Are Headphones or Speakers Safer for a Hyperacusis Sufferer?

Discussion in 'Support' started by TSmith28, Oct 21, 2020.

?

Are headphones or speakers safer?

  1. Headphones

  2. Speakers

  3. Either is fine (doesn't make a difference)

  4. Neither is safe

Results are only viewable after voting.
    1. TSmith28

      TSmith28 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      09/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Electric guitar via amp
      This question is primarily aimed at musicians but probably has general relevance: Do you think it's safer (less damaging / less likely to cause a hyperacusis setback) to listen to music through headphones or speakers?

      I play guitar and my hyperacusis started after an evening of playing my electric with gain (distortion) through an amp. I was playing at low volume but some combination of sitting directly in front of the amp and the high-frequency distortion must have been too much.

      Now about 6 weeks later, my ears have recovered to the point where I'd like to very carefully start playing again. I ditched my amp in favor of an audio interface so that I can play through my laptop, and my options are either headphones + earplugs or speakers + earplugs.

      I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts on which would be more realistic. Or is it moot because only the volume & duration matter?
       
    2. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      I advise you to never use headphones again even at low volume as you risk your tinnitus getting worse.

      @TSmith28
      You have asked for advice and what I'm about to tell you is based on many years experience with noise induced tinnitus and hyperacusis which was once very severe. I have corresponded with people at various tinnitus forums affected with Noise induced tinnitus, hyperacusis and counselled people with these conditions too.

      You have had tinnitus and hypercusis for a short while and I'm pleased that these conditions are improving for you. I realize how much music means to you for I'm an Audiophile. However, I think you are pushing your luck and don't realize the risk you're taking if you listen to any type of audio through headphones even at low volume - and I advise extreme caution when choosing to listen to music through speakers considering you've only had hyperacusis for a short while. Please believe me when I say: Tinnitus and hyperacusis caused by noise trauma can be seriously debilitating when they become severe. I advise that if you listen to audio through speakers keep the volume as low as possible.

      I don't want to be a killjoy but just want to make you aware what you're dealing with when it comes to tinnitus and hyperacusis, caused by noise trauma. Please be careful.

      Take care
      Michael
       
      • Like Like x 1
    3. david c

      david c Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      01/2012
      Headphones are a definite no, especially as you are so early into having hyperacusis, but even later on probably not a good idea. I'd be very, very careful with speakers as well. Volume and duration both matter, so even if you are only listening to something at a high rather than an extremely high volume, if you do so for long periods the cumulative impact on your hyperacusis is going to be bad.
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    4. Luman
      Spaced

      Luman Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brooklyn
      Tinnitus Since:
      07/2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Intermittent Tinnitus probably noise induced
      Michael has already answered your question about safety.

      Many people don't realize it, but acoustic guitar has a wider frequency range than electric guitar. The same is true of most other acoustic vs. electric versions of various instruments.

      All electric amplification sound is distorted, but tubes (valves) usually are preferred by guitar players who like a naturally overdriven sound, rather than solid states amps with effects that create artificial distortion sounds. Today, from what understand, you can buy tube amps that can create overdriven sounds at lower volume levels than before.
       
      • Informative Informative x 1
    5. Jack Straw
      Balanced

      Jack Straw Member Podcast Patron Benefactor Ambassador Hall of Fame Advocate

      Location:
      US
      Tinnitus Since:
      1990s
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Infection, Acoustic Trauma
      Frequencies don't matter as much as sound level. As long as the sound levels are in safe ranged the frequencies shouldn't matter as long as they aren't super high pitched.
       
    6. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      TSmith28

      TSmith28 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      09/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Electric guitar via amp
      Although I intuitively want to agree with you, my H was triggered by a very low-volume session playing my guitar with lots of distortion (complex mix of high frequencies) so I'm inclined to believe that both volume and frequency matter.
       
      • Agree Agree x 2
    7. Contrast
      No Mood

      Contrast Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Clown World
      Tinnitus Since:
      late 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      noise injury
      • Agree Agree x 1
    8. Alessandro Rossi
      Cynical

      Alessandro Rossi Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      07/2011
      I'm a guitarist too and I strongly suggest to avoid headphones. I had to sell mine, now I only play the electric guitar at home with an active speaker at low volume (of course), directed in a way that makes me a little bit more comfortable and NOT close to me.

      There are also days that even the unplugged electric guitar makes me suffer, but that's another story :)
       
      • Like Like x 1
      • Informative Informative x 1
    9. Civilian

      Civilian Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2013, worsened 09/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud music from headphones (?)
      What happens when speakers aren't a viable alternative? I live in a shared accommodation and I really never liked when people can hear what I'm listening to. I also find that speakers don't really capture enough depth for me to enjoy what I'm hearing, never mind at low volumes. And what about long commutes on the bus? Music has been one of the only things in life that I can turn to so I'm rightfully panicking.

      What confuses me is that I regularly listened to plenty of loud music over a 7 year period since my initial onset of a mild dysacusis type hyperacusis (thinking that if my hearing is mangled already it doesn't matter if I continue on as before) with no further change, but only recently did I experience a second and decidedly more debilitating wave of damage, as if it came about arbitrarily. It seems to me that worsening should have followed much earlier if it was to happen, because I was doing the exact same thing as before (a lifestyle that I only got into maybe 2 years before hyperacusis, that is daily loud music from headphones). That is why I'm not really understanding the disclaimer about listening at even low volumes if I blew out my ears regularly for so long afterwards and hyperacusis stayed the same, if not became easier to deal with. It's also why I'm questioning how much noise really has to do with the development of hyperacusis (especially being someone with lifelong mental health problems). I would assume normal level volume would be okay based on personal, scientifically unfounded experience. Regardless, I would very much like to hear any theories you guys have on what might have happened.

      I guess the caveat here is that my hyperacusis isn't as debilitating as many other cases (painless, able to do things outside), it's just very unpleasant and prevents me from doing things that are important to me.
       
    10. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      TSmith28

      TSmith28 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      09/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Electric guitar via amp
      I think this pretty much sums up where I am right now. I take it day by day. Some days my ears feel good and I get a bit adventurous, plugging in my electric via my audio interface and playing via speakers with earplugs. Other days my ears feel tired and painful, so I either rest them or only play unplugged electric with earplugs. It's certainly better than nothing!
       
    11. Juan

      Juan Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Several causes
      Speakers are safer, at low volume.
       
    12. weab00
      Alone

      weab00 Member Benefactor

      Location:
      depression-ville
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      noise, whiplash; 08/20 H
      Headphones are not safe for anyone with either pain or loudness hyperacusis. Do not listen to any audio during the fragile stages (6 months-2 years). Only subtitles. Afterwards use high-quality speakers at low-mid volume and take frequent breaks once every 30 minutes. It's extreme but the only way to ensure not relapsing.
       
    13. Michael01
      Frustrated

      Michael01 Member

      Location:
      Grafton,NSW,Australia.
      Tinnitus Since:
      2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      That's nice as my GP and audiologist have repeatedly stated that my headphones are safe to use. Now that I find out that this doesn't appear to be the case and I have been making my condition worse which is already DRIVING ME INSANE and I have been thinking about suicide lately... plus I spent good money on audiobooks that now I'm scared about using on my MP3 player.
       
    14. weab00
      Alone

      weab00 Member Benefactor

      Location:
      depression-ville
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      noise, whiplash; 08/20 H
      Personally I would not listen to an audiobook out of fear of worsening my hyperacusis, however that's at your own discretion. Audiologists and MDs don't know anything about hyperacusis so don't even bother with them.
       

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