It seems so hard to find a desirable hifi system (within my budget). A US$1800 complete system can't beat some fairly cheap headphones in my opinon. But the problem is people have been telling that listening to headphones (at "high" volume) over long periods could do harm to ears. Can anyone tell me is this true or not? If this is not true, then why Sony has this useless AVLS (Auto Volume Limiter System) on its portable products?
By the way, I listen to classic rock/heavy metal music.
Hi folks, thanks for all your helpful posts! I think I need to leave my head gear aside; I have enough unhealthy habits already. Now I gotta work harder searching for my desirable hifi systemů
Oh yeah...with a really good headphone amp and pair of cans, you can HURT yourself. I think it's because you don't get all the room cues that are telling you that you are overdriving the room. So...instead of turning it up loud as you want to, you've got to turn it DOWN to the point where, any lower it doesn't sound good anymore, and STAY there. If your ears ring or have a pressured/muffled feel after a listening session, then you were listening too damn loud.
amongst people who listen to the music you listen to (though fans of Mahler, Bruckner and Wagner have been known to be victims as well). I think a good business in about 20 years will be "ear implants". The critical bit is the sound pressure level at the tympanic membrane. An incidental bit of evidence is trying to talk to someone listening to music on headphones, they literally scream at you when they respond. People are more likely to put up with horrible volumes of other people on headphones because it doesn't really bother them. Unlike guys with subwoofers in cars, it ain't an ego thing! Go into your nearest hearing loss centre. If the level of your phones is consistantly in the damage zone, well . . . my Grandad had an ear trumpet . . . want one?
BTW, it makes no difference what delivers the excessive SPL, speakers, headphones or a jackhamer. The long term result is the same. The only way headphones are worse is the sealed variety (as opposed to the acoustic foam) then you can be had by the actually thrust of a major bass excursion in addition to the noise!
Yup. About 30 years ago, I had a pair of Stanton electrostatics that had "breakers" that tripped at 100 dB levels. I tripped them a lot.
For a variety of reasons, most speaker-driven reproducing systems start sounding "unpleasant" before dangerous loudness levels are reached, because somewhere in the system, distortion is becoming audible.
This doesn't happen with phones.
Secondly (my theory), if you're listening to rock music, part of what you're expecting is that "body slam" of percussive bass that you feel at loud levels. Of course, phones, even though they are reproducing down to the bottom, can not convey that "feel." So, you keep increasing the volume with phones, looking for that "slam"; but, of course, it never comes.
You are stating that for your $1800 that a speaker-based system will not likely compete with a good headphone system costing that amount or less. Well,yes and no. A headphone setup for that amount of money will smoke most any loudspeaker setup around in certain ways,namely in the purity of the sound and the resolution of details. But you are for the most part giving up a "normal" soundstage and a real sense of space that many people insist on having along with the aforementioned other qualities. You do not have to wrangle with room-acoustics,speaker-positioning,cable-issues,spouse-acceptance factors,etc..,and all of the other destroyers of good loudspeaker performance when you do headphones,of course. The best compromise for the money between headphones and loudspeakers are probably the AKG K-1000 "earspeakers",which do recquire a decent amp of around 10 watts per channel. These can be checked out at the Headroom site,and a glowing review of them is listed under the headphones reviews section of the eCoustics site,product reviews(a 6-Moons review). By the way,you can still put togeteher a decent "basic" loudspeaker-based system for under two grand that will not sound bad at all,if you are careful. Post a question on this forum and you can probably get a flood of suggestions. My suggestions? Ok,since you asked: For loudspeakers,EFE Technologies (contact by e-mail email@example.com), Ed Frias sells personally modified B.I.C. models,the DV-62SI bookshelf or the DV-64 tower are the best. At Parts Express,1-800-338-0531,the Dayton Loudspeaker D.I.Y. 10" subwoofer-kit at $349. A lower-priced Creek or Cambridge Audio integrated amp,one of the lower-priced Sony SACD/CD players,and some Audioquest cables and wires on sale at HCM Audio. There. And, (ahem) "I am not a sales-rep for any of these manufacturer's or product lines". I promise.
It's true. I don't recall the exact limits but headphones can go beyond OSHA limits. I know from personal experience that headphones can produce unbearable levels (as in so load to make any sane person wince and rip them from one's head ASAP!)
The more common problem is that there are time exposure considerations. What is harmless for 5 minutes becomes probable hearing loss when exposure extends to hours. My personal impression is that for some reason an SPL that I would not tolerate for long in a normal room with regular speakers is more tolerable with headphones. I don't understand why but it seems to creap up on me. I met a couple of people who wear headphones for long periods in a sound studio and they said it's something they have to watch out -- an occupational hazard.
So the idea behind the Sony limiter is good but I don't know if it has a negative effect on sound quality. It seems like it must so maybe it would be a good idea id there was an led that flashed whenever the limiting circuit was acting.
Absolutely true. You can do the same thing with loudspeakers if you turn them up loud enough,reaching certain sound-pressure levels in your room for an extended amount of time. The problem with headphones is that the sound is more easily concentrated into the ear canal and as you listen for longer periods,there is a tendency to want to keep turning up the volume. Do not do this,rather settle on a comfortable level at the outset that still gives you enough of the detail,slam,etc..,or whatever you need. Stick with this setting,do not keep turning up the volume as your ears adjust or fatigue. I know that good,highly-resolving headphones like the Grado models,Sennheiser 580 or 600,the better Etymotic in-ear models,Beyerdynamics,or AKG K-501's or K-1000's have very fulfilling sound (although in different flavors),and do not recquire you to "crank it up" as much as do cheap headphones. Keep your listening sessions at about an hour,then take a break for ten minutes and see how your ears feel. They should be fine for many years to come if you use a little common sense.
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