Can Subwoofer Damage Your Hearing? Facts and Myths

For most bass lovers, it is almost impossible to live without a subwoofer or two of them. Adding a subwoofer enhances the overall sound quality of your sound system while providing a great foundation for your music and movies.

To get the most out of your system, you may want to invest in the bass that you cannot only hear but also feel. But as the old proverb goes, ‘too much of anything is bad for you!’. Playing music at a very low volume is as bad as blasting your subwoofer; – ideally both lead to undesirable results. So, is bass bad for your ears?

Generally, prolonged exposure to loud bass can harm your overall well-being. Blasting your subwoofer is hazardous to your ears, and you may often want to ask yourself: can subwoofer cause hearing loss? Let takes a close look at how a subwoofer can damage hurt your ears or damage your hearing.

Can Subwoofer Damage Your Healing

Can Subwoofer Damage Your Ears?

If love to listen to music at high volume levels, then you should be concerned about your hearing, and it is for good reasons. Ideally, a subwoofer or any loudspeaker that plays music at loud volume levels can be detrimental to your hearing.

This is because, an average subwoofer can produce up to 120 dB or even higher, which is more than enough to cause serious ear injuries. If you are not careful enough, staying too close to a subwoofer can cause irreparable hearing damage within a few minutes of exposure.

Considering that a standard conversation is in the 60 dB range, it is easy to see why running a subwoofer at max SPL can hurt your ears. Playing music at comfortable volume levels rarely irritates, but as you increase the volume, the risk of damaging your ears also increases. Unfortunately, as we grow older, our hearing becomes compromised, and playing music at unreasonable volume levels does not make it any better.

The basic OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) guidelines on noise exposure require that workers in environments with up to 85 decibels and above use some form of hearing protection. Generally, the same case should apply when playing music in the living. Surpassing the recommended decibel level can be dangerous to your hearing, not forgetting the disturbance caused to your neighbors.

Although you may not notice it at first, exposing yourself to high decibel levels for an extended period is likely to cause permanent deafness. As a matter of fact, a good number of people suffering from hearing loss have at one time or another been exposed to noise or loud music for that matter. As such, always ensure to take the necessary precautions to ensure you don’t suffer from hearing loss.

Loud Bass Effects on the Body

While hearing loss is the most commonly reported health condition, exposing yourself to loud bass can be disastrous to your general well-being. Besides deafness and partial hearing loss, numerous studies have linked long-time exposure to loud noise to a number of health conditions.

Playing your subwoofer at extreme volume levels increases the risk of irregular heartbeat, which might lead to a myriad of cardiovascular conditions, including stroke, hypertension, blood clots, heart failure, among others. Furthermore, irritable noise can make the brain become inflamed, which can be linked to rising cases of brain disorders such as dementia.

Other potential effects of loud bass on health include:

  • Sleep disturbance
  • Weakened immune system
  • Increased anxiety
  • Increased adrenaline levels
  • Decreased cognition ability, especially in children

How to Protect Your Ears From Hearing Damage

As we’ve already mentioned, loud bass can hurt your ears. This is because subwoofers can be extremely powerful, with some units capable of sounding louder than a typical jet engine. As such, it is very important to take precautions to minimize the risk of hearing damage. Some of the steps you can take to ensure your hearing safety include;

i. Wearing hearing protection

One of the easiest solutions to counter extremely loud bass is by wearing ear protection. There are numerous ear plugs that are designed to regulate bass frequencies without distorting or altering the quality of your music.

ii. Noise-cancelling earphones/headphones

Wearing noise-canceling headphones or earphones is yet another safety measure you can undertake to block or reduce the amount of bass reaching your ears. So, apart from blocking background noise, noise-canceling earphones play a big role in protecting your ears from loud bass.

iii. Keep the volume of the subwoofer at reasonable levels

Apart from wearing hearing protection, another safety measure you can take to prevent hurting your ears is turning down the volume level of your subwoofer. Also, it is always a good idea to ensure that the bass volume does not reach unsafe levels. The good thing is that you can adjust the volume of the subwoofer individually without interfering with other components.

iv. Limit your listening durations

Lastly, always ensure to limit your listening periods or have short breaks in between listening sessions. It is not uncommon to find people blasting their music all day long, which only increase the risk of hearing damage. Always strive to spend some quiet time away from your subwoofer to give your ears a reprieve.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why does bass hurt my ears?

If you’re not used to loud sound systems, you’re likely to find loud bass to be somewhat painful or uncomfortable. This is especially true if you’re eardrums have been damaged before, from either exposure to extreme noise or aging.

Q: Can bass make you deaf?

Low frequencies are not necessarily harmful to your ears, but loud bass can make you go deaf if it is too extreme. Remember, the louder the bass, the more damage it can cause to your ears and the higher the risk of permanent hearing loss.

Parting Shot!

Woofers or simply subwoofer are a critical component of any entertainment system. These little monsters have the power to rumble your entire home with earthshaking bass, but can subwoofer damage your hearing? Yes. If you don’t use your subwoofer carefully, it can cause irreversible hearing damage.

Also Read: What is Q Factor in Audio? (Basic Facts You Should Know)

Remember, the idea behind getting a subwoofer is to allow you to enjoy those deep notes, but this might not be the case if you don’t use it well. Ensure to wear hearing protection if needed, limit music playing duration, and most importantly always ensure to keep the volume level under control. That way, you can rest assured of enjoying the bass without risking permanent hearing loss.

Avatar for Jamie K. Martin

Jamie K. Martin holds a degree in Audio engineering from Husson University, Bangor. Martin spends most of his time testing and trying the technology he writes about to ensure that he provides first-hand information to our customers from all walks of life.

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