Headphones and Hearing Health Safety

May 13th, 2013 | by Andreas Seelisch | Hearing Health
Headphones and Hearing Health Safety


Hello. We have purchased musicians’ earplugs from you for our sons. One is a drummer and has asked for headphones for his birthday this week so that he can listen to CDs while he plays drums. We want to ensure his hearing is protected. We would appreciate your advice please. We want to make sure we buy appropriate headphones. Thank you very much!


I am so pleased to hear that both your sons are using musicians’ earplugs. That is great!

For listening to music, I would recommend over the ear type headphones (vs. ear buds) that have sound isolating technology. If you prefer to purchase the ear buds, I would ensure that they are comfortable and fit snugly. Often times, people will turn up their music to compensate for surrounding noise that they don’t want to hear. The sound isolating technology ensures that surrounding noises don’t interfere with the music, and thus the volume of that music does not need to be raised. That being said, walking around while listening through headphones with this technology could be a safety risk, as the listener may not hear certain important safety sounds. For that reason, I do not recommend listening to music through headphones while walking around outdoors.

It is also important to limit the volume of the music being listened to. This is possible either through the headphones themselves (e.g. buying headphones that have a maximum volume of 85 decibels) or through the music players themselves (e.g. Apple products can be outfitted with a volume maximizer which is available for download through the Apple website).

Lastly, it is important to limit the number of hours spent listening to music and to give the ears a ‘break’ from it.

I hope this helps you and your sons!

Best regards,

Tracy Saunders, M.Cl.Sc., Reg. CASLPO

Tracy Saunders is a registered Audiologist with the College of Audiologists and Speech Language Pathologists of Ontario. She holds a Master’s Degree in Audiology from the University of Western Ontario and an Honours Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Toronto.

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