I recently bought a Sony headphone which has "bass boost", and I really love it. I love it so much that I increased the bass (low frequencies) on every device I use it on, with like 7db and decreased the overall gain (even on windows I use a system wide equalizer). Which means I'm not really listening to loud music, I don't hear any distortion, and the bass has this really nice humming.

But I heard this is harmful, mainly for the headphone, it will break faster, and it also might damage hearing. Are these true? Should I stop, or I don't really have to worry about it as long as the overall volume is not too big?

These are the settings I use on the windows eq

Preamp: -5 dB
Filter  1: ON  PK       Fc    20,0 Hz  Gain   7,0 dB  Q  1,00
Filter  2: ON  PK       Fc    45,0 Hz  Gain   5,0 dB  Q  1,00
  • 1
    I don't want to advertise or anything, but after a full year of extreme use (average 2 hours a day, mostly with less bass boost listed in the question) the headphone is still playing well, no distortion or anything like that. This is the furthest I could get with a 30$ headphone. – Máthé Endre-Botond Mar 19 '15 at 14:59
  • After two years the chord is starting to break, but still no distortion. Or just my hearing broke down :) – Máthé Endre-Botond Apr 3 '16 at 11:20
  • XB950N/B1's right? Nah i have been using these with a fiio e10k (pretty basic slightly overrated amp/dac combo) at full volume and gain up and they haven't suffered any damage in over 9 months (the only time they start to distort is when i have gain up on really bass heavy songs) edit: Headphone impedance for the 950's is 47 ohms (not sure on the sensitivity) – some random retard on youtube Feb 7 '18 at 21:42

It is true that the sensitivity of our ears varies based on frequency and that high pressure sound can be more damaging without being noticed, but if you are not listening too loud it shouldn't be a problem. You just need to be really careful that it isn't actually too loud. It is possible to damage your hearing without feeling any pain when you are using selective frequencies of sound at high intensity.

This would also be where the wear and tear would come from if the speakers are being driven harder as a result, but in general, low frequency sound is slower/fewer vibrations than high frequency sound, so I would expect that for a given level, playing low frequency sound is probably less wear on the speakers.

  • Correction, actually lo-end is the quickest way to damage speakers/headphones, especially when you extend in into the lower harmonics below 20Hz. It's a matter of physics. The bass driver, and low frequency content, require both more air to push it and more space for the waveform to propagate and develop audibly. The more air the driver is being pushed (read; sound energy), the greater the cone of the driver flexes. Too much flex (and lower-frequency IMD) due to loud volumes can break it. Often that's why when one "blows a monitor" all they hear is tinny qualities from the other driver. – Stavrosound Feb 20 '14 at 21:03
  • High-frequency content is more likely to damage actual hearing, especially if the content is distorted - two sound, at the same volume (even very loud volumes), but one with distortion and the other a cleanly-reproduced signal - the latter will be less damaging to your ears. It's a major reason I dropped The Genelecs I was working with for a pair of JBL LSR 4328s... the Gene's were not good with crisp and transparent highs like glass etc. The JBLs are though, and are not ear-fatiguing at all becuase of the transparency in the highs. – Stavrosound Feb 20 '14 at 21:06
  • @Stavrosound - In terms of hearing damage, any time that you don't have a full spectrum, particularly near the edges of human hearing, you are going to have a higher risk. As for frequencies damaging speakers, if you overdrive at low frequency, I agree, but if it is within the limit of the speaker, then I disagree. Lows have the power to blow the speaker if overdriven, but high frequency sound produces more oscillations. So I guess it is most accurate to say it depends on the circumstance. – AJ Henderson Feb 20 '14 at 21:43

As someone who comes from a sound company, the only way you can be sure that it would negatively effect the headset or headphones in said question is whether it would pass the specification of the speaker or subwoofer in the headphones. Depending on its use and how frequently you push it past it's limit (Mild distortion or blurred sound) is the point where you need to back off.

If the Hz and the power being supplied to the coil in the speaker is good, the signal should not cause distortion which will in turn cause the speaker to "Crackle" or become very "Fuzzy" or "Hazy".

You should be safe. If there are any issues with your headset or headphones, check the specs. Filters can cause distortion. Follow what Starvosound said in a later comment if you run into issues.

A good reference to proper EQ should be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equalization_%28audio%29

Average EQ from Stereo Adjustments


overall i don't think it is an issue.this is a good question to ask Sony support. they designed the headphone. meanwhile, read some more on speaker design, it will help you interpret the response provided by sony.

start here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headphone

edit: sorry misread about your worries about hearing loss. AJ is 100% right on that!


You might damage your headphones quicker by using more low frequency. I wouldn't go very technical but lower frequency requires more speaker motion in lesser time. Just imagine it like always driving tour car in higher rpms. You running more bass will make some difference but not a huge amount of difference in you not running more bass stuff. Do it as you please but also make sure to not go very loud since YOU CAN CAUSE HEARING DAMAGE BY LISTENING TO LOUD SOUNDS. Also if you hear some weird sounds try to back off and if it fixes the problem, this means there is a limit for your headphones. Hope this helps you make the decision.

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