How to protect your hearing while using headphones and earbuds.

Want to use headphones but worried about damaging, even losing, your hearing? We have you covered. This article will walk through some of the key points on listening responsibly and safely. 


How to limit damage. 


According to the NHS, listening to loud music through earphones and headphones is one of the biggest dangers to your hearing.


Here are a few useful and easy tips to help avoid damaging your hearing.

  • Use noise-cancelling earphones or headphones. Do not just turn the volume up to cover up outside noise, you should try passive noise-cancelling headphones, which work mainly via a design that limits outside sounds, like high-density foam headphones that seal your ear from external sounds. You can also try active noise-cancelling headphones, which work by constantly monitoring the sounds around you and generating soundwaves that directly cancel out the external noise. 
  • Turn the volume up just enough so you can hear your music comfortably, but no higher. This is an incredibly simple and effective measure against hearing loss. 
  • Don’t listen to music at more than 60% of the maximum volume – some devices have settings you can use to limit the volume automatically. 
  • Not use earphones or headphones for more than an hour at a time – take a break for at least 5 minutes every hour


Even just turning down the volume a little bit can make a big difference to your risk of hearing damage.


What’s best?


With regards to what kind of headphones you should be looking at, over-ear headphones are the best option for your ear health, because they’re the best at forming an acoustic seal around your ear, so you don’t need to turn the volume up as loud. The speakers within the headphones are physically further away from your ear drum, meaning at the same volume, over-ear headphones sound 9dB quieter than in-ear sets.  


In-ear headphones that come with flexible eartips are the next best choice, if you don’t like the feel or bulk of over or on-ear headphones. The flexible tips form an acoustic seal round your ear canal to block outside sounds. Opt for a pair with a choice of different sized tips to suit different ear shapes.


Earbuds, which have hard plastic earpieces, are usually the worst option if you want to prevent hearing damage. They block external noise much less effectively, so you may be tempted to turn your music up beyond safe levels.