Are your listening levels healthy? Doing damage?

Do you know decibel levels when listening to your system, and how loud do you go?

Since upgrading my system, again, I find my listening levels have tended to increase. Not because I'm slowly going deaf but because it's more enjoyable.

I measured the decibel level with a few iPad Apps, and there was lots of disparity. Plus or minus 25 dB. 

Certainly if it's too loud I sense things are not healthy but I'd really like to know how loud things are since Google tells me prolonged listening above 70 dB could be damaging my hearing.

The apps on an iPad are clearly unreliable and now I have to contemplate spending several hundred dollars for a sound meter as well as a calibration device so I can know what my limits are and so I can be in compliance with Google.

Anyone know a good sound meter, and do most serious listeners get one of these things?




Yes, tinnitus is "associated" with hearing loss, but there are other schools of thought as well. My hearing is typical for most 65 year olds, rolling off at 12KHz. Yet, like many, my tinnitus seems to manifest itself as a continuous sine wave at 8KHz. Why is unknown. 

I can only tell you that from day to day my intake of coffee and alcohol is usually the same every week, yet my perception of the volume level fluctuates considerably. My otolaryngologist, Angelia Natili, MD, FAAOA, was the one who told me that stress can indeed affect the perceived levels you hear. 

The competing school of thought regarding tinnitus suggest that it has absolutely nothing to do with hearing loss and instead is a brain/nervous system interaction wherein the brain "hears" the nervous system. Still, why it manifests itself at 8KHz is a mystery. 

Currently there are no legitimate therapeutic treatments. The main thing being offered are "masker hearing aids" that provide a "sssshhh" sound to cover up the tinnitus. I've decided to not go that route. There are also lots of "snake oil" treatments out there (just do a search on YouTube and you'll find a bunch of them). 

More research is needed for this. There are millions of sufferers around the world who could benefit. Just in the U.S. alone, 15% (50 million people) have it. 

There are a very few actual treatments going through the clinical trials. I've already asked my otolaryngologist to let me know if and when they participate in such trials. I want to be in on them. 

@ddafoe +1 on the Reed Instruments. Is $180 "expensive"? Not if you care about your hearing. That’s cheaper than many spend on a decent set of RCA interconnects.

The problem with many of these phone apps is that you have no way of knowing if they were matched to the microphones and preamps in these devices. That one guy above, Jon, says the one for his specific iPhone is "close" to a calibrated SPL was fortunate. Good for him. Perhaps Apple commands such a market share that the developers could spend the time getting it right. 

I doubt all these developers take the time to get real data on the myriad of phones out there, especially Android except for certain Samsung phones. And then, where do they get this information?

How do we even know the frequency range and response of these microphones and preamps in our cell phones. I mean they are mainly designed (and perhaps even intentionally limited) to pick up and amplify human speech (85Hz to 255Hz), not music. In telephony, the usable voice frequency band ranges from approximately 300 to 3400 Hz. Note that 300Hz is indeed above the fundamentals, but they say, "However, enough of the harmonic series will be present for the missing fundamental to create the impression of hearing the fundamental tone."

So, your phone likely has a sampling frequency of 8000Hz in order to cover decently up to 4000Hz, and whether the microphone goes any higher (or lower than 300Hz) with a decent linear response is open to question and experimental tests.

At least if you buy a legit SPL meter (a good one) they let you know the frequency range it covers (31.5 Hz to 8 kHz in the case of the Reed Instruments) and its accuracy (±1.4 dB - which isn’t that good but "decent").


My friends laughed at me when, even in the 60's and 70's I'd put earplugs in whenever my band played, or when I'd go to a concert. Who's laughing now?

I'm the only one that doesn't wear hearing aids. Hypersensivity has paid off.


My friends laughed at me when, even in the 60's and 70's I'd put earplugs in ... when I'd go to a concert. Who's laughing now?

Same here!

I actually walked out of a Who concert. It was so loud it was physically uncomfortable.

@moonwatcher Other schools of thought...for sure, and overexposure isn’t the only cause. I have a friend with significant hearing loss and tinnitus from anti-depressants. How ironic is that? Made him WAY more depressed.’s not stress alone that can exacerbate tinnitus but the associated physiological effects of stress, like BP, heart rate, tension etc. which is what I meant - so 100% I agree stress can make it worse.

Competing school of thought - yep, but, if you have documented hearing loss is pretty safe to assume the tinnitus is related. My hearing loss is mostly between 500-6000 Hz. My tinnitus is quite high pitched. However there is no way to actually measure the frequency of the tinnitus tone that I am aware of.

You mentioned your hearing rolls of at 12 Khz - the audiometers I’ve been tested only test from 250-8000Hz?

No treatments, therapeutics are 100% snake oil, nothing on the horizon. Hearing aids are not a path I’m willing to try either atm, and my friend I mentioned did go down that path and basically wasted $8K.

There is potential for an implanted device, but unfortunately it is being applied to a more lucrative disorder atm. I know the inventor, I’ll be discussing this further with him shortly.

I am curious though; what would a good quality hearing aid do to the sound of my system? My guess is I would no longer be actually listening to my speakers...thoughts?

Lastly, if you hear of a clinical trial please let me know.