A Warning About Volume
The ability of the ear to easily adapt to its environment is an important function in every day life.
Much like the eye’s ability to adjust the aperture of its pupil to dark and light, the ear can adjust its sensitivity to its surroundings. In a loud subway car it can lower its sensitivity so that you can sleep; in a quiet room it can raise its sensitivity so that you can hear the minute movements of a clock’s second hand. The ear makes these adjustments in order to help you identify and react to input stimuli.
You might react to a sudden, loud sound with an exclamation of, “my ears!”, and back away from the source of the sound. If you go to a concert you will at first be shocked by opening the venue door. You might scream that it is too loud, but within a minute, your ears will adapt and you will no longer feel uncomfortable.
The regulation of the ear’s sensitivity has other, more important, functions than just allowing you to enjoy music. The appreciation of music itself indicates the ear’s ability to differentiate between large and small sounds. Considering the wide range of sound, volume, and instruments, the reproduction and recording of music is very rich. In recent years consideration for the listener has been paid by limiting speaker volume and adding listening breaks to performances.
Sometimes, you are not able to recognise that a certain volume is too loud. What may sound just right to you may actually overwhelm your eardrums. Depending on the volume of a sound and the length of exposure to it, you may damage your sense of hearing without even knowing it.
So what is a safe listening volume? Sound is perspectival: different music types will have unique weight and colour. You cannot blanket a certain volume level as safe, but there are some guidelines you can follow to practice safe listening. One such example is the commuter train. If your tunes leak out from your earphones and into the train crowd, your music is too loud.
In noisy environments, you must raise the volume in order to hear your music. Quiet rooms allow you to listen to music even with included earbuds at volumes that are “just right”. But noisy places necessitate the raising of playback volume.
Here, the ear adjusts its sensitivity to meet the variables of environmental noise and the subsequent rise in playback volume necessary to drown it out. Since this adjustment is automatic, you may continue listening to dangerously loud music without even realising it.
You may say, “I never can tell when a volume is too loud.” It is important to take active steps in managing the volumes at which you listen. Take note of the volume on the display of your player, of your current environment; even ask your friends what volumes they use. Little by little, taking interest in the volume of your music may help reduce the risk of hearing loss.