Is it true that bone conduction can protect hearing, as many marketing reports suggest?
Formation of Hearing
Many people know that ears are used to hear sounds, but they are not quite clear about how hearing is formed. Simply put, it can be divided into the following three steps:
- External sound waves enter the external ear canal, causing the eardrum to vibrate;
- The vibration of the eardrum is transmitted through the ossicles, causing sequential vibrations inside;
- This leads to the hair cells sending out nerve impulses, the cochlear nerve fibers generate action potentials, which finally form auditory perception in the cerebral cortex.
From the perspective of the hearing formation process, the difference between bone conduction and air conduction is simply whether the external ear canal is involved. Therefore, whether it is bone conduction or air conduction, producing hearing requires the vibration of the hair cells in the inner ear. As is widely known, the loss of hair cells is irreversible. Therefore, the claim that listening through bone conduction can protect hearing is incorrect.
Damage to the Ear
In reality, using our ears is a slow and gradual process of damage, with inner ear hair cells dying off naturally every moment. This is why people's hearing worsens as they get older. Apart from this unavoidable natural metabolism, noise can exacerbate the death of hair cells. Therefore, no matter what type of headphones you use, it's best to follow the principle of "no more than 60 minutes of usage at a time, and no more than 60 decibels of volume".
So why do so many people believe that bone conduction can protect the ears?
In a certain sense, this is also true. Bone conduction hearing does not need to go through the external ear canal, while traditional listening products will block the ear canal, thereby increasing the temperature of the external ear canal. The number of bacteria can increase with the rise in temperature, leading to infections in the ear canal; and long-term wearing of in-ear products can increase the pressure inside the ear canal, causing discomfort to the eardrum. Therefore, it is accurate to say that using bone conduction is more conducive to protecting the ears.
How to determine if you are using genuine bone conduction products
There are all sorts of products in the market, and you might have spent a lot of money on a product without being sure if it's a genuine bone conduction product. So, how can you determine if what you are using is indeed a bone conduction product? Here's a simple trick for you: When you put on bone conduction headphones and block your ear canals, if the sound you hear becomes clearer, congratulations, you have bought the right product; otherwise, it's an air conduction product because bone conduction products transmit sound through the bones, and blocking the ear holes can actually enhance the reception of sound. Of course, if you're still unsure, it's recommended to directly purchase products from VOCALSKULL!