The Reason Why You Can't Get Enough Of Loud Music

When you're a teenager, it might have seemed like only you could appreciate the joys of listening to music with the volume up high. Your parents may have cringed as they walked by and your elder sister perhaps (accidentally) brought down the decibels a little. 

But even as an adult, there's something to be said about how loud music can get your mood going. This is probably why nightclubs and bars capitalize on this and rock concerts and other musical shows have enthusiastic fans swaying to and fro. When you listen to music loud, the vestibular system in your inner ear apparently sends off a positive message to your brain, according to a study published in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, led by psychologist, Neil Todd, per New Scientist. The vestibular system is responsible for balance and spatial orientation. It also picks up on vibrations. 

The sacculus (in particular) found in the vestibular system, is positively stimulated by vibrations above 90 decibels, according to the study (via News 24). And this can release endorphins in your brain, but this isn't the only reason why turning up the volume might be your thing.  

Loud music can bring us together and make us forget our worries

According to a 2017 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, there's something to be said about how loud music can draw people in and make us more social (via Behavioral Scientist). Think about the last time you danced carefree on a dance floor with music blaring through speakers around you. Did you care too much about who was dancing next to you? Probably not. 

The study also found that listening to loud music can help you drown out the world. According to technical and management consultant, independent scholar, lecturer, and inventor of the first commercial digital reverberation system, Barry Blesser (via Reverb), this might be why teenagers go into their rooms, crank up their dials, and stay lost in that altered state. Loud music is "a total highjacking of the senses and your ability to think ... If you're listening to really loud music, you can't think straight. You can't even focus on what you're seeing," explained Blesser. 

Does this mean you should be listening to all your favorite songs at above 90 decibels? Not exactly. Neil Todd's research actually uncovered that the pleasure-inducing effects of loud music can be reaped with 30 decibels too, per The Healthy. Plus, there is reasoning behind why consistently listening to loud music can be bad for your ears and lead to hearing loss.

How loud is too loud?

Listening to music at 80 decibels for 40 hours in a week has negative effects on your hearing, per a study done on adolescents and young adults (via The Conversation). 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that prolonged exposure to over 70 decibels (think gas-powered lawnmowers) can begin damaging your hearing. Anything over 120 decibels will have a more immediate effect. This is probably why sirens or standing next to firecrackers can damage your ears. There's no way around the fact that loud noises really do damage your hearing

Per licensed audiologist, Kathleen Wallace (per Well+Good), hearing loss caused by listening to really loud music is irreversible. "The main hearing organ is the cochlea. When sound waves enter the ear canal, the vibrations they cause are captured by sensory hair cells in the cochlea. The hair cells turn these vibrations into electrical signals which are sent to the brain through the auditory nerve. If the hair cells [vibrate] too much, they lose their responsiveness and die. This reduces your response to auditory stimuli, causing hearing loss," she explained. So while it might be okay to turn up the volume every now and again, you should be careful about consistently exposing your ears to really loud music. Doctor of audiology at the Musicians' Clinics of Canada in Toronto, Marshall Chasin told The Healthy that you should give your ears a break after attending really loud concerts. Perhaps this is the reason why people say too much of a good thing can be bad for you.