The COVID crisis has resulted in a lot of us spending much more time indoors. And that means that playing music out loud on the speakers at home is not really an option – there are other people in the house. Coming to the rescue are your ears’ chums, those trusty earphones, which you can jam into (or onto) your ears and drown out the world outside with music or audio from your latest rerun of Friends or whatever. You do not have to worry about the volume too much either, as hey, it’s just between you and your buds, right?
Well, not quite. Pumping up the volume can be injurious to health. Even while you are drowning in sound, you could literally be going deaf. Listening to music (or any other sound) at a very high volume can damage hearing. Which takes us to that question which is asked in just about every context, from binge-watching to binge eating: just how much is too much? How do you know if your trip to Lalaland on your earphones will affect your hearing?
Three words: Ask your iPhone (or iPad).
No, do not ask Siri (that would be cool, though – think of it, Apple). The iPhone comes with a feature that keeps an eye (or an ear) on the volume of sound that comes on earphones connected to it, and iOS 14 has made it even better. You just need to dig it out a little. Here is how you go about it:
How to know if your earphones are too loud?
Step 1: Go to Settings
Yes, head off to good old Settings. That’s where all the important stuff happens.
Step 2: Do not go to Bluetooth, go to Control Center
A lot of folks might think if we want to find out how loud our earphones, we should look up the earphones in the Bluetooth section in Settings (where they are listed like kids in a classroom). Wrong move! Head to Control Centre (it is just below General).
Step 3: Select Hearing
Once in the Control Center, you will see a number of apps and features grouped under Included Controls and More Controls. In More Controls, find Hearing (the options are arranged alphabetically) and tap on the green “+” icon next to it. This should move it to the Included Controls list.
Step 4: Pair earphones, play some music
Right, now you need to pair earphones with your iPhone (NOW you can go to Bluetooth and do so). And play some music or anything that has sound in it.
Step 5: Head to Control Centre and check Hearing
With the music in your ears, all you need to do is swipe down from the top right to access Control Centre. And there you will see the Hearing icon (it’s an ear), with the volume level shown in bars just below it. If the bars are green, the volume level is acceptable. If it is yellow, it is dangerous. For a more detailed look, just tap on the icon, and you will get a magnified view of the volume bars, as well as the names of the headphones, as well as the decibel count. If it is too loud, just turn it down until it reaches that green zone.
Step 6: Need more? Head to Health
If you need more long-term data on your earphone usage, then head to the “Health” app on your iPhone. Choose the “Browse” tab on the base of the app, select “Hearing” (it is just above “heart”). The very first option you will see is “Headphone Audio Levels.” Select it and you will be drowned with into on your earphone usage, including average audio levels over the week, whether you are hearing at higher or lower levels. And if you need STILL more data, scroll all the way down and choose “Show All Data” and you will get day by day volume level details. Cool? Well, yes, or disturbing, depending on how loud your audio has been.
Of course, this works with all earphones and headphones, but the AirPods and AirPods Pro are supposed to deliver better results (of course), and well, it works with iOS 14, so update them iPhones and iPads already. The next time you go surfing on those audio waves, and you feel that the sound might be a little be too loud, just check on your iPhone. It has got an eye on your ears!