How to Use the Decibel Meter in iOS 13 for Headphones to Protect Your Hearing
iOS 13 includes tracking of audio levels for your environment, possible through watchOS 6 and the Noise app on Apple Watch. But there’s also a built-in decibel meter when you’re connected to Apple’s AirPods or Beats headphones (with W1/H1 chip), to track the audio levels of your listening habits.
Within the Health app on iPhone, you can head over to the Hearing section and ‘Headphone Audio Levels’ to “View audio levels from headphones you use, with the decibel levels categorized in two ranges — OK or Loud.”
Apple says “Measurements are more accurate from AirPods than from headphones connected by wire. Measurements for wired headphones are estimated based on the volume of your iPhone.”
According to Apple, data shows sounds are “generally considered loud when they’re over 80 decibels.” By listening to audio levels over this consistently, you can permanently damage your hearing over time.
“Repeated, long-term exposure to loud sounds can lead to permanent damage. Consider lowering the volume when listening to audio through your headphones. Sound levels as low as 74 dB can be considered loud if you’re exposed for a long enough duration,” explains Apple.
Below are Exposure Limits shared by Apple, with data taken from World Health Organization recommendations:
Apple’s Headphone Audio Levels section tracks your exposure and can detail highlights based on weekly listening with your AirPods, for example. You can also see data in a chart based on hourly, daily, weekly, monthly and yearly usage.
Track Other Non-Apple Headphones by Enabling This Setting on iPhone
What about tracking audio levels from other headphones? It’s still possible, but you need to enable a privacy setting. On your iPhone, go to:
- Settings > Privacy > Health > Headphone Audio Levels > Include Other Headphones > ON
Apple says with this toggle enabled, the Health app can “estimate audio levels for devices where a true sound level cannot be determined. These estimates are based on the volume level of your iPhone.”
If you frequently listen to music or consume media with headphones on, this feature can protect your hearing, especially if you or your children are using AirPods.