Recent studies have implicated high-intensity rock music as a potential source of hearing damage. The present study was designed to evaluate, under carefully controlled clinical conditions, the relative damage potential of rock music, symphonic music, and band-limited white noise. Ten normal hearing subjects were exposed to each program source for 60 minutes at an average sound pressure level of 95 dB binaurally through electrostatic headphones. After each exposure a TTS was obtained by Bekesy audiometry at each of 10 frequencies. An octave-band analysis demonstrated that both the rock and symphonic music had very similar frequency spectra, being within ±4 dB from 125 Hz to 8000 Hz and having maxima at 500 Hz. The TTSs for both rock and symphonic music were nearly identical with maximum TTSs from 2000 to 5000 Hz and averaging 8 to 10 dB. The white noise, being richer in high frequencies, produced average TTSs of 11 to 17 dB for the same test frequency range.
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