How loud do you listen?

Finished Toole’s book the other day and one of the last chapters is on hearing loss which has now been on my mind a fair bit.

Also watched “The sound of Metal” the other day, very well done, the sound scape in particular.

Audiophiles go to extremes to ensure the highest fidelity possible, sometimes pushing past the boundaries of basic physics. But do we look after our own fidelity?

It’s doubtless a rough approximation but I’ve installed an SPL app on my phone and started measuring the volume of different things. I’ve also ordered some musician ear plugs for when doing loud activities, hoovering, lawn mowing, airplanes (one day).

Sticking the mic right next to the headphone I tend to not go much above 40db and when listening to speakers 60db (measured from sitting position).

Wondered if anyone else has given this much thought? Safe listening levels are supposed to be 60-80db, but it’s not clear what safe means. A lot of the studies suggest this level will allow speech intelligibility in older age, not necessarily fine musical detail.

louder than my tinnitus


60 dB is real low… At this level the purring of my cat on my lap becomes a distraction. I tend to listen at 70-75 dB average, which means that there are short peaks around 80 dB or even above.


Sad but true.

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Pretty loud I must admit , but it’s my only sin :grinning:

Fair enough, the research does suggest that if it’s only for a short period and you take breaks between sessions you can recover and not suffer permanent damage.

Come on now… Your original sin is not having installed an Ethernet run from your hallway into your listening room before moving into your new home. Admit it and repent! :rofl:


Ok this is sadly very true :grinning:

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Don’t have a cat, and luckily it’s rather quiet where I am (rural living) so background level is around 20-25db.

Funnily enough before I got the SPL meter, my wife would always turn the speakers down to around 40db, until I showed her that her speaking on the phone was around 50-60db.

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Hearing loss is bad enough. Tinnitus is really terrible. I have had a very high pitched ringing in both ears for 30 years that never, ever stops. I also have terminal (not yet) Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I would take the lymphoma over the tinnitus any day.

My tinnitus is due to noise-induced hearing loss according to my ENT. I played drums for 50 years and flew airplanes for 56 years. Please protect your ears and listen to music at a reasonable volume. You DO NOT want tinnitus.

Right now, my tinnitus is louder than normal. I think it’s probably due to my first Covid-19 shot 10 days ago. Lots of meds can affect or cause tinnitus including antivirals and antbiotics.


I turn the volume up to 11 :pizza:

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Say again? (Classic sound engineer greeting)

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I she a judge to demand evidence? :grin:

Seriously though, having a totally quiet background is nowadays a great luxury. This is why I love listening at night to those types of music that must be enjoyed at rather low volume… e.g., lute music.

I got my first Walkman 42 years ago and have had an MP3 player on the go ever since. So not much use in all of a sudden being careful.

I have neighbours to keep me in check, he works nights also at times. So I know more about his shift pattern than he would imagine :joy:
I only have occasional very loud blow outs and have set safety limits in Roon.

Same here. Some dB above tinnitus.

In my area the sound engineers greeting is: Pardon, what did you say.

If you don’t already have tinnitus there is absolutely reason to be careful. Even if you already have it, you can make it worse to the point it becomes intolerable. Suicide rates are high among tinnitus sufferers.

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I’ve heard my friend’s B&W 801s hit an unscientifically measured 102dB - which was awesome but not something I’d want to repeat regularly. The can play in the 90s and sound comfortable and unstressed. At home, 75-80dB feels really rather loud. 60-70 range is comfortable without disturbing the neighbours.

By the way, am using the NIOSH Sound Level Meter app, for those that want to measure their own listening levels.

Side note, wife just walked in and asked me to turn down Don Giovanni, it’s supposed to have loud bits!

I suffer from tinnitus and would give up a leg to have perfect hearing again. Meditation helps to some degree, though.