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New standards to limit Apple iPod volume in Europe

post #1 of 104
Thread Starter 
Media players like Apple's iPod will be set by default to a new, lower, "safe" volume level in Europe, thanks to a new rule passed by the European Commission Monday.

The new safety standards were approved in an effort to limit hearing loss among users of MP3 players. The executive of the European Union said that the default setting is designed to discourage people from listening to devices at "dangerously high volumes."

A recent study that listening to music on players at high volume over a sustained period can lead to permanent hearing damage, and that 5 percent to 10 percent of listeners, or 10 million people, are at risk.

The rule states that listening at 80 decibels adjusted should not exceed 40 hours per week, while 89 decibels should be limited to 5 hours each week. Settings on devices like iPods will be based on those criteria.

"EU standards are not mandatory, however if the new standard is approved by the European Commission and published in the Official Journal of the European Union, it 'de facto' becomes the industry norm," the commission said. "Products meeting those standards are presumed safe - otherwise manufacturers have to go through costly independent testing for products. The new safety standards will apply only to future products."

The commission sent a mandate to the European Union's standardization body Monday. It requires that the new technical safety standards be drawn up, and implement the standard "soon."

Under the new rules, higher exposure levels are permitted, but the user must willingly select them after being presented with a warning of the risks and ways to avoid them. How the warnings are provided would be up to the manufacturer, whether it's a label or something that displays on the device's screen. Currently only a warning in the instruction manual is required.

The commission said that most MP3 players have audio at a range of 60 dBA to 120 dBA. Scientists said that hearing loss is not likely below 80 dBA, which is equivalent to someone shouting or traffic noise.

In August, reports of "exploding" iPhones in Europe led the European Commission to weigh in on the matter, prompting an Apple-led investigation. Apple has reported the incidents to the union as "isolated," but will do tests to determine the possible cause.
post #2 of 104
Don't headphones and earbuds have varying levels of sensitivity? How will Apple know how much power to push to achieve the safe sound level?
post #3 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by raybo View Post

Don't headphones and earbuds have varying levels of sensitivity? How will Apple know how much power to push to achieve the safe sound level?

I assume anything they do would be based on the stock headphones.
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post #4 of 104
Not to mention the type of music being played. A Chopin nocturne is not going to have the same loudness at the same volume setting as death metal.
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post #5 of 104
I thought all iPods have a volume limiter feature built in. You just need to activate and adjust it. If you failed to use it and damaged your hearing should that be Apple fault?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post

Not to mention the type of music being played. A Chopin nocturne is not going to have the same loudness at the same volume setting as death metal.

That has to do with how recordings are mastered. Most classical musics and jazz CDs/SACDs preserved the natural dynamics of the recordings to recreate the contrast between loud and quiet passages. This is perfect for home listening but quiet passages will be too soft for outdoor use. Most recordings from others genres have their dynamic compressed and loudness adjusted to higher level. Everything is loud and clear on all portable players and car stereos in a high background noise level.
post #6 of 104
This is dumb. Put a warning sticker on the headphones. If people can't make this connection on their own tough. When we start regulating every minor detail of life we lose the ability to make our own decisions.
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post #7 of 104
It's just another case of over regulating for the people who don't have brains.
post #8 of 104
I hope it simply means that the limiter is by default set to a certain level that you can bypass if you like rather than the lower level being imposed always. The type of earbuds will make a huge difference in what volume levels you need. The regular ones have to be cranked in traffic to hear anything while in-ears will be fine at much lower volume.

I've been to a few rock gigs where there were noise level regulations in place and while it was nice that I didn't have ringing ears, I felt it could've definitely been louder without adverse effects. The regulations always seem to be based on a certain decibel level, without taking into account what is being played and where.
post #9 of 104
Yes, and your going to hold all the kids using iPods responsible for their parents thoughtlessness? Further, I would wager that most adults don't know what the safe level is, much less children. An iPod should be set to a safe level by default. If anything, people should have to turn this setting off by default.

Again, Europe is leading the way in protecting consumers. THis ruling doesn't hurt Apple in any any way other then having to set the parameters. People can change the settings if preferred.

Quote:
Originally Posted by QuadESL63 View Post

I thought all iPods have a volume limiter feature built in. You just need to activate and adjust it. If you failed to use it and damaged your hearing should that be Apple fault?
post #10 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post

People can change the settings if preferred.

You say that like you're sure of it.
post #11 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by EmC View Post

This is dumb. Put a warning sticker on the headphones. If people can't make this connection on their own tough. When we start regulating every minor detail of life we lose the ability to make our own decisions.

Lets hope that your kids follow the rules!

Apple iPod have been limited in Europe for years.
post #12 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Undo Redo View Post

You say that like you're sure of it.

"Under the new rules, higher exposure levels are permitted, but the user must willingly select them after being presented with a warning of the risks and ways to avoid them."
post #13 of 104
It's the slippery slope, not what these regulations may do now. Remember they already have regulations about player volume. It was done several years ago.

What I've found, is that if you're within two feet or so of someone, and you can hear the music so that you can recognize it, it's too loud. I've measured at least 90Db from headphones set that way. Too much.

But I don't know how this will work. Using a limiter will make the situation worse, and may not work.

If you cut the peaks, which is what a limiter does, then people will usually turn the average volume up. A compressor results in more natural sound, but often people also turn it up.

Most rock is so compressed anyway, to the "tune" of 7 Db or less, that a limiter won't work, or a compressor.

I imagine we need a circuit to keep the gain of the volume control from being what it otherwise would be. As in preventing the turning of the volume beyond, say, 6 instead of 9, but not limiting or compressing the sound itself.
post #14 of 104
People just need to learn, if you listen to it too loud you lose hearing simple concept.

I think we they should do the same thing with the sun, mandatory sunglasses, until you sign a waver.
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post #15 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by QuadESL63 View Post

I thought all iPods have a volume limiter feature built in. You just need to activate and adjust it. If you failed to use it and damaged your hearing should that be Apple fault?

This effectively means that no, it will not be Apples fault. If there is a clearly defined standard set, and Apple adhere to it, people can't really go after the hardware manufacturer. It's when things are vague that people get lawyers involved.

As for all the comments about protecting the stupid, honestly, I think this is about protecting the children of the stupid.

One area that I wish there was further regulation was to set a limit on the amount of noise experienced by people without the earphones in their ears. I hate sitting on a train or plane effectively listening to some rubbish the person sat next to me has on ultra-high volume!
post #16 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post

Again, Europe is leading the way in protecting consumers. THis ruling doesn't hurt Apple in any any way other then having to set the parameters. People can change the settings if preferred.

They're interfering with natural selection. The last sentence contradicts the first two.
Does this work with politicians as well?
post #17 of 104
It is interesting, my iPhone has 2 volume limiting features built in already:

Sound Check: On/Off

Volume Limit: Allows user to manually adjust max volume.
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post #18 of 104
To anyone on here that has a Zune HD, does it have volume limiting features.
I think there are only sold domestically, so it really doesn't matter, but the question came up talking to some people about this.
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post #19 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Undo Redo View Post

It's just another case of over regulating for the people who don't have brains.

And let's all thank Europe for leading the way!


Quote:
Originally Posted by MissionGrey View Post

It is interesting, my iPhone has 2 volume limiting features built in already:

Sound Check: On/Off

Volume Limit: Allows user to manually adjust max volume.

LOL... you, my friend, are a pioneer! If only, err... see first quote!

Last - my Sony Noise Cancelling headphones (which use a AAA battery) play audio at a much lower volume than my Apple Earbuds. So, on which headphones will the test be standardized to?
post #20 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulMJohnson View Post

This effectively means that no, it will not be Apples fault. If there is a clearly defined standard set, and Apple adhere to it, people can't really go after the hardware manufacturer. It's when things are vague that people get lawyers involved.

As for all the comments about protecting the stupid, honestly, I think this is about protecting the children of the stupid.

One area that I wish there was further regulation was to set a limit on the amount of noise experienced by people without the earphones in their ears. I hate sitting on a train or plane effectively listening to some rubbish the person sat next to me has on ultra-high volume!

I have some of my own numbers there.

I've got some audio programs for my iPhone, which is really convenient.

When I was flying to and fro to the UK, I measured noise levels on the plane.

One flight where I was at the wing, and at a emergency exit, I measured average noise levels, unweighted at between 90 and 95 db in the bass, and about 85 db in the midrange, while the treble was lower, at about 75 db.

On other flights, I measured about 5 db lower.

But when walking to the rear of the plane, the levels rose to a good 5 db higher than the readings produced from a non exit seat, to about the same.

Those levels are far too high for a 6.25 hour flight there, and the 7.5 hour flight back.

Far too high.

This also means that if someone is listening to a movie or music on the plane, just like when listening on the subway, they have to turn the volume up even further to hear what they are listening to properly, which means that it's WAY too high.

I never use headphones or earbuds on flights, even when I've traveled first class where the noise is somewhat lower, as it is at the front of the plane.
post #21 of 104
What we need is LESS government control over what is and is not 'good' for us.
You cannot effectively control how 'loud' someone's MP3 player is, all this will do is lower the user's enjoyment of their music. As someone else pointed out, the volume of music is totally dependent on the music source - unless the manufacturers have some way of measuring the actual decibel level of each song (and also different 'passages' in that song), there is no way this will do anything other than hurt the user experience.
I am a 59 year old recording engineer that played in rock bands for 20 years. I also find that the 'stock' Apple earbuds are not loud enough for me to accurately hear all the types of music that I listen to, so I have purchased very expensive headphones just to get the volume that is required for me to hear the music at a level that where I can 'feel' the emotion. As a recording engineer, I can tell you that there are MANY parts in a song that are very rarely heard by the average user because they require good equipment and a decent volume to hear. These parts are purposely recorded and mixed at a subconscious level - they are intended to add to the 'feel' or 'emotion' of a song without taking away from the primary instrumentation. I like to listen to my music at a level that is just barely enough for me to discern these 'hidden' parts, and to do that usually requires a fairly high volume level.

Now, most of you probably think my eardrums are shot from a lifetime of listening to 'loud' music. In fact, I have recently had a hearing test, and the audiologist was completely shocked that I was still hearing frequencies that supposedly cannot be heard by someone over 30 years of age (our ability to hear higher frequencies like the sizzle of a cymbal naturally declines over our lifetime). My hearing was excellent, even after 45 years of playing in Rock Bands and a lifetime of mixing music at the higher volume levels that I just described. Here is the reason for this:
1). When I played in Rock Bands, I always kept myself positioned at an angle to the speakers - if I felt pain in my ears from the volume, I would position myself or the speakers until the sound level was 'comfortably loud'.
2). Mixing music at a volume high enough to hear the 'subconscious' components of the arrangements DOES NOT mean listening with the volume 'Flat Out'. Again, it is possible to set the volume loud enough to get all the nuances from the music without being 'uncomfortably' loud.
3). Using the right equipment (headphones that can help discern these musical nuances through quality rather than 'brute force' volume).

Determining a decibel level that is damaging vs safe depends on so many unquantifiable factors for each specific case as to make it laughable. The responsibility of determining what is 'too loud' and what is NOT clearly lies with the individual listening to the music. If the music is at a level that actually 'hurts' or is uncomfortable to listen to, then you should be smart enough to back it down a notch. Even if you are intent on listening to the maximum volume possible, that is YOUR prerogative. Each individuals lifestyle is their responsibility. Even though government has gotten as far as dictating that we wear seat belts, motorcycle helmets and bicycle helmets, there are no laws to stop people from pigging out on obviously ridiculous portions of unhealthy foods (resulting in a huge increase of obesity and Type 2 diabetes), smoking cigarettes (no need to detail the negative effects here), excessive drinking, and abuse of prescription drugs.

Unless an individual's irresponsible behavior puts others at risk (such as with second hand smoke, driving under the influence, etc.), then the government has no right to put laws into effect governing that behavior.
post #22 of 104
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post #23 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by EmC View Post

This is dumb. Put a warning sticker on the headphones. If people can't make this connection on their own tough. When we start regulating every minor detail of life we lose the ability to make our own decisions.

Welcome to "The Mob"! This is precisely what Obamacare Protestors that the main street media likes to portray as fanatical lunatics are fearing with more governmental control to their lives, how did you put it... "When we start regulating every minor detail of life we lose the ability to make our own decisions." Or to say it more succinctly, 'More Government Control, Less Freedom!'

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post #24 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by postguru View Post

What we need is LESS government control over what is and is not 'good' for us.
You cannot effectively control how 'loud' someone's MP3 player is, all this will do is lower the user's enjoyment of their music. As someone else pointed out, the volume of music is totally dependent on the music source - unless the manufacturers have some way of measuring the actual decibel level of each song (and also different 'passages' in that song), there is no way this will do anything other than hurt the user experience.
I am a 59 year old recording engineer that played in rock bands for 20 years. I also find that the 'stock' Apple earbuds are not loud enough for me to accurately hear all the types of music that I listen to, so I have purchased very expensive headphones just to get the volume that is required for me to hear the music at a level that where I can 'feel' the emotion. As a recording engineer, I can tell you that there are MANY parts in a song that are very rarely heard by the average user because they require good equipment and a decent volume to hear. These parts are purposely recorded and mixed at a subconscious level - they are intended to add to the 'feel' or 'emotion' of a song without taking away from the primary instrumentation. I like to listen to my music at a level that is just barely enough for me to discern these 'hidden' parts, and to do that usually requires a fairly high volume level.

Now, most of you probably think my eardrums are shot from a lifetime of listening to 'loud' music. In fact, I have recently had a hearing test, and the audiologist was completely shocked that I was still hearing frequencies that supposedly cannot be heard by someone over 30 years of age (our ability to hear higher frequencies like the sizzle of a cymbal naturally declines over our lifetime). My hearing was excellent, even after 45 years of playing in Rock Bands and a lifetime of mixing music at the higher volume levels that I just described. Here is the reason for this:
1). When I played in Rock Bands, I always kept myself positioned at an angle to the speakers - if I felt pain in my ears from the volume, I would position myself or the speakers until the sound level was 'comfortably loud'.
2). Mixing music at a volume high enough to hear the 'subconscious' components of the arrangements DOES NOT mean listening with the volume 'Flat Out'. Again, it is possible to set the volume loud enough to get all the nuances from the music without being 'uncomfortably' loud.
3). Using the right equipment (headphones that can help discern these musical nuances through quality rather than 'brute force' volume).

Determining a decibel level that is damaging vs safe depends on so many unquantifiable factors for each specific case as to make it laughable. The responsibility of determining what is 'too loud' and what is NOT clearly lies with the individual listening to the music. If the music is at a level that actually 'hurts' or is uncomfortable to listen to, then you should be smart enough to back it down a notch. Even if you are intent on listening to the maximum volume possible, that is YOUR prerogative. Each individuals lifestyle is their responsibility. Even though government has gotten as far as dictating that we wear seat belts, motorcycle helmets and bicycle helmets, there are no laws to stop people from pigging out on obviously ridiculous portions of unhealthy foods (resulting in a huge increase of obesity and Type 2 diabetes), smoking cigarettes (no need to detail the negative effects here), excessive drinking, and abuse of prescription drugs.

Unless an individual's irresponsible behavior puts others at risk (such as with second hand smoke, driving under the influence, etc.), then the government has no right to put laws into effect governing that behavior.

You're writing as though there haven't been scores of studies about the damaging effects of sound done over many decades. But in fact, there have been.

If you've been listening to music at very high levels for much of your life and have experienced no hearing loss as a result, I'm very happy for you. That's NOT sarcasm.

but, the effects of loud sound at varying frequencies and durations is pretty well known, and I would say that either you are very lucky, or that you do have a hearing loss, and that you hearing would be even better today if you had not.

Also, you know that standard hearing tests only extend to 8 KHz?
post #25 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rot'nApple View Post

Welcome to "The Mob"! This is precisely what Obamacare Protestors that the main street media likes to portray as fanatical lunatics are fearing with more governmental control to their lives, how did you put it... "When we start regulating every minor detail of life we lose the ability to make our own decisions." Or to say it more succinctly, 'More Government Control, Less Freedom!'

Ok, let's not turn this into a governmental protest thread, by mentioning specific people or political views.
post #26 of 104
Oh I wish the EU would just piss off and leave me alone.

It irritates me so much I'm actually considering moving.
post #27 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by monstrosity View Post

Oh I wish the EU would just piss off and leave me alone.

It ain't gonna happen. We're going to see this more and more, all around the world.

One force for this is the insurance industry. They've been behind many of the safety standards around. Most of which, have saved many lives, and prevented many injuries.

That's helped to keep your insurance rates down.
post #28 of 104
Yet more meddling from the nanny state.

Quote:
It irritates me so much I'm actually considering moving.

You and me both mate, you and me both.
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post #29 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

It ain't gonna happen. We're going to see this more and more, all around the world.

I dont doubt that for a second. But I feel there is a good 10 years left of comparative freedom in countries other than my own.

Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

That's helped to keep your insurance rates down.

That may be one positive example, but as a rule, regulation sends prices up. Infact soon flights will be so expensive due to regulation that I shall not be able to afford to escape.
post #30 of 104
Resistance is futile.

Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

(I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.)

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post #31 of 104
"It makes the hard decisions so you don't have to!"

That said, I do support the universal charging standard being pushed for mobile phones.
post #32 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by FormerARSgm View Post

Last - my Sony Noise Cancelling headphones (which use a AAA battery) play audio at a much lower volume than my Apple Earbuds. So, on which headphones will the test be standardized to?

It would have to be the headphones which come with a device.
post #33 of 104
Thank goodness I live in Africa, at least we're still way behind in the nannification of everything.
post #34 of 104
Quote:
Also, you know that standard hearing tests only extend to 8 KHz?

NO, I did not know that standard tests only went to 8 KHz.
I took this test specifically to find out if I was still able to hear high frequencies, and the people administering this test were well aware of my intentions (I discussed my history and purpose for taking the test in detail). They gave me the impression that the test did check the higher frequencies because they specifically mentioned that they had never seen someone my age being able to hear the frequencies that I did - but they did not mention an actual number. Since this was given as a 'free' test, I am now curious if this test did indeed only check to 8 KHz. I did pass the test with flying colors, but since this was a free test, I am now afraid they may have mentioned the 'frequency' thing just to butter me up. I am now going to check into this to see exactly what this test proved.
If I find you are correct about the specific test I took, do you know if they do a more extensive test and what kind of test I should be asking for?

Thanks for the input, Joe
post #35 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robodude View Post

"It makes the hard decisions so you don't have to!"

That said, I do support the universal charging standard being pushed for mobile phones.

What I see is people saying, that " I don't like this, so I won't support regulation."

I do like this, "so I will support regulation."

Nothing wrong with regulation, it depends on what's being done, and how.

Can anyone imagine what would have happened if they didn't regulate the airwaves early last century? No usable radio or Tv (or any other on air service).

Or if there were hundreds of incompatible phone companies?

Think of the costs of roaming then!
post #36 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by postguru View Post

NO, I did not know that standard tests only went to 8 KHz.
I took this test specifically to find out if I was still able to hear high frequencies, and the people administering this test were well aware of my intentions (I discussed my history and purpose for taking the test in detail). They gave me the impression that the test did check the higher frequencies because they specifically mentioned that they had never seen someone my age being able to hear the frequencies that I did - but they did not mention an actual number. Since this was given as a 'free' test, I am now curious if this test did indeed only check to 8 KHz. I did pass the test with flying colors, but since this was a free test, I am now afraid they may have mentioned the 'frequency' thing just to butter me up. I am now going to check into this to see exactly what this test proved.
If I find you are correct about the specific test I took, do you know if they do a more extensive test and what kind of test I should be asking for?

Thanks for the input, Joe

8KHz is considered to be "high frequency". Because hearing tests are designed for voice intelligibility. They don't think anything else matters.

If they said that they were doing something special, then I would contact them and ask exactly what they were measuring. There are extended tests available.
post #37 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by EmC View Post

This is dumb. Put a warning sticker on the headphones. If people can't make this connection on their own tough. When we start regulating every minor detail of life we lose the ability to make our own decisions.

Exactly... if they want to protect people's hearing, they should ban French music instead.

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post #38 of 104
I thought that there was already a limit in the EU?

I remember having to flash the North American firmware onto my 3rd gen iPod to boost the volume (which will be the same way to get around this new rule, I assume).

Quote:
Exactly... if they want to protect people's hearing, they should ban French music instead.

And lose Daft Punk, Justice and Phoenix? Booo!
post #39 of 104
Would someone really be able to sue Apple for hearing damage due to setting the volume too loud of their own free will and choice?

I suppose if a woman can sue McDonald's for spilling hot coffee on herself and win, anything's possible.

Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

(I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.)

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post #40 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Nothing wrong with regulation, it depends on what's being done, and how.

There are no doubt scenarios that call for regulation. Where I get irritated is when my country dictates to me what i can or cant do with my body(that includes my ears).

For example, I was a big fan of music festivals, but in recent years the noise levels have been regulated so much that you can stand in front of the speakers and have a chit chat.
I rarely bother going nowadays, and get my music fix from other countries instead.
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