Whether you're attending a music festival, concert, or blaring your music through a pair of bass-heavy headphones, you've probably wondered the cost of listening to bass-heavy music at high volumes.
While it's been proven that listening to music at high volumes can damage your hearing, does it matter how much bass it being put out?
Disclaimer: No band, performance, song, or mixing session is worth losing your hearing. If you got here because you hurt yourself from listening too loud, stop. Turn it down and enjoy at a lower volume level. Hearing loss is permanent and cannot be reversed.
Now, if you're only here because you're curious and aren't feeling any pain or temporary hearing loss from listening too loudly, let's dig into the science of hearing and how bass can impact your ears.
How The Ear Works:
We aren't going to get too deep into the technicality here, but essentially your ear identifies sounds by using a collection of small hairs that vibrate when sound waves pass over them. These vibrations are sent to the brain and interpreted as sound.
Depending on the frequency, there are different hairs that transmit different sounds.
If these hairs are damaged, they do not grow back. This is the basics of how hearing loss happens and opens the door to whether or not bass has an impact on hearing loss.
How Loud Should You Listen?
Bass-heavy or not, there should always be a limit to how loud you allow yourself to listen to music. The loudness of a sound is measured in decibels. At 85 decibels is where you start to get into trouble if you listen for an extended period. As a reference point, 85 decibels is roughly the noise-level of a blender or garbage disposal.
At 120 decibels is where you'll start to experience more significant risk of hearing damage. This is about the level of noise you get from a chainsaw or a rock concert.
If you listen at this volume for too long, you're going to notice temporary hearing loss. If this becomes a habit of yours, you can expect long term damage.
How Bass Plays a Role
As we mentioned before, hearing is the result of vibrations being picked up by a group of hairs located inside your ear. Some hairs pick up higher-pitched vibrations, while others pick up lower-pitched vibrations.
At a loud enough level, if your music is too bass-heavy, you're going to run the risk of causing damages to the hairs that are responsible for your ability to hear bass.
If you're in pain, turn it down. If you have to yell, turn it down.
Hearing damage is very common, especially if you're a musician or frequent concerts or music festivals where the music is turned up extremely loud.
It doesn't matter if the music is heavy on the bass or not, you're going to experience hearing loss. If the music has the bass turned up, you may risk causing more damage to the area of your ear that processes low-frequency vibrations.
Remember -- music is a pleasure. Set yourself to enjoy it for the long term and listen at a comfortable level.