You waited for the movie premier and it’s finally here. But have you thought about how the loud volume levels at the movie theater will affect your hearing? According to a study by researchers at the University of Hawaii, some movie theaters displayed films with peak volumes of about 130 decibels. While sound levels were not as high throughout the movies, scenes depicting explosions, gun fights, and car chases had high sound levels peaking at 130 decibels. To put this in perspective, this sound level is equivalent to that which you would experience a jet is taking off and you are standing 100 meters away from the jet.
The results of this study show that it is possible to suffer hearing loss from watching a single movie at a movie theater. In fact, if you leave the theater with a ringing in your ears, it could be early signs of hearing loss.
Not Just the High Sound Levels
Health experts advise avoiding sound levels of over 80db. A normal conversation is about 60 to 70 decibels. Most movie theaters have sound levels ranging between 74 and 104 decibels. Many people will play their home theaters at around 85 decibels. While these sound levels seem safer than 130 decibels, it is not just the sound levels that contribute to hearing loss but also the length of your exposure to the sounds.
According to health experts, exposure to sound levels of about 85 decibels for eight hours or less is safe. However, you can begin to experience hearing loss for exposure to sound levels of 88 decibels for more than four hours. Hearing loss may be experienced due to exposure to noise levels of 91 decibels for more than two hours. If your movie achieves sound levels of 100 decibels, you may experience damage to your hearing after only 15 minutes of exposure.
As a rule of thumb, if you can’t have a normal conversation with the person seated next to you, the volume is probably too high.