Listening Levels

When you are listening to your favorite music does it effect the volume level? Are you concerned about the volume level on your hearing? Please speak up!
What? Couldn't hear you!! I find that as my high end system evolved, my listening levels have gone DOWN. I'm listening in a smaller room, so a point is reached where the room's acoustic interaction limits the absolute volume level. This maximum level is more than adequate for my needs. I do love to crank the volume up in my car (780 watts RMS tri-amped). I read an interesting article years ago which stated that the volume level was not actually responsible for hearing loss. It was loud noise COMBINED WITH STRESS that produces hearing loss!
75-85 dB is generally quite comfortable, but it all depends on the mood, the music, and whether I'm listening critically or simply letting it flow.
I think that many times there is the urge to play your favorite music at higher volume than normal. It seems that when you hear a song that really hits you, you want "more" of it, so you make it louder. I think that this is a fairly widespread and predictable behavior. As the volume levels increase, the potential for hearing damage, in shorter exposure times, increases. At very high volumes, only a short time of exposure can cause damage. But long term exposure of even 85db can also cause damage. I don't think that a couple of loud songs is going to deafen anybody. But people who continuously pummel their eardrums are playing with fire.
The levels at which I listen to my system don't concern me - it's my band practices, and live club shows (talking about audience side) that'll do me in! Seriously, I find that the room limits the maximum listenable volume level, by not supporting further increases in volume well before reaching levels I would feel uncomfortable being exposed to for long.
I don't have a clue about how many db's I experience while listening. It's pretty loud a lot of the time and certainly loud enough for a conversation with another person to be difficult. The whole issue of damage to ones ears is complicated. Some conductors are nearly deaf while others have perfect hearing at a ripe age. My philosophy has been to take extreme care under certain non-audio related activities. The absolute worst things you can expose your hearing to are compressed air power tools, gun shots and jet engines. Take extreme care away from your audio room. IMHO genetics and medications are huge variables. Meds can really speed up hearing loss.
Lugnut, I'd add fire alarms to your list. In my workplace, we have unannounced fire drills about once every 3 months, and you have to walk right past the blasted thing to get to the back staircase. I'd imagine it's somewhere in the range of 130 dB and is a continuous blast! My Rat Shack SPL meter is now tucked away in my desk in anticipation of the next drill, along with some cotton balls. I'll try to take a quick reading, but my guess is that it will be off the meter. Your advice is critically important! When the sun blinds you, you naturally cover your eyes until they can adjust and never look directly into it. So when your ears are exposed to extreme volumes in continuous blasts, cover them and turn away!
I do my best, albeit crudely to keep the volume in scale to what the origianl performance was intended to be like and to what my room and system can handle. Family permitting!