The Silent Danger of Noise-canceling Headphones - Latest Global News

The Silent Danger of Noise-canceling Headphones

Noise canceling headphones Provide a tech brother’s solution to the world of sound. You view everything in your natural environment as “noise” that can be suppressed so you can listen exclusively to your devices. The technology is generally considered good for your ears because it reduces the overall noise level you are exposed to. But while noise-cancelling headphones are good for our hearing, it’s a myth that the technology is actually good for us.

Online forums are full of people complaining about it Ear pain, nauseaAnd Headache of noise canceling headphones. These forums mostly share the same conspiracy theory: that it’s active noise cancellation (ANC). dangerous because it puts damaging pressure on your eardrums. However, that is not entirely true either. According to David McAlpine, academic director of Macquarie University Hearing, there is a simpler explanation: not hearing your surroundings is unnatural.

According to McAlpine, noise-canceling headphones reduce the volume that reaches your ears, which is good for your hearing. Using ANC probably means you don’t have to drown out background noise by listening to music at high volumes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says listening to loud noises for long periods of time can cause this hard of hearing.

However, reducing noise too much can be dangerous. McAlpine says your brain overcompensates for ANC by increasing its internal gain. He says this causes “hearing loss” because working with increased sensitivity changes your neural pathways. McAlpine wrote an article in 2011 He coined the term “hidden hearing loss” to refer to our brain’s inability to process sounds, rather than our ears’ inability to hear them.

“When you have hearing loss, it’s like changing the coding of your brain,” McAlpine said in an interview. “Even if you can change what you hear, you may not go back to the brain state you had before. It’s not reversible.”

McAlpine describes what happens when people enter his university’s anechoic chamber, a virtually silent environment. He says people feel disoriented and describe pressure in the head and ears. The sensations are remarkably similar to using ANC. The common denominator is that your body is not designed to experience complete silence, so people react poorly without background noise. There is a discrepancy between what you experience and what you hear.

“Intense noises damage your hearing, so there are situations where noise-cancelling headphones are beneficial,” McAlpine said. “At the same time, background noise – features of the soundscape – are crucial for orientation in an environment.”

A 2012 study by McAlpine’s co-author “Hidden Hearing Loss” asked 17 subjects to wear earplugs for a week. Eleven participants developed tinnitus, a common condition in which someone perceives a ringing or buzzing sound with no external source. The study showed that audio deprivation can affect how your brain processes sound, even if your ears are intact. However, the condition disappeared after the subjects removed their earplugs. So you shouldn’t worry that your noise canceling headphones will cause tinnitus in the long term.

So while ANC may be good for your ears, it could be affecting your brain’s ability to hear. The truth is that there is a trade-off every time you use ANC. They hear the world with a different sensitivity, what McAlpine calls an “altered gain state.” If you spend enough time in this state, it can be difficult for your brain to “hear” at normal volume levels.

“I do believe that we have allowed big tech to take our listening habits, monetize them and sell them back to us,” McAlpine said. “Your solution to the hearing problem is probably to create a hearing problem.”

Origins of the myth

There are a few myths surrounding noise-cancelling headphones. The first comes from Big Tech, who claim that noise-canceling headphones are your solution to the noisy world. As McAlpine says, they solve one problem through another, an all-too-familiar strategy in the tech industry.

The second myth is that ANC is somehow bad for your ears. Wirecutter’s testing found that it uses Apple Airpods and other popular headphones Reduced noise by approximately 10 dBwhich may not be as effective as they claim, but still better than nothing.

ANC works by emitting a sound wave that is the exact opposite of the noise in your surroundings. The two waves of the environment and the headphones effectively neutralize each other, resulting in the artificial silence you love so much.

However, it is understandable to believe that something that hurts your ears is bad for your ears. And the myth is rooted in a truth. If you find ANC painful in any way, the technology could be interfering with your brain’s perception of your surroundings and triggering a kind of instinctive discomfort.

Why it is ubiquitous

Noise-canceling headphones have become widespread in our society as the modern world becomes increasingly noisy. Cars, airplanes, construction and electronics contribute to a much noisier world than our ancestors. Likewise, our hearing problems are getting worse as our brains and ears struggle to keep up with changing times.

The problem that noise-canceling headphones are designed to solve is a serious one. Noise pollution has been associated with higher rates Cardiovascular disease, and it is increasingly recognized as a harmful pollutant, similar to air and light. Additionally, other studies have found that noise-cancelling headphones can be helpful Improve your focus.

So we are left with a compromise. Noise-canceling headphones can protect your ears, but continuous use can affect your brain’s ability to hear. Ideally, you should only use noise-canceling headphones when exposed to excessive noise. They’re probably a good idea on trains and planes or in a noisy city. However, if you are in a quiet environment, it may be better to just listen to the world around you.

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