Yes, being at the Grateful Dead concert at Soldier Field was even better than expected and a true “life experience.” But it was loud…really loud. So loud, in fact, that thousands of people left with their ears still ringing hours later and many will have permanent, unrecoverable and irreversible hearing damage.
So, how loud is too loud?
Sound is measured in decibels (dB). Zero decibels (0dB) is almost silence and is the softest sound the human ear hears. The greater the dB, the louder the sound.
But, it also depends on how long
As a rule of thumb, the louder the dB, the less time you can let your ears be exposed.
How Loud and How Long
30dB – a whisper: No limit
60dB – normal conversation, background music: No limit
80dB – alarm clock, garbage disposal: 8 hours
85dB – city traffic, snow blower: 4 hours
90dB – lawn mower, motorcycle: 2 hours
95dB – subway train, food processor: 1 hour
100dB – jet takeoff, motorcycle: ½ hour
105dB – sporting event: 15 minutes
110dB – blaring car horn, average rock band: 7.5 minutes
115dB – ambulance siren: 3.75 minutes
120dB – chainsaw, air raid siren: 1.87 minutes – LEVEL OF PHYSICAL PAIN
The Grateful Dead registered an average of 99dB on a sound level meter. According to the above chart, you can be exposed to 99dB for ½ hour without permanent damage to your ears and hearing. The Grateful Dead concert was 5 hours.
It only takes one loud, prolonged sound to change the way you’ll ever hear the music again.
-Dr. Ronna Fisher, Au.D., Founder and President