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How low cost headphones are putting the UK’s hearing at risk

Amplifon research

Thursday 18 June

June 18 at 07:57

Cheaper headphones are putting the UK’s hearing at risk, a leading hearing expert has advised, as poor sound quality causes users to listen at higher volumes.

Listening to headphones at high volumes – particularly for long periods – damages the delicate inner ear mechanism and can eventually lead to hearing loss and tinnitus.

Currently, one in ten adults in the UK has mild tinnitus and by 2031 it is estimated there will be 14.5 million people in the UK with hearing loss*.

To reduce damage, headphone users should choose noise-cancelling on-ear headphones, made popular by the Beats By Dre range or Bose. Currently, just 7% of Brits use this type of headphone.

By far the most common type of headphone used are ear bud headphones without noise-cancelling capabilities (52%), which are available from just a few pounds on the high street and often come free with mobile phones.

The findings have been released as part of Amplifon’s Inside Headphones project that examines how headphones work and what to look for when buying headphones.

Three-quarters of Brits polled in an independent survey for Amplifon said they use headphones everyday. Of these, 75% said they use headphones for more than one hour per day, with 1 in 20 of those polled admitting to using headphones for more than four hours per day.

Barry Downes, Professional Services Manager at Amplifon, explains: “Always use good quality noise-excluding headphones to help keep music listening at a safe level. Key features to look out for are high-fidelity sound reproduction and comfort; another good feature is having the volume limited to a safe level automatically.

“For listening in noisier places, ensure that headphones are capable of excluding ambient noise by fitting very well over the ear or in the ear, as a loose fit will allow background noise to be heard which results in unnecessary and harmful increases in volume so that the noise can’t be heard.”

To find out more information on what to look for when buying a pair of headphones, check out Amplifon’s guide.