Are noise-cancelling headphones better for your ears?

Could your choice of headphones affect your hearing?

Listening to music with headphones can be a great way to relax and unwind, enjoying your music without disturbing those around you. However, could your choice of headphones have an impact on your hearing? 

We're looking at the risk of recreational hearing loss and why you should consider using noise-cancelling headphones. 

The higher the volume, the higher the risk 

Recreational hearing loss typically encompasses overexposure to loud noise due to various forms of entertainment – whether it's personal music players to concerts and sports events. It's also a growing problem that is particularly prevalent amongst younger people. 

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 1.1 billion young people between the ages of 12-35 may be at risk of permanent hearing damage due to recreational noise – personal audio devices being the cause of risk for almost half of people in this age bracket1

Could your listening habits be putting your hearing at risk? Could your listening habits be putting your hearing at risk?

Dr Etienne Krug, a director at the WHO, noted that young people could be at risk of developing hearing problems through everyday activities.

"They should be aware that once you lose your hearing, it won't come back," she said. "Taking simple preventive actions will allow people to continue to enjoy themselves without putting their hearing at risk."1

The safe listening threshold at 85 decibels is eight hours (the highest permissible noise in the workplace), however at 100 decibels, you can be at risk of hearing damage after just 15 minutes1.

To put this in perspective, MP3 players can reach in excess of 100 decibels at their maximum volume setting2.   

Why noise-cancelling headphones work 

In order to protect your ears, it is recommended that you listen to your music at 60 per cent of the maximum volume, or lower3. One way to enjoy your music at this lower volume is by using noise-cancelling headphones. 

Often the reason people turn their music devices up so loud is to drown out any background noise. Noise-cancelling headphones work to muffle ambient sound, meaning you can listen at a lower volume. They work by detecting the predominant soundwaves around you via a miniature microphone, before producing the opposite soundwave pattern in the earpieces themselves. When the two different types of soundwaves combine, they cancel each other out, resulting in near-silence. 

Without audible background noise competing against your music, you can reduce your volume to safe level. 

To book your FREE* hearing test with AudioClinic, you can click here, or give us a call on 1800 940 984.

1WHO, 1.1 billion people at risk of hearing loss. Accessed April, 2017.
2NHS, Top 10 tips to help protect your hearing. Accessed April, 2017.
3NCBI, Output levels of commercially available portable compact disc players and the potential risk to hearing. Accessed April, 2017.
4Audio-Technica, How do active noise-cancelling headphones work? Accessed April, 2017.

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