The ear is a fascinating organ, and we don’t give it enough credit. So many people take their hearing for granted until it’s too late. But did you know that exposure to loud sounds can damage your hearing? Have you ever asked yourself, “Is bass bad for your ears?“.
And while the temptation to listen to music at super-loud levels is understandable, this habit could lead to permanent hearing loss. In this blog post, we’ll discuss why loud music is bad for your ears – and if the bass and low frequencies, in general, are harmful or not. Here are some answers!
Hearing loss affects millions.
Hearing loss can be caused by many factors: age, genetics, prolonged exposure to high noise levels, or even certain diseases. If you listen to music on your headphones at loud levels for long periods, you could also damage your hearing.
Do you know how many millions of people suffer from some form of hearing loss? It’s a staggering statistic, and it will only get worse as the population ages.
About 32 million Americans between the ages of 20-69 have some form of hearing loss or impairment, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). Trust us when we say you don’t want to be one of them.
Parties, music concerts, and festivals are the main culprits, and we’re not only talking about how loud they are – but how long you listen to them.
And while that’s bad news for music fans who like their tunes extra loud, it also affects us daily as most people use phones. This includes listening to music with headphones at loud levels daily.
First, we need to know how your ear works to understand if the bass and low frequencies are bad.
How do your ears work?
Your ear is divided into three parts: the outer, middle, and inner ear. The outer ear collects sound and directs it inward. The middle ear amplifies sound vibrations and transmits them to the inner ear. The inner ear contains the cochlea – a snail-shaped organ that converts sound vibrations into electrical signals sent to the brain.
The cochlea is sensitive to different frequencies of sound. Your ear uses tiny hairs to detect different frequencies, and the frequency of a sound is determined by its pitch. In ideal conditions, the ear can hear between 20 Hz (low bass) and 20 kHz (high treble).
Sound waves at different speeds depending on their frequency: high-pitched notes have short wavelengths, while low ones are long.
Here’s an example: if you’ve ever stood next to a subwoofer, then the chances are that you’ve felt it in your chest before hearing it with your ears! This sensation occurs because low bass vibrations travel slower than higher pitches, so we feel them more strongly.
High frequencies tend to bounce off objects quickly and require more power from speakers or headphones because they’re heavier to push around.
How does someone lose their hearing?
If the hairs or any other part of your ear are damaged, you may not be able to hear specific sound frequencies. Thinner hairs are more susceptible to damage due to exposure to loud sounds.
This is why people with hearing loss often can’t hear high-pitched sounds like birds tweeting. Because thinner hairs detect these sounds, they are the first to be damaged and ultimately die off.
To detect low frequencies, we have more prominent hairs. And because of that, the low frequencies are usually the last to go if you have hearing loss. Some people can still hear the sound of an airplane or a thunderstorm, even if they can’t hear someone speak.
Now that we know how the ear works let’s answer the question: is bass bad for your ears? The answer isn’t so simple. Bass and low frequencies aren’t necessarily bad for your ears – but they can be if they’re too loud.
The louder a sound is, the more damage it can do to your hearing. This is why concerts and parties are so dangerous because of the high noise levels and because people tend to listen to them for hours on end. Have you noticed singers in concerts wearing earpieces? That’s one of the reasons.
How loud is it safe?
Noise-induced hearing loss is 100% preventable, but you must be careful about the levels of sound you’re exposed to.
The louder a sound is, the shorter the time you can safely listen to it without damaging your ears. For example, if you listen to music at 85 decibels (dB), you can safely listen for up to eight hours. But if the volume goes up to 95 dB, that time decreases significantly.
Anything over 100 dB is dangerous and can cause immediate damage, so clubs and concerts are so risky! 120 dB is the noise level of a rocket launch, which means your ears are in danger if exposed to it.
It’s important to note that sustained exposure to any noise above 85 dB can cause some form of hearing loss. However, if you’re exposed to 85 dB only for a few occasions a week or a month, it’s unlikely that you’ll experience any long-term damage.
Instead, you get short-term hearing loss, which is temporary and only affects the sound frequencies you were exposed to. This kind of damage doesn’t cause permanent hearing impairment – but it can make life uncomfortable if your ears are sensitive and easily irritated by noise.
Have you ever heard a ringing in your ears after a loud concert or party? That’s tinnitus, which happens when the hairs in your ear are exposed to loud sounds. It’s annoying but harmless and usually disappears after a few days or weeks.
Do bass and low frequencies play a role? Is bass bad for your ears?
Kind of. Bass and low frequencies can play a role in hearing loss. As we mentioned, they are the last frequency range for someone with hearing loss. This is because they have lower pitches that are easier to hear than higher-pitched sounds.
And because the bass isn’t as annoying as high-frequency sounds, people are likelier to turn up the volume and expose themselves to dangerous sound levels.
But as we said before, it’s not just the bass and low frequencies that can damage your ears – any sound above 80 dB can cause hearing loss over time. Frequency isn’t the problem here.
The resonance frequency of the ear canal is around 3000-4000 Hz, so naturally, hearing loud music around that frequency (the range of human voices and many other instruments) will be most uncomfortable for the ears.
So is bass bad for your ears?
The answer isn’t so simple – it depends on how loud the bass is and how often you’re exposed to it. And the same applies to any other frequencies. But if you’re at a concert or party, keep the volume down to avoid damaging your hearing!
Another common misconception is that noise canceling can be bad for your ears.
Final thoughts – Is bass bad for your ears?
While it’s tempting to listen as loud as you can and drown out the background noise, doing so will damage your ears. So be sure to keep an eye on that volume button – no matter how good the music is!
We hope this post taught you more about sound and hearing loss. If there are any questions or topics you’d like us to discuss in a future blog post, let us know by commenting below!