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The Lord of the Noise

Is it our imagination or do movies seem louder than they used to?

Improved sound technology makes it possible to turn up the volume without the distortion of the old days. But it doesn’t mean that it is less dangerous for your ears.

Researchers investigated the sound level of some movies. At a showing of ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’ they found an average sound level of 74 dB. A harry potter movies imagespeak was registered at 93 dB during the battle with the snake.

‘The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers’ was even noisier, with an average noise level of 78 dB and a peak of 95 dB. But more alarming is that the movie lasts a little over 3 hours, and that the sound level is above 80 dB for 29 percent of the time. This means that you are putting your ears at serious risk for around one hour while eating your popcorn and having a great time.

popcorn_0An average noise level of 70 to 78 dB is similar to rush hour traffic, which can be annoying but not dangerous unless you are in it for long periods of time. However, the maximum levels and the percentage of time in the dangerous zone are a completely different story. A person should not, for instance, be exposed to a sound level of 110 dBA for more than one minute and 29 seconds each day.

The film industry is aware of the problem but shows no interest in reducing the sound levels, for competitive reasons. One top Hollywood producer once said: “I’m not going to make a shuttle rocket launch too low. I’m going to make it so that you feel it in your seat and in your gut”.

So, next time you are going to the movies, be aware that even family movies can be harmful to your hearing.


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About Adam Bernstein

Adam Bernstein is the owner of The Hearing Professionals, Milwaukee's premier hearing healthcare facility. As the owner of The Hearing Professionals, Mr. Bernstein has over 20 years of experience in the hearing healthcare industry. He began his career in 1995 at GN Danavox, one of the largest hearing aid manufacturers in the world. After leaving Danavox, Mr. Bernstein opened two hearing healthcare offices in Chicago, IL. In 2001 he moved to Milwaukee, WI and opened The Hearing Professionals. In 2008 he added a second Wisconsin office in the town of Brookfield. Today The Hearing Professionals is the largest private audiology practice in SE Wisconsin. Mr. Bernstein has written numerous articles on hearing healthcare which has appeared in newspapers throughout the country and has been interviewed by news programs regarding advances in the hearing industry. Mr. Bernstein a member of Unitron’s Customer Advisory Board and a graduate of The University of Minnesota. You can email him at and you can visit The Hearing Professionals at

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