What's the Difference Between Loudness and Volume?

You’ve probably used the terms volume and loudness interchangeably, though they have very different meanings for those with a hearing impairment.

While loudness and volume are considered synonyms, there is a key difference between the two for people with hearing loss.

You may notice that sounds that hurt your ears to listen to are comfortable for those with hearing loss. Similarly, you may not be able to hear sounds that someone else can hear. This is where the difference between loudness and volume comes into play.


Loudness vs. Volume

Loudness is the noise level perceived by an individual, whereas volume is an absolute noise level that can be scientifically measured. For example, if your family is watching a movie together, the TV volume is the same for everyone in the room. However, the TV's loudness may be much less for a person with a hearing impairment than it is for a person with normal hearing.

Nonetheless, the two are still connected.

For example, if you increase the volume on a television, it will also incrementally increase the loudness of the noise. However, increasing the volume will not increase the loudness to the same degree for every person.


How Hearing Aids Impact Loudness

As volume is an absolute number, any adjustments to it will impact everyone in the vicinity. Therefore, it can be embarrassing for those with hearing loss to request people to speak louder, turn up the television volume, or turn off background noise.

Hearing aids can solve this problem by increasing the loudness of the sound only you experience.

This enables you to hear at a more comfortable level of noise, and you'll never have to ask to turn the volume up again.


What is Clarity?

While loudness and volume are key terms to describe noise, clarity is a third term that is essential to hearing. Even if you can hear a sound, that doesn't mean you can understand it. This is where clarity comes in.

Clarity is how well you can decipher sounds.

For example, if you purchase a low quality hearing aid, it may increase the noise level, though lack clarity making the sounds indistinguishable.

Similarly, patients that require cochlear implants may hear sounds at an appropriate noise level, though they won't be able to decipher the sounds due to damages within the ear that prevent clarity.


Seeking Help For Hearing Loss

One of the earliest signs of hearing loss is that a person can't understand sounds (particularly speech) at a volume that is comfortable for others. Therefore, consider getting a hearing test. Learn the differences between a hearing test and a hearing screening.

You can take a hearing test at a local audiology clinic, or you can use an online hearing test to get a ballpark of your current hearing health. At Hearing Planet, you can conveniently do an online hearing test that is free and only takes a few minutes to complete.

This may help confirm or deny your suspicions, which will open the door to treatment options such as hearing aids. Fortunately, the hearing aids available today are much more advanced than the ones available even just ten years ago and provide an excellent combination of appropriate volume and clarity.

Contact us today to learn more and start hearing clearly again.