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J Audiol Otol. 2018 Jul;22(3):140-147. English. Original Article.
Shim H , Lee S , Koo M , Kim J .
Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, Graduate School, Hallym University, Chuncheon, Korea.
Division of Speech Pathology and Audiology, Research Institute of Audiology and Speech Pathology, College of Natural Sciences, Hallym University, Chuncheon, Korea.

Background and Objectives

To prevent noise induced hearing losses caused by listening to music with personal listening devices for young adults, this study was aimed to measure output levels of an MP3 and to identify preferred listening levels (PLLs) depending on earphone types, music genres, and listening durations.

Subjects and Methods

Twenty-two normal hearing young adults (mean=18.82, standard deviation=0.57) participated. Each participant was asked to select his or her most PLLs when listened to Korean ballade or dance music with an earbud or an over-the-ear earphone for 30 or 60 minutes. One side of earphone was connected to the participant's better ear and the other side was connected to a sound level meter via a 2 or 6 cc-couplers. Depending on earphone types, music genres, and listening durations, loudness A-weighted equivalent (LAeq) and loudness maximum time-weighted with A-frequency sound levels in dBA were measured.


Neither main nor interaction effects of the PLLs among the three factors were significant. Overall output levels of earbuds were about 10-12 dBA greater than those of over-the-ear earphones. The PLLs were 1.73 dBA greater for earbuds than over-the-ear earphones. The average PLL for ballad was higher than for dance music. The PLLs at LAeq for both music genres were the greatest at 0.5 kHz followed by 1, 0.25, 2, 4, 0.125, 8 kHz in the order.


The PLLs were not different significantly when listening to Korean ballad or dance music as functions of earphone types, music genres, and listening durations. However, over-the-ear earphones seemed to be more suitable to prevent noise induce hearing loss when listening to music, showing lower PLLs, possibly due to isolation from the background noise by covering ears.

Copyright © 2019. Korean Association of Medical Journal Editors.