Movies have become a popular means of entertainment with millions of people frequently visiting theatres throughout the year to watch newly released films. While the movies are often exciting due to the large screens and surround sound, people often fail to notice how loud the volume of sound they are exposed to. The American Hearing Research Foundation has stated that movies are “a source of premature hearing reduction.”
A sound level of 85 decibels “is where you want to stay below,” said Kit Frank, AuD, audiologist, NYU Langone Medical Center. Beyond that, “you start to hit into the range where you could potentially cause some damage” to your hearing.
TODAY national did an investigation into just how loud the movies we watch at the cinemas are. Investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen went to several movies to measure the volumes of sound with a sound level meter and come back with these results:
The Magnificent Seven a western with lots of gunfire, didn’t take long to reach 93.7 decibels and climb to 97.2. “Storks,” an animated feature for kids, stayed under 85 decibels for most of the movie, but at one point hit a peak of 99.3. “Deepwater Horizon,” packed with big explosions and destruction, hit 101 and then 104.9 decibels. “If you’re reaching over 100 for even minutes at a time, seconds at a time, you could be into that range where you could get immediate permanent damage, and If you leave the movie theatre and your ears are ringing that’s a sign that you could potentially have some damage from the loud noise,” Kit Frank warned.
There are standards on how movies are made and delivered in cinemas however; it is up to the individual cinemas to control the volume. The National Association of Theatre Owners stated to NBC News that just like in life, certain sounds in different movies will spike and movies don’t exceed 85 decibels on a consistent basis. They have also stated that complaints about sound levels are rare and infrequent.
Protect your hearing by wearing noise reduction earplugs or downloading a volume metre onto your phone. There are plenty of free decibel meter apps available including Decibel 10th: Professional Noise Meter and Sound Meter by Abc Apps.