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I've recently got hooked to listening to white noise at work because it helps me focus amidst all the noise. I use the brown noise generator from SimplyNoise for this. I was trying to measure if it was safe to actually listen to noise for around 6-7 hours a day.

For evaluating this, pretty much the only references I've found was that listening to noise at 64dB for 6-7 hours a day is considered "safe" which lead me down this road.

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Extracted form Apple's Store In-Ear Headphone's overview:

Technical Specifications

  • Frequency response: 5Hz to 21kHz
  • Impedance (at 100Hz): 23 ohms
  • Sensitivity (at 100Hz): 109 dB SPL/mW
  • Drivers: Custom two-way balanced armature (woofer and tweeter in each earpiece)

If you are using the regular Earphones, although I couldn't find any official technical specs, it's dB output would be lower than the In-Ear's, something like 103 dB.

And for the safe decibels, just remember that:

  • A typical conversation occurs at 60 dB – not loud enough to cause damage.
  • A bulldozer that is idling (note that this is idling, not actively bulldozing) is loud enough at 85 dB that it can cause permanent damage after only 1 work day (8 hours).
  • When listening to a personal music system with stock earphones at a maximum volume, the sound generated can reach a level of over 100 dBA, loud enough to begin causing permanent damage after just 15 minutes per day!
  • A clap of thunder from a nearby storm (120 dB) or a gunshot (140-190 dB, depending on weapon), can both cause immediate damage.
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Thanks! I listen at about 30% of the max volume. Should be ok? –  Tejaswi Yerukalapudi Aug 15 '12 at 17:06
    
Well, if it's roughly 100 dB at maximum volume, you could safely reach to 50%. 30% is perfect, though, if thats enough for you. –  Thecafremo Aug 15 '12 at 18:21

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