Inspired by a post on Kev's blog, I feel I should add my thoughts on the concern that an iPod's earbud phones can do more damage to one's hearing than regular headphones. As an iPod owner for over a month, I have not suffered any sort of ringing in my ears or felt any sort of discomfort following usage. No matter how personal stereos evolve, the biggest factor in hearing loss is volume.

I don't like to listen to music at a quiet level nor do I like to listen to it at a piercing level. I like to hear all the major frequencies, but not to the point where they're overbearing. Sometimes I briefly hear a light, high-pitched squeal after a listen, but that's the extent. This usually happens after I've listened to a CD in the car and I didn't notice how loud it got until after the fact. Whenever I see my rearview mirror slowly bumping around, I sense the urge to slightly turn down the music.

In the case of my iPod, I keep the volume level at less than 50%. In turn, I'm amazed at what I can hear other than the music. I hear stuff like cars passing by, people talking and the jingles of Juliet's tags. I hear all of the music, but it doesn't distract me. There is zero over-ring and as I said, I don't feel any discomfort.

Maybe the concern is that I'm doing way more damage to my hearing than I think. Well, if that's the case then that's the case. I've always gone to great measures to protect my hearing so if some pucks get through the goal, then they get through the goal.

I've never attented a rock concert without wearing earplugs. I've played drums without earplugs only once (it was in a jazz band combo in high school) but I have had them in all of the other times (whether it was practice or a performance). I still practice safe hearing to this day.

I know a number of people who don't play with earplugs because they can't hear anything. Well, I hear enough to know what's going on and I don't think I'm missing anything crucial. Not only is there a potential for hearing loss, but I have a major flinching problem with listening to loud things sans earplugs.

Though I started playing drums since high school, I never played percussion in the marching band. As a trumpet player on the marching field, I thankfully was rarely around snare drums. But the few times that I was, I would flinch like crazy. I couldn't focus and if it weren't for earplugs, I'd be flinching throughout every moment of every practice and performance.

So there you have it. One's hearing is super-important especially for someone who loves music. As long as it doesn't hurt to listen, I'll keep listening.


Long_Division said…
I got these new Sony "in-the-ear-canal" type ear buds (they look like tiny ear plugs and I got them at Target for $35). They are the best I've ever heard, and I can turn the volume way down and still not hear the busy New York streets. The only downside is that sometimes I can hear internal things, like the mechanics of my jaw or the sound of my respiration. Still, they are the best I've ever known and I'd rather hear the inside of my own head than the rest of the world.
Eric said…
I'll have to check out those Sony phones. They are pretty inexpensive. I rarely listen to music all that loudly. I actually find myself telling my wife to turn it down all the time.

After years and years of playing punk rock with no headphones and attending hundreds of concerts, when it is quiet I sometims have a buzzing in my ears. Not bad, but could have been prevented.