Could a pair of headphone ‘bug out’ and deafen someone?

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The question I am wondering, is firstly are headphones even capable of producing noise loud enough to deafen or impair someone’s hearing? If so, there is the potential that a pair of headphones could ‘bug’ and suddenly begin outputting max possible noise (louder than just maxing out volume normally)? I have never heard any stories of this kind of thing happening, so I was curious.

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Could a pair of headphone feafen someone? Likely. Do so because the headphone itself fucks up? Unlikely.

Headphone produce sound by vibrating a membrane. To do so, they use the electricity that is provided to them by whatever device asks them to produce sound. They just relay the electricity corresponding to the frequency given by the other device.

Funnily enough, this mean that even if the headphone itself is failing, it shouldn’t be able to produce something much louder than the amount of electricity it receive. What could happen though is if the device sending electricity itself is failing. Then you could have perfectly working headphone sending tremendous sound. At that point the question becomes: can the membrane resist these vibration without rupturing. And that I don’t know. Though I believe the right solution would be to specifically make the membrane too weak to resist vibrations that could deafen.

They absolutely can get loud enough to make your ears ring and cause mild, but progressively worse, hearing loss over a period of years. People do it to themselves all the time.

Enough to rupture an eardrum or cause substantial immediate damage? Not really. They’d quit working quite rapidly if you tried to drive them sufficiently loudly, probably letting out some smoke in the process. Once you’re driving them with enough power that the speaker element no longer moves freely, more and more of the energy gets turned into heat instead of sound. Eventually it gets hot enough to either melt the coil/the insulation on the wires or cause the permanent magnet to no longer be magnetic.

This is why sound systems designed to simulate noises like jet engines have to use a very large number of ridiculously large speakers.

im not sure about random bug outs but i did accidentally hook up my cans to a new source which basically double amplified it, i happened to be on a head full of LSD at the time and forgot to turn it down so when i hit play to continue from where i was listening i was smashed in the ears with the full volume that it could give and ye gods is it ever loud (Audeze, Planar mag drivers are something else, a wonderful way to wreck your hearing if there is one)

since then i noticed i have slight tinnitus in my right ear, i cant say 100% that that incident was the cause of it as i know well that i have a serious problem with the volume i listen at in general which is likely a contributing factor (especially as im using them all day at work)

I’d say pretty much impossible for it to get to the point it would get instantly harmful.

Sound is perceived logarithmically. Meaning putting twice the amount of power into producing sound doesn’t sound twice as loud, but just a bit louder. So to cause quick, serious damage, you’d need to pump in a *lot* more power than the headphones normally work at.

This is combined with that electronics are built precisely — the headphones are designed for human hearing, and no company out there is going to put parts that can produce 500X the amount of the intended power just because. That takes extra room and costs extra money and has no benefit. All modern electronics are built to be barely good enough to do what they promise on the box, sometimes less than that. Also of course no company wants expensive lawsuits, and there exist laws about limiting maximum volumes.

Limits can be exceeded for a very short time period, but that’d be extremely unlikely to cause permanent damage before something gets fried.