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How Bone-conducting Headphones Work

Author's Note

I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, when listening to rock music was almost like a religion. And most of my favorite performers -- from big stadium acts like the Rolling Stones, Peter Gabriel and U2 to punk bands like the Ramones, X and the Stooges -- play really, really loud. Nevertheless, amazingly, even in my mid-50s, I still have pretty good hearing. One reason, I think, is that I always avoided crowding the stage like other fans did, because I found that I could hear the music better if I stayed farther away from the speakers. In addition, whenever I went to nightclubs with overpowering acoustics, I always made sure to wear earplugs -- or, if I forgot to bring them, to stuff a damp wad of toilet paper in each ear. In the digital music age, I've always avoided wearing ear buds and stuck with the big clunky old-school headphones that make me look like a 1920s wireless telegraph operator. Even so, I'm still careful never to turn the sound up all the way.

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