Tech

Your iPhone can tell you if you're hurting your ears by listening to music too loud — here's how

Key Points
  • Your iPhone can tell you if you're listening to music too loud in your headphones.
  • If you are, you might want to consider noise-cancelling headphones, which help block out background noise so you can listen to music at lower volumes.
  • Here's how to find out.
Apple AirPods Pro
Todd Haselton | CNBC

Your iPhone has a built-in feature that can tell you if you're listening to music too loud. It's part of iOS 13, but is also featured in Apple's latest Apple Watch software, which can identify if you're in really loud areas for too long.

The iPhone feature I'll show you is specific to headphone volume and will show you if you're playing your tunes a little too loud.

Here's how to check:

  • Open the Health app on your iPhone.
  • Tap Browse on the lower-right side of the screen.
  • Choose Hearing.
  • Select "Headphone Audio Levels."

Your iPhone will show a summary that looks like this:

See if you're listening to music too loud on your headphones using an iPhone.
Steve Kovach | CNBC

The data is pulled from any headphones you use. My list showed some Bose headphones I've connected, and various Beats and Apple headphones I've used. You can toggle the top of the screen to show hourly, daily, weekly, monthly and yearly averages for how loud your headphones were playing. Mine averaged out to 78dB in 2019. My editor's, in the picture above, was 69dB, even better.

Per World Health Organization recommendations by Apple when I wrote a similar story on the feature in Apple Watches, here's the maximum safe level for listening to sound via headphones:

  • 80 decibels for no longer than five hours per day.
  • 85 decibels for no more than two hours per day.
  • 90 decibels for no more than 30 minutes per day.
  • 95 decibels for no more than 10 minutes per day.
  • 100 decibels for no more than three minutes per day.

My editor noticed that his dB level dropped to an even safer level after he upgraded to the AirPods Pro, which have noice-cancelling. Because of that feature, he's able to listen to music at lower levels, instead of at max in an effort to drown out background noise on the subway. If your levels are too high, you might consider doing the same.

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