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Topic: SPL Levels to Prevent Hearing Loss

  1. #1

    SPL Levels to Prevent Hearing Loss

    Hey Guys -

    As I am writing and recording more, I wanted to ask you what levels you monitor at to prevent any long term hearing damage. One article I read suggested hearing loss happens around 85db. I have a Check Mate SPL Meter, which will measure in dbA and dbC. Should I just select dbA, and keep the level below 85 where my head is? Or is there more too it that that?


    Eric Doggett
    MoonDog Media

  2. #2
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Dallas, Texas

    Re: SPL Levels to Prevent Hearing Loss

    It's playing clubs that will get you (unless you like to monitor REALLY loud). Those drummers can take out the upper 5k of your hearing in nothing flat.

    Kind of blissful, though. Hiss? What hiss?

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Boise, Idaho, U.S.A.

    Re: SPL Levels to Prevent Hearing Loss

    I am pretty sure that I have some hearing loss (playing percussion, esp. piatti professionally for 2 years will do that to you), but I have no idea if it has effected my mixing skills. Is there any way to home test that?

    James W.G. Smith (Who would rather lose his hearing than go blind)

  4. #4

    Re: SPL Levels to Prevent Hearing Loss

    Don't know if you saw these, but I put some simple hearing tests at my soundclick site -- www.soundclick.com/guglielmo on the music page

    Peoples' responses range from 'can't hear the 11KHz' to 'can hear them all up to 17 KHz'. Don't play them loud!! They are set for normal mp3 playing levels.

    Won't help you prevent loss, but you could identify some kind of baseline for yourself.

  5. #5

    Re: SPL Levels to Prevent Hearing Loss

    Wah wah wah wah. Wah wah wah wah, wah wah wah wah. Wah wah wah? Wah awh wah wah wah wah $^#@*!# Wah wah wah wah

    "The sound you make is muzak to my ears"

  6. #6

    Exclamation Re: SPL Levels to Prevent Hearing Loss

    One article I read suggested hearing loss happens around 85db.
    That's a little bit simplistic. Hearing loss happens at different rates in different regions of the spectrum according to exposure. Once you get *beyond* 85dB of full-spectrum exposure over a long period of time (i.e. consistently at that level across all frequencies - and not just occational peaks there) then it is more likely that you will experience some loss of hearing. There are other studies that suggest lower level exposure over long periods of time will adversely affect "the critical band". The key is "over long periods of time", meaning someone working in a factory where machinery runs at say 70dB and someone is exposed to that for 20+ years.

    The biggest danger is to lose perspective and continue to tolerate an escalation of volume in order to continue perceiving something as "loud". The brain tends to adjust to what it hears and move the volume "baseline" up in order to "get the same feeling". Once permanent hearing loss begins, there's a tendency to push things further and actually accelerate the condition.

    A very good indicator of potential hearing loss is pain - the problem is that very much like the escalation pattern described above, it's possible to ignore the more subtle signals, such as ringing in the ears, that something is amiss. You must stay attuned to your body, keep a well-control environment, and test your hearing regularly to know where you stand.

    If you're gigging out in live situations, I'd highly recommend in-ear monitors. They take some time to get used to, but they can save your hearing and your musical life.
    Houston Haynes - Titan Line Music

  7. #7

    Re: SPL Levels to Prevent Hearing Loss


    Thanks for offering up those hearing tests. One thing, however: are you sure that there is some audio in the 16Khz test? I couldn't hear anything, even though I could hear 15.8 in the previous, 15Khz collection. The 16Khz test starts at 15.8, and the 15Khz ends at 15.8, so if I can hear one, I should be able to hear the other! Just to be sure, I asked my wife to come in, since she has not been sitting in front of speakers for the past 15 years (!), and she couldn't hear anything in the 16Khz test as well...

  8. #8

    Re: SPL Levels to Prevent Hearing Loss

    You can get custom ear-plugs for around 200$ that are molded to fit your ear . They have a special filter ( the good ones )that don't cut frequencies out , it just makes them less loud .

    I have heard that professional producers base their mixing on the figures they get after a hearing test... so if the test says they hear 1khz lower than normal or something, they boost it up even if it may sound wrong to them ( Not sure on that one though )

  9. #9

    Re: SPL Levels to Prevent Hearing Loss

    h well...

    I just checked and there are levels showing in iTunes when I play the 16Khz examples! I'm curious, how many of you can hear the highest examples?

  10. #10

    Re: SPL Levels to Prevent Hearing Loss

    When VotA came out, I once complained here about one of the demos, that to me contained a weird high-pitched artefact. Now I understand why no one chimed in: nearly everyone here's deaf above 12 Khz

    Seriously, I recently bought the King Arthur score by Zimmer and once again located this very same VotA sample. This time I did a spectrum analysis on a particular long, low note in the score, as well as on the VotA sample itself (the lowest C of the Demon's program). A very clear 14.8 Khz peak! To my surprise (again) several people to whom I played the note didn't hear anything bad about it.

    Now I am really curious about Nick's hearing "curves"!

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