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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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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.


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