I attended two fireworks displays this Independence Day, and I noticed an odd phenomenon when comparing them. I was several hundred yards away from the first display, and I could feel the concussion of the largest fireworks in my chest. They did not hurt my ears however.

I was much closer to the second fireworks display, 50 yards at the most. These fireworks all were loud enough to hurt my ears, but I felt no concussion in my chest.

What is going on here? How can some sound be loud enough to feel, but not hurt my ears? How can another sound be loud enough to hurt my ears, but not loud enough to feel?

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    $\begingroup$ Did you notice a difference in the frequency in each case? Was one set lower/higher in tone than the other? $\endgroup$ Jul 18, 2019 at 2:39
  • $\begingroup$ @AaronStevens The ones that hurt my ears, that I couldn't feel in my chest, seemed to be a higher pitch. But they were all just booms, I'm not talking about the rockets that whistle as they fly. $\endgroup$
    – Ryan_L
    Jul 18, 2019 at 3:09
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    $\begingroup$ I imagine the low frequency one hit a resonant node in your chest (it was in resonance with the bone and some of the surrounding flesh), while the high frequency ones were those that were in resonance with parts of your ear. Since your chest can dissipate more energy without causing pain you felt non there, while your ears only require a small input of energy to become damaged. $\endgroup$
    – user400188
    Jul 18, 2019 at 3:34
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    $\begingroup$ @user400188 The comments are for clarification or suggested edits. If you have an answer please submit it as an answer. $\endgroup$ Jul 18, 2019 at 3:49

1 Answer 1


The official safe sound level is 85 decibels, which is about what you would get in a crowded pub when no music is being played. Some researchers dispute this,and say that damage can occur with sound levels above 70 decibels. At least half of pubs and clubs have dangerous levels of decibels,but damage depends on how long you are exposed to it. Guns and very loud fireworks have levels of 140 decibels or more,which is enough to cause instant damage. It all depends on how close you are to the source of the sound,but if you were close enough to feel the concussion, then you received damage. As long as it doesn't occur very often,the damage will be minor,but if yo are in the habit of attending noisy pubs as well,the damage after a few years could be serious.

  • $\begingroup$ Michael, this doesn't answer the question. $\endgroup$ Jul 19, 2019 at 0:06

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