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Dangers of closed-back headphones
Last year, I was experimenting with making timbres from scratch using the wave generator in Wavelab, and ever since I've had low frequency tinitus. (It could be conjestion caused by a dust allergy, but I'm not sure.)
Anyway, there are a few headphone brands on the market that claim to avoid problems caused by channeling sound directly in the ear canal, but they cost $1000s. I now try to use my monitors all the time, but it's not ideal.
I remember, when I was in a band, there was a bizarre attitude to hearing-loss, like it's the 'rock 'n' roll' equivalent of a fisherman's shark bite wound or something. Sort of, smurking proudly about how bad their hearing has got. I always found it laughable that worrying about hearing was considered uncool or whimpy. Has anyone else experienced this?
Personally I don't want to go deaf because I want to hear detail and create music all my life, that's all. Perhaps you're supposed to want to die young too, choking on someone else's dog's vomit?
There is currently nothing that can be done to restore hearing accuity once damaged -- at least not to a level that would allow skillful audio processing and balancing -- so the only option is to look after your sense of hearing as carefully as you can, and that means minimising your exposure to loud sounds. You can do that by reducing the volume through sensible level settings and/or attenuating earplugs, and by reducing your exposure time by taking regular breaks.
I'd much rather still be able to enjoy music and converse easily in my dotage then appear 'cool' or 'hard' in my teens... which is possibly why I was never deemed 'cool or hard' when I was a teenager!
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Technical Editor, Sound On Sound
Though speakers make me far more nervous than headphones for those unplanned blasts of noise, at least with cans you can tear them off your head quickly. When speakers blast all out its like going into shock for the first few seconds before reaching for the volume knob.
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Advice on avoiding hearing loss with headphones:
Has anyone tried the Ultrasone headphones? They are supposed to incorporate bit of technology to sound more natural be safer to use. http://www.ultrasone.com/
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- James Perrett
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JRP Music - Audio Mastering and Restoration.
If you're really concerned, Canford offer most models of pro headphones with in-built limiters, calibrated to a specified maximum level. They're expensive and a bit inconvenient, but they're also an almost foolproof safeguard.
We have a natural tendency to want things louder, so over the course of a session levels tend to creep up without you noticing, often to levels you would have considered painful at the start of a session. A simple preventative measure is to set your headphones to a comfortable level at the start of a session and mark up the control.
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