I used a few of those SPL meter apps, not sure how accurate they are, but they were showing around 85-90dB at my desired listening level, way too loud, although it sounds SO good, but it’s definitely damaging long-term. I’ve made a concerted effort to get it under 80 but then I find it definitely doesn’t sound as good anymore… Such a dilemma but hearing health is ultimately much more important than short term enjoyment.
This is what I like the most about SRH1540. I’m not a headbanger myself but these cans have a scooped mids presentation with a lot of warm, so you can still do some clinical listening at low volumes – not that most of heavy metal has clinical features anyway.
I’ll give it a go in some of your list. Maybe I find something to my taste.
Here’s a quick ‘n’ dirty methodology I use for leveling the volume of my headphones:
70% of Windows volume – always controlled by keyboard;
Launch a white noise WAV file I have and adjust the gain/volume knobs in my amps until 85 dBA is achieved.
You could use a decibel meter app for the above. After all, you just need a reference. Taking one example from your previous post:
At 2’, close to the solo part, my Windows volume was at 40% with the SRH1540. Higher than that, it not only gets uncomfortable but the Shure itself starts to distort to the point there’s a spaghetti of frequencies. Not sure if this is the song, my DAC, the Shure itself, or a combination of all three. The meter was spiking 83 dB for the micro dynamics.
Comfortable listening level was 30% for that particular song. But remember, this was to my system. Everyone’s reference is different. Same deal with HD600 (more mid forward / neutral). 30% was OK to me.
That was a very aggressive song by the way, melody wise. It’s heavy metal, right?
Very happy to find this thread! I recently acquired a Feliks Euforia AE and seem to have developed a bit of Tinnitus after the first week of listening. I have a meter on the way and have reviewed the proper way to measure based on this thread. I just want to confirm one thing: @Torq and @TylersEclectic I saw the guidance to put the meter in one earcup where there ear canal would be but I want to confirm if it’s necessary to seal off the rest of the cup opening as it would be on your head? Or is just putting the meter there enough? I saw some had done some with cardboard or other methods? Would love come clarification.
I use this. Cut out a circle large enough that covers all my headphones ear pads to seal them. Then cut a small circle with some gorilla tape on the inside. The gorilla tape adds some grip to the metal on the reader. The circle can be taken off and put away with the reader when you’re done. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!
Affordable and gets the job done. I check occasionally to see where I’m at with my listing levels and stay around 75-77 average. Occasionally it’ll peak 85ish or less. Classic rock can get me occasionally lol.
They are (supposedly) calibrated out of the box. There is a sensitivity switch I never touched it, btw. Hopefully I haven’t.
I’m sure if one wants to get serious about it, there are products out there with a calibration certificate and the possibility to commit for follow-up calibrations down the road.
On a separate note on the cheap ones, I feel they have a poor sampling size. E.g.: you hear a hard note of a song and it takes a while (latency) to display in the meter. But I’m sure this somehow it’s embedded in the price.
A rough estimate is enough for me. YMMV.
A question for me though would be: what hurts ears more, the average SPL or the peaks
I did the exact same thing. After measuring I’m pretty sure what go me was combo of things mentioned here to avoid. I installed a new pair of 5998 power tubes and sat down with a a nice glass of whiskey to enjoy them. Volume nob was mostly at 10 with a occasional drift up to close to noon on the Euforia. Measuring that now 10 is around 80 - 90db and noon is closer to 100. it was that one listening session that did it for me as it was as few hours. Being newer to high end headphones the one thing I’m still getting used to is the complete lack of distortion at higher volumes. It’s much harder (for me anyway) to discern I’m listening too loudly without that. The Empyrean especially seems to be able to take a crazy amount of power without distorting.
I was also used to my A90 with three gain switches, the Euforia just has the nob and small turns there boost the volume very rapidly.
My ears are already getting better and I’m confident I’ve not done permeant damage. Again I appreciate having this thread as a great place to learn.
Do the makers say anything about sticking your probe through cardboard? [Ugg, that’s a thing in other domains too. The photos above are…evocative…] Without knowing otherwise, I’m concerned about reflections and falsely elevated dB readings. Skin and hair seem soft and dampening versus cardboard. Some frequencies may respond differently to cardboard.
In the past I just shoved my phone mic into headphone cups to estimate dBs. This involves centering the mic in the cup, and inserting it about 1/2" or 1 cm below the edge of the pad. This method results in consistent reading across about half a dozen different iPhone dB meter apps – but the accuracy is unconfirmed.
There is nothing in the manual for my meter about this. I also have Decibel X Pro on a Samsung phone. Without calibration its consistently 6-10db lower than my dedicated meter. Without the cardboard the meter is 5-8 db lower when just held up to the earcup.