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(Tucked away) In the comments to a a related question we were being told

Headsets should ALWAYS be worn OUTSIDE your ear. Never ever put anything inside.

Yet, many colleagues claim that (my beloved) B&O are not the run-of-the-mill in-ear devices since they have their very own EaseFit™ ear-hook design. However, they are being sold as in-ear devices (and, as such, would of course be a potential health hazard).

I am not sure about it but since quite a few colleagues have now switched to B&O I was wondering if it made sense to bump this one up a bit.

asked 29 Apr '12, 10:05

Tanja's gravatar image


retagged 06 May '12, 00:33

msr's gravatar image


Personal opinion: I d be extremely cautious to use in ear earphones (sometimes called IEM, in ear monitors) and ear buds in the booth for a long period of time. Some say that in ear buds and in-ear headsets the sound emitting membrane is too close to the ear and can be more dangerous.

Hearing damage CAN happen from too loud sounds, but what is too loud? According to this source ( listening to a Walkman on 5 out of 10 volume setting can bring the sound up to 94dB. If you do it for 6 hours, it will be at the limit of the OSHA Daily Permissible Noise Level Exposure (94dB as well), if you do it for 8 hours, the safe threshold will go down to 90dB6 so you will be exceeding the safe limit. NIOSH standards are even more stringent: 86dBA and 85dBA respectively. So I definitely would not recommend listening to music for so long at these levels every day.

Comfortable voice levels in a headset vary but in my very crude measurements of headset voice levels the average level of conference speakers is about 67dB with peaks of up to 75 dB. The problem may occur if there is mic feedback or a fallen microphone (yes, it happens too), then the sound level may exceed safe limits and may even result in temporary if not permanent hearing loss. This is where the distance between the sound emitting membrane and the eardrum becomes critical, as well as the type of headset. With in-ear earphones or ear buds (they essentially “plug” your ears) the sound wave has nowhere to dissipate and it can only go into your eardrum increasing potential damage. On ear and around ear headsets seem much safer to me in this situation.

In-ear headsets and ear buds have another disadvantage. Unlike a headset they have no microphone so they can be used with only a tabletop mic. A headset is usually better in terms of convenience and sound quality (at least for me).

My personal preference is Beyerdynamic DT 394 SIS headset specifically designed for simultaneous interpretation. See more at:

And never use only one ear for simul – again my personal opinion. See more at: and

In any instance I always recommend all beginner interpreters to have a baseline audiogram done and repeat it every couple of years throughout your career. Watch for signs of hearing loss e.g. gaps in 4000 Hz frequency and for signs of tinnitus.

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answered 12 Oct '13, 02:43

Cyril%20Flerov's gravatar image

Cyril Flerov

+1 for the recommendation to have a baseline audiogram done upon starting one's career and every few years thereafter. You'll need it to prove hearing loss if you buy professional risk indemnity insurance.

(12 Oct '13, 11:12) Vincent Buck

...indeed, but not a pure tone, subjective audiogram, only an objective test will hold up "in court", methinks a tympanogram as I wrote here

(12 Oct '13, 12:17) msr

...hi again, Tanja, we must stop meeting like this ;-)!

Well... I've always divided headphones as follows:

...and I see B&O, despite fitting inside the outer ear and insofar as they don't go in the ear canal, as a refinement of the second type...therefore - I hope :-) - avoiding the harm described by Claudia and still using the natural amplification properties of the auricle.

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answered 29 Apr '12, 10:54

msr's gravatar image


edited 29 Apr '12, 15:01

I'm a big fan of B&O's because they allow me to turn the volume button down. My ear doctor has confirmed to me that high-quality earphones are vital to somebody like me who spends around 120 to 130 days in the booth every year and has been doing so for years. It doesn't take a wizard to hear that the B&O's are far better than the run-of-the-mill earphones offered my employer. Plus they are adjustable - and now come in colours (B&O product development department: please add pink!).

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answered 01 May '12, 17:35

Sirpa's gravatar image


Hyvää huomenta Sirpa & Thnx for sharing this info from your ENT specialist! I feel reassured now. I hadn't been entirely sure because I don't notice a massive difference between the position of the B&O and regular earphones but maybe that little bit of extra clearance afforded by the ear-hook design is all it takes. Kiitos!

(02 May '12, 02:12) Tanja

Hi Sirpa, Tanja, B&O are undoubtedly better (I use them myself as well) but to say "I'm a big fan of B&O's because they allow me to turn the volume button down" is to lead yourself astray. The volume button on the console may be lower, but the volume going into your ear is the same. B&O simply give more volume to your ear for the same console volume level. One could even argue that this is dangerous, because if you turn the console volume up, you get an ear-volume that is far too loud. (And many of us turn the volume up as proportionally to the difficulty of the speech)

(12 Oct '13, 08:55) Andy
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question asked: 29 Apr '12, 10:05

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