MP3/Personal Stereo Player Exposure

Exposure risk for any noise or music hazard depends on loudness plus listening time. Research shows the majority of people use their PSP at a safe loudness. Below 80 dB (safe loudness) you can listen as long as you want. Research on volume setting versus safe listening time with different types of earphones (scroll down the link to see the data) shows that at up to 50% volume there is no limit to maximum daily listening time. I can’t definitely say what is safe for me or anyone else, but based on this info here’s how I handle my exposure:

  • I use my PSP when I want with the earbuds that came with it.
  • I keep my volume low level – around 25% is comfortable for me. (With T and a bit of sound sensitivity I am not an extreme listener!)
  • I still spend time daily with open unblocked ears. I think this is important for people with tinnitus or sound sensitivity or noise-exposed people who use hearing protection. It’s just a gut feeling I have – I could be wrong. But natural sound flowing through the ear canals is what our ears were designed for. I don’t think we should always be plugged in.
  • I consider whether I have to turn the volume up depending on ambient background noise around me. In low ambient background noise situations (e.g. office, home or quiet outdoor environment). I don’t have to turn up my PSP to hear comfortably.
  • In moderately-loud background noise situations (e.g. shopping malls; bus, transport or transit interchanges; main pedestrian areas or busy streets; etc.), I might consider using noise cancelling earphones. These earphones help cut out ambient noise so you don’t have to turn the PSP up so much to hear.
  • I don’t use my PSP in loud ambient noise environments (e.g. very crowded or noisy places; manufacturing plant, sawmill, construction site, etc.). If you have to turn the volume up above 50% to hear, you could be at risk of music-induced hearing loss. Some people like to slip the earbud of their PSP under their earmuff so they can listen while working in noisy jobs. This is hazardous! Hearing protection is available with built-in music capability (e.g. AM/FM radio) as well as PSP plug ins. They are designed to allow for safe listening while screening out hazardous noise.
  • I don’t have them, but there are also safe ear/head phones that limit output to 80 dB or less. Check around. I know Etymotic has some, and they are a trusted name for their products.

And if 10 years from now my hearing is worse, I’ll just have to put it down to the most likely cause for me. Getting older. Or if I’m in denial – idiopathic.

Jan L. Mayes ©2011

13 thoughts on “MP3/Personal Stereo Player Exposure”

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    1. tinnitus toolbox

      Thank-you! I’m in British Columbia, Canada. I try to share ideas or info that I think might be helpful no matter where people live. Jan

  6. tinnitustreatmenttoo

    I got some feedback that other people have worried about using their PSP (iPod or MP3) and it was useful knowing what was considered safe. I didn’t think I was the only person with tinnitus wondering about that. I love mine – sound quality and a good personal mix of tracks are a good sound enrichment tool for me.

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