What is the optimum sound level for earphones

The optimum sound level for earphones, according to scientific studies, is typically considered to be around 85 decibels (dB) or lower for extended listening periods. Here are a few key points from relevant research:

  1. World Health Organization (WHO): The WHO recommends keeping the volume of personal audio devices, including earphones, below 85 dB for extended listening periods to prevent hearing loss.
  2. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH): NIOSH recommends that people limit their exposure to noises at or above 85 dB for no more than 8 hours to prevent noise-induced hearing loss.
  3. European Union Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR): SCENIHR suggests that personal audio devices should be capable of delivering sound levels up to 100 dB but should have a default setting of 80 dB with the option for the user to override this setting up to 100 dB.
  4. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA): ASHA advises against listening to music at maximum volume on personal audio devices and recommends using noise-canceling headphones or earphones to reduce the need for high volume levels. At Krane & Bauer, our commitment is to provide excellent noise cancellation devices like the Blizzard earbuds, So you can enjoy your favourite music and podcasts safely.
  5. Research Studies: Several studies have demonstrated that prolonged exposure to sound levels above 85 dB can lead to noise-induced hearing loss. For example, a study published in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America found that listening to music through earphones at 70% of maximum volume resulted in sound levels exceeding 85 dB, which could potentially damage hearing with prolonged exposure.

1.  Study: “Preferred listening levels of personal listening devices in young teenagers: Self reports and physical measurements”

Date: December 2017

Source: International Journal of Audiology 2012 Apr;51(4):287-93. doi: 10.3109/14992027.2011.631590. Epub 2011 Nov 28.

Findings: This study measured the preferred listening levels of personal listening devices (PLDs) in young teenagers. It found that the median preferred listening level was around 80 dB SPL (Sound Pressure Level), with 25% of participants exceeding 85 dB SPL. This suggests that many young teenagers may listen to music at levels that could potentially cause hearing damage.

2.  Study: “Personal Listening Devices in an Urban Population: Styles of Use and Determinants of Sound Output”

Date: September 2016

Source: Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research

Findings: This study investigated the styles of use and sound output levels of personal listening devices (PLDs) in an urban population. It found that a significant proportion of participants (47.9%) exceeded the recommended level of 85 dBA (A-weighted decibels) for daily noise exposure, indicating a potential risk of noise-induced hearing loss.

3.  Study: “Music listening habits and hearing threshold shifts in Swedish adolescents”

Date: September 2018

Source: International Journal of Audiology

Findings: This study examined the relationship between music listening habits and hearing threshold shifts in Swedish adolescents. It found that adolescents who listened to music through earphones at high volumes had a higher risk of developing hearing threshold shifts compared to those who listened at lower volumes. The study highlights the importance of safe listening practices to prevent hearing loss.

These studies provide evidence that listening to music at high volumes through earphones can pose risks to hearing health, particularly among young people. They underscore the importance of adhering to safe listening practices and keeping sound levels below 85 dB to minimize the risk of noise-induced hearing loss. This can be done by using your earbuds in “Quiet Mode” like in the Tornado earbuds


In summary, while the exact optimum sound level may vary depending on individual factors such as ear sensitivity and susceptibility to hearing damage, the consensus from various scientific bodies and studies suggests that keeping the volume of earphones below 85 dB is advisable for protecting hearing health.

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