Print 36 comment(s) - last by Spivonious.. on Dec 16 at 10:53 AM

Legislation would create 85-decibel cap, but some say it's unjust

To help protect the hearing of MP3 player owners, the European Commission is considering drafting legislation that would force manufacturers to create a limit on maximum volume. The proposed limit, a maximum 85 decibels, comes on the heels of an EU report that reports 10 million citizens could have hearing problems, including permanent hearing loss and other major medical issues.

"More and more young people are referred to me by their GPS with tinnitus or hearing loss as a direct result to exposure to loud music," said Dr. Robin Yeoh, Epsom and St. Heilier NHS Trust consultant, in an interview with BBC.  "It's the sort of damage that in the old days would have come from industrial noise.  The damage is permanent and will often play havoc with their employment opportunities and their personal lives."

If music listeners want to, they could increase the decibel limit up to 100 decibels.

EU legislators will take a closer look into the matter next month, with a final decision expected sometime in the spring.

Critics say there must be some type of middle ground between consumer safety and personal ownership, and note that 85 decibels is too low when background noise can still drown out the music.  Realistically, government officials must try to educate children about the dangers, not try to prevent it without education, if they wish to help reduce hearing-related cases stemming from loud music.

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Driving larger headphones than intended?
By piroroadkill on 12/15/2009 7:56:57 AM , Rating: 4
Then this output cap will no doubt completely screw you. Utter nonsense.

RE: Driving larger headphones than intended?
By Omega215D on 12/15/2009 8:02:05 AM , Rating: 3
This would definitely ruin it for those who plan on hooking up speakers to their MP3 players for parties and such. As for drowning out background noise, instead of boosting the volume why not get a pair of in-ear headphones that help isolate and preserve your hearing? Still an imposed limit is stupid.

I thought the EU already did this sort of thing as most MP3 players have a special firmware for the EU that has a volume limit and cannot be tampered with.

By Lonyo on 12/15/2009 8:11:57 AM , Rating: 2
Yup, there's already a 100dB limit in multiple countries, and I think most manufacturers just make it the same for all products sold in Europe, so there's effectively already a 100dB cap, such as on iPods and Cowon also implements it.

The caps can be circumvented, but from the box they are already limited (although it's a higher limit than the 85dB they are talking about revising it down to)

RE: Driving larger headphones than intended?
By SocrPlyr on 12/15/2009 8:24:47 AM , Rating: 4
Why would this matter for those hooking up speakers? If you are playing to a room you are going to need a set of amplified speakers. Thus the output on the iPod doesn't directly drive the speakers and there really isn't a problem.

RE: Driving larger headphones than intended?
By atrus14 on 12/15/09, Rating: -1
RE: Driving larger headphones than intended?
By Spivonious on 12/15/2009 9:36:26 AM , Rating: 5
You don't make any sense. Please look up definitions for amplitude, frequency, audio compression, and clipping.

RE: Driving larger headphones than intended?
By UNHchabo on 12/15/2009 4:31:56 PM , Rating: 2
He did get one thing right:
"you must play music at full blast if you want to get full sound quality"

This is correct, but he was wrong about the reason why.

In most cases, MP3 players have their rated SNR (signal to noise ratio) at maximum volume. If you reduce the volume, you're reducing the signal volume, while the noise volume remains constant. If you normally have an SNR of 96 at full volume, at half volume your SNR may only be 48, where you're likely to hear some amount of noise in the mix. In the case of this hypothetical MP3 player, maybe 85dB is achieved with the stock earbuds at half-volume, which would mean that without any hardware redesigns, your maximum SNR if you live in the EU is now 48 with this MP3 player, which is pretty bad. This SNR cannot be raised, even if you output to an amp.

By mindless1 on 12/15/2009 8:27:00 PM , Rating: 3
It is correct sometimes but not for the reasons either of you cite. There can be a shift in SNR from lowering volume but sometimes the SNR is actually better at lower than max volume and it would never be so bad as dropping from 96 to 48 at half volume.

SNR on an integrated digital MP3 player chip does not have substantial reduction from digitally controlled volume reduction, the noise is actually higher at full volume because that is the point where the amp chip clips, the noise that is a problem is the noise that is picked up before the amplification stage because that means the noise also gets amplified.

When sound quality is worse at lower than full volume is on the old analog and extremely low end players that use a cheap carbon potentiometer to change volume, going through the pot degrades it.

By Spivonious on 12/16/2009 10:53:13 AM , Rating: 2
Ah, but your noise floor increases the louder you go due to stressing the amplifier. If you have noise before the amplification stage, you have a very cheaply made MP3 player.

By sprockkets on 12/15/2009 12:55:24 PM , Rating: 3
Because if you actually tried doing this you may find that you have to set your mp3 player to maximum volume just to get it to work properly in your amp. Otherwise, you may have to set your amp to max volume, and you forget you had it set there then change inputs and get blasted by normal sources.

Nobody seems to notice this but....
By Lonyo on 12/15/2009 8:10:00 AM , Rating: 4
There already is a limit of 100dB which is basically Europe-wide. This is just a potential adjustment of that limit downwards.

Many mp3 players also allow you to circumvent such limits, so that you can listen to it without EU nanny-caps. I had to do this with my Cowon A2, and set the region to the US instead of Europe so that I could listen to it at full volume (it has built in speakers which I use, so increasing the volume is actually necessary in order for it to be useful).

RE: Nobody seems to notice this but....
By Hiawa23 on 12/15/2009 9:14:02 AM , Rating: 3
This is nonsense. The user should be able to listen to volumes as he/she see fit. If you damage your hearing as a result, well, that's your choice. Do you not choice in these countries, or are your decisions made for you?

RE: Nobody seems to notice this but....
By cfaalm on 12/15/2009 9:35:48 AM , Rating: 2
No, what you are saying is nonsense. I'd hate to pay taxes that pay your social security, though will have no choice. This will protect at least a couple against their own stupidity.

Exposure to excessive sound pressure in whatever way dimishes your ability to work or worst case will render you employed. It would leave you applying for social security in the end with a mediocre quality of life, or you can look for a well paid job that doesn't require your ears functioning properly. I can't think of one right now.

Even in the audio industry there are idiots who don't take this seriously. Working at a live event with 126dBC is bound to leave damage to your hearing, as is volutarily exposing it to >85dB SPL for a whole day on a day to day basis.

Acquiring a couple of plugs, preferably custom molds, is way better then turning up the volume to drown out background noise. Why do so may artists choose to wear in ear monitors you think?

RE: Nobody seems to notice this but....
By Hiawa23 on 12/15/2009 11:28:28 AM , Rating: 2
No, what you are saying is nonsense. I'd hate to pay taxes that pay your social security, though will have no choice. This will protect at least a couple against their own stupidity.

You guys make some ridiculous assumptions on these message boards. You would hate to pay the taxes for my social security,LOL. You have no idea what my lifestyle is. You can't limit enough to protect people from their own stupidity. What next, let's ban subwoofers, & amps, as they go real loud or why stop there, up next, smokes, & beer too. All I am saying is you should have a choice to decide for yourself what's good or not for you.

RE: Nobody seems to notice this but....
By Murloc on 12/15/2009 12:59:13 PM , Rating: 2
governements already spend money to try to make ppl stop smoking.
It's forbidden in bars, clubs, restaurants in many countries.

By HostileEffect on 12/15/2009 2:11:18 PM , Rating: 2
Some people like their music to be loud and loudness is the maximum humans can hear and it can not be adjusted by controls.
Maybe some people won't live long enough to know the bad effects of loud music, let them live life full throttle. :)

By Strunf on 12/16/2009 8:37:37 AM , Rating: 2
Governments SAVE a lot of money by stopping people from smoking in public closed spaces.

I would love to see governments enforcing a "contract" that all smokers should sign stating that whatever health problems they get as a direct result of smoking would be payed by them and not the government or their "normal" health insurance.
The same for drinkers (with out responsibility) and many other things... I don't see any reason to be "forced" to pay more cause of someone else stupidity.

By UNHchabo on 12/15/2009 4:33:46 PM , Rating: 3
No, what you are saying is nonsense. I'd hate to pay taxes that pay your social security, though will have no choice. This will protect at least a couple against their own stupidity.

Or maybe the government should stay out of everyone's hair, so they don't force my electronics to have low output power, and they don't force you to pay for my hearing aid.

By Akrovah on 12/15/2009 7:04:43 PM , Rating: 2
Mediocre quality of life? Really? Just from being ahrd of hearing?

I knew a BLIND man who is a succsseful busines owner entrepenure, former CIA employee, and held/holds some kind of record for blind downhill skiing. Has a wife, 2 kids, and has shaken hands with multiple presidents, and you want to tell me that quality of life will be mediocre just from hearing loss?

And lets not forget, Beethoven eventually went def.

As far as well paid jobs that you can do without hearing:
Just about any office job doesn't REALLY need hearing
Computer Programming
Animation in various forms
Just about any high technology job
I'm sure this list can go on quite a ways

In other words, it is perfectly easy for a def or heard of hearing person to be completely self sufficient without having to leech off the welfare system for thier hearing aids. Let owners of MP3 players make thier own decision as to how they listen to thier music, if they start to loose hearing then they have to deal with it. It is very unlikely that they will suddenly become unemployable and start living off of your tax dollars.

By scrapsma54 on 12/16/2009 3:45:46 AM , Rating: 2
doesn't the EU have more important issues to pander about?

Another EU waste of time
By plewis00 on 12/15/2009 8:07:09 AM , Rating: 1
As someone who lives in the UK (and therefore the EU) I really have to ask do they actually have nothing better to do other than just go round stirring things up. They're just a great excuse for people to hate bureaucracy even more.

How do you impose an 85dB limit? Headphones come in different shapes and sizes with differing impedances, if you're telling me the maximum volume is the same for a tiny pair of in-ear headphones with 10mm drives than a set of studio-grade monitors with 50mm+ drivers I wouldn't believe you. About all they can do is restrict the power output on the things and that brings me back to my original point, why are the EU even wasting time considering it?

RE: Another EU waste of time
By SocrPlyr on 12/15/2009 8:21:32 AM , Rating: 4
This is nothing new and not just an EU thing. About 3 years ago many were in an uproar at Apple, because the iPod allowed the volume to go way too high. Apple eventually made an updated firmware that reduced the max level and allowed people to even set their own (and lock it out with a code, for parents). I am not sure if the US has a limit, but most products do allow the volume to go way above the level that hearing loss starts. (There are many studies that show that even low levels of noise that are constantly present will do just as much harm as very very loud noise levels for short amounts of time which are normally targeted, example jackhammer).

As for how to impose the limit, you can't control everything. You can require that they come from the factory with a (near average impedance) set of headphones that will not exceed the level limit. If someone chooses to change the headphones, there are several things you can do. First is that the dB rating is related to the power of the output, so all manufacturers need to do is limit the output power (not the voltage). There are many simple ways to do that with the circuitry.

RE: Another EU waste of time
By mindless1 on 12/15/2009 8:32:06 PM , Rating: 2
There is not many simple ways to do that, it depends on the speakers and the product lacks this ability.

What they do instead is just put a limit on the % of max the volume control allows then remap it so when it looks like it's at 100%, it would've looked like it was at for example 70% if they had not remapped it to graphically display different.

So yes firmware can do that, but no the player can't determine output power to any remotely accurate degree except under the assumption the stock headphones (or earbuds I should write) are used and they remain a constant not changing in design.

What's next?
By ShaolinSoccer on 12/15/2009 11:06:43 AM , Rating: 2
Are they gonna put a cap on how loud car stereos can go?!

RE: What's next?
By mindless1 on 12/15/2009 8:34:18 PM , Rating: 2
THAT is something I would actually support, it gets a bit annoying when you can't hear your own stereo at the level you want to listen to it because of some immature kid 5 cars away that thinks they are cool disrupting others.

By Esquire on 12/15/2009 8:04:27 AM , Rating: 3
What? What did you say? Speakup </joke> Seriously who thinks up this stuff? I think more pressing issues and being forsaken IMO.

My Custom Button reMap petition please help

By cscpianoman on 12/15/2009 8:11:13 AM , Rating: 2
I think we know where all the Microsoft money has been going too:P <ducks and dives for cover!>

By bump91 on 12/15/2009 8:26:30 AM , Rating: 2
Shouldn't the EU seek legislation to ban the sale of sub par headphones. Rather than limit the dB output (which like the other posters said is quite tough to do accurately).

Competition for Google?
By jonmcc33 on 12/15/2009 8:35:40 AM , Rating: 2
Is the EU trying to compete with Google for taking over the planet? Aren't they aware that headphones respond differently due to speaker sensitivity? One set of headphones might not get as loud as the next due to lower sensitivity. So it can't be controlled by the MP3 player itself.

You know what?
By bug77 on 12/15/2009 9:20:13 AM , Rating: 2
I believe (and studies will confirm) that living too long will eventually get you killed. Maybe they should cap that too.

RE: You know what?
By BZDTemp on 12/15/09, Rating: 0
By gvaley on 12/15/2009 10:27:50 AM , Rating: 2
Are these guys being serious? Get a pair of higher sensitivity headphones and you circumvent the 100dB limit. Or will they make the manufacturers, under death penalty, mysteriously foretell how sensitive the plugged-in set is?

And then
By eddieroolz on 12/15/2009 6:17:47 PM , Rating: 2
The people will just turn up Audacity, jack up the volume by ~20dB, and circumvent the limit.

What, are you going to ban Audacity too, EU?

By Sureshot324 on 12/16/2009 12:40:31 AM , Rating: 2
The db of an mp3 player depends on what earphones you're using. If an mp3 player can hit 100db with the cheap ear buds it comes with, it may only be able to hit 70db if you plug some nice headphones into it. There's no way the mp3 player can know what kind of headphones you're using. As a consumer I'd like the option to use the full capability of the device I'm buying.

Because government knows best...
By MeesterNid on 12/15/2009 10:23:33 AM , Rating: 1
and people are just too stupid to know for themselves what db level to listen at.

"Edit->Undo Last Change" 2012 as we're heading down the same path they've taken in Europe.

By ggordonliddy on 12/15/2009 11:37:34 PM , Rating: 1
I, for one, laugh at the idiots who destroy their hearing. It's especially great when they create a lifelong ringing in their ears. How do you like your Kanye now, bitches?

But there MUST NOT be any govt-funded medical coverage for these fools' ears. They must prove that the damage occurred in some other way to receive such benefits.

Anyway, those of you who are saying it can be circumvented: No crap! The point is not to save every single person, it is to save the general masses who take what they get. Please think logically before you post.

"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard

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