Can too loud bass cause hearing loss? And what is too loud? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 32 Old 03-15-2016, 07:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Can too loud bass cause hearing loss? And what is too loud?

This link got me thinking:

http://midimagic.sgc-hosting.com/spldose.htm#newspl

"HEARING DAMAGE FROM LOW FREQUENCY AND INFRASONIC SOUND

Extremely low frequency sounds do not follow the tables above, because the weighting curves used for the sound measurements above are based on audibility. But it is now thought that frequencies under 60 Hz, and especially those approaching DC impulse transients, cause hearing damage, even though they are not very audible. This damage begins in the "rock range", starting between 2 KHz and 6 KHz, and expanding in frequency range as exposure continues. So the following precautions should be taken:
Infrasonic filters rolling off at 30 Hz should be inserted in all subwoofer, house, and monitor feeds.
Subharmonic generators (bass enhancers) must not be used.
If the sound is felt in a person's chest, it is too loud in the infrasonic region. It is causing hearing damage even though it is not heard to be that loud.
Infrasonic filters should be inserted in the instrument outputs of certain instruments. For example, some Yamaha instruments are known to output DC transients.
A new weighting curve, Z weighting (dBZ), has been created for SPL meters so this hazard may be measured.
Often the damage is done to people farther from the speakers. A 20 Hz wave does not fully form until the sound is 28 feet from the speaker."



Also:

"The NIOSH-ANSI Recommendation

NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) and ANSI (American National Standards Institute) have adopted a stricter standard based on equal amounts of energy. Here is their scale of the amount of sound a person may be exposed to in a 24 hour period:

Use the dBZ scale if available. Otherwise use dBC.

A formula for calculating these times follows:

NIOSH max time (hr):
N_time = 2 ^ ((94 - SPL) / 3)

A formula for calculating the portion of the maximum dose used by a given sound exposure follows:

NIOSH dose:
N_dose = time (hr) * 2 ^ ((SPL - 94) / 3)

NIOSH-ANSI

LEVEL NIOSH MAX TIME

> 115 dB SPL NONE
115 dB SPL 28 seconds
112 dB SPL 56 seconds
109 dB SPL 1 minute 52 seconds
106 dB SPL 3 minutes 45 seconds
103 dB SPL 7 minutes 30 seconds
100 dB SPL 15 minutes
97 dB SPL 30 minutes
94 dB SPL 1 hour
91 dB SPL 2 hours
88 dB SPL 4 hours
85 dB SPL 8 hours
82 dB SPL 16 hours
80 dB SPL 24 hours (continuous)

NIOSH recommended maximum exposure times"


So, do the general tips apply to bass/subs too? and can our ear handle more SPL in the bass region before damage occurs vs. mids and especially highs?

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post #2 of 32 Old 03-15-2016, 07:44 AM
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I'm no inner ear expert, but I recall reading that under a certain frequency the tymphanic membrane and little bones in our ears stop vibrating. There would have to be a massive blast of pressure to rupture the eardrum at that point. I wonder how many rotary subs that would require.

That's just for subsonics, though. All the guys who blast 35Hz out of their car subs will soon know the joy of constant ringing.
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post #3 of 32 Old 03-15-2016, 08:06 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Ketnis View Post
I'm no inner ear expert, but I recall reading that under a certain frequency the tymphanic membrane and little bones in our ears stop vibrating.
+1. Long wavelengths that have no difficulty passing through walls also have no difficulty passing through flesh and bone, appearing on both sides of the eardrum. This is one of the reasons why our hearing loses sensitivity as frequency goes down. The issue where low frequencies can cause damage is pressure waves. With sensible listening practices you're far less likely to have ear problems arising from low bass than you are from midrange. Doing something stupid, like sitting in a car where pressure waves are sufficient to blow out the windows, is a different story. As for this:

Here is their scale of the amount of sound a person may be exposed to in a 24 hour period:
Use the dBZ scale if available. Otherwise use dBC.
100 dB SPL 15 minutes

That's just plain wrong. If accurate everyone who's ever attended a concert, including symphony orchestras, would be deaf. So would be anyone who's ever ridden a motorcycle or used a power lawn mower.
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post #4 of 32 Old 03-15-2016, 09:23 AM
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constant ringing in your ears is not something I wish on anyone. it can be so loud at times you wont be able to sleep at night.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tinnitus

all it takes is one time and your ears may ring forever, not worth the risk imo.

my issues probably arent due to loud music however, so take it for what its worth.

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post #5 of 32 Old 03-15-2016, 09:29 AM
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I would venture to say that there still needs to be more research but, enough evidence is out there that caution should be observed since this hearing loss in not reversible. Common sense goes a long way but, it may not be that common.
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post #6 of 32 Old 03-15-2016, 09:38 AM
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We should test those claims on human subjects. Volunteers ofcourse.
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post #7 of 32 Old 03-15-2016, 11:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies. So, is bass above subsonic (say in the 20Hz to 200Hz region) dangerous once you reach reference level and above for LFE?

I ask these questions because there are members in the Rythmik thread talking about listening at levels at and above reference level and claiming it's harmless even if played all day long with movies.

Also, a mention of a minute long bass demo exceeding 140dB.

And claims that clean, non distorted bass can be listened to safely at much higher levels than with smaller less powerful subs in large untreated rooms.

Honestly, I don't like to listen to movies with peaks exceeding 90dB. And 85dB peaks are what I find more comfortable. And that's overall with sub 3dB hot, not just bass.

However, these rather 'extreme' claims sparked a bit of debate and I wanted to find an accurate answer to this since I'm not convinced high spl bass is safe for the ears beyond the OSHA guidelines (the less conservative ones, not what I quoted).

FWIW, if I take too REW measurements with the sub, my ears get irritated after a while. And that is stuff closer to 85dB-90dB than 115dB+.
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post #8 of 32 Old 03-15-2016, 11:16 AM
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only time will tell

http://www.dangerousdecibels.org/vir...wdowehear.html

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post #9 of 32 Old 03-15-2016, 12:26 PM
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Just stop turning it up when you reach a level it sounds good and pleasing to the ears! You would defiantly dim a light if its causing you not see clearly and blinding your eyes, your senses are there to tell you when somethings off and to ignore it would just be well...

enough said
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post #10 of 32 Old 03-15-2016, 12:28 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PlasmaPZ80U View Post
Thanks for the replies. So, is bass above subsonic (say in the 20Hz to 200Hz region) dangerous once you reach reference level and above for LFE?
That's about 20-25dB lower than rock concert levels. I find more than 110dB uncomfortable, but tolerable for an hour or so. The chances for hearing damage at 85dB are slim and none, and Slim just left town.
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post #11 of 32 Old 03-15-2016, 12:55 PM
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I'm in Australia where the standards are different and, for hearing protection purposes, the standard here uses, or used to use, the dBA scale. That scale does not give as much weight to the low frequencies as the dBC scale does. I'm not familiar with the dBZ scale as I've been retired and not following changes in the various standards for some years now.

If you stop to think about it, what the hearing sensitivity curves—often called the Fletcher Munson curves—show is that our ears are more sensitive in the mid range than in the lowest and in the highest frequencies. Noise related hearing loss when it occurs is noticed first in the mid range, in the frequencies centred on vocal frequencies, and the first symptom of noise related hearing loss that most sufferers notice is increasing difficulty in understanding what people are saying. That's why the condition can be so devastating to its sufferers, it takes away a major element of their social contact with others and starts to isolate them from friends and loved ones. No doubt there's a relationship between the fact that the frequency range where vocal frequencies lie is the area in which our ears are most sensitive and the area where noise related damage first occurs and becomes noticeable.

The safety levels in Australian standards are different to the US standard and based on a reference dose of 85 dBA for 8 hours per day being the upper limit for unprotected occupational exposure. That's because our standards cover occupational exposure only, and do not include recreational exposure. If you are exposed to high noise levels at work and also at home, you would need to reduce the total safe daily exposure by adopting a lower maximum unprotected noise level as your own personal standard.

Also, for the measurements, you need a meter which gives an average reading, not a peak reading though relying on peak readings will build a safety factor into your considerations.

Finally,two important things to consider. First, noise standards are intended to provide guidance on what acceptable safe levels are for the average person but not all people are average. Some people will be able to handle higher levels without damage, some people will get hearing damage at the levels prescribed in the standards. The standards do not guarantee that you will not damage your hearing if you comply with them. Second, noise related hearing damage is a cumulative effect. Some sounds can cause immediate damage but usually the damage occurs slowly over time and builds up until it starts to be noticeable. When you start noticing it, the damage is already done and cannot be reversed. If you enjoy listening to music and want to continue to do so throughout your life, you need to protect your hearing by avoiding noise related hearing loss. You don't want to play your favourite singer's latest release and find you can hear the bass line but you can't understand the singer at all.
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Should be hearing from @BassThatHertz about now.....
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post #13 of 32 Old 03-15-2016, 01:31 PM
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I ran across an old military scientific study on the effects of exposure to infrasonics and the results, if I remember, seemed to point to a definite risk of hearing damage. I'll try to dig it up and provide a link when I get time.


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post #14 of 32 Old 03-15-2016, 02:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by PlasmaPZ80U View Post
Thanks for the replies. So, is bass above subsonic (say in the 20Hz to 200Hz region) dangerous once you reach reference level and above for LFE?
That's about 20-25dB lower than rock concert levels. I find more than 110dB uncomfortable, but tolerable for an hour or so. The chances for hearing damage at 85dB are slim and none, and Slim just left town.
Just to clarify, I'm not worried about hearing loss at my moderate/modest listening levels. It's more about whether those who listen at reference and up are doing so safely or not and whether louder bass than is satisfying to the average movie watcher is actually a good thing or not. Of course, I mean average outside of AVS since those here are more likely to be more into ht and loud listening levels.

Personally, I don't like anything close to loud for more than the length of a single movie and even then, peaks are never more than 95dB. 90dB peaks are the highest I normally listen to and even so, not entirely comfortable to my ears most of the time. 85dB peaks are easy on my ears.
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I think that even at reference level, peaks are just that; peak bursts of sound. I don't think there is a big risk of hearing loss watching movies at reference level. Very little overall content will be hitting peak reference levels, and those that do are short bursts.


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post #16 of 32 Old 03-16-2016, 12:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, I'm going a bit off-topic here, but I did find that when I use a more aggressive LPF frequency and slope on the sub (80Hz, 24dB vs max (120Hz), 12dB), I can turn up the sw trim higher before listening fatigue sets in and obviously SQ improves as there is less mid to upper bass output from the sub to muddy up the sound from the speakers.

So, in that sense, I do agree with some that clean bass is less fatiguing on the ears than muddy or boomy bass (particularly in the mid to upper bass region). However, too much SPL is still harmful no matter how clean it is (otherwise we wouldn't have max exposure time standards for different SPL ranges).

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post #17 of 32 Old 03-16-2016, 01:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PlasmaPZ80U View Post
Just to clarify, I'm not worried about hearing loss at my moderate/modest listening levels. It's more about whether those who listen at reference and up are doing so safely or not and whether louder bass than is satisfying to the average movie watcher is actually a good thing or not. Of course, I mean average outside of AVS since those here are more likely to be more into ht and loud listening levels.

Personally, I don't like anything close to loud for more than the length of a single movie and even then, peaks are never more than 95dB. 90dB peaks are the highest I normally listen to and even so, not entirely comfortable to my ears most of the time. 85dB peaks are easy on my ears.
"Listening at reference level" tells you that a certain input level will produce a sound level in the room at a particular level, it tells you nothing about how much or how little of the soundtrack will be that level or higher, and it is not an indication of the average level of the soundtrack. The fact that you are listening at reference level tells you nothing about your risk of hearing damage. You could listen at reference level to one soundtrack and the average level could be 78 dB, while the next soundtrack you play at reference level could have an average level of 90 dB. "Reference level" is about calibrating a system and it says nothing about the average level of any given soundtrack.

As I said, the levels in these standards are set based on data about our hearing sensitivity and they are intended to provide protection for most people. They can not and do not guarantee that everyone who never exceeds the noise exposure specified in the standard will not develop noise related hearing loss. Some people can develop hearing loss with exposure at those levels but very few people will. I know of no way to predict who the unlucky people who will develop hearing loss at those levels are.

Peaks really aren't the issue because the problem is time based and peaks are often extremely short in duration. You could listen to a soundtrack with peaks at 105 dB in your room and the average level could be 75 dB. You could listen to another soundtrack with peaks of 100 dB in your room but it could have an average level of 90 dB. You could listen to the first soundtrack 24/7 for years and have very low risk of damaging your hearing while if you listened to the second soundtrack for the same period you would have a much higher risk of damaging your hearing, even though the peak levels were lower.

What counts is the average sound pressure level at your ears over time. Peak levels aren't a reliable indicator of average levels, taking an occasional measurement with a meter is not a reliable indicator of average levels, and since the decibel scale is a logarithmic scale you can't take a series of readings, dump them into a spreadsheet, and have it calculate the average level by using the normal function for average. You need to use a sound pressure level meter that offers you a readout which averages the sound level correctly and people who are taking sound pressure level readings for hearing protection purposes use meters that meet professional standards and check their calibration before each set of measurements plus send their meters away for professional checking and recalibration on an annual basis. The meters many hobbyists use, such as the Radio Shack meters, are not accurate and can be reading high or low by a couple of dB which can make quite a difference when it comes to hearing protection.

And because it is average exposure level which counts, the same soundtrack can present a very different level of risk to 2 people sitting side by side in the same room. One of them could work in an office with an average exposure level of 70 dB during his/her working day and lives in a quiet neighbourhood where nighttime ambient levels are below 60 dB while the other works in a machine shop with an average exposure level of 85 dB during the working day and lives in a noisy area with nighttime ambient levels of 60 dB or higher. The additional risk caused by exposure to the same soundtrack with an average level of 85 dB for the 2 hour duration of the movie is going to be quite different. The first person would only be exposed to an average level of 85 dB for 2 hours of their day while the second person would be exposed to an average level of 85 dB for 10 hours of their day. Those are very different exposures in the context of average exposure levels over a day and the risk of hearing loss, yet both of them are getting exactly the same exposure over the duration of the soundtrack. The levels you listen to music and soundtracks at is not necessarily any kind of indicator of what your risk of hearing damage is because the time involved in those activities is often much less than the time you are involved in other activities and the exposure you get during those other activities also plays a part in your actual risk.

You can't rely on the volume setting you use with your AVR, you can't rely on peak measurements or occasional spot measurements, you need actual average measurements taken over long enough periods for them to provide a result that is truly reflective of the average level of the soundtrack, and whatever result you get from measuring the level of the soundtrack needs to be considered in the context of what your average sound level exposure is during the rest of the day. That's the kind of information you need to be able to assess what kind of risk you are exposing yourself to by listening to music and soundtracks at the level you listen to them at. If you spend most of your day in a relatively quiet environment then a couple of hours listening to music/soundtracks at average levels of 85 dB or so on most nights is going to be a low risk but if you work in an extremely loud environment without hearing protection then the same couple of hours listening to music/soundtracks at levels of 85 dB or so on most nights may actually make the difference between eventually developing hearing damage or not developing it. You cannot assume that a certain playback level is "safe" without considering the level of exposure the person has over the rest of the 24 hour day.
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post #18 of 32 Old 03-16-2016, 02:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Aiken View Post
"Listening at reference level" tells you that a certain input level will produce a sound level in the room at a particular level, it tells you nothing about how much or how little of the soundtrack will be that level or higher, and it is not an indication of the average level of the soundtrack. The fact that you are listening at reference level tells you nothing about your risk of hearing damage. You could listen at reference level to one soundtrack and the average level could be 78 dB, while the next soundtrack you play at reference level could have an average level of 90 dB. "Reference level" is about calibrating a system and it says nothing about the average level of any given soundtrack.

As I said, the levels in these standards are set based on data about our hearing sensitivity and they are intended to provide protection for most people. They can not and do not guarantee that everyone who never exceeds the noise exposure specified in the standard will not develop noise related hearing loss. Some people can develop hearing loss with exposure at those levels but very few people will. I know of no way to predict who the unlucky people who will develop hearing loss at those levels are.

Peaks really aren't the issue because the problem is time based and peaks are often extremely short in duration. You could listen to a soundtrack with peaks at 105 dB in your room and the average level could be 75 dB. You could listen to another soundtrack with peaks of 100 dB in your room but it could have an average level of 90 dB. You could listen to the first soundtrack 24/7 for years and have very low risk of damaging your hearing while if you listened to the second soundtrack for the same period you would have a much higher risk of damaging your hearing, even though the peak levels were lower.

What counts is the average sound pressure level at your ears over time. Peak levels aren't a reliable indicator of average levels, taking an occasional measurement with a meter is not a reliable indicator of average levels, and since the decibel scale is a logarithmic scale you can't take a series of readings, dump them into a spreadsheet, and have it calculate the average level by using the normal function for average. You need to use a sound pressure level meter that offers you a readout which averages the sound level correctly and people who are taking sound pressure level readings for hearing protection purposes use meters that meet professional standards and check their calibration before each set of measurements plus send their meters away for professional checking and recalibration on an annual basis. The meters many hobbyists use, such as the Radio Shack meters, are not accurate and can be reading high or low by a couple of dB which can make quite a difference when it comes to hearing protection.

And because it is average exposure level which counts, the same soundtrack can present a very different level of risk to 2 people sitting side by side in the same room. One of them could work in an office with an average exposure level of 70 dB during his/her working day and lives in a quiet neighbourhood where nighttime ambient levels are below 60 dB while the other works in a machine shop with an average exposure level of 85 dB during the working day and lives in a noisy area with nighttime ambient levels of 60 dB or higher. The additional risk caused by exposure to the same soundtrack with an average level of 85 dB for the 2 hour duration of the movie is going to be quite different. The first person would only be exposed to an average level of 85 dB for 2 hours of their day while the second person would be exposed to an average level of 85 dB for 10 hours of their day. Those are very different exposures in the context of average exposure levels over a day and the risk of hearing loss, yet both of them are getting exactly the same exposure over the duration of the soundtrack. The levels you listen to music and soundtracks at is not necessarily any kind of indicator of what your risk of hearing damage is because the time involved in those activities is often much less than the time you are involved in other activities and the exposure you get during those other activities also plays a part in your actual risk.

You can't rely on the volume setting you use with your AVR, you can't rely on peak measurements or occasional spot measurements, you need actual average measurements taken over long enough periods for them to provide a result that is truly reflective of the average level of the soundtrack, and whatever result you get from measuring the level of the soundtrack needs to be considered in the context of what your average sound level exposure is during the rest of the day. That's the kind of information you need to be able to assess what kind of risk you are exposing yourself to by listening to music and soundtracks at the level you listen to them at. If you spend most of your day in a relatively quiet environment then a couple of hours listening to music/soundtracks at average levels of 85 dB or so on most nights is going to be a low risk but if you work in an extremely loud environment without hearing protection then the same couple of hours listening to music/soundtracks at levels of 85 dB or so on most nights may actually make the difference between eventually developing hearing damage or not developing it. You cannot assume that a certain playback level is "safe" without considering the level of exposure the person has over the rest of the 24 hour day.
Is using the SPL logger in REW like this useful?
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post #19 of 32 Old 03-16-2016, 02:48 PM - Thread Starter
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^Z-weighted, fast response and LZeq is the avg exposure level.

(using UMIK-1, a calibrated USB mic)

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What about using full spectrum earplugs when watching movies at reference levels? Would that be enough to protect hearing? Feeling the base is awesome, but having a healthy ear is no less important
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post #21 of 32 Old 03-18-2016, 02:16 PM
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Quote:
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Is using the SPL logger in REW like this useful?
I'm unfamiliar with REW and it's capabilities but a plot like the one in your thumbnail image does not tell you what the average SPL is.

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What about using full spectrum earplugs when watching movies at reference levels? Would that be enough to protect hearing? Feeling the base is awesome, but having a healthy ear is no less important
Hearing protection earplugs come in various "strengths" but consider the fact a set of earplugs which provides 20 dB of protection is doing exactly the same thing for your hearing as playing the soundtrack at 20 dB below reference level would do. Why play the track at reference level and use earplugs to reduce the level you are exposed to when you can reduce the level you are exposed to by playing the track at a lower level and listen in more comfort than you will have if you are listening with earplugs in your ears?

The sound protection earplugs I once tried many years ago weren't all that comfortable and I'd rather watch and listen to a movie at a lower volume without them in my ears than I would with the volume turned up to reference level and the earplugs in my ears, especially since what I would be hearing if the earplugs are perfect in their response is exactly the same thing at the same level as if I turned the volume down. If the earplugs aren't perfect in their response, then what I'm going to be hearing is not going to be as accurate to the sound engineer's intent as what I would hear without earplugs and the sound level turned down.

You use sound protection earplugs to lower your noise exposure when you can't lower the level of the noise. If you can lower the level of the noise then that's what you do. There is no need to lower the level of what you are listening to by a given amount by putting earplugs in your ears if you can turn the volume level down by the same amount instead.
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post #22 of 32 Old 03-18-2016, 02:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by David Aiken View Post
I'm unfamiliar with REW and it's capabilities but a plot like the one in your thumbnail image does not tell you what the average SPL is.
I thought the magenta line is the average?

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Originally Posted by PlasmaPZ80U View Post
I thought the magenta line is the average?
As I said, I've never seen or used REW and I have absolutely zero experience with it. I honestly have no idea what it is capable of or what the magenta line or anything else in its display indicates. I once had to study a bit about hearing protection but I can't tell you what REW can do in relation to providing information for hearing protection purposes. The equipment I used when I did a little work in that area was hand held professional quality SPL meters, not computer based software.
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post #24 of 32 Old 03-19-2016, 04:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Aiken View Post
I'm unfamiliar with REW and it's capabilities but a plot like the one in your thumbnail image does not tell you what the average SPL is.



Hearing protection earplugs come in various "strengths" but consider the fact a set of earplugs which provides 20 dB of protection is doing exactly the same thing for your hearing as playing the soundtrack at 20 dB below reference level would do. Why play the track at reference level and use earplugs to reduce the level you are exposed to when you can reduce the level you are exposed to by playing the track at a lower level and listen in more comfort than you will have if you are listening with earplugs in your ears?

The sound protection earplugs I once tried many years ago weren't all that comfortable and I'd rather watch and listen to a movie at a lower volume without them in my ears than I would with the volume turned up to reference level and the earplugs in my ears, especially since what I would be hearing if the earplugs are perfect in their response is exactly the same thing at the same level as if I turned the volume down. If the earplugs aren't perfect in their response, then what I'm going to be hearing is not going to be as accurate to the sound engineer's intent as what I would hear without earplugs and the sound level turned down.

You use sound protection earplugs to lower your noise exposure when you can't lower the level of the noise. If you can lower the level of the noise then that's what you do. There is no need to lower the level of what you are listening to by a given amount by putting earplugs in your ears if you can turn the volume level down by the same amount instead.
yea but I feel like you missed the point. Of course I can lower the volume, but as a result I'll lose tactile sensations which comes from lower frequencies played at high spl.
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post #25 of 32 Old 03-19-2016, 01:03 PM
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Well, if you get something out of playback at higher volume while using ear plugs, then go for it but along with the tactile sensations from the higher playback level there's also going to be tactile sensations from the plugs in your ears.

All I can say is try it, but you may find there are minuses which outweigh the plusses.
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post #26 of 32 Old 03-20-2016, 07:37 PM
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Depends on the type of sound. Shockwaves are entirely different beasts.
Shockwaves from guns and bombs and fighter jets going supersonic is more damaging than noises generated from joe-normal speakers/subs, or even beefy systems.

Every now and then you'll get a person posting a thread about "sonic weapons".
But clearly the required amount of air a person must woof (or move) to kill a person is "in-excess" of the amount displayed in this vid (which is clearly not practical, even with a pipe organ.)
^^^
I guess you can have "too much bass".

I thought those Occupational Safety numbers are for "daily exposure" over like "20 years" of working, or whatnot.
It's for people who work daily in mines and smelting plants, and various other loud occupations.
It is to prevent damage, it is not the threshold of "instant ear bleed".

Lower bass (<40Hz) is definitely less damaging than say 1kHz-20kHz tones.

For example, when I made this vid, even though the SPL is approaching 140db I could barely hear the 16hz. It wasn't uncomfortable in the slightless, it actually felt kinda good. (Try this at 1600Hz and your ears would instantly bleed...)

As a rule of thumb for sinewaves or music:
It takes 160db @ 1-10hz to cause pain.
It takes 160-130db @ 10-100hz to cause pain.
It takes 110-130db @ 100-200hz to cause pain.
Above 200hz it only takes 90-120db to cause pain and/or irreversible ear damage.

Last edited by BassThatHz; 03-21-2016 at 10:59 AM.
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post #27 of 32 Old 03-21-2016, 11:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PlasmaPZ80U View Post
Often the damage is done to people farther from the speakers. A 20 Hz wave does not fully form until the sound is 28 feet from the speaker."
That is not true, a 30hz sinewave can be heard with most headphones if you crank it loud enough, even though the cone is only 1-3 inches from your actual eardrum and yet the wavelength is longer than most rooms and the cone is small.

SPL drops with distance. It drops faster high frequencies because of air absorption and also because high frequencies contain less particle momentum. A bullet can be stopped with a 100 layers of kevlar, but a cannon ball would still transfer a lethal hit (it had more mass behind it.) Bass is like a cannon ball, it takes a thick strong wall to stop it.
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post #28 of 32 Old 03-21-2016, 12:58 PM
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+1.

The wavelength at 20 Hz is about 56 feet. Not sure how the half-wave is related to "fully formed"; the sound is "fully formed" right at the speaker in my mind, and amplitude goes down from there. Room modes can cause the signal to combine but that implies a room of the right dimensions...

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post #29 of 32 Old 03-24-2016, 08:54 AM
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Few live in complete isolation from nature. Our world abounds in natural infrasonics. Waves, the wind, waterfalls, weirs, trains, bridges, traffic, pipe organs, big ventilation fans, wind turbines, tunnels, towers, stairwells, aircraft, crowds, thunder, gunshots, engineering, even forklift trucks on indoor, floating concrete floors, etc. Large, enclosed spaces often have intense infrasonics in the corners. Supermarkets, "big shed" stores, stations, factories, cathedrals, large offices, etc. It can be good fun to stand there for a while but certainly not to work just there for very long!

A headbanger in his car can subject himself to "fierce" levels of infrasonics if he just opens his window a certain amount while travelling at the correct speed. The cabin becomes his personal, all body, bass massage chamber to his open-ported [reflex/Helmholz resonator] window. Very unpleasant it is too if you get it just right! The "flutter" effect easily swamps any conventional, HT subwoofer because it works over a wide range of [silent] infrasonic frequencies.

I have played with loud and continuous infrasonics with my IB. Usually the sense of fear introduced by specific frequencies will quickly make you want to stop. [I kid you not!] I have suffered acute nausea from deliberately playing or being exposed to infrasonics. Fortunately it goes away as soon as you stop "playing." I can remember several incidents where a plate vibrator was being used next door to a big shed DIY store. Another where a helicopter was overflying a hospital when I was in the middle of the open, four story stairwell. Both were extremely unpleasant effects. They did not seem to affect others while I had to leave the affected buildings ASAP!

Back to HT: Leaning over my 6th order series band-pass subwoofer while winding a VFO up and down instantly transported me back to an old double-decker bus in my English childhood when smoking was still normal. I believe it was 11Hz which had the nasty affect. I could actually smell the stale cigarettes in the [unpolluted] mountain fresh air! My big SVS 16-46 PCi [tube] used to literally make my eyeballs rattle during certain REW sinewave tests and occasional films. Nobody on the sub forums believed me at the time and probably still don't.

Most of us are subjected to bass at levels, in our daily lives, where legislation would have great difficulty differentiating for "artificially produced" bass against "normal" background noise. Some owners of large IBs have mentioned seeing waves passing over solid concrete floors and walls. However, it seems very unlikely the stiffness of concrete could survive such obvious flexing. So it might be a psychological effect from experiencing very loud and low infrasonics. Though I'm certainly not denying what they saw. I've had the wooden planked floor hit me so hard on infrasonic peaks on "floor ripping" films that it [quite literally] made my feet hurt! But! Despite nearly seven decades of exposure to high levels of natural and artificial bass I can still hear.
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What's an IB?
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