See if your MP3 player has a volume limiter that allows you to set a safe listening level by establishing a maximum volume level on your player. This is a great solution for parents to ensure their children listen at a safe level when they are not
Earbuds that come with most MP3 players might not be the best fit for your ears. Investing in a set of earbuds or headphones that fit your ears will help minimize background noise so you don't have to turn the volume up. Here are a few types of headphones that can help protect your hearing:
  • In-the-ear headphones that feature an interchangeable soft ear fitting for the opening of your ear to decrease outside noise.
  • Sound-isolating or noise-canceling headphones that reduce surrounding background noise.
    • Sound-isolating headphones work like earplugs, sealing the ear canal to block unwanted sounds from reaching your ear.
    • Noise-canceling headphones, on the other hand, rely on electronics to minimize the ambient noise in your environment.
The lower the resolution of your music files, the lower the audio quality will be on your MP3 player. Low resolution music formats remove details of your music during compression, which may tempt you to turn up the volume.
  • Changing the default setting on your music software program to a higher resolution when you import your music can vastly improve the sound quality.
  • Research file resolutions and figure out what best fits your needs. 192 kbps MP3 files come close to CD quality and lossless compressed formats like FLAC are the next step up. Your music files will take up more space, but they will be safer for your ears since you will  not need to increase the volume looking for lost details in the music.
  • Do not turn up the volume so high that you can't hear what's around you.
  • Use caution or temporarily discontinue use in potentially hazardous situations.
  • Do not use headphones while operating a motorized vehicle; the use of headphones may create a traffic hazard and is illegal in many areas.
Noise Levels of Everyday Sounds
Prolonged exposure to any sounds above 85 dB can cause gradual hearing loss. Sounds under 85 dB are generally safe.
Noise Level         Sound
140 dB                   Firecrackers
130 dB                   Jackhammer
120 dB                   Jet Takeoff
110 dB                   Rock Concert
100 dB                   Chain Saw
  90 dB                   Motorcycle
  80 dB                   Alarm Clock
  70 dB                   Vacuum
  60 dB                   Normal Talking
  50 dB                   Rainfall
  40 dB                   Quiet Room
  30 dB                   Whisper
CEA continues its work with the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) to promote safe listening habits. The two organizations partnered to produce a new Listening for a Lifetime brochure to promote safe listening, in tandem with ASHA's Listen To Your Buds campaign, which teaches young children how to protect their hearing.
If you think you or your child may have a hearing, speech or language problem, contact an ASHA-certified audiologist or speech-language pathologist.
Find a Professional in your area.