by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
One person asked:
How concerned should we be about MP3 and other personal music players? What should we define as “too much or too loud?”
Loud sounds, whether music or noise, damage our ears. There are two factors, the volume of the sound, and the length of time you expose your ears to this volume of sound.
You can combine these two factors and express them as a “Noise Dose” or “Time-Weighted Average” (TWA). I gave these figures in my March 17, 2006 article “What Are the Safe Levels for Louder Sounds?”
The above time-weighted averages are for industrial noise. However, since music has different characteristics than industrial noise, these industrial time-weighted averages do not reflect the safe time-weighted averages when applied to listening to music through various MP3 devices such as the iPod.
Brian Fligor, D.Sc.has measured the volume of sound the iPod Nano actually pumps into our ears. Based on his studies, the following table reveals the safe time-weighted averages for listening to the iPod Nano at various volumes.
|Time to Reach
Safe Daily Dose
(85 dB TVA)
If you do not want to damage your hearing, you would do well to heed the above safe times. As you can see, if you keep the volume below 50% you can very likely safely listen to your iPod virtually all the time.
In contrast, if you insist on listening to it full volume, just one minute will give your ears their safe daily dose. If you exceed this time, expect hearing problems in your future because that is almost certainly what will happen.
(The information in this article came from the article “Portable Music and Its Risk to Hearing Health” by Dr. Brian Fligor in Hearing Review.