How loud is too loud?

Discussion in 'GENERAL AV Discussions' started by 55katest55, Sep 26, 2011.

  1. 55katest55 Audioholic

    55katest55
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    So i got a new subwoofer which has inadvertently led me to playing my movies louder. I'm just worried that I'll damage my hearing. So how loud is too loud? I guess my problem is that i turn up the volume since i want louder bass since i dont play at reference levels, but if i turn up the bass too high, it drowns out the volume.

    I've heard that untreated rooms give off the impression of being louder since they are not acoustically optimal, and that even though reference levels sound loud, it isn't really when the room is treated.

    Thoughts?
  2. Cruise Missile Full Audioholic

    Cruise Missile
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    Luckily there's a scientific answer to this, and a way to have a little fun with your system.

    First you'll need a SPL (sound pressure level) meter. These are available through Radio shack as well as online sources.

    Then set the meter to "A" weighting and "slow" response. Have a seat in your favorite chair and start the movie or music. Hold the meter at arms length in front of you pointed up. Then use the meter according to the instructions that came with it.

    Here's OSHA's take on sound exposure levels over time.
    If the variations in noise level involve maxima at intervals of 1 second or less, it is to be considered continuous.

    TABLE G-16 - PERMISSIBLE NOISE EXPOSURES (1)
    Duration per day, hours | Sound level dBA slow response
    8...........................| 90
    6...........................| 92
    4...........................| 95
    3...........................| 97
    2...........................| 100
    1.5 .......................| 102
    1...........................| 105
    .5 .........................| 110
    .25 or less............| 115
    Footnote(1) When the daily noise exposure is composed of two or more periods of noise exposure of different levels, their combined effect should be considered, rather than the individual effect of each. If the sum of the following fractions: C(1)/T(1) + C(2)/T(2) C(n)/T(n) exceeds unity, then, the mixed exposure should be considered to exceed the limit value. Cn indicates the total time of exposure at a specified noise level, and Tn indicates the total time of exposure permitted at that level. Exposure to impulsive or impact noise should not exceed 140 dB peak sound pressure level.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2011
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  3. cpp Audioholic Field Marshall

    cpp
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    Recommendations of the American
    Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

    http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=FEDERAL_REGISTER&p_id=17368

    The American Occupational Safety and Health Administration ( OSHA )
    limits exposure to occupational noise to 110 dB for 30 minutes a day.
    The American Occupational Safety and Health Administration ( OSHA )
    limits exposure to occupational noise to 90 dB for 8 hours a day also noted by the poster above



    If you use a low efficiency loudspeaker of 1% efficiency,
    you only need 0.3 watt to 1 watt of power from your amplifier
    to produce 90 dB in a room.
    You should not listen to 0.3 watt to 1 watt from your amplifiers
    for more than 8 hours a day !
    Turn down the volume !
    Doesn't that remind you of the days when Mum and Dad yells
    "Turn down the volume. Are you deaf ?"
    "Health and Safety" at home is every bit as important as "Health and Safety" at work
    http://www.affordablevalvecompany.com/power1.htm

    Other info.
    http://www.dangerousdecibels.org/education/information-center/noise-induced-hearing-loss/
    http://www.abelard.org/hear/hear.php



    So rock on, if your really young you might get away with it for a few years but hey once your hearing is shot, unless you like hearing aids it's over.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2011
    cpp,
  4. Pyrrho Audioholic Ninja

    Pyrrho
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    I wrote about this previously, so to save myself some trouble, here is an old post simply quoted, but with part of it with new emphasis due to other people's comments in this thread:


    Here is a link to another post on this subject:

    http://forums.audioholics.com/forums/showpost.php?p=831717&postcount=12

    And to the main area of the CDC's information on this:

    http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/noise/

    And their comment on the OSHA standards:

    NIOSH has found that significant noise-induced hearing loss occurs at the exposure levels equivalent to the OSHA PEL based on updated information obtained from literature reviews.​

    OSHA regulates what companies can legally do; they do not guarantee that there will not be significant hearing loss even following their guidelines.

    It is also worth pointing out the fact that no levels are demonstrated to be safe; one only demonstrates what causes harm. If no harm is noticed at some level, that does not guarantee that no harm has occurred. This is the way with scientific studies of safety; they look for harm, and if none is found, it is generally considered to be safe, but it is never actually proven to be safe, and normally, over time, the testing gets better so that harm is noticed with lower amounts of the thing tested. This applies to contaminants in food and water and other such matters as well.
  5. highfigh Audioholic Warlord

    highfigh
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    If you don't listen to music or movies at high levels for a few days without being exposed to high SPL sounds and you hear ringing in your ears in a quiet room, you have hearing damage.

    The first stage of hearing loss is usually called 'threshold shift', indicated by the inability to hear known sounds at low levels that had been sufficiently loud to hear before. This leads to the need for setting the volume control at a higher level than before and asking people to repeat what they say. It gets worse when you're in a noisy environment and you find that you now have problems hearing people speak, when you previously didn't.

    It gets worse when a condition called 'tinnitus' begins. This is a loud ringing or buzzing sound that starts for no apparent reason, or because of an intense sound in a similar frequency range.

    Once hearing damage occurs, it never reverses itself. A minor threshold shift from a night out can be temporary but repeating this on a regular basis will lead to permanent loss. If you ride a motorcycle, have a car with loud exhaust (like a Honda mosquito), work in an environment with loud noise, use firearms or anything like these, you should be wearing hearing protection EVERY time.
  6. AcuDefTechGuy Audioholic Slumlord

    AcuDefTechGuy
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    I never listen to anything above 85dBA.

    But in terms of dBC, it's like 93dBC.:D

    And even so, those are peak numbers, not constant or average.
  7. cpp Audioholic Field Marshall

    cpp
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    Well take it from a retired Otolaryngologist, don't put your ears into stress, if you do you will eventually see one of my peers as you get older or younger depending on volume knob.
    cpp,
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  8. 55katest55 Audioholic

    55katest55
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    Alright then my next questions are:

    1)How the hell do I know what reference is on my receiver? I have an Onkyo that doesn't go in negatives. Only up from zero. Negative on a regular receiver is -15db right?

    2)What SPL meter do you guys recommend?
  9. AcuDefTechGuy Audioholic Slumlord

    AcuDefTechGuy
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    I would be worried if you have to move that volume knob close to Zero!

    My usual volume is -25dB on my Denon AVRs.

    With my Orions speakers, I've gone to -9dB on the Denon volume on some songs that are recorded kind of low.

    I have never gone below -9dB before!

    When you get your SPL meter, then you can adjust/calibrate all the channel levels to 75dBC from your listening position. I set all my L/R/SL/SR to 75dBC, Center to 77dBC, and subwoofer to 78dBC.

    To me digital SPL meters are a lot easier to read.
  10. highfigh Audioholic Warlord

    highfigh
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    Parts Express and Radio Shack have meters that are accurate enough for this use.
  11. mtrycrafts Audioholic Slumlord

    mtrycrafts
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    Depending on the model, in the setup there is two ways to set up and display the reading. Check the manual thoroughly.
  12. starbuk Audioholic Intern

    starbuk
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    it can never be loud enough
  13. FatmanSize48 Audioholic Intern

    FatmanSize48
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    When I play music or watch movies, I usually put the volume to -20 to -25 db on my Denon receiver. It has a 75 watt per channel amp, and connected to fairly efficient speakers. Is this too loud? Please note that my room is not treated.
  14. Gustavo Audioholic Intern

    Gustavo
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    In my case, I listen at -15dB on my 75 wpc Denon receiver and the sensitivity of my left and right front speakers are 86 dB while the center is 89 dB.

    Is that too loud or just right considering my speakers' sensitivity?

    Without a SPL meter, I could not get the decibels from my listening position.
  15. GranteedEV Audioholic Ninja

    GranteedEV
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    I listen maybe around 75 to 80db

    But I like to allow headroom and capability for peaks as loud as 105db :D
  16. ican Banned

    ican
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    90 DB is the threshold. You want to stay below that. First reply was the best, get a meter to measure DB, if you are below 90 DB, you should be ok.
    ican,
  17. highfigh Audioholic Warlord

    highfigh
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    The size of the room has a lot to do with how loud it will be. A large room that allows you to sit farther from the speakers is a good thing.
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  18. walter duque Audioholic Samurai

    walter duque
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    There is some material I like at 110 db+. Pearl Harbor is one of them.
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  19. AcuDefTechGuy Audioholic Slumlord

    AcuDefTechGuy
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    Gotta get out that SPL meter and measure how loud the sound is in dB A-weight, slow response.

    In my HT room, my Denons are usually set to -20 to -25 on the volume.

    In the family room, my Denon is usually set to -15 to -20 on the volume.

    Volume on my digital galaxy SPL meter is no more than 85dBA MAX. So average is probably 75-80dBA.
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  20. AcuDefTechGuy Audioholic Slumlord

    AcuDefTechGuy
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    Okay today I have been listening to The Dark Knight Rises Ultimate Complete Score (not OST).

    And I wanted to see how loud I listen, which I think is pretty loud, but comfortably loud, not painfully loud. :D

    I set for Peak SPL in both dB-A & dB-C.

    A-weighting (dBA) filters out the low frequencies and covers ~ 500Hz-10kHz. By comparison, C-weighting (dBC) is almost unweighted so it covers ~ 32Hz-10kHz.

    My Peak SPL: 82.5dBA & 97.5dBC.

    I deduce that most of the sound level peak is from the BASS (32-500Hz) since the peak dBA is only 82.5dB (500Hz-10kHz).

    OSHA Sound Levels are in dBA (Slow Response), not dBC.


    Comparison of Duration Per Day in Hours to Allowable Sound Level in dBA (Slow-Response SPL)


    Duration per day (hours) vs. Sound level (dBA, slow response):


    8 hr 90 dBA
    6 hr 92 dBA
    4 hr 95 dBA
    2 hr 100 dBA
    1 hr 105 dBA
    1/2 hr 110 dBA
    1/4 hr 115 dBA

    So does that mean I am way under the 90dBA OSHA Noise standard?
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2013

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