If you want to preserve your hearing the first thing you should do is not use earbuds (e.g., ipod, etc.). You test hearing loss by going to a specialist and testing your hearing; it's as simple as that.
9 responses Add your response
I wear ear protection regularly when needed. I've ridden motorcycles for over 25 years. If you haven't ridden you may not realize the level of noise caused by the wind rushing past your head and through the helmet at 60mph is quite loud. For the past 8 years I've used custom molded earplugs, which I wish I'd been using earlier. I don't know if I listen louder than when I was younger, but my wife certainly seems to think I always listen too loud.
Only kidding:) I use good quality hearing protectors whenever I use noisy power equipment (lawnmower, leafblower, snowthrower), but not otherwise. Besides the potential long-term impact on hearing, I can sense that exposure to that kind of noise, for more than a few minutes without protection, raises my blood pressure considerably (I don't normally have a blood pressure problem).
I listen mainly to classical music, and even though I listen at levels that I believe approximate what I hear in a concert hall (from say a mid-hall seat), I have no concerns about hearing damage. Chamber music never gets worrisomely loud, and the dynamic range characteristics of typical symphonic music mean that the average power levels are relatively low, and high volume peaks are brief and infrequent. It would be a completely different story with rock or heavy metal that has both high volume and narrow dynamic range.
I am 58 years young and can tell that my enjoyment of music is diminished if I have been exposed to loud noise during the day, so I include vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, blenders etc in the times to protect hearing. This may seem excessively paranoid but hearing damage accumulates very slowly over the years, while the enjoyment of music increases in value as you get older. Clear hearing is truly a treasure. Besides the loss of ability to hear certain frequencies, ringing of the ears also decreases music enjoyment by destroying that black background. Ringing can be caused by smoking, many medications including asprin as well as loud noise.
Bar81 - I do not understand you comment about bud phones. I use in-the-ear phones while traveling to reduce jet noise and listen a low volume - is this a problem?
My comments earlier were unclear. It is not the earbuds themselves but the damage that can happen when the earbuds are used by most people (people have a tendency to raise the volume to drown out environmental sounds and the nature of earbuds accentuates the damage to your hearing):
What you suggest is not problematic at all as the volume is not being raised to drown out environmental sounds. Personally, I use Sony headphones on a plane to do the same thing.