How loud is too loud? Five ways to check your headphone volume

August 25, 2018

By Matias Larrain


The best way to protect your hearing is to minimise your exposure to loud noises.

It’s widely recommended by audiology professionals to keep your surrounding sound levels to a range of 60-85 decibels. However, unless you carry around a decibel meter, it can be difficult to tell, how loud is too loud?

Here are five ways to check if your headphones are too loud.  

1. A long-distance relationship

Remove your headphones, keeping them at your preferred volume, and hold them out in front in front you at a distance. Can you still hear the music clearly?

If you can hear the music clearly and loudly, your headphones are too loud and may put you at risk of hearing damage. Turn the volume down and try again. You should be able to only just make out sounds from the headphones when you are holding the headphones at a distance. Remember to take breaks when listening to music with your headphones.

2. Check yourself

It’s natural to want to crank up your favourite song but you should always be monitoring your volume control. On most devices, the recommended volume setting is 60%. Whether your music or podcast, if your audio is constantly creeping up over two-thirds of the volume control, then you may be damaging your ears.

3. Put a ring on it

If you like your ears, you should put a ring test on it. After listing to music for a few hours at your normal volume level, find a quiet space and try to focus on your hearing. Stay still and relaxed – concentrating on your breathing is a good way to calm your body. Now, do you notice any ringing in your ears? If you do, you need to reduce your volume levels.

4. A little help from our friends

Have you ever sat next to someone on a train or bus and you can hear what music they are listening to through their headphones?  Your ears don’t want you to be that person.

Ask a friend, family member or colleague – anyone within close proximity- if they can hear your music while they sit next to you. If they can hear it distinctly, then it is probably too loud for your ears to safely handle.

5. Know the signs of hearing loss

Familiarise yourself with the signs of hearing loss so if you recognise any symptoms, you can take action immediately by turning down the volume and booking an assessment at Freedom Hearing.

Book your FREE hearing check