What is HearAngel’s Objective?Like you, we love listening on headphones and we don’t want to stop you from enjoying using yours; we just want to make it safer for you with no long-lasting effects! For the first time, you will have the information you need to manage your risk and optional automatic protection if you wish. We have also included options so you can safeguard your children’s hearing too.
Headphones, Earpieces, or Earbuds?They are all the same to us, so for ease we refer to them all as headphones.
What Causes Hearing loss?You may already be aware that exposure to short bursts of very loud sounds, (140dB and above), will permanently damage your hearing. What is less well known is that large sound doses also permanently damage your hearing. In everyday life, you are much more likely to be exposed to large sound doses than to very loud sounds, and for most of us, large sound doses will come from using headphones.
What is a Sound Dose?A sound dose is a complex combination of how long you listen, how loud you listen and the energy content of what you are listening to. As a guide electronic dance music has very high energy, whilst speech has relatively low energy. So if you plan on listening for a long period of time, you might want to consider listening to a podcast or watching a movie rather than listening to electronic dance music.
Do Automatic Noise Cancelling/Automatic Noise Reducing (ANC/ANR) Headphones work with HearAngel®?
Yes they do, very well in fact. If you use headphones in a noisy environment you might want to consider using noise cancelling headphones.
Let us explain; sound that you don’t want to listen to we call “noise” and the noise around you is known as “ambient noise”.
The problem with high ambient noise environments is that, if you want to listen to your “reproduced sound” (that’s what comes out of your headphones), you are going to have to turn up the volume, sometimes to a level which could become damaging in 20 minutes or so. The higher the volume the more quickly you will use up your Daily Sound Allowance® (see separate FAQ entry) so if you can use ANC/ANR headphones they will reduce the ambient noise and you will be able to listen to your reproduced sound at a lower level, extending your safe listening period.
What is your Daily Sound Allowance® (DSA®)?Your DSA® is the sound dose (see separate FAQ entry) which the World Health Organisation recommend that you not exceed each day. If you regularly exceed your DSA® you chances of suffering from noise induced hearing loss increase substantially.
What is a Decibel (dB)?
The dB is not a unit of measurement like the like the Metre or a Kilogram. It‘s a way of expressing the relationship between two sound levels, usually the minimum detectable sound pressure level and the sound pressure level you are measuring.
Because the ear is sensitive to an enormous range of sound pressures – the fall of a snowflake to the space shuttle taking off (a range of 1,000,000,000,000 to 1, yes that is a range of a trillion to one!), it is necessary to use a logarithmic scale to represent this range, and to perform calculations it is easiest to express these values as a ratio.
Here are some common sounds and their decibel ratings:
What are the safety standards?
At the time of writing, the only safety standard in place for headphones is to restrict their sensitivity so that they will not produce sound above a specified level (still very high!) when used with a smartphone.
This basic standard will be replaced in December 2020 with a new safety standard IEC 62368-1: 2018 which encourages the smartphone manufacturers to provide their customers with dose based information and protection just like HearAngel®.
The International Telecommunications Union and The World Health Organisation have together developed their own more demanding voluntary safety standard, H.870, which will cover smartphones and headphones and they are now encouraging countries to adopt it.
In December 2019 the World Health Organisation announced that Apple has integrated their H.870 safety standard into their health app.
As a hearing safeguarding platform HearAngel® can provide the features needed to meet all of the known hearing safety standards for mobile phone handset and wireless headphone manufacturers and those yet to come.