• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Which speaker characteristics are best for preserving your hearing?

Frgirard

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 2, 2021
Messages
1,737
Likes
1,010
headphones and the like are used in noisy environments.

the perceived sound volume is increased or reduced by the decay.
with the headphones, the low decay makes the perceived sound level lower.


it's two conditions that the sound level used in headphones can be excessive.
 

Mnyb

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 14, 2019
Messages
1,717
Likes
2,276
Location
Sweden, Västerås
Yes avoid prolonged sessions in headphones.

Take care on live events with loud music , don’t be to close to the rig :) it sure fun to have your trousers flapping close to bass bins ....

Avoid my life , being at industrial sites close to very noisy machines in paper mills and steel mills .
Funny enough the fans in large drive systems have noise in the 500-4000hz range where you not want it.
Suppose large datacenters and server rooms have similar fan drone , but in my experience not that loud.
 

ryanosaur

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Mar 17, 2022
Messages
821
Likes
1,046
Location
Cali
Yes avoid prolonged sessions in headphones.

Take care on live events with loud music , don’t be to close to the rig :) it sure fun to have your trousers flapping close to bass bins ....

Avoid my life , being at industrial sites close to very noisy machines in paper mills and steel mills .
Funny enough the fans in large drive systems have noise in the 500-4000hz range where you not want it.
Suppose large datacenters and server rooms have similar fan drone , but in my experience not that loud.
The exhaust hoods in professional kitchens... aren't always loud, but the constant prolonged exposure has been claimed to be somewhat detrimental. I never took an SPL meter into the kitchen with me, but you are standing under those hoods for 6-8 hours!

I do not miss that.
 

Neuro

Member
Joined
May 23, 2019
Messages
32
Likes
43
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?

There is a consensus in medical research that high frequencies, especially around 3600 Hz, are more harmful than low ones. Repetitive exposure to more than 85 dB for longer than 8 hours/day creates permanent hearing damage. Transient sound reproduced with optimal PA loudspeakers close to the ear - gunshots - causes permanent hearing damage around 3500 Hz.

- Low distortion speakers are better than speakers with some distortion as there is no need to listen at high volume to mask the distortion.
- Array loudspeakers with cylindrical sound dispersion are preferable in ordinary listening rooms to spherical ones due to lower level of sound-destroying reflections at lower volumes.
- Horn speakers or other speakers with high directivity do not require as high a volume due to fewer sound-destroying reflections at lower volumes.
- One speaker in mono is better than two in stereo due to less sound-destroying reflexes and no need to be compensated with higher volume.
- Heavily dampened room is preferable to small reflected room as fewer sound destroying reflections are created at lower lower volume.
- Listening close to the loudspeaker increases the relative share of direct sound and reduces the share of sound-destroying reflections.

In ordinary listening rooms, a majority of the reflexes are too early and interfere with the direct sound in a negative way. This is to some extent comparable to the effect of a separate disturbing noise on the direct sound. Both noise and premature reflexes can usually be masked with higher overall volume.
 

dasdoing

Major Contributor
Joined
May 20, 2020
Messages
2,944
Likes
1,692
Location
Salvador-Bahia-Brasil
There is a consensus in medical research that high frequencies, especially around 3600 Hz, are more harmful than low ones.

 

Trdat

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 6, 2019
Messages
800
Likes
318
Location
Armenia "Sydney Born"
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.

This is true. My speakers aren't tested but through a tri-amp system with all equipment measured in the chain with pristine results has given me a very low distortion system with my CD and 15 inch combination. I often crank 105db to 110 dB C weighted with long listening sessions around 75-80db.

Of course the 110db for only short periods and my ears never get tired. But yesterday for the first time it hurt probably because I was making a video and lost concentration on keeping note of the maximum handling on my ears.
 
OP
C
Joined
Oct 12, 2022
Messages
5
Likes
1
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.
Loudness? Is this some sort of EQ adjustment to boost bass+treble?
 
OP
C
Joined
Oct 12, 2022
Messages
5
Likes
1
May I suggest reading my post?

I did! I wasn't aware of the dosimeter, that's useful knowledge
 
OP
C
Joined
Oct 12, 2022
Messages
5
Likes
1
There is a consensus in medical research that high frequencies, especially around 3600 Hz, are more harmful than low ones. Repetitive exposure to more than 85 dB for longer than 8 hours/day creates permanent hearing damage. Transient sound reproduced with optimal PA loudspeakers close to the ear - gunshots - causes permanent hearing damage around 3500 Hz.

- Low distortion speakers are better than speakers with some distortion as there is no need to listen at high volume to mask the distortion.
- Array loudspeakers with cylindrical sound dispersion are preferable in ordinary listening rooms to spherical ones due to lower level of sound-destroying reflections at lower volumes.
- Horn speakers or other speakers with high directivity do not require as high a volume due to fewer sound-destroying reflections at lower volumes.
- One speaker in mono is better than two in stereo due to less sound-destroying reflexes and no need to be compensated with higher volume.
- Heavily dampened room is preferable to small reflected room as fewer sound destroying reflections are created at lower lower volume.
- Listening close to the loudspeaker increases the relative share of direct sound and reduces the share of sound-destroying reflections.

In ordinary listening rooms, a majority of the reflexes are too early and interfere with the direct sound in a negative way. This is to some extent comparable to the effect of a separate disturbing noise on the direct sound. Both noise and premature reflexes can usually be masked with higher overall volume.
Thanks! This is very knowledgeable and informative, I hadn't considered the interference effects of two speakers, but stereo sounds so much better!

I still wonder if studio monitors or consumer speakers are best, since consumer speakers (supposedly) even out volume levels so no need to listen so loud. Maybe the smile curve on many of those speakers will lower the volume around 3600 hz, that would in theory be beneficial.

Also what is going on in your profile pic? Brain cancer?
 

fpitas

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jul 7, 2022
Messages
3,100
Likes
3,714
Location
Northern Virginia, USA
- Horn speakers or other speakers with high directivity do not require as high a volume due to fewer sound-destroying reflections at lower volumes.
interesting. It is true, I can hear a lot of detail even at surprisingly low volumes. Flies in the face of the myth that us horn guys crank it up to 11 all the time :)
 

mkc

Active Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2020
Messages
120
Likes
58
Location
Schrödinger's UK
For headphone I think it might help to calculate the theoretical maximum SPL with a given output level on the amp. I don't know how this could be done with active speakers
 
Top Bottom