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Which speaker characteristics are best for preserving your hearing?

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Trying to figure out what speaker characteristics are best for preserving your hearing,
I've found a lot of opinions but little science on the matter.

E.g some say consumer speakers are better than studio monitors in this regard since consumer speakers (supposedly) have built-in compression to even out volume levels. In other words it makes the difference in db between the loudest and most quietest sounds less, so you need less volume to hear the quitest sounds, and also get less volume spikes from the loudest sounds. Is that true?

Some say low bass is more damaging than other frequencies, and therefore low bass extension speakers and subwoofers should be avoided. Others say treble is worse than bass. Anyone know the true answer? I found one study that warns against low bass, but does not compare it to treble.

Some say headphones are worse for your hearing, others say speakers....

Are there other speaker characteristics that are relevant, is e.g. a flat response curve best for preserving hearing?
 

ryanosaur

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Hearing damage is caused by age, a pathology or prolonged abuse of high sound levels.
This.

Though I would love to see a real study that proves poor FR can lead to willful hearing loss. :p
 

Spkrdctr

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Yes, the single issue to focus on is volume. Keep the volume at or below 75db and you will have happy ears. If you must listen to louder music, make sure it is for shorter time periods, Most of it is common sense. Good Luck!
 

DVDdoug

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I don't know, but I don't ever remember feeling pain or discomfort in my ears from strong-deep bass that you feel in your body. So I never considered it dangerous.

Loudness measurements for industrial safety are A-weighted, giving more weight to mid-frequencies where the ear is the most sensitive.

A better full-range speaker is likely to go louder... The little speakers built-into my flat screen TV have zero bass and I can turn them up all the way without getting to dangerous levels. My bigger full-range full-size stereo+surround speakers and subwoofer (driven by a bigger amplifiers) go a LOT louder.

And personally I'm more likely to turn it up when it sounds good!
 

oivavoi

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Any speaker/sound system with good adjustments for "loudness" or bass+treble, so that one can listen at lower levels and still get a satisfying sound, without feeling the need to crank up the volume. I find that Sonos has very good and intuitive controls for this in their app (for example when using Sonos port as a streamer), which I use a lot to both adjust to volume and to individual bass balance in records. I'm sure there are many other good solutions as well.

There are also anecdotal and subjective reports that some loudspeakers just sound better at low levels, whereas other loudspeakers need more volume to sound "alive". I have experienced this myself, but I haven't seen any research on it or systematic explorations into what it may be about.
 

HarmonicTHD

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Loud high frequencies are more damaging. But why would you buy a speaker or EQ out high frequency and distroy the entire sound. Just turn it down a notch and all is good.
 

NTK

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From a summary write up by Dr Toole. The summary can be found as an attachment in this AVSForum post.

toole_hearing_loss.png
 

MRC01

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As others have said, the best way to preserve your hearing is the volume knob - use it with care.

It's worth mentioning that one of the perceptual clues to music being "loud" is distortion. High quality speakers & amplification (or headphones) can play louder with less distortion, which means you lose one of the loudness clues and may play it much louder than you otherwise would.

Your ears also have biological adaption to loud sounds. Muscles in your ear shift the position of the bones to make the ears less sensitive. Through experimentation you can learn to recognize this perceptually and use that as a message to turn down the volume.
 

Inner Space

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quiet ones
Yes, the single issue to focus on is volume. Keep the volume at or below 75db and you will have happy ears.
Any speaker not played too loudly...
Any speaker/sound system with good adjustments for "loudness" or bass+treble, so that one can listen at lower levels and still get a satisfying sound, without feeling the need to crank up the volume.
As others have said, the best way to preserve your hearing is the volume knob - use it with care.
A big yes to all of the above ... therefore the most essential factor is a quiet listening room. Every single dB you can take out of your background noise ends up preserving your hearing, as well as increasing your enjoyment. It should be step #1.
 

MRC01

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A big yes to all of the above ... therefore the most essential factor is a quiet listening room. Every single dB you can take out of your background noise ends up preserving your hearing, as well as increasing your enjoyment. It should be step #1.
Yes, and add to this the quiet environment truly opens up low level detail in the music that is otherwise masked by environmental noise.
 

fpitas

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The only time I can see bass being a problem is when its level is heavily exaggerated, such as some car installations. I suspect in trying to overcome the high level of road noise (and impress bystanders? I guess) a lot of car systems are run wayyyy too high at all frequencies.
 

sarumbear

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Trying to figure out what speaker characteristics are best for preserving your hearing,
I've found a lot of opinions but little science on the matter.

E.g some say consumer speakers are better than studio monitors in this regard since consumer speakers (supposedly) have built-in compression to even out volume levels. In other words it makes the difference in db between the loudest and most quietest sounds less, so you need less volume to hear the quitest sounds, and also get less volume spikes from the loudest sounds. Is that true?

Some say low bass is more damaging than other frequencies, and therefore low bass extension speakers and subwoofers should be avoided. Others say treble is worse than bass. Anyone know the true answer? I found one study that warns against low bass, but does not compare it to treble.

Some say headphones are worse for your hearing, others say speakers....

Are there other speaker characteristics that are relevant, is e.g. a flat response curve best for preserving hearing?
May I suggest reading my post?

 

Spkrdctr

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Another thing, you can hurt your hearing with very, very loud low frequency bass. The Army has for over 70 years known that artillery soldiers have hearing problems after a few years. I was young and DUMB. I was working on a BOSE commercial bass bin 40 years ago and had my head INSIDE the bin and got my ears punished. I never did that again! Now that I think of it, how do we ever survive the 0-25 years of life? Now that is a miracle!
 

Doodski

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Now that I think of it, how do we ever survive the 0-25 years of life? Now that is a miracle!
Young peeps act like they are immortal. My doctor congratulated me on my 40th birthday. I asked why the congratulations and he said because you made it to 40. He said many people don't make it that far. He also considers motorcycles as donorcycles and said without motorcycles there would be a big shortage of organ donations and stuff for people that need them. :D
 

dasdoing

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Conclusion​

Noise intensity seems to be the main risk factor for loss hearing, regardless of frequency range.

which would suggest that with music the bass would damage us more, since music averages to pink noise. on the other hand we have high peaks in the midrange, too.

as others said: the volume will be the main thing to look at.
- get a as quiet as possible environment
- stay off any drugs
- avoid beeing happy (kidding)
 

thewas

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Funnily many audio engineers warn that objectively great loudspeakers/headphones can be potentially more damaging to the hearing as due to their lack of distortion and coloration which makes people turn the volume higher.
 
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