Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer

Narrative Review

Vol. 11 No. 2 (2008)

Loud Music Listening

  • Nicolae Petrescu
November 3, 2020


Over the past four decades, there has been increasing interest in the effects of music listening on hearing. The purpose of this paper is to review published studies that detail the noise levels, the potential effects (e.g. noise-induced hearing loss), and the perceptions of those affected by music exposure in occupational and non-occupational settings. The review employed Medline, PubMed, PsychINFO, and the World Wide Web to find relevant studies in the scientific literature. Considered in this review are 43 studies concerning the currently most significant occupational sources of highintensity music: rock and pop music playing and employment at music venues, as well as the most significant sources of non-occupational high-intensity music: concerts, dicotheques (clubs), and personal music players. Although all of the activities listed above have the potential for hearing damage, the most serious threat to hearing comes from prolonged exposures to amplified live music (concerts). The review concludes that more research is needed to clarify the hearing loss risks of music exposure from personal music players and that current scientific literature clearly recognizes an unmet hearing health need for more education regarding the risks of loud music exposure and the benefits of wearing hearing protection, for more hearing protection use by those at risk, and for more regulations limiting music intensity levels at music entertainment venues.


  1. May JJ. Occupational hearing loss. Am J Indust Med 2000; 37:112-20.
  2. Consensus National Conference. Noise and hearing loss. JAMA 1990; 263:3185-90.
  3. Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety [homepage on the Internet]. Hamilton: The Centre; c2007. [updated 2007 Mar 19; cited 2007 May 20]. Available from:
  5. American Academy of Audiology [homepage on the Internet]. Reston: The Academy; c2007 [updated 2003; cited 2007 May 20]. Available from:
  6. documents/positions/Hearingconservation/
  7. Clark WW. Noise exposure from leisure activities: A review. J Acoust Soc Am 1991;90(1):175-81.
  8. Clark WW, Bohne BA. The effects of noise on hearing and the ear. Med Times. 1984 122, 17-22.
  9. Stormer CC, Stenklev NC. Rock music and Hearing Disorders. Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen. 2007 Mar 29; 127(7):874-7.
  10. [homepage on the Internet]. San Francisco: Hearing Education and Awareness Rockers, Inc.; c1991-2006 [cited 2007 May 20]. Available from:
  11. Dey F. Auditory fatigue and predicted permanent hearing defects from rock and roll music. N Eng J Med 1970;282(9):467-70.
  12. Luz GA, Fletcher JL, Fravel WJ, Mosko JD. The relation between TTS and PTS in rhesus monkeys exposed to impulse noise. Acta Otolaryngol Suppl (Stockh) 1973;Suppl 312:5-15.
  13. DavisAC, Fortnum HM, Coles RRA, HaggardMP, LutmanME. Damage to hearing from leisure noise:Areview of the literature. MRC Institute of Research. Nottingham, 1985.
  14. Kahari K, Zachau G, Eklof M, Sandsjo L, Moller C. Assessment of hearing and hearing disorders in rock/jazz musicians. Int J Audiol 2003;42:279-288.
  15. Schmuziger N, Patscheke J, Probst R. Hearing in nonprofessional pop/rock musicians. Ear Hear. 2006 Aug;27(4):321-30.
  16. Axelsson A, Eliasson A, Israelsson B. Hearing in pop/rock musicians: a follow-up study. Ear Hear. 1995 Jun;16(3):245-53.
  17. Yassi A, Pollock N, Tran N, Cheang M. Risks to hearing from a rock concert. Can Fam Physician. 1993 May;39;1045-50.
  18. Opperman DA. Reifman W. Schlauch R. Levine S. Incidence of spontaneous hearing threshold shifts during modern concert performances. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2006 Apr
  19. (4):667-73.
  20. Teie PU. Noise-induced hearing loss and symphony orchestra musicians: risk factors, effects, and management. Md Med J. 1998 Jan;47(1):13-8.
  21. Jansson E, Karlsson K. Sound levels recorded within the symphony orchestra and risk criteria for hearing loss. Scand Audiol 1983;12(3):215-21.
  22. McBride D, Gill F, Proops D, Harrington M, Gardiner K, Attwell C. Noise and the classical musician. BMJ. 1992 Dec 19- 26;305(6868):1561-3.
  23. Royster JD, Royster LH, Killion MC. Sound exposures and hearing thresholds in symphony orchestra musicians. J Acoust Soc Am. 1991 Jun;89(6):2793-803.
  24. Ostri B. Eller N. Dahlin E. Skylv G. Hearing impairment in orchestral musicians. Scand Audiol. 1989;18(4):243-9.
  25. Kahrari KR, Axelsson A, Hellstrom PA, Zachau G. Hearing development in classical orchestral musicians. A follow-up study. Scand Audiol. 2001;30(3):141-9.
  26. Karlsson K, Lindquist PG, Olaussen T. The hearing of symphony orchestra musicians. Scand Audiol. 1983;12(4);257-64.
  27. Bray A, Szymanski M, Mills R. Noise induced hearing loss in dance music disc jockeys and an examination of sound levels in nightclubs. J Otolaryngol Otol. 2004 Feb; 118(2):124-8.
  28. Gunderson E, Moline J, Catalano P. Risks of developing noise-induced hearing loss in employees of urban music clubs. Am J Ind Med. 1997 Jan; 31(1):75-9.
  29. Sadhra S, Jackson CA, Ryder T, Brown MJ. Noise exposure and hearing loss among student employees working in university entertainment venues. Ann Occup Hyg. 2002 Jul; 46(5):455-63.
  30. Mercier V, Hohmann BW. Is ElectronicallyAmplifiedMusic too Loud? What do Young People Think? Noise Health. 2002;4(16):47-55.
  31. Eggemann C, Koester M, Zorowka P. [Hearing loss due to leisure time noise is on the rise. The ear also needs a rest period] MMW Fortschr Med. 2002 Dec 5;144(49):30-3.
  32. Barry JP, Thomas IB. A clinical study to evaluate rock music, symphonic music and noise as sources of acoustic trauma. JAud Eng Soc 1972;20:271-4.
  33. Fearn RW. Level limits of music. J Sound Vib 1975;43:588-91.
  34. Ulrich RF, Pinheiro ML. Temporary hearing losses in teenagers attending repeated rock-and-roll sessions. Acta Otolaryngol 1974;77:51-55.
  35. Clark WW, Bohne BA. Temporary hearing losses following attendance at a rock concert. J Acoust Soc Am Suppl 1.1986;79:S48.
  36. Danenberg MA, Loos-Cosgrove M, and LoVerde M. Temporary hearing loss and rock music. Lang Speech Hear Serv Schools 1987;18:267-74.
  37. Metternich FU, Brusis T. [Acute hearing loss and tinnitus caused by amplified recreational music] Larnygorhinootologie 1999 Nov;78(11):614-9.
  38. Bogoch I, House RA, Kudla I. Perceptions about hearing protection and noise-induced hearing loss of attendees of rock concerts. Can J Public Health. 2005 Jan-Feb;96(1):69-72.
  39. Chung JH, Des Roches DM, Meunier J, Eavey RD. Evaluation of noise-induced hearing loss in young people using a webbased survey technique. Pediatrics. 2005 Apr;115(4):861-7.
  40. Meyer-Bisch C. Epidemiological evaluation of hearing damage related to strongly amplified music (personal cassette players, dicotheques, rock concerts)—high definition audiometric survey on 1364 subjects. Audiology. 1996 May-Jun;35(3):121-42.
  41. Hanson DR, Fearn RW. Hearing acuity in young people exposed to pop music and other noise. Lancet. 1975 Aug 2;2(7927):203-5.
  42. Weichbold V, Zorowka P. [Effect of information about hearing damage caused by loud music. For adolescents the music in discoteques is too loud despite loudness limits]. HNO. 2002 Jun;50(6):560-4. German.
  43. Weichbold V, Zorowka P. Effects of a hearing protection campaign on the discotheque attendance habits of high-school students. Int J Audiol. 2003 Dec;42(8):489-93.
  44. Weichbold V, Zorowka P. [Will adolescents visit discotheque less often if sound levels of music are decreased?]. HNO. 2005 Oct;53(10):845-8, 850-1. German.
  45. ClarkWW, Bohne BA. Effects of noise on hearing. JAMA. 1999 May 5;281(17):1658-9.
  46. Lee PC, Senders CW, Gantz BJ, Otto SR. Transient sensorineural hearing loss after overuse of portable headphone cassette radios. Otolaryng Head Neck Surg. 1985;93:625-33.
  47. Hellstrom PA, Axelsson A, Costa O. Temporary threshold shift induced by music. Scandinavian Audiology. 1998;48:87-94.
  48. Mostafapour SP, Lahargoue K, Gates GA. Noise-induced hearing loss in young adults: the role of personal listening devices and other sources of leisure noise. Laryngoscope 1998 Dec;108(12):1832-9.
  49. Turunen-Rise I, Flottop G, Tvete O. Personal cassette players (‘Walkman’). Do they cause noise-induced hearing loss? Scand Audiol 1991;20:239-44.
  50. Buffe P, Cudennec YF, Ben Azzouz M, Bassoumi T, Ferron JJ. Survey on the harmfulness of listening to music with headphones. Ann Otolaryngol Chir Cervicofac. 1986;103(5):351-5.
  51. [homepage on the Internet]. San Francisco: Hearing Education and Awareness Rockers, Inc.; c1991-2007 [cited 2007 May 19]. Available from:
  52. Crandell C, Mills TL, Gauthier R. Knowledge, behaviours, and attitudes about hearing loss and hearing protection among racial/ethnically diverse young adults. Journal of The National
  53. Medical Association. 2004:96(2):176-86.
  54. Kuwano S, Namba S, Florentine M, Zheng D, Hashimoto T. Factor analysis of the timber of noise-comparison of the data obtained in three different laboratories. Proc Acoust Soc Japan.
  55. N92-4-3, 559-60.
  56. Calvert DR, Clark WW. The Social Noise Phenomenon: Newsnotes. Central Institute for the Deaf. St. Louis, 1983.
  57. FlorentineM, HunterW, RobinsonM, BallouM, Buus S. On the behavoiural characteristics of loud-music listening. Ear Hear. 1998;19(6):420-8.53. Spoor A, Passchier-Vermeer W.
  58. Spread in hearing levels of non-noise exposed people at various ages. Int J Audiol. 1969; 8(2):328-36.
  59. Folmer RL, Griest SE, Martin WH. Hearing conservation education programs for children: A review. J Sch Health. 2002;72(2):51-7.


Download data is not yet available.