Bulletproof your ears with noise cancelling headphones!

If you are reading this blog, it would be reasonable to assume you enjoy music. And you also probably like your music served often and loud.

Five years ago, I regularly found myself flying up and down the M5 motorway as part of my job. For those unfamiliar with the road, it’s a very long road – that’s all you need to know. To fill the time spent on my travels, the music was loudly projected, providing my mundane day job with its very own soundtrack. Over time – somewhat inevitably – the volume of my car’s speakers steadily rose. I can clearly recall opening my windows one hot summer’s day and being surprised at how opening them only very slightly significantly dampened the noise, permitting the sound waves to vacate my vehicle; a reprieve for my poor eardrums, certainly. However, I loved rocking out in my car, so the bass and treble stayed loud.

With the passing of time, I found myself asking my then partner if she could hear a metallic, ringing noise at night – she could not. I didn’t pay an overt amount of attention to this, and only became conscious that this was a hearing-related issue when finding myself alone and in complete silence – here I was always met with a quiet yet audible ring. My hearing deficiencies even reached the point, where friends asked me if I was going deaf, to which I swiftly replied with, “fuck off!” Unfortunately, I thought they were right; my protests were my own denials.

Since passing three decades on planet earth, I have become slightly – only very slightly – more conscious of how I treat my body. Looking after my hearing comes close to the top of my ‘things to do to look after yourself’ list. I love music and want to be able to enjoy it long into my senior years. Something needed to change.

I made a conscious effort to turn down my car audio, which, sadly, allowed the road noise to irritatingly grace my eardrums once more. Unquestionably, a less satisfying auditory experience; however, I remained resolute that my hearing needed bullet-proofing – the volume was turned down, and has been so to this day.

Current NHS guidance regarding earphone use, states: “use noise-cancelling earphones or headphones – do not just turn the volume up to cover up outside noise.” Sound advice (no pun intended). With this in mind, I figured I’d combine the two suggestions – utilise noise-cancelling headphones.

My low-mid range Sennheiser BT 4.50 Headphones

As I’m sure many music lovers can attest to, if one is walking from point A to point B, one must do so accompanied by one’s favourite artist – strolling without sound would be bordering insanity. Now I was more mindful of my consumption and propensity for decibel density, my earphone experience needed updating; I was finding that after less than thirty minutes of reasonably loud sound exposure (90Db), the familiar ringing foe would return.

Near full volume – If not full – was my way. The music was loud, and the outside world was muted – perfect. I was an advocate for the ethos: “good music must be played loud.” However, my attention turned to over-ear headphones. My interpretation of over-ear headphones, always carried negative connotations; I found the aesthetic to be gaudy and the ergonomics quite awkward, but this was an insufficient deterrent for me.

My headphones – Sennheiser BT 4.50, to be exact – are unassuming and adequate enough at neutralising unwanted sound. After a few weeks, and without truly realising it, my volume decreased far further than I would have ever thought possible. With the diminished need to turn it up to eleven – due to sound cancellation qualities – I was listening to the music at a lower volume and with more enjoyment. Granted, I am only human, and there will be new releases I anticipate so much, I will whack the volume up; but ‘up’ is still surprisingly low – my decibels never surpass 78. Anything above 85 decibels – e.g. very loud traffic – is considered damaging, especially if exposure is prolonged.  

My decibels have reduce since using noise cancelling headphones.

Do yourself a favour, splash a little bit extra and buy noise cancelling headphones. Not only are they saving my hearing, but they are actively making me more mindful of protecting my ears.

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