Tech Tip:How to listen to your iPod without going deaf

The iPod rules. It seems like every other person these days is plugged in and rockin’ out to their favorite music. But is this phenomenon going to produce a generation of stone-deaf music fans? A recent study by noted audiologists, Cory Portnuff and Brian Fligor, examined the effects that listening to music through a range of popular headphones and earbuds had on hearing.


The study found that a typical person could listen to an iPod for over 4-1/2 hours at 70% of the full volume without great risk of hearing loss. But listening to an iPod at full volume for even 5 minutes daily increased the potential for hearing loss significantly.


The type of earphones used also is a factor. Listening to an iPod at full volume is not recommended for more than 5 minutes per day (if using the supplied earphones or other earbuds), 3 minutes per day (if using "isolator" earphones that block out background noise), or 18 minutes per day (with "supra-aural" earphones that are placed over the ears rather than inside them). These guidelines take into account that earbud-style earphones are inserted closer to the ear and typically deliver sounds at levels 5.5 dBA higher than supra-aural models. The same results applied to several other popular MP3 players as well as the iPod. The bottom line seems to be that if you listen to music through earphones for several hours a day, keep the volume down to 70% or less. Your ears have to last a lifetime—take care of them.