Will headphones costing just a few bucks damage your hearing?

Will headphones costing just a few bucks damage your hearing?


On many shopping software, if you search for “headphones”, you may find headphones with widely varying prices. Some cost hundreds or thousands of yuan, some cost 9 yuan and 9 with free shipping, and some even cost less than 2 yuan and come with free shipping. Headphones, such a price can be said to be so cheap that it is a bit suspicious.

If you search online, you can even find a lot of news about headphone leakage. Are those earphones mailed in a wallet worth a few bucks really usable? Will there be any leakage of electricity when using these headphones? Will it hurt the ears? Let’s talk about the relationship between headphones and hearing.

Will cheap headphones hurt your ears due to leakage?

First of all, we need to make a distinction here. The cheap price of headphones may be a promotional behavior of the merchants. Of course, it may also be the case that the store sells headphones of substandard quality. So how do we, as consumers, differentiate? In fact, it is very simple. Just check whether there is a “Quality Inspection Certificate” on or inside the packaging box of the sent headphones.

According to Article 27 of the “Product Quality Law of the People’s Republic of China” issued by our country in July 2000, all products or their packaging should have product quality inspection certificates.

No matter how cheap the headphones sold in online stores are, they must have a product quality inspection certificate.

If there is no certificate of conformity, then the product is probably not produced by a regular manufacturer. If you really buy it, it is recommended not to use it to avoid leakage. And if you buy such a product, consumers can directly call 12315 or go to the 12315 official website to protect their rights. As long as the headphones you buy have a product quality inspection certificate, you can usually use them with confidence. Of course, for headphones that cost 2 yuan with postage or 9 yuan with free shipping, don’t have too high expectations in terms of sound quality.

However, some people may find that even high-quality headphones may have a weak “electric ear” feeling during use. This kind of “electric ear” may not be caused by the leakage of the earphones, but the static electricity generated by the earphones after rubbing with clothes and hair.

For example, Apple’s official website also has a special reminder about static electricity in headphones. Don’t worry too much about this slight “electric ear” phenomenon, and generally adding a sponge cover to the headphones can solve part of the static electricity problem. Compared with earphone static electricity, when listening to music, excessive earphone volume is more likely to damage hearing. Such damage is often hidden and irreversible.

What is the deal with volume and hearing loss?

To understand how excessive volume can damage the ears, we must first understand the structure of the ears. After the sound waves are transmitted to the inside of our ears, a structure called “hair cells” in the cochlea can feel these vibrations, and can convert these vibrations into nerve signals and transmit them to the brain. After processing by the brain, we hear the sound.

But these hair cells are relatively fragile, and if the vibration is too strong, the hair cells may be damaged. And if the sound is extremely loud, or if you are exposed to loud noises for a long time, the hair cells may be permanently damaged and die. Another characteristic of hair cells is that they cannot regenerate after they die. In other words, hearing damage caused by hair cell death is irreversible.

In contrast, the hair cells responsible for sensing high-frequency sounds are more susceptible to damage, so people generally lose hearing to high-frequency sounds first. For example, the very sharp “sizzling” sound produced by microwave ovens and induction cookers when working, or the “sizzling” sound produced by old-fashioned transistor TVs and monitors when they are turned on.

However, these sounds have almost no impact on daily life, so in the early stages of hearing loss, it is often difficult for people to notice it, and it is even harder for people to realize that their ear-using habits are unhealthy.

How loud can it hurt your ears?

So how much sound can damage hearing? This depends on the volume and the time of exposure to that volume. The World Health Organization gives a safe listening time at different volumes. For example, the volume of our normal conversation is about 60 decibels. As long as this volume is not exceeded, the safe listening time per week is unlimited, which means it will not damage our hearing.

When taking a bus or subway, the noise in the car is about 85 decibels, and the exposure time per week is less than 12.5 hours. On average, it is about 1 hour and 40 minutes per day.

But be aware that after getting on the subway or bus, you may turn up the volume unconsciously. This is because if you want to hear the sound in the headphones more clearly, the sound in the headphones must be louder than the background noise.

The exact amount to increase varies from person to person. We can refer to a study published in “Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology” in 2016. When the volume of human voice is more than 6 decibels higher than the background noise, people can understand the semantics more clearly.

So if we want to voice chat with others on a bus where the background noise is 85 decibels, or if we want to hear the details in music clearly, we can easily increase the volume to 90 decibels, or even above 95 decibels.

How to protect our ears?

According to what was said before, it is actually very simple to protect your hearing. Just pay attention to controlling the volume of the headphones when listening to music or making phone calls.

But here comes the question, how do we know how loud we are listening to music? In fact, many mobile phones come with built-in hearing protection functions. When the volume is adjusted too high, a prompt will pop up automatically. In addition, many mobile phones can also count the volume of headphones. For example, the health module of Apple mobile phones has such a function. You can check the volume of the headphones when listening to music every day, and whether it exceeds the weekly “safe listening time”.

In addition, if your mobile phone does not have such a function, you can also refer to the “60-60-60 principle” of the World Health Organization, that is, “the volume should not exceed 60% of the maximum volume, and the duration of single use of headphones should not exceed 60 minutes. The surrounding volume It is best not to exceed 60 decibels.”

If you want to enjoy your own music time while commuting, you can also consider using active noise-canceling headphones. Most earbuds and in-ear headphones are passive noise reduction headphones, which block external noise by plugging the headphones into the ears, but this blocking effect is relatively limited.

Active noise reduction means that the headphones actively emit sound waves in the opposite direction to the sound waves to reduce the noise in the surrounding environment. The noise reduction effect of this type of headphones is often better, allowing you to hear the music clearly at a lower volume. Of course, the disadvantage of active noise-canceling headphones is also obvious, that is, they are relatively expensive. For headphones priced at 9 yuan and 9 free shipping, it is unlikely that they will have such a function. And when using active noise-cancelling headphones, be sure to differentiate between situations. Try not to use active noise-cancelling headphones when walking on the road or riding a bicycle. Otherwise, you may not be able to hear the horns of the surrounding cars, which may cause danger.



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