How to listen to your favourite music safely

Published 20 January 2021  | Updated 16 May 2024  | 4 mins read

Whether it’s your favourite radio show, a beloved album or morning radio programme, there are many ways to enjoy music. But it’s all too easy to let it damage your hearing. That’s because we only have a few thousand hair cell receptors – the all-important sound sensors in our inner ear.

And once they’re damaged, they don’t grow back. So, here are some tips on how to listen to music safely – whether you’re out at a concert or on the go listening to your favourite Spotify playlist.


Even though the EU limits maximum volumes on personal devices, these are still too high for extended listening. The EU limit on personal music players is 85 decibels, which is considered safe for up to 8 hours of playback per day. However, this limit can be overridden, bumping the noise level up to 100 dB – which is only safe 15 minutes of listening per day.

So, what can you do to ensure your hearing protection is sufficient when listening to music?

1) Switch on the sound limit function – if you can’t find the appropriate button in your device settings, this should be set to around 60% of full volume.

2) Listen for less time – reducing the amount of time you listen to music with headphones to less than an hour a day will really help to protect your hearing.

3) Wear noise-cancelling headphones – these block out background noise so can hear your music better at lower volumes (see more about these below).

The benefits of noise-cancelling headphones

There are two types of noise-cancelling headphones: passive and active.

Passive noise-cancelling headphones are the cheaper option and work much like a pair of earplugs. They fit right into your ears, sealing your ear canal (which is the noise-cancelling part), and therefore suppress background noises like road traffic or office chatter.

Active noise-cancelling headphones, while more expensive, are arguably more effective. They work by ‘listening’ to outside noises and sending the opposite sound back to your ears – digital magic that cancels out the background noise making it much quieter or even silencing it completely. If you regularly take public transport or catch flights, these are the perfect solution for your hearing protection as the continuous ambient sound can really take a toll on your ears.

Take note of the natural signs your ears give you

After listening to loud music for a certain length of time, you might experience a blocked feeling or hissing sounds, this is your ears telling you that the sound you’ve exposed your ears to has caused a temporary reduction in hearing.

If this happens repeatedly it can become permanent. So make sure to always protect your hearing against excessive noise levels.

Live music

Whilst we look forward to the return of live music, and though many concert venues are careful to limit their decibel levels, that doesn’t mean your hearing is totally safe – especially if you’re a fan of staying up at the front of the stage. The only real way to protect your hearing at a live music event is by wearing earplugs – but don’t worry, they won’t ruin your musical experience.

Here at THCP, we offer models such as the Elacin ER20, which reduce volume without affecting the clarity of the music. For more information about custom-moulded ear plugs and specialist hearing protection, you can book a consultation online.

What you can do next

If you’d like to understand more about hearing protection or if you’re concerned you’ve already damaged your hearing listening to your music too loudly through headphones, book an appointment with us today. We can offer a free hearing test and plenty of advice on keeping your hearing safe.

Call us on 0800 52 00 546, book a FREE Full Hearing Assessment online. As an essential healthcare provider, we are open during lockdown by appointment only.

Please do not visit any THCP practice until you have made an appointment as you will not be able to enter. For more information on how we’re keeping you safe in practice, visit our Here To Help pages.