Are earbuds more damaging than headphones?

Are earbuds more damaging than headphones

Many people use earbuds and headphones daily to enjoy music. However, there’s concern about their effect on our hearing health. There’s a debate on which one between Are earbuds more damaging than headphones?

Understanding the Basics

Sound is measured in decibels (dB). Normal talking is about 30 to 45 dB. Music from earbuds or headphones can be over 85 dB, which can be harmful over time.

Our ears catch sound waves and send them to the brain. Continuous loud sounds can disrupt this process.

Safe sound levels are below 70 dB. Louder sounds can cause damage quickly, so both the volume and duration of listening matter.

Earbuds and Hearing Damage

Earbuds are small devices that fit directly into our ears. They are very close to the ear canal, which is the path sound travels to reach our inner ear​. This closeness means that the sound from earbuds can be quite loud right where it matters most.

When we talk about volume, we often measure it in decibels (dB). A whisper might be around 30 dB, normal talking is around 60 dB, but the music from earbuds can go up to 85 dB or more, which is pretty loud​. When the sound is this loud, it can start to harm our ears, especially if we listen for a long time.

This loud sound can cause something called noise-induced hearing loss. This is a kind of hearing problem that happens when we listen to loud sounds for too long​​. Earbuds can be a big cause of this problem because they sit so close to our ear canal and often make us want to turn up the volume to hear better.

Headphones and Hearing Damage

earbuds more damaging than headphones

Headphones are different from earbuds. They are bigger and sit over our ears instead of inside them. This design helps to keep some of the sounds from going directly into our ear canal, which can be a bit safer.

Just like with earbuds, the volume of the sound we listen to with headphones is measured in decibels (dB). While headphones can also go up to high volumes like 85 to 110 dB, they might be a bit less likely to cause harm because they are not right inside our ears​.

However, if we listen to loud music with headphones for a long time, it can still be harmful. The risk gets higher the louder the music and the longer we listen to it​. So, it’s not just about whether we use earbuds or headphones, but also about how loud and how long we enjoy our music. This is why it’s important to keep the volume down and give our ears a break sometimes.

In these sections, the mechanics of earbuds and headphones are explained about their potential to cause hearing damage, along with the factors of volume and duration contributing to the risks.

Read also: Are Bone conduction headphones safer than earbuds?

Comparative Analysis

When we compare earbuds and headphones, there are some differences in sound quality and volume levels. Earbuds are close to our ear canals, so sometimes we don’t have to turn the volume up too much to hear clearly. But, headphones have better sound quality which might help us keep the volume lower​.

There’s a cool feature called active noise cancellation that some headphones have. This feature helps block outside noises, which can help us hear better without turning up the volume too much​. This is a good thing as it promotes safer listening habits.

Also, the type of electronic device we use can affect the volume. Some devices can play music louder than others, which can be a problem if we’re not careful​.

Preventive Measures

Keeping our ears safe is important. One tip is to keep a balanced volume and not listen to music for too long at one go​. It’s like giving our ears a little break.

Another good practice is using noise-cancelling headphones. They can help block out outside noises, so we don’t have to turn up the volume too high to hear well​. Also, keeping the volume levels down, even if it means we might not hear every little detail in the music, is a smart choice to keep our ears safe.


1. Which is more harmful to ears, headphones or earbuds?

Earbuds can be more harmful as they sit closer to the ear canal which can lead to louder volumes directly in the ear. However, both can be harmful if used at high volumes for long periods.

2. Is it better to wear headphones or earbuds?

It might be better to wear headphones as they sit over the ears and not directly in the ear canal. They also often have better sound quality which can help keep the volume lower​​.

3. What are the disadvantages of earbuds?

Earbuds can cause discomfort if worn for a long time, and their proximity to the ear canal can lead to higher chances of hearing damage if used at high volumes. They might also have lesser sound quality compared to headphones​.

4. Why do earbuds sound worse than headphones?

Earbuds might sound worse due to their smaller size which can limit sound quality. Headphones, with larger speakers, often provide a fuller range of sound, better bass, and clearer high notes​​.


Choosing between earbuds and headphones comes down to personal preference, comfort, and awareness of hearing health. While headphones may be a safer choice, practicing good listening habits like keeping the volume down and taking breaks can help protect our hearing no matter which device we choose to use.