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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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.

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