# The Naked Scientists Forum

### Author Topic: How many decibels does it take to damage human hearing?  (Read 14051 times)

#### Quantum_Vaccuum

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##### How many decibels does it take to damage human hearing?
« on: 29/09/2007 18:56:43 »
My friend who has very sensitive ears comes over to my house, while im playing my sax, or e-guitar, and he always blames me for being very loud, and it may be over 60 deciples which is hurtfull to his ears or something like that, could hours of saxaphone in a band be devistating to my ears?
« Last Edit: 09/10/2007 08:44:38 by chris »

#### another_someone

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##### Re: How many decibels does it take to damage human hearing?
« Reply #1 on: 29/09/2007 20:49:57 »
Beethoven lost his hearing in part from too much piano playing.

Loss of hearing is one of many job related illnesses that can be a problem for musicians.

#### Quantum_Vaccuum

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##### Re: How many decibels does it take to damage human hearing?
« Reply #2 on: 29/09/2007 20:54:24 »
but how many deciples would it take?

#### another_someone

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##### Re: How many decibels does it take to damage human hearing?
« Reply #3 on: 29/09/2007 21:21:26 »
but how many deciples would it take?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensorineural
Quote
Noise-induced - prolonged exposure to loud noises (>90 dB) causes hearing loss which begins at 4000Hz (high frequency). The normal hearing range is from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz.

A lot depends on how long you are listening to the sound, and probably will vary from person to person anyway.

#### another_someone

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##### Re: How many decibels does it take to damage human hearing?
« Reply #4 on: 29/09/2007 22:12:53 »
but how many deciples would it take?

One slight correction - the term is 'decibel' not deciple.

Actually, the real measure is a bel, but a bel is too large as a unit, so normally people talk about tenths of a bel, which is a deci-bel.

#### ukmicky

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##### Re: How many decibels does it take to damage human hearing?
« Reply #5 on: 29/09/2007 23:36:09 »
I heard your fine until you feel a tickle sensation in your ear.

#### Quantum_Vaccuum

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##### Re: How many decibels does it take to damage human hearing?
« Reply #6 on: 30/09/2007 02:54:27 »
ok, that works for me

#### Bored chemist

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##### Re: How many decibels does it take to damage human hearing?
« Reply #7 on: 30/09/2007 17:44:04 »
So you are going to risk your hearing on the basis of what one person, whom you do not know, said that he had heard?
This site might give you some more data but I'm afraid I don't know much about saxaphones.
http://davidvaldez.blogspot.com/2006/11/baby-saxophone-or-jack-hammer-which-is.html

#### eric l

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##### Re: How many decibels does it take to damage human hearing?
« Reply #8 on: 01/10/2007 13:24:15 »
From what I remember, an employer legally has to provide ear protection if the sound level in a production hall exceeds 85 dB (Belgian regulations).  This is way below the "pain level" said to be at 140 dB.
So, 8 hours at 85 dB every day will probably cause permanent damage.

#### lyner

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##### Re: How many decibels does it take to damage human hearing?
« Reply #9 on: 01/10/2007 13:29:20 »
I used a sound level meter to measure the levels from several of my student's personal sound systems.
Many of them were well above 85dB. They would be exposed to this level for hours and hours every day; not funny. The sad thing is that, to get the same subjective effect, they are probably jacking up the level on a regular basis  -  compounding the problem.

#### Bored chemist

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##### Re: How many decibels does it take to damage human hearing?
« Reply #10 on: 01/10/2007 20:36:18 »
Is it reasonable to permit people to sell sound equipment like that without a warning?

Oh, btw, employers here (the UK) must offer hearing protection to workers exposed to levels above 80 Dba.
Above 85Dba the workers are required to wear it.
« Last Edit: 01/10/2007 20:38:33 by Bored chemist »

#### Quantum_Vaccuum

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##### Re: How many decibels does it take to damage human hearing?
« Reply #11 on: 02/10/2007 02:17:06 »
I used a sound level meter to measure the levels from several of my student's personal sound systems.
Many of them were well above 85dB. They would be exposed to this level for hours and hours every day; not funny. The sad thing is that, to get the same subjective effect, they are probably jacking up the level on a regular basis  -  compounding the problem.
hmm, when i listen to music, i put it pretty quite, but how loud is average sax playing?

#### lyner

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##### Re: How many decibels does it take to damage human hearing?
« Reply #12 on: 02/10/2007 12:55:49 »
about as long as a piece of string.
Where are you standing to listen to this sax?

#### eric l

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##### Re: How many decibels does it take to damage human hearing?
« Reply #13 on: 02/10/2007 13:02:34 »
... but how loud is average sax playing?
That will depend on the distance between you (the listener) and the musician (the source), the size of the room and the sound reflecting (or absorbing) qualities of its walls.
In open space, the sound level is inversely proportional to the distance, in a closed room or hall you have reflexions from the walls (and furniture).

#### Bored chemist

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##### Re: How many decibels does it take to damage human hearing?
« Reply #14 on: 02/10/2007 19:19:47 »
Given the original question which includes the phrase "while im playing my sax" I think a reasonable point of view would be to get an estimate of the sound level at the player's ears.
For most occasions this will be a "worst case" estimate. Few people are closer to the sax than the player and, given the amount of practice needed, few are there for as long a time as the player.
You might want to work through this and see if it answers the question.
http://www.duke.edu/~jak21/physics.html
Certainly it indicates that the sound levels experienced by band players are high enough to damage hearing.

Incidentally, a piece of string is twice as long as from the middle to one end.

#### another_someone

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##### Re: How many decibels does it take to damage human hearing?
« Reply #15 on: 02/10/2007 19:37:42 »
Given the original question which includes the phrase "while im playing my sax" I think a reasonable point of view would be to get an estimate of the sound level at the player's ears.
For most occasions this will be a "worst case" estimate. Few people are closer to the sax than the player and, given the amount of practice needed, few are there for as long a time as the player.
You might want to work through this and see if it answers the question.
http://www.duke.edu/~jak21/physics.html
Certainly it indicates that the sound levels experienced by band players are high enough to damage hearing.

Incidentally, a piece of string is twice as long as from the middle to one end.

I don't think that is actually quite so.  Yes, we can judge the distance from the reed to the horn, but most musical instruments are designed to project sound forward from the instruments, so standing 2ft in front of the instrument can be far more damaging than standing 2ft behind the instrument (although this is where the size of the room, and the reflectivity of the surfaces within the room, are also important factors).

#### Quantum_Vaccuum

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##### Re: How many decibels does it take to damage human hearing?
« Reply #16 on: 02/10/2007 23:48:05 »
also, asume  i was playing the piccolo, which is a very high pitched instrument, if i played that at a piano, quiet, and a played the sax whcih is a much lower pitched instrument, at a louder dynamic sign, playing the highest note on piccolo, and lowest on sax, which would hurt my ears most?

#### Quantum_Vaccuum

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##### Re: How many decibels does it take to damage human hearing?
« Reply #17 on: 02/10/2007 23:48:41 »
also, asume  i was playing the piccolo, which is a very high pitched instrument, if i played that at a piano, quiet, and a played the sax whcih is a much lower pitched instrument, at a louder dynamic sign, playing the highest note on piccolo, and lowest on sax, which would hurt my ears most?

On that note(haha) , here's another question about this, what if the instruments played the same loudness, low vs high.
« Last Edit: 02/10/2007 23:53:18 by Quantum_Vaccuum »

#### Bored chemist

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##### Re: How many decibels does it take to damage human hearing?
« Reply #18 on: 03/10/2007 20:12:53 »
This "I don't think that is actually quite so.  Yes, we can judge the distance from the reed to the horn, but most musical instruments are designed to project sound forward from the instruments, so standing 2ft in front of the instrument can be far more damaging than standing 2ft behind the instrument (although this is where the size of the room, and the reflectivity of the surfaces within the room, are also important factors)." is certainly true, but I think it will be overruled by the long time that musicians spend practicing compared to the short time their audience spend listening. Perhaps music teachers have some of the worst exposure.

#### Quantum_Vaccuum

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##### Re: How many decibels does it take to damage human hearing?
« Reply #19 on: 04/10/2007 05:14:30 »
deffinantly music teachers, so most of them probably wear earplugs, mine sometimes does.

#### another_someone

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##### Re: How many decibels does it take to damage human hearing?
« Reply #20 on: 04/10/2007 05:47:48 »
This "I don't think that is actually quite so.  Yes, we can judge the distance from the reed to the horn, but most musical instruments are designed to project sound forward from the instruments, so standing 2ft in front of the instrument can be far more damaging than standing 2ft behind the instrument (although this is where the size of the room, and the reflectivity of the surfaces within the room, are also important factors)." is certainly true, but I think it will be overruled by the long time that musicians spend practicing compared to the short time their audience spend listening. Perhaps music teachers have some of the worst exposure.

I was not so much thinking of the audience, but rather when a musician plays in a band or orchestra, it is often the musicians sitting in front of the loudest instruments (which will anyway probably be at the back of an orchestra) who will get the full blast in their ear.

#### The Naked Scientists Forum

##### Re: How many decibels does it take to damage human hearing?
« Reply #20 on: 04/10/2007 05:47:48 »