How to Measure Headphone Decibels

We all love boosting the volume on our headphones especially when our favorite tracks are playing. However, listening to loud volumes for prolonged periods can be hazardous to our ears. The US Center for disease control and prevention lists noise intensity, duration and source proximity as three defining factors which increase rate of hearing loss.

To avoid this, listening to headphones at the lesser volumes will prevent hearing-related problems. Experts say that this level is below 75 decibels for prolonged and repeated exposure. Hence, measuring your headphone decibel levels is a sure safe way to make sure you are listening within safe listening limits.

What Are Headphone Decibels?

Headphones are transducers which convert electrical signals into an acoustic signal (sound wave). Headphones decibels are measurements of sound indicating how loud the headphones are within a given level from the source.

It is shown either as dB or mW and is based on one mW input signal with sensitivity ranging from 80 to 125 dB. The sensitivity of headphones refers to how effectively your headphones convert an electric signal into an acoustic signal.

Below is a table are some of the familiar sound and their decibels sounds

ActivitySound level (dB)
Normal breathing10
Ticking of a watch20
Refrigerator Hum40
Normal conversation, air conditioning60
City traffic  80-85

It is worth noting that anything beyond 85 decibels on your headphones is capable of causing hearing impairment. Go with anything below 75 decibels, and you’ll be fine regardless of how long you get exposed. Now, let’s see how we can appraise decibels to determine the suitable listening range.

How to Measure Headphone Decibels

Many tools can be used to quantify headphones decibels whether they are apps or specific instruments. The purpose remains the same which is recording sound output via a microphone.

1. Apps

You can download some of the free decibel reader applications from the Microsoft apps store and install them on your computer.  You can also get these applications from other sources, including the Apple store for Macbook computers and the iTunes app store. Once you have downloaded the application and installed it, it will use your computer’s microphone to measure the decibel levels. Go on and pair the computer with your headphones.

Never worry about using these applications. They come with simple instructions that are easy to understand. You require no special skills to do this since it is a straightforward process. You only need an internet connection and a computer. Ensure the app you download is authentic and can accurately measure decibels.

Headphone Decibels

2. Measure Using Android phone

You can also do that on your phone by downloading an application. These apps are relatively small in size and take less space in your phone. ‘Sound Meter’ is one example from the Google PlayStore which can be used to record volume levels by placing the earcups next to microphone of the phone at your usual listening levels. This can be repeated at different listening volumes to determine which one is within the safer listening limit.

3. Measuring Using iPhone

The procedures for measuring decibels using the iPhone remain pretty the same as using an Android phone. The only difference will be downloading the app. For the iPhone, go to the iPhone app store, search for the ‘Sound Meter’ or ‘Decibel Meter’ app and repeat the steps discussed previously.

4. Measure Decibels Mathematically

Apart from the instruments and common noises around, you can also ascertain the decibels of your headphones mathematically without using any tool. It remains the most reliable and appropriate means with the science encouraging establishing the power of sound using sound wave headphone creates.

The sound wave will displace the particles broadcasting live provided it is sufficient. If you realize that the sound wave is creating a minuscule sound of 0.00005 watts per square meter, they produce 80 decibels. Once you know this, you’ll have pretty many options to build in decibels.

How Accurate Can the Mathematical Measuring Be?

The level of accuracy of the results depends on the use of different mathematical choices available. You can get some of them online, depending on your preferences. It is recommendable to use any of the options available or combine several of them for increasing accuracy levels.

You don’t need any special skills to get the best results. Even novice users can do this effortlessly using a calculator and get the right outcome. You might not get precisely the correct measurement, but it will help in several situations like determining the decibels of the headphones before buying.

5. Measuring Using a Decibel Meter

The use of the decibel meter remains the best option for measuring decibel volume.  You will get it from forte stores and online retail stores. The decibel meter from TACKLIFE Digital Sound is a great example of one.

It uses a delicate receiver to determine commotion around you and gives the decibels estimates. The first thing to do is to turn on the headphones and the decibel meter. Place the pad on the ear pads ensuring it completely covers to avoid sound escaping. These pads can perfectly seal but to ensure you are right, why can’t you check to confirm?

Your decibel meter should be showing readings if you have done the right thing. Read and repeat the procedure at different volumes with different music. For first-time users, keep checking decibels readings of your headphones regularly. Decibels reading keeps changing as headphones get old. It ensures the constant safety of your ears by keeping the right decibels levels for your ears.

Decibel Meter from TACKLIFE Digital Sound

6. Compare Volume Levels

Evaluate the decibels of your headphones by using the steel plants cutting tools. They should be robust for this point to be practical. If you have headphones on and still can hear steel plants and cutting tools noises, the decibels are high and need to act.

Medically, these specific levels of decibels may cause advanced effects on your ears. You can consider reducing the volume until you are confident your ears are protected.

Measuring Using Common Noises

There are usually noises in every other place we might be. It is a chance to weigh against the volume and decide the level of your headphones. Not yet the exact way, but at least you’ll have an opportunity to reduce excess volumes significantly.

1. Compare With The Surrounding

Determining the decibels of your headphones is also possible by comparing them with free traffic. Do this by standing about fifty feet away from free traffic. If you can’t hear the music in your headphones, definitely, have high decibels. As such, you won’t get affected for the time being. However, with a long duration subjecting your ears to such volumes, you’ll cause problems to your ears whatsoever.

How Exactly Does The Process Of Becoming Deaf Happen?

For you to become deaf, this is usually a continuous process. It happens with constant exposure of the ear to loud music for a prolonged period. It is a complicated process as it happens slowly without realizing it. You can’t even notice until a significant part of your hearing is lost.

When the loud sound enters your ears, it destroys the hair cells in the inner ear which help to convert mechanical impulses to nerve signals The moment you suffer hearing loss caused by exposure to loud sounds, nothing can be done to revert the situation. It is imperative to know how to measure the decibels of the headphones you put in your ears if you mean well for them.

How Hearing Works
From Medel

Frequently Asked Questions

What Volume Is Too Loud For Headphones?

Your headphones are loud if they are above 85 dB, and they are likely to cause damage to your ears with prolonged exposure. When they are below 70 dB, you can consider your ears safe.

How Do I Know If My Headphones Are Too Loud?

Have your headphones off your ears and hold them in front of you or place them somewhere nearby. If you realize you can clearly hear the music playing, then your headphones are too loud for your ears. Reduce the volume, put them on, and repeat the process until you can only make out music from the headphones.

Can You Damage Headphones By Playing Them Too Loud?

Yes, you can have your headphones damaged by playing loud music on them.  The loud sounds do not explicitly cause this, but the excess high electrical signal flow to the headphones. The damage ranges from total voice coil burn or damage to the transducer itself.

How Many Decibels Can Headphones Produce?

Headphones can produce up to 110 decibels. Such extreme high levels lead to hearing impairment. The most recommended listening volume is the “fifty fifty rule.” This means that the listening volume should be half the complete volume of your device connected to headphones. For example, if the device’s volume is 20 when complete, your highest listen volume level should not go beyond level 10. Anything beyond that point would be loud and dangerous to your ears.


Music is brilliant when played in our ear in the right and recommended volume. When playing music on headphones on high volume for prolonged durations, you’re slowly killing one vital sense in your body- hearing acuity. Specialists recommend listening to music on decibels below 70 dBs for the safety of our ears.

It is indispensable to know how to measure the decibels of your headphones. Otherwise, how will you know what listen level is suitable? The measuring process is simple, and some of the measuring tools are readily obtainable. Some cost nothing to have. You will find the measuring procedure on these tools, and the whole process is pretty simple even with a novice.

The ability to measure headphone decibels is beneficial for the right listening volume and when purchasing headphones. The skill comes in handy for better frequency response.  Headphones with better frequency responses decipher better quality sound. Enjoy the music but also mind the volume and wellness of your ears. Happy listening.

You may also be interested in:

Leave a Reply