How Loud is “Too Loud” at a Concert?

A quick guide to understanding why and when it’s necessary to wear ear protection at a live show.

Have you ever been to a live concert and after the show your hearing just seems a bit off? Everything seem to be a little bit muted and, not only that, but you have a faint or apparent ringing in your ears? This is an indicator that you may have exposed yourself for too long to a loud sound without proper protection and have participated in damaging your hearing. This is unfortunately a very common thing and with the rise of attendance at festivals we’ve noticed that there hasn’t been too much of a rise in hearing protection. However in order to talk about hearing protection and prevention of hearing loss we need to first understand why our hearing gets damaged.

What is hearing loss and how can I prevent it?


Figure 1 : Image Source: Center for Hearing, Speech, and Language

In your ear you have tens of thousands of hair cells lining the part of your inner ear. These hairs cells are what allows your to be receptive to your environment and listen to music. By exposing these hair cells to loud noises over long periods of time you are effectively wearing out and killing these cells until you start to exhibit hearing loss (fig. 1).

With this knowledge now the question becomes “how do I know if the concert I’m going to is too loud?” Before we explain this we need to understand how sound is measured. A sound’s loudness is measured in decibels (db) and can be measured by using a decibel reader which can be purchased individually or as an app on a smartphone. Because a sound’s loudness is a measurable thing, anybody can take part in seeing what they’re exposing themselves to. According V-Moda in the image below (fig. 2), a typical club or rock concert’s measured loudness ranges between 110-125 dbs. This is important to know because the higher in decibels a sound gets the lower amount of time a person can be exposed to that sound without risking hearing loss. Another important thing to notice is that at 125 dbs there is a threshold of pain. This is when a sound becomes too loud that some people start to feel pain as they listen to it. One more important thing to notice is that typically, prolonged exposure to sounds that are above 85 db can lead to hearing loss. One thing to understand is that 85 decibels is about the same loudness as being near a piano that is playing, so it doesn’t take very much to start damaging your hearing without use of protection.

With all this information it becomes so important to focus on what are exposing ourselves to when we go to listen to live music at a concert venue. So the next time that you go to a concert remember to grab some ear protection before you go. By doing so you will allow yourself to effectively protect your ears and prevent possible hearing loss.

So my question for you guys is do you wear ear protection when you go to see a live show? If you don’t then what is your reasoning for not doing so?


Figure 2: Image Source:


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