Anybody else here screw up their hearing?

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by Kulith, Feb 16, 2010.

  1. Kulith

    Kulith Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    259
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2009
    I don't understand how it happened, but I hear a high pitched noise constantly. I don't even listen to music all that often, but when I do it's pretty loud I guess, and using cheap earbuds.

    If I'm in a quiet room, the sound I hear is like thunder. But If I'm playing a game, watching TV, or any other activity with ambient noise, it's almost unnoticeable.

    What do you guys think? Has this happened to you? Should I get my hearing checked out? Also, I was thinking about investing in a sound card and a nice set of headphones, is that a waste of money if my hearing is shit?
     
  2. FrEaKy

    FrEaKy [H] Movie and TV Show Review Guy

    Messages:
    13,427
    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2003
    I shot a 357 short barrel magnum without hearing protection..... after 3 shots I got a buzzing in my ear, thought nothing of it, shot again, high pitch buzz in my ear after that.

    My doctor told me I lost 60% hearing in my right ear and 20% in my left. I now live with a constant ring noise (like the noise you get when you shake a lightbulb) that will never go away..... I went straight to the doctor after this had happened, alot more damage could have happened if I hadnt gone.

    I was thrilled by how stupid I was and the pain I caused myself.


    Get your hearing checked, dont be stupid and wait, cause if it goes unchecked and its something that can be fixed, you may cause more damage.

    And cheapo ear-buds dont help. Invest in a good set of cans that are comfy and dont blast the musix anymore.
     
  3. GJSNeptune

    GJSNeptune [H]ardForum Junkie

    Messages:
    12,390
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2004
    Earbuds are horrible. They sound bad (or you have to spend some major cash for nice one), and they're dangerous. The closer the sound is to your eardrums, the more at risk of damage you are.
     
  4. Kulith

    Kulith Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    259
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2009
    I realize that now, but in my case is it worth it to still spend money on a soundcard + quality headphones, or just get cans that cover my ears?
     
  5. Sycraft

    Sycraft [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    4,217
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2006
    What you have is called tinnitus. It is somewhat common and has a lot of different causes ranging form genetics to ear infection to damage from listening too loud. Probably worth your while to go get your hearing checked, it isn't very expensive, though in all likelihood it is fine, the damage is probably slight.
     
  6. Stillhouse

    Stillhouse [H]Lite

    Messages:
    73
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2007
  7. Elledan

    Elledan [H]ard|DCer of the Month - April 2010

    Messages:
    16,269
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2001
    With the dB ratings on firearms in general, it is more than just advisable to wear hearing protection while using them. That .357 Magnum did 164dB SPL: http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/182531

    Sycraft described the correct diagnosis for the OP.
     
  8. phide

    phide Pick your own.....you deserve it.

    Messages:
    16,966
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2004
    You don't live near a wind turbine farm, do you? Large wind turbines produce audible rumble, even from great distances.

    Sound pressure is sound pressure. I've seen nothing to suggest that, given identical sound pressure levels, proximity to the transducer makes any difference with respect to ear fatigue or possible damage.

    IEMs can be problematic due to the manner in which they can force excess wax further into the ear canal, but they aren't "dangerous", per se.
     
  9. Mr. Wolf

    Mr. Wolf [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    7,296
    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2006
    Sadly, tinnitus is untreatable, for the most part, and a permanent condition. A former girlfriend was lead singer in a local band. She's virtually deaf in her left ear. I have a slight case, largely from the bad ass car stereo rigs I had in my early 20s. Only in a completely silent room can I hear any ringing. Lots of Hollywood action types have severely bad tinnitus from their work. William Shatner nearly committed suicide due to his inability to deal with it. Gee, ain't this a pleasant post?
     
  10. Sycraft

    Sycraft [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    4,217
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2006
    The reason it is more dangerous is because sound pressure drops by the square of the distance. So the farther something is, the less pressure at your ear drums, by a significant amount.

    Also, IEMs are far more efficient than anything else, Because their drivers are so small, it takes very little power for them to generate maximum levels.

    Combined, these lead to a situation where IEMs are extremely easy to drive to extremely high levels. I mean with speakers, you need some heavy hitting speakers and amps to drive to high levels at any sort of distance. You can still drive most high enough to damage your hearing over the long term, but it takes longer and you may be less likely to choose to do so because the distortion will raise and thus it won't sound as good.

    However this isn't a problem with IEMs. A small portable amp is generally enough to drive them to dangerous levels because of their extreme efficiency. They can produce massive SPL on the eardrum with little effort.

    So yes, SPL on the eardrum is what matters. However, IEMs are far easier to generate dangerous SPL levels with.
     
  11. phide

    phide Pick your own.....you deserve it.

    Messages:
    16,966
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2004
    Sound pressure levels being equal, there is no difference. The key is that the sound pressure levels be equal. A 120 dB SPL 1 kHz sine wave at 100 meters is as potentially destructive as a 120 dB SPL 1 kHz sine wave at four millimeters.
     
  12. Sycraft

    Sycraft [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    4,217
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2006
    That is the case, provided they are both in fact 120dB at your ear. If the speakers were doing 120dB at 1m, it'd be only about 80dB at 100m. However, 120dB at your ear from an IEM would take maybe 1.2-1.5 milliwatts to reach that level at the eardrum. To have speakers do that at 100 meters you'd need something in the realm of 10,000-30,000 watts and a massive set of speakers. Much higher barrier for entry, thus in general less dangerous to the average person.

    Believe me I'm not advocating getting rid of IEMs or anything stupid like that, I'm just saying there is some additional danger because they can so accessibly provide high SPLs at the eardrum.
     
  13. phide

    phide Pick your own.....you deserve it.

    Messages:
    16,966
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2004
    And we're in agreement. The average headphone amp can drive the average set of IEMs to stupid-loud levels with ease. Thankfully, many DAPs have a built-in soft volume limiter to prevent any accidental cases of hitting play and experiencing momentary threshold of pain levels, but that doesn't do much to eliminate the problem of listening at moderately-high levels for simply too long a period of time (which is not difficult at all to do).

    The best practice is to err on the side of caution at all times by setting a good level (where music just becomes punchy and the frequencies feel balanced) and backing it down a few notches. Once a week or so I'll allow myself to listen to music at that "good level", but I'll only let myself listen to a handful of tracks before I turn it back down. Obviously avoiding other high-SPL emitters as much as possible is advisable as well.
     
  14. drleospaceman

    drleospaceman Gawd

    Messages:
    518
    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2009
    This has happened to me too I think. Six months ago I got really into audio (never really listened to music before) and bought a bunch of gear. Since then I've been noticing ringing in silence, but had a doctor check out my ears and said they were ok.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2010
  15. okashira

    okashira [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,802
    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2005
    So the doc did something to repair your ear? Just curious, what was done exactly? or what did he do to prevent further damage?
     
  16. kkl1014

    kkl1014 n00bie

    Messages:
    48
    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2009
    I had a tinnitus scare today. Luckily, it went away over night, but I learned my lesson. True tinnitus has no cure, only temporary treatments.
     
  17. Napalm Frog

    Napalm Frog [H]Lite

    Messages:
    81
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2002
    I've had ringing in my ears for as long as I could remember as a kid. However, my hearing is still as great as it could be, also had a hearing test when I joined the Canadian reserves as an infanteer. I just have really selective hearing, where I sometimes tend to be oblivious of what goes on around me, but I guess that's more attributed to being concentrated on task, haha.
     
  18. GJSNeptune

    GJSNeptune [H]ardForum Junkie

    Messages:
    12,390
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2004
    Naw. Someday they'll sprinkle stem cells into our ears and grow new ear drums.
     
  19. Kulith

    Kulith Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    259
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2009
    One of my friends has selective hearing. It's probably the most annoying attribute a person could have.... I talk right at him in a very clear voice and he doesn't hear me because he's completely focused on what he's eating. Geesh
     
  20. Elledan

    Elledan [H]ard|DCer of the Month - April 2010

    Messages:
    16,269
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2001
    In my experience it's a common trait with men. Can't do two things at a time. Ever :)
     
  21. ryken

    ryken 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    3,239
    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2009
    I wouldn't buy any headphones or sound equipment until I saw a doctor that specializes in hearing.
     
  22. phide

    phide Pick your own.....you deserve it.

    Messages:
    16,966
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2004
    Did you say something?
     
  23. Elledan

    Elledan [H]ard|DCer of the Month - April 2010

    Messages:
    16,269
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2001
    *taps on shoulder and repeats message*

    :p
     
  24. Rhentno

    Rhentno 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    2,337
    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2004
  25. Vega

    Vega [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    5,578
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2004
    When I was a teenager I stupidly left my right ear-cup on my ear protection off my ear when I fired my hand-gun in a small basement firing range. Luckily the one shot did not permanently damage my hearing sensitivity according to my flight physicals. Although, for a year or two, I did have tinnitus ringing in that ear when things were very quiet. I know tinnitus isn't suppose to go away, but something happened and I no longer hear the ring. Maybe a nerve died or something but my hearing is still relatively good.

    Earbuds are horrible. Listening to loud music in general be it at a club or headphones is very bad. I actually would like to hear something when I am 70 years old. If you listen through ear-buds or headphones and someone standing next to you can hear the music, then it's too loud.
     
  26. Elledan

    Elledan [H]ard|DCer of the Month - April 2010

    Messages:
    16,269
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2001
    I absolutely don't get the appeal of standing in the same space as a bunch of speakers blaring out 'music' at 110 dB or more. Tried it once, was more than happy to flee outside and enjoy the silence outside the club.

    No wonder most teenagers these days are virtually deaf.
     
  27. ryken

    ryken 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    3,239
    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2009
    It doesn't matter the way in which the sound gets to your ears (earbuds, iem, over the ear, speakers, PAs), if it's too loud, it's damaging.
     
  28. Empty_Quarter

    Empty_Quarter 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    2,362
    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2007
    Another question, what about listening to loud music in moderation?

    Surely, being stunned by really loud music as opposed to gradually working your way up there shouldn't result in the same damage, no?

    I listen in moderation, start off really low, and its only a matter of time till I crank it up really loud.

    Apart from IEMs being a little on the dangerous side, I also thing mp3 players should have a volume limit, yes, most of them have it nowadays, however they need to be enabled first. Additionally, some players like the ipod allow for the quick increase in volume accidently (due to click wheel sensitivity). I always used to get stunned when I place my hands in the same pocket my ipod's in, accidentally cranking up the volume by a really large amount, not a funny experience.
     
  29. Elledan

    Elledan [H]ard|DCer of the Month - April 2010

    Messages:
    16,269
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2001
    120 dB for sustained periods of time (minutes, hours) will cause hearing damage. While 'loud' is a subjective thing, it's advisable to only listen to music at such a level that you can just hear it properly. Unless you are in possession of a dB meter, it's hard to say what 'loud' really is :)
     
  30. TerraPhantm

    TerraPhantm Gawd

    Messages:
    575
    Joined:
    May 7, 2006
    I've had some form of ringing in my ears since I was about 10 years old (I'm 18 now). What I don't get though is that I really didn't start listening to music on a frequent basis 'til I was about 16 (so no headphone use) and I've only been to very few concerts in my life.
     
  31. Elledan

    Elledan [H]ard|DCer of the Month - April 2010

    Messages:
    16,269
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2001
    Tinnitus doesn't require loud noises, but can have a wide range of causes, as described earlier in this thread.
     
  32. Empty_Quarter

    Empty_Quarter 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    2,362
    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2007
    120db is very extreme loud volumes. Thats a good amount above reference level for audio components, and reference level in itself is very loud. If someone listens to 120db for long periods, then one must have some form of hearing loss to be comfortable to listen at that volume.
     
  33. Elledan

    Elledan [H]ard|DCer of the Month - April 2010

    Messages:
    16,269
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2001
    Standing near the speakers at a rock concert is guaranteed to generate levels higher than 120 dB. For over an hour.

    Yes, that ringing noise one hears afterwards means that part of your hearing has been wiped forever :)
     
  34. Sycraft

    Sycraft [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    4,217
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2006
    Yep, it will. Working in to it does nothing. It is purely a matter of how long in a single session you listen to something at a given volume levels. The higher the volume, the shorter the time that is safe. Anything under 90dBSPL (according to OSHA) or 85dB (according to NIOSH) you should be safe. Those are the limits they set as safe for an 8 hour work day, as such they should be ok even for fairly long listening periods. Any more and you need to be careful and not listen too long.

    At extreme levels like 110dB+, you have only a few minutes before damage happens, and at high enough level s(like 130dB+) damage is immediate.
     
  35. GotNoRice

    GotNoRice [H]ardForum Junkie

    Messages:
    10,385
    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2001
    I always wonder when people quote these dB values are they talking about dBA or dBC? I love to crank the tunes on my old 1970s and 1980s JBLs and while I rarely see the meter go above 100dBA I see peaks above 110dBC pretty regularly.
     
  36. Elledan

    Elledan [H]ard|DCer of the Month - April 2010

    Messages:
    16,269
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2001
    I'd assume dBA since that's closest to how the human hearing perceives sound.
     
  37. winhyun

    winhyun [H]Lite

    Messages:
    111
    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2008
    I have a constant ringing in my ears also but not from loud music but from working in an engine room on a ship for 10 years (and that is with hearing protection on).
     
  38. Sycraft

    Sycraft [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    4,217
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2006
    dBA generally. However do remember that dBC is closer to how we perceive sound at high levels.

    In terms of damage, 110dB isn't a problem, so long as it isn't done for prolonged periods. The OSHA spec says half an hour, the NIOSH spec says about 2 minutes.

    Now in terms of music, part of the question is how dynamic is it? If the music is heavily limited, such that it is basically always the same volume, then those high levels will be dangerous fast since they are constant. However if the music is dynamic, and those peaks happen only occasionally, with a much lower average level, then it is not so dangerous.

    THX certified movie theaters are spec'd to do 105dB SPL on the main channels and 115dB SPL on the LEF channel. They don't run that level all the time, movies are highly dynamic, but they can peak that loud.

    So as long as you aren't doing it often, for long periods of time, and with continuous levels, it may be ok. Otherwise, you may be damaging your hearing. You might want to consider backing off the volume by 10dB for safety.

    You also might find that if you start at a lower level and leave it there, it may sound better over all. While we are biased to prefer something that is louder, so if you turn something up then down you'll want it back up, speakers perform worse at high volumes. The more cone movement you have, the higher the harmonic distortion rises. In particular older speakers have trouble with this. So you may well discover you have rather high THD levels, and at lower levels the sound is much cleaner, more detailed.
     
  39. Elledan

    Elledan [H]ard|DCer of the Month - April 2010

    Messages:
    16,269
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2001
    The problem with music these days is that they've been equalized to hell, with all lows boosted and all highs clipped to hell and back, meaning that there's no distinct change in sound levels. They're just 'loud'. So when listening to such a track it'll be N dB throughout the entire thing.

    Personally I can't listen to such tracks as it violates my sense of taste, but for many it's apparently the way to go, preferably in 92 Kb MP3 version ;)
     
  40. Nighted

    Nighted Gawd

    Messages:
    632
    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2008