How AirPods Pro can protect your hearing at concerts

One of the headlining features of AirPods Pro 2 is something Apple calls Adaptive Transparency mode. This feature builds on the Transparency mode feature Apple introduced with the original AirPods Pro, which let outside sound in, so you can hear what’s going on around you. This feature pairs with improved Active Noise Cancellation, another way to protect your hearing health.

A new report from Highsnobiety this week highlights how AirPods Pro can “benefit your ear health at music festivals.”

Citing data from the World Health Organization, the report says that more than 700 million people around the world will experience “profound hearing loss by 2050.” Some of this is due almost entirely to exposure to loud music at festivals and concerts.

“Generally, EDM (electronic dance music) festivals can sit between 100-120 dB, which, over several days at a festival like Glastonbury or Boomtown, can have adverse effects on our hearing,” the report explains. For context, Apple says that the following noise levels and exposure times can lead to temporary or even long-term hearing loss:

  • 80 db: Around 5 hours and 30 minutes a day
  • 85 dB: Around 1 hour and 45 minutes a day
  • 90 dB: Around 30 minutes a day
  • 95 dB: Just 10 minutes a day
  • 100 dB: Even a few minutes a day

This report focuses primarily on Active Noise Cancellation, which can reduce sound by up to 23 db. Highsnobiety has found this to “make a huge difference” at loud festivals:

Using the AirPods Pro, you can reduce sound by 23 dB, making loud environments much safer for extended periods through the use of Active Noise Cancelling. Moreover, couple this with an Apple Watch, and you can receive alerts when you’re in damagingly loud environments.

As someone that extends several festivals throughout the summer, I’ve become more attuned to the risks to our hearing health, as such, I’ve put the Air PodsPro to the test against a heavy sound system akin to a needle against the eardrum and can safety safe it makes a huge difference.

But there’s one more thing that AirPods Pro 2 offer that can also help protect your hearing at festivals and concerts: Adaptive Transparency Mode. This feature reduces loud environmental noise while still allowing outside sound to pass in to your ears. Apple cites a few examples for when this feature might be useful, such as a “passing vehicle siren, construction tools, or even loud speakers at a concert.”

Speaking to 9to5Mac, Tim Toda, a photographer and producer who has spent much of the last year on tour with Coldplay, explained how he’s already found AirPods Pro 2 useful at concerts and soundchecks:

Adaptive transparency mode is pretty incredible even in a concert setting. I’ve only used it a handful of times during a concert/soundcheck for work, but it seems like the AirPods Pro filter the noise really cleanly.

You can noticeably tell a difference between your naked ears and wearing your AirPods. It’s quite strange because your brain is telling you it should sound incredibly loud, but you’re hearing sound that is completely bearable.

Last but not least, Apple Watch also offers multiple different features for measuring ambient decibel levels. You can check ambient decibel levels by opening the Noise app on your Apple Watch. The Noise app can also send you notifications when your Apple Watch detects that you’ve been in a loud environment for an extended period of time.

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