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Listening to Music with Earphones: An Assessment of Noise Exposure

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A noise exposure assessment was made for 45 test subjects using personal cassette players (PCP) and earphones. New information about the relation of background noise level and the listening level was found in field and laboratory studies with test subjects. An acoustic coupler was designed for earphone sound level measurements and the maximum continuous sound levels from 12 PCPs were measured. The highest sound levels at maximum volume settings of the PCPs ranged from 90 dB to 104dB. Comfortable music levels in the quiet ranged from 52dB to 88dB, the average being 69dB. In the laboratory with background noise the music levels ranged from 69 dB to 95dB. In the field study the average listening level was 82dB and the average calculated weekly exposure (LEP,w) 75 dB. The weekly noise exposure of 15% of the test subjects exceeded 85dB in the field study. All the PCPs examined were able to produce high sound levels but the typical listening levels chosen by PCP users were not alarming. The music level was on average set to exceed 85dB when the background noise level was 72dB. Some hearing loss risk would be expected when PCPs are used in noisy conditions at work or among traffic.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 1996

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  • Acta Acustica united with Acustica, published together with the European Acoustics Association (EAA), is an international, peer-reviewed journal on acoustics. It publishes original articles on all subjects in the field of acoustics, such as general linear acoustics, nonlinear acoustics, macrosonics, flow acoustics, atmospheric sound, underwater sound, ultrasonics, physical acoustics, structural acoustics, noise control, active control, environmental noise, building acoustics, room acoustics, acoustic materials, acoustic signal processing, computational and numerical acoustics, hearing, audiology and psychoacoustics, speech, musical acoustics, electroacoustics, auditory quality of systems. It reports on original scientific research in acoustics and on engineering applications. The journal considers scientific papers, technical and applied papers, book reviews, short communications, doctoral thesis abstracts, etc. In irregular intervals also special issues and review articles are published.
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