Music volume in earphones can lead to hearing loss


Turn down the music.

That’s the message Tina Grieco-Calub, an associate professor in audiology, wants to send to students who choose to listen to music at high volumes.

As iPods and other MP3 players grow in popularity, Grieco-Calub cautions students to control the volume.

“There are a number of reports suggesting that exposure to significantly loud sounds over time contributes to hearing loss,” Grieco-Calub said.

Demetri Broches, senior political science major, tries his best to control the volume on his iPod.

“Anytime I hear those reports, I find myself turning the volume down more, but after a while, I forget about it and the volume goes up,” Broches said.

Tom Thunder, an audiologist and clinical faculty member, recommends students use occluding earphones.

“When you’re in a noisy setting like on a bus or at an airport, there will be a lot of background noise. If you’re wearing non-occluding earphones, you’ll most likely turn up the volume and that damages the ear and leads to all the problems,” Thunder said. “With occluding earphones, you can listen to your music at a much more comfortable level.”

Occluding earphones, which musical artists and deejays often use, eliminate background noise. Non-occluding earphones, the standard iPod earphones, do not eliminate background noise as well.

Grieco-Calub said the size of the ear factored in with non-occluding earphones.

“When you wear [non-occluding earphones], you’re basically decreasing the area of your ear canal. What that does is amplify the sounds even more, which leads to more damage,” Grieco-Calub said.

Grieco-Calub and Thunder both agree that it depends on the listener’s choice of volume that has the biggest effect. Duration of listening is also a factor.

Han Song, a graduate accounting major, enjoys listening to loud music but isn’t worried about the effects.

“I don’t listen to my iPod too much so I don’t think it’s too big of a deal if I listen to it loudly,” Song said. “If I listened to it a lot, maybe I would control [the volume] a little more.”