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Possible to damage headphones if too loud?

Discussion in 'General Hardware' started by runevirage, Jul 22, 2010.

  1. runevirage New Member

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    I left my headset (Creative Sound Blaster Arena, which are relatively loud by default) on accidentally at max volume the other day for a few minutes while playing a Youtube video; is it possible to permanently damage a headphone in such a way? I think the trebles sound a bit worse but that might just be my imagination. Thanks.
     
  2. Mussels

    Mussels Moderprator Staff Member

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    definitely yes.

    its also possible its your imagination, but you can most certainly damage headphones and speakers from excessive volume.

    IMO, if they're distorting then playing at those volumes is likely to cause it to either fail, or degrade in quality from extended use at those volumes.
     
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  3. runevirage New Member

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    I don't think the sound is distorting, the trebles just sound a bit quieter and less clear. Again, this could just be my imagination + different conditions I guess. I usually set the volume fairly low on these (10-20) but the other day they were left on at 100 for about 5 minutes. Can they be damaged from such a short duration of high volume?
     
  4. Kreij

    Kreij Senior Monkey Moderator Staff Member

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    A speaker can be damaged very quickly depending on how much power is begin driven (overdriven) to it.

    I used to work with a rock band. The lead singer was complaining that he could not hear his monitor (speaker facing his mic). The sound man cranked it up all the way and in less than 10 seconds the speaker started on fire.

    That will not happen to your headphones, but it shows that speakers can be damaged very quickly under certain circumstances.
     
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  5. Frederik S Staff

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    It is your imagination most likely. Generally when a dynamic driver fails the coil detaches to some extent from the membrane causing distortion or rattle. Less treble is probably just imagination or different position or a combination of both. The out put of most modern sound cards are capped way below the maximum continuous power rating of normal headphones.
     
  6. m1dg3t

    m1dg3t

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    Any pair of headphones i've owned were ONLY played at full tilt :) I think you would need a separate headphone amp or a serious source to cause damage....
     
  7. a_ump

    a_ump

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    techincally, if they're brand new, i don't recommend highest volume, but i've always noticed that the older my speakers get(to an extent) they start to sound better. Take my shitty 6 watt 2.0 speakers. When i first got it there was no chance in hell to hear any bass, but now, bout yr n half, i can now hear bass. It's not that i've adjusted or got used to it, i just remember playing with equalizer when i first got em to no success but now i can.

    My guess is that after some work in speakers are better at playing music/sound. So a mild work in might not be bad, like 75% volume or something for a while.
     
  8. Goodman

    Goodman

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    I would worried more about ears domage then the headphone it self if you listen to music to loud...

    Know this , on a really , really good quality sound system you'll be able to push the volume at 75-80% max before it started to have distortion which is really , really bad for the ears drum
    less expensive system or headphones will do about 65-70% of max volume before distortion occurred , so be safe don't go over 75% (3/4) on your volume level

    Anyhow max out the volume is never good for your ears & for the headphones/speakers no matter what kind you buy ;)
     
  9. richardbel

    richardbel New Member

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    they will definitely get damage overtime when the volume is at max.. most damage comes with a hissing sound or a distortion i think it was damage since the quality of your sound became less..
     
  10. Black Panther

    Black Panther Senior Moderator™ Staff Member

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    I've always wondered why the volume button of all speakers always goes far beyond their safe capacity. I mean if a speaker's capacity is X decibels, why isn't its volume control programmed not to go above X? It would be easy to do where there's no amplifier between sound source and speaker output or where the amplifier is the 'stock' one supplied with the system...

    To the OP, honestly I think cranking up the volume like that would do more damage to your ear drums than to any speakers. After all, you can always buy new headphones.......... ;)
     
  11. m1dg3t

    m1dg3t

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    Any/all speaker's will sound better as they break in, as the motor suspension loosen's up allowing the cone/coil to move more freely. This WILL alter the sound.

    I have ALWAYS listened to media at the highest possible level's (without distortion) and i have no damage to my hearing, i also work with loud equipment (auto service) and i can hear a mouse fart :)

    If it's too loud you're to old! lol
     
  12. Black Panther

    Black Panther Senior Moderator™ Staff Member

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    It'll never be too loud. In fact probably the older one gets the more you'd need to crank up the volume :p
     
  13. mdm-adph

    mdm-adph New Member

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    I don't know, but I do know it's possible to damage ears if too loud. :laugh:
     
  14. NinkobEi

    NinkobEi

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    If you ever visit the audiophile website headfi.org, you will find that they recommend "burning in" headphones at very high volumes for days. Burning in does change the sound, but typically for the better. If you 'blew' a speaker, I suspect that it would be very recognizable. Anything else is just progress for your headphones ;D
     
  15. Frederik S Staff

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    You should never listen above 80 dbA continously since that will permanently damage your ears. Besides higher than that and the ear just tries to dampen the noise via two muscles contracting so you are missing some of sound.

    For all of those without a dB meter you can just say something at a normal speaking volume, if it is clearly audible then you are alright. This is of course a bit tricky with in-ears that give you 20 dB dampening.
     
  16. n-ster

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    or with grados that are super open lol... you have them at 90dba but you can still hear yourself talk LOL

    I really doubt you broke anything, just don't do it too often... at some point I thought my headphones were unplugged (so my speakers would be on) and realized that the sound was coming from my headphones only 15 mins later xD
     
  17. newconroer

    newconroer

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    Regarding sound, there's lots of misnomers and placebo often going on that lead to bad diagnosing.

    While most standard stereo speakers will have a deterioration threshold, it's not 'playing loud music' that usually causes them to suddenly crap-out. It's more likely bad /poor choice of which other components or sources that the speakers are connected too.
    Those components can be wired improperly, they could be low quality altogether, they could be too powerful etc.

    I would say that most headphones these days are designed and capable enough to be able to withstand the maximum volume from most common sources, such as a PC, a walkman/Ipod, etc.

    What they're not designed to do, is to be a proper outlet for 500 watt Onkyo pre-amp setups.
     
  18. Depth

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    The damage is progressive and chronic, you won't notice it until you're to old! lol
     
  19. Mussels

    Mussels Moderprator Staff Member

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    just make sure you break them in at volumes that arent distorting

    have you had your hearing tested? i assure you that your hearing will be degrading...
     
  20. slyfox2151

    slyfox2151

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    you definetly can hurt your hearing with inear plugs -.- , im 20 and have already damaged ears from those.... when its quite i hear a high pitched noise..... simmiler to the Static from tv speakers turned up too load with no sound playing.


    my acutal hearing seems totaly fine tho, i can still hear all freqencys from low 35s 45s upto 15000 - 17000 hz.... and i can hear very faint enviromental sounds that most people miss/dont pick up on.

    High frequency sounds of 2-4,000 Hz are the most damaging.


    and i can definetly tell between good and back speakers/head phones/low quality files :p below 320bit rate.






    back on topic, i have only ever had very cheap headphones die from being too load... my $80 headphones always outlasted the cable ... witch both broke off after about 2 years of abuse ^^. one at the headphones and the other at the plug. the speakers themselves were totaly fine.





    as for maxing out the speakers volume. you can run the Z-5500s at there max volume 90% to 100% (Not boost mode) for hours and not damage the speakers (using high quality audio files) the system peaks upto 115 to 125 decibels. (very loud :rockout:)
    here is a quick decibel comparison http://www.gcaudio.com/resources/howtos/loudness.html
    (make sure you have ACTIVE cooling on the amp, it gets hot.) 505 /1010 peak watts has to go somewhere. keeps u warm in winter :roll:








    to answer black panthers question about the safe limit on speakers + amps.

    i belive they use stronger amps then the speakers can handle for one main reason. you dont want to stress the amp 100%. if the amp is too strong for the speakers then when you crank the volume just before distortion you will only be using (Example, NOT TRUE FIGURES) 75 - 85% of the total power of the amp so it wont overheat and die sooner then it should.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2010
  21. Steevo

    Steevo

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    I set a pair of boston acoustics on fire with my amp. But more than likely a good pair of headphones will cause the preamp to die before they will. And remember that even PCI cards are limited by how much power they can get off the bus, so your distortion is more than likely the characteristics of the card, and your headphones as the volume goes up. Short of having a linear infinite variable loudness control your will always have a "sweet spot".

    I burned out a friends card driving my headphones with some DVD music, it burned the trace going into his uber good creative cards chip.
     
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  22. slyfox2151

    slyfox2151

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    LOL, good work stevo :D



    does anyone know if the Z-5500 headphone out is just line level or is it amplified at all?
     
  23. Mussels

    Mussels Moderprator Staff Member

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    i think its amplified a little, and its shit quality.
     
  24. slyfox2151

    slyfox2151

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    would explain why these senhisers arnt sounding there best ^^
     
  25. Frederik S Staff

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    The general misconception is that in-ears hurt more than speakers which is not true. The only thing that matters is sound level and exposure. Studies into the matter showed that people listen to their in-ear 3 dB lower than they would with normal portable headphones, but for longer time.

    Hearing will degrade over time even though you never listen to everything. Just like every other part of body it degrades over time.
     

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