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EU Recommends Noise Limits On MP3 Players

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the protecting-you-from-yourself dept.

Handhelds 360

A story at the BBC notes increasing pressure from the European Commission to set standards that would limit the maximum volume on portable MP3 players. Their reasoning is that it would protect users from damaging their hearing after listening to loud music for extended periods. Quoting: "This follows a report last year warning that up to 10m people in the EU face permanent hearing loss from listening to loud music for prolonged periods. EU experts want the default maximum setting to be 85 decibels, according to BBC One's Politics Show. Users would be able to override this setting to reach a top limit of 100 decibels. ... Some personal players examined in testing facilities have been found to reach 120 decibels, the equivalent of a jet taking off, and no safety default level currently applies, although manufacturers are obliged to print information about risks in the instruction manuals. Modern personal players are seen as more dangerous than stationary players or old-fashioned cassette or disk players because they can store hours of music and are often listened to while in traffic with the volume very high to drown out outside noise."

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But how to do that? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30422356)

But how to do that?
The effect used to play at 85db is not the same across all headphones.
The small tiny ones that comes with the player normaly need less effect to reach 85db then if you get some nice big headphones with better sound.

Re:But how to do that? (1)

coastwalker (307620) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422442)

They can do what they like so long as we can overide it. As well as headphone sensitivity there is the irritation of lack of drive for docking bases and the obligatory regulation industry that will be their choice implementation strategy. Its a pity they couldnt regulate the finance industry that has put so many people out of work. Still at least these useless bureaucrats are guarnteed a lifetime of employment followed by fat pensions payed for by my taxes.

Re:But how to do that? (2, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422614)

That's an interesting point/question. The output of one set of headphones will be different from another set of earbuds. There would have to be some sort of end-user calibration process to get it right. And given how many people still have electronic devices that blink "12:00" I think any such requirement would result in a failure and a lot of wasted money for the added functionality.

say what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30422360)

I take it the EU "experts" have never heard of driver sensitivity, I'm not really seeing how this is going to work considering I could just go out and buy some half decent in ear headphones which blow the stock ones out the water.

Re:say what? (3, Informative)

eqisow (877574) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422428)

On the flip side, there are also a lot of headphones with high impedance? Portable players can't even push many headphones without an external amp as it is. Given the vast array of headphones available, it's impossible to determine what 100dB really is. If they limit it to 100db from the stock earbuds, for example, I'll barely be able to hear my full size 300 Ohm impedance Sennheisers.

Re:say what? (1)

Jay L (74152) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422492)

Similarly... If the output level is limited by law, doesn't that just create a market for lower-impedance headphones?

Yes, if the opamp can drive them (1, Informative)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422778)

A typical op-amp can provide an output current of some 10 mA. Which is fine for driving a 32 Ohm headphone at low voltages. If you switch to lower impedances (4 or 8 ohm?), the music player will need a more beefy opamp.

Re:say what? (1)

GIL_Dude (850471) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422848)

You are right of course. But the simple answer is that the test is done with a reference set of headphones. If it produces 85db or less with the reference set, it is fine.

Next. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30422362)

They'll recommend limits on what you can hear, because it damages their likelihood to get elected.

Do what we say, not what we do (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30422364)

Hearing loss is bad if it is caused by MP3 players, but it's okay when it's caused by police using crowd control devices against innocent civilians.

Re:Do what we say, not what we do (1, Insightful)

fbjon (692006) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422426)

Hearing loss is bad if it is caused by MP3 players, but it's okay when it's caused by police using crowd control devices against innocent civilians.

How does hearing loss result from that?

Re:Do what we say, not what we do (4, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422566)

http://www.atcsd.com/site/content/view/15/32/ [atcsd.com]

Known to have been used at the G20, probably other events as well.

Re:Do what we say, not what we do (0, Troll)

fbjon (692006) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422710)

And this device consistently causes hearing loss to recipients? Not only that, but isn't it equally "hypocritical" that people get fined for speeding, while police cars drive as fast as they need during a chase?

No, it's not hypocritical, those are two entirely different things.

Re:Do what we say, not what we do (3, Insightful)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422880)

Not only that, but isn't it equally "hypocritical" that people get fined for speeding, while police cars drive as fast as they need during a chase?

No, but it is very hypocritical for them to pull you over after they have been speeding for no reason whatsoever. I routinely see these Anointed Ones drive very fast without any flashing lights that signal, "We have an emergency here." I have also had these guys tailgate me in an attempt to get me to drive faster than the speed limit.

Re:Do what we say, not what we do (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30422622)

He's talking about the sonic cannon, jackass.

The fact that dumbfuck fbjon doesn't keep up with the news on /. is hardly insightful. Fucktard moderators.

Wrong approach entirely (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422382)

A technical problem requires a technical solution.

Instead of forcing media player manufacturers to implement a volume limiter, just force them to include a jamming frequency and allow third parties to sell jammers. When a person feels that someone's music is intruding on their personal space (in a bus, on a train, or anywhere that people are in close contact), a single button press could send a piercing squeal right through whatever audio the earbud guy had playing.

This has two benefits. First, if there are multiple people around and it is difficult to determine who is listening loudly, this gets all of them in one shot. Second, if a person's earbuds are so loud that the sound is invading someone else's personal space, the brief tone should be enough to put their eardrums out permanently.

Re:Wrong approach entirely (2, Informative)

iris-n (1276146) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422392)

I'm having trouble deciding if this is a bad joke or you are just raving mad.

Re:Wrong approach entirely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30422420)

I'm having trouble deciding if you're post is a bad joke or if you lack a sense of humor.

Re:Wrong approach entirely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30422734)

I'm having trouble not pointing out that you're obviously not literate enough to know where to put your apostrophes.

Re:Wrong approach entirely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30422440)

Besides the obvious craziness/joke aspect, you're talking about a completely separate problem from TFA. It's not about stopping people from annoying others, it's about limiting the ability of media players to damage the wearers' ears on max. volume because, rightly or wrongly, people assume that if a device *can* do something (ie. play music at Xdb) then it is safe to do so.

Re:Wrong approach entirely (0, Redundant)

LtCol Burrito (1698596) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422458)

Sorry BadAnalogyGuy - you need to RTFA. The issue here is not the ambient noise produced by the earphones, but the damage to the listener. (...trying to think of a bad analogy...). Imagine you're a car, and you want to put the wrong kind of gas in your tank... (never mind)

The EU govenment is trying to protect us from ourselves. Hmmm....which makes me wonder why they don't try to impose any limits on rock concerts. I'll bet they're over 85db, and it affects 10s of thousands of people at a time.

Re:Wrong approach entirely (4, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422592)

The issue here is not the ambient noise produced by the earphones, but the damage to the listener.

You're not making any sense!

Imagine you're a car, and you want to put the wrong kind of gas in your tank.

That's a much better explanation, thanks!

Re:Wrong approach entirely (1)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422504)

Second, if a person's earbuds are so loud that the sound is invading someone else's personal space, the brief tone should be enough to put their eardrums out permanently.

Bad idea: they'll just push the volume higher to compensate.

A better idea would be to fit MP3 players with HT circuitry with the earbuds as terminals. Pavlovian behavioural training and electroshock therapy in one!

Re:Wrong approach entirely (3, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422796)

If they're really concerned about deafness, they'd ban companies like Apple from including those crappy ear buds that everybody seems to have to wear. The poor fit and low quality virtually assure that the volume gets bumped up way higher than it needs to be.

Personally, I like my shure e2c, sure they're expensive, but you don't need to spend a lot of money, just get a earbud that provides for a proper seal in the ear. I can have my volume turned down pretty much all the way on the bus, and I can still barely hear the noise from the rest of the bus.

Re:Wrong approach entirely (1)

RESPAWN (153636) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422816)

Remember, you're talking about the average user who goes out and buys a cheap RCA surround sound system for their house or who thinks that the stereo in their car is actually good. To most people out there LOUD == good. Try convincing them that the Shure's sound better.

Re:Wrong approach entirely (2, Funny)

macraig (621737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422658)

A technical problem requires a technical solution.

I wholeheartedly agree that it's the "wrong approach entirely", but you've misunderstood the nature of the problem and the solution. It's not a technical problem. Did you even read the summary much less RTFA? Your solution is focused on something else entirely, not within the scope of what was being addressed. This proposed authoritarian restriction isn't intended to keep music from being so loud that it bothers other people: it's intended to "protect" people from their own poor judgement concerning their own bodies and eardrums.

Thus the problem here is social and informational: lack of education.

The obvious solution is not more technology, it's the addition of education (or eliminating the lack of education).

What you suggest is the Technocrat equivalent of Democrats throwing money at a problem... and it's not even the same problem at issue here.

Re:Wrong approach entirely (2, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422698)

What you suggest is the Technocrat equivalent of Democrats throwing money at a problem.

Quite the opposite. I am pushing a solution which requires greater personal responsibility on the listener and encouraging a community standards-based policing effort rather than a heavy-handed regulatory action. This is a very Republican solution, actually.

Re:Wrong approach entirely (2, Funny)

macraig (621737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422854)

Even if that were true - and I'm not conceding that it is - it's not the solution to the problem being discussed here.

Can ya at least be on-topic enough to agree that yet another Big-Mother-ish law isn't the solution to either problem?

Re:Wrong approach entirely (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422870)

Don't listen to this guy - the troll's got the patent on tinfoil "hat" for mp3 players.

Better Headphones (4, Insightful)

secondsun (195377) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422390)

Since we are going the consumer protect route, wouldn't it be better for headphones/ear buds to require noise cancelling technologies so the music doesn't have to be turned up as high?

That would make it harder to hear things while driving, but you shouldn't have headphones in while driving.

Re:Better Headphones (1)

jabithew (1340853) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422522)

I wear headphones all the time while walking through the streets of London* and I hate the thought of wearing noise cancelling headphones. I'd much rather hear the truck pulling up to the junction behind me than my music. Noise cancelling would leave me totally unaware of my surroundings, except what's in my line of sight, which is a fairly small part of the picture.

* I'll show you something etc. etc.

Re:Better Headphones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30422634)

That's not quite how noise cancelling headphones work. They just lower the environmental noise by a certain amount, say 10db and allow you to listen to your music at 10db less than usual while keeping the same signal to (environmental) noise ratio.

Re:Better Headphones (1, Insightful)

SBrach (1073190) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422746)

They aren't magic. You can still hear. Besides, if hearing is your main truck avoidance mechanism, you've got other problems.

Re:Better Headphones (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422760)

Read up on headphone technology. In-ear headphones (the ones that you shove into your ear canal) are available in "open" and "closed" configurations. Closed in-ears block virtually all noise around you while open ones merely reduce the amplitude a bit, typically by about 3 dB. If you listen to your music at a sane volume that means you can still hear much of what's going on around you.

Re:Better Headphones (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422850)

I wear headphones all the time while walking through the streets of London

But do you wear them on the Underground? That can get quite noisy, and there's little to no reason for hearing what's going on around you, so plenty of people turn the volume up to drown out the noise of the train.

I used to use a station with a lift regularly. I'd be on the train, and unable to hear anyone's personal music over the noise. Off the train and in the lift, I could easily identify songs played by others; they'd probably turned the volume up dangerously high without realising it.

Don't Lose the Music [dontlosethemusic.com].

Sony Noise Canceling Kicks Ass (0, Offtopic)

knapper_tech (813569) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422542)

The older players used to have some weak/annoying DRM, but the newer ones give you the freedom you want when uploading tracks. I had a little 2GB older model that had an unbelievable battery life of like 50hrs.

One day I was walking by train tracks as a train was approaching. Just as I pressed play (~2s delay to start up on that model) the train's horn starts up. BWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah..... That's the correctly capitalized onomatopoeia for a train against noise canceling earbuds. They're awesome.

That costs more (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422616)

There is no shortage of headphones that will deal with noise. Good IEMs (in ear monitors) do a great job. They are passive, they create a tight seal on your ear and thus attenuate noise in the same way earplugs do, and to about the same degree. There are also active systems for over the ear phones. However, in both cases, you aren't getting it for $10. Have to shell out a reasonable bit of cash. Well, that is hard with cheap electronics. Nobody wants to double the cost of a cheap MP3 player just for the phones.

Thus they take the bonehead route that doesn't really accomplish anything.

Re:Better Headphones (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422638)

Wow, you really bought into their fake argument about protecting us, did you? ^^

The real reason may be the listening in traffic. But who would profit from this?

Because there always is one profiting. (Not necessarily money. Can also be power, etc.) Because that is what the motivation comes from in the first place.

Rock On, Dudes! (2, Interesting)

LtCol Burrito (1698596) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422396)

Interesting. On the one hand, I think this is a good idea. Folks tend to (illegally) listen with the earphones while driving. Also, it seems that at least half of the people you pass on busy streets are listening as well - I wonder how many pedestrian accidents are related to missing auditory cues from the environment?

On the other hand, I'm one of those people that tend to listen at full volume while walking. I had a friend one time tell me that he heard my earbuds from all the way across the street (seriously). My chronic tinnitus aside, if you limit my decibelage, I will find a way to crank it. Besides, what is the use of limiting the decibels if you can just override it anyway?

Re:Rock On, Dudes! (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422452)

You seriously need better earbuds that block out sound.

Re:Rock On, Dudes! (1)

LtCol Burrito (1698596) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422494)

Ah yes - that was before I bought my SkullCandies. Those things are so soundproof that I put them in without music to block out sound. Now I really have to crank it to annoy my friends across the street ;^)

Re:Rock On, Dudes! (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422556)

+1 to SkullCandy headphones. Damn fine sound isolation, and (unlike the Creative 'phones I had before) the cups don't come off and get lost at the drop of a 'phone.

The only minus point is that there is no identification whatsoever of left and right. WHY DO MANUFACTURERS DO THIS.

Re:Rock On, Dudes! (2, Funny)

LtCol Burrito (1698596) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422600)

Not to mention the exceptional sound quality, even for the cheapo ones. I've actually listened to them side by side with recording studio speakers, and the sound quality is amazingly close, IMHO.

+1, funny? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30422640)

SkullCandy? Really guys? Do yourself a favor and go pick up a pair of Sennheiser CX-300 II's. They will blow what you have away and only cost ~$35. SkullCandy is overpriced trash.

iPod has had this for years (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422408)

But there's no way of getting hold of US firmware for it (I'm talking of the iPod classic, 6th gen) if you're in the UK, for example.

Headsets have varying efficiency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30422422)

Some headsets needs more watts than others to produce the same dB of sound. How do they expect the mp3 player to compensate for this?

Re:Headsets have varying efficiency (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422518)

You can't. Open air vs. sealed headphones also require a vastly different volume level to block ambient noise (as mentioned in TFA). I switched to physical noise blocking headphones years ago when I found my ears ringing after I got off the bus. They work well enough at blocking noise that I now use them in my woodworking shop as well. I can listen to music at a relatively low volume even with power tools running.

What about the headphones (3, Informative)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422438)

The power delivered to the ears depends on the headphones. I don't know how they plan to do anything meaningful here, they would have to set the limit based on the most "powerful" headphones, which means that the lesser ones will be inaudible. I already had that kind of problem on Nokia phones, you can't hear for shit with them, the max volume is ridiculously low, esp. with their utterly failtastic brand headphones with their annoying 2.5mm jacks. I'm certain nobody will harm their eardrums with that, but I'm equally certain that I'm not buying a Nokia ever again to listen to podcasts.

And BTW, it's not noise moronmitter, it's power. You can have lots of noise in very low power.

Re:What about the headphones (1)

Cillian (1003268) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422532)

Funny, I get the opposite problem with my N95 - with my pretty sensitive sennheiser rippoff in ears, the minimum volume without being muted (10%) is too loud for me sometimes. I get a similar problem with my ipod (running rockbox) - the minimum volume is still pretty loud and it just mutes if I try to go lower.

Re:What about the headphones (1)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422552)

My Creative Zen Xtra with the default EU firmware already limited output power years ago. Needless to say, I couldn't hear shit with my Etymotic in-ear monitors even at close to maximum volume (no, I'm not deaf). The regular shitty earbuds would probably be loud enough, except that in noisy environments such as public transport where the IEMs normally shine. Thankfully, reflashing the player with some other version of firmware removed this retarded limitation.

Another situation where unlimited output was useful is when I connected the player to inputs for other systems, like my 5.1 PC sound setup, or the car stereo. With other less powerful players (and I assume this one as well, prior to reflashing) the resulting volume is usually very low. Of course this also depends on the other amplifier as well, but still, the result is that with limited output I simply wouldn't be able to listen to my music in the car.

Unfortunately, it seems that the EU has ran out of farmers to subsidize a long time ago, and now they have too much time to waste on useless bullshit like this.

Re:What about the headphones (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422660)

Uuum, must have been back in 2000. I got the 5800, and Nokia phones have had a normal jack for a loooong time. (2001 or so.)

But about the volume. Yes, it’s not that loud. But the highest setting is definitely loud enough. I nearly never use it.
Maybe it’s because I use $150 headphones... The first thing I do with every new device, is throw away the “headphones”.

Price doesn't matter (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422678)

Design does. You can get high end headphones that are very loud, because they are high efficiency and low impedance, and ones that are very soft, because they are low efficiency and high impedance. All depends on what they are going for in design. Little IEMs tend to be real loud at a given setting, big open phones tend to be real quiet.

Re:What about the headphones (1)

Sirusjr (1006183) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422714)

Or you could always buy a headphone amp to increase the output volume from the device when it is not enough to give you a decent volume out of your headphones. Are they going to ban headphone amps as well? I used to use one when my earlier player didn't have enough juice to power my Sennheiser EH350s but thankfully the Zune has a more powerful output that is sufficient. Still if my player was too quiet I would just boost the volume with an amp and go back to my usual volume. Of course I don't play my music at crazy loud levels.

Forget disabled users... (5, Interesting)

Manip (656104) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422444)

I have very bad hearing, have done since I was a kid (even had surgery to correct it). I listen to music roughly 10-15% louder than most of my peers. In a noisy room louder still. If they limit volume on my MP3 player will I have to hack it in order to listen to it at a reasonable volume for me?

Re:Forget disabled users... (1)

vvaduva (859950) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422506)

Another example of government thinking they know better than you and I. We are stupid, they are smart, thus they need to make decisions on our behalf.

Re:Forget disabled users... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30422546)

Well, many of us are stupid or don't care.
The same applies to some people in governments. Furthermore, they can also be corrupt, incompetent and so on...

Re:Forget disabled users... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30422524)

will I have to hack it in order to listen to it at a reasonable volume for me?

No, sir, not at all; just paint the number "11" on the dial and turn it up to that. Not loud enough? Just put a "12" on it.

In all seriousness, have your tried a "jabberjaw" style device to use your mandible as a transducer to bypass the 8th cranial nerve? Ever electrocuted your own genitals for pleasure? Try it!

Re:Forget disabled users... (1)

TropicalCoder (898500) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422564)

I don't use an iPod when I am out and about. I like to maintain my full awareness of my surroundings. There is only one situation in which I use a portable music player, and that is for a visit to the dentist to get a filling or a root canal. In that case, I want a noise cancelling headset pumping hard rock at 120 dBs to drown out the sound of the drill. The rest of the time, my portable music player sits forgotten in the bottom of my desk drawer.

Re:Forget disabled users... (0, Troll)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422684)

And what about reality? Do you have to hack reality too, to get back to a reasonable volume? :P

I would say: “Fix your ears!”. But unfortunately, medicine does not care or want to fix things, and only sells you symptom treatments. So I have to say: If you need a hearing aid, get one.
Because reality ain’t gonna adapt itself to you. Sorry, man.

EU recommends nose limits on MPs? (2, Funny)

Norsefire (1494323) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422446)

Did the EU say members of parliament have big noses?

I must have heard wrong, you'll have to speak up -- I've been getting a bit deaf lately.

How about limits on boom cars? (2, Interesting)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422448)

If a boom car is loud from three blocks away, imagine how loud it is in the car.

A few days ago, I observed one of these insanely loud boom cars with a 3 year child strapped into the back. Too bad for that kid's hearing.

Re:How about limits on boom cars? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422480)

There are limits in most places, there just isn't much interest in enforcing them (in the sense that the cops don't care all that much, I imagine they would eventually respond to consistent complaints).

Wish they would regulate TV channels first. (4, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422454)

My music usually doesn't surprise me with sudden shifts of maximum volume. But every time a program switches to commercial on TV, the max volume is a shit load louder and with more commercials than ever before that means fiddling with the remote every other minute. It wasn't always this way and is way annoying.

Re:Wish they would regulate TV channels first. (4, Informative)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422728)

So why do you still watch TV in the first place? Go to eztv.it, or btjunkie.org, and let the stuff download on your home server. Fire-and-forget style. I even download whole shows. All series.

It’s like a Tivo. Only that it’s free, and people manually removed the ads for you. :)

I still use a remote and a big screen. Just that they are attached to my PC. (And that the screen is 9 feet wide and the sound is 5.1 :)

Re:Wish they would regulate TV channels first. (1)

RESPAWN (153636) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422874)

Actually, the Sleuth channel seems to be even worse at this than many others. They were recently showing a lot of James Bond movies, so I recorded several on my DVR. The volume during the movie actually seems lower than normal (I have to crank up the volume a couple of notches higher than most channels), but the volume during the commercials is insanely loud.

I guess I can look at the silver lining here. More than once these ear splitting commercials have woken me up when I fell asleep watching a movie. At least I got up and went to bed then instead of sleeping on the couch and winding up with a crick in my neck.

If anything, though, I catch even less of the commercials than I normally would as each commercial break is met with a frantic search for the remote so I can fast forward through them.

What next? (3, Funny)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422462)

EU regs on the maximum roughness of toilet paper?

Re:What next? (1)

Helmholtz (2715) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422508)

Reduction of fork tine length and ten fold increase in fork shaft weight to combat obesity.

Re:What next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30422830)

There isn't one the law states uses an American politician as they are allways seeking to grease their palm with some crap

And how will this work? (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422466)

The volume that you get out of phones depends on the voltage sent to the phones, which the volume dial regulates, but also the impedance and sensitivity of the phones, which it can't. So whatever limit you set won't work in all cases. If you limit it to 85dB for ultra efficient phones like the Ultimate Ears UE5s (21 ohms, 119dB/mw) it will be extremely silent on Sennheiser 580s (300 ohms, 97dB/mw). Likewise set the limit on the Sennheisers, and the UEs would still be able to go to extremely excessive volumes.

This just can't be done. Unless you force players to accept only a certain headphone, you can't limit the output in this manner. The range of headphone is extremely wide. With speakers this is mildly feasible since most speakers are 8 ohms (though there are plenty of 4 ohm ones, and some 12 or higher) and generally in the range of 85-90dB/watt (though there are speakers over 100dB/watt). However with headphones the variation is too much.

This will do nothing useful.

Re:And how will this work? (1)

bcmm (768152) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422586)

I worry that they'll just have to add the cost of a built-in ohmmeter to all MP3 players from now on.

Re:And how will this work? (2, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422670)

Well even if they do that, and then have it process for output levels, that doesn't solve the other half, the efficiency part. Different designs produce more or less sound given the same amount of power. Depends on the kind of drivers, the enclosure, how close to your ear, etc. As I said 580s have an efficiency of 95dB/mw meaning for one milliwatt of power (which in their case requires 0.5 volts) they produce 95dBSPL of sound at your ear. The UE 5 Pros have a 119dB/mw efficiency, meaning with the same one milliwatt of power (in their case needing only .14 volts) they produce 119dBSPL at your ear. So, even if you control it such that power is what is capped, you accomplish nothing. Set the 85dB cap for the UE's and the Sennheisers are going to be 61dB, which is about normal conversation level which would be hard to hear since they are open back. Set the 85dB for the Sennheisers, and the UE's will still go to 109dB, plenty to cause problem over long times.

This also doesn't even get in to the problem of the level of the music itself. While popular music tends to be extremely compressed and limited such that it maintains 0dBFS most of the time, that isn't the case for all music. If you have music that is -20dBFS average, you need to turn the volume dial up 20dB to get the same volume.

So all you'll end up doing is screwing over people who have quiet headphones and like ot listen to classical or jazz, and create a market for extremely loud, efficient headphones.

Re:And how will this work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30422732)

The impedance/resistance of the headphones correlates only weakly with the sensitivity.

This has worked for year (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30422618)

Remember the walkman ? They were also limited. just make sure you limit every parameter so that even the worst case come as 85 dB of noise, and you are OK.

Re:And how will this work? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422748)

Then it will become illegal to sell headphones outside of a specific efficiency range. Yay. :/

But hey, the point of this was not to limit the volume. The point was for someone to gain power or money. Find the one and you have found the answers.

MP3 players cannot control volume... (1)

Manip (656104) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422488)

MP3 players cannot control volume since they have no way of knowing how loud a headset/earphones will convert the output into. For example small earbud in-ear output extremely high volumes with very low powers, while "cup" headsets would output a much lower volume with the volume indicator set at the same point.

If MP3 players for example limit volume to 80% you might wind up requiring batteries for several high end headsets that are currently on sale (even while the volume is extremely low).

It can't just be MP3 players (1)

cntThnkofAname (1572875) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422496)

While I have no doubt that mp3 players and unregulated volume can cause hearing damage, one things these studies fail to look at is other developing technologies that can also play a part. People in my opinion, are very quick to blame one thing and one thing only. It's no doubt of anyones that we live in a louder time. I hear peoples car speakers when they drive by from my house, I'm constantly listening to loud music (not from head phones but from normal speakers), there's more traffic causing more ambient nose and to compensate music volume, speaking volume all get louder... not to mention the "necessity" for bigger and louder home theaters (the list can go on). These generally aren't problems grand-dad had to deal with. My point is, you can't just blame one thing and expect a problem as big and general as hearing loss to go away. If you limit head phones loudness then people may just decide to get better speakers to ruin their ears. Not to mention population growth... Even ten years ago 10 million people suffering from hearing loss would be a much higher percentage than today. I have seen warning labels that say prolonged exposure can cause hearing damage, and for all we know this is lowering the percent with hearing loss ... but instead of actually finding out what we can do to better prevent it they're just going to shove some money to someone and they'll make quieter head phones and the government will claim they care about peoples health. Really I think they are wasting their time on this one.

traffic noise (1)

kanweg (771128) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422498)

"... are often listened to while in traffic with the volume very high to drown out outside noise."

So, it would be nice if they imposed some regulations on traffic noise (and inside car noise) as well.


Easy bypass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30422502)

I'll just turn my player up to 11. Problem solved.

Re:Easy bypass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30422794)

I'll just turn my player up to 11. Problem solved.

Why don't you just make one that's louder and make that volume 10?

The problem COULD be elsewhere.. (3, Insightful)

MindPrison (864299) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422510)

many of my peers are listening to VERY loud music at the clubs, in their home, in their cars - with ridiculous oversized stereos etc. I'm pretty sure that the MP3 players alone won't make a difference at all.

I'm in my 40's now, and I've been listening to MP3 players (including the first Walkmans/MiniDisc Players) since the beginning of my childhood, more than others...because I wasn't allowed to play loud music, and I found a great personal "peace" in listening to these - as loud as I wanted - wherever I wanted, any time.

This never damaged my hearing in any way, I've had my hearing checked regularly, and guess what - despite always using headphones - yes - even today...to avoid problems with my neighbors - I still hear like a 20 year old. Responsive at 18 khz or better, while my peers - can't even detect a 15 khz tone, and they always play loud music on their speakers...which I don't even have.

Go figure...

Re:The problem COULD be elsewhere.. (1)

Sirusjr (1006183) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422764)

I agree, and loud is relative. The people who spend every night at clubs or concerts without hearing protection are going to have many more hearing problems than people who listen to moderately loud music on headphones frequently. Although I think the biggest problem is the majority of the population is listening to those terribly cheap ear buds that come with players and think they should be able to cancel out all the sound around them. They ARE NOT noise canceling headphones and were not developed for that purpose.

I travel on the Tube to work (4, Interesting)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422538)

It's a pity the EU doesn't apply noise limits to public transport. The Victoria Line of the London Underground regularly hits 100dB. Travel on it to work every day for five years and your hearing will be permanently fucked up by it. Like mine.

Re:I travel on the Tube to work (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422718)

If only there were some sort of device you could place in your ears to dampen loud noises.

Re:I travel on the Tube to work (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422864)

And I do indeed use the headphones for just that. However, the Underground is not going to admit what they've been doing to people's hearing without a strong push.

EU "experts", my ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30422544)

Oh, that's just as I expected. Another show of cluelessness by "think of the children!" bureaucrats.

Since what is important is the acoustic pressure at the input to your own transducer (at the eardrum), you'd need to put a tiny litte pressure transducer right there to measure it. That would be the only way of protecting your hearing independently of exterior noise and the type of headphones being used.

There is no way to limit the acoustic pressure without having a way of measuring it, and closing the feedback loop. Even if they'd standardize (read: force on everyone) a standard headphone *electrical* impedance, there's still acoustic impedance between the headphone's transducer and your eardrum. Heck, your own transducer may not be as sensitive as whatever they take to be "standard" (say if you have some hearing loss). Unfortunately all those important details are completely lost on our bureaucrat screamers.

I wrote a script to play randomized tones at various frequencies through the headphones, just like an audiometer would. Things radically change depending on how far in did I push the headphones, and what headphones I use. By "radically" I mean 30dB of difference between hearing thresholds, easy. I retried that in downtown, and -- as expected -- the results were farther off, still. What that means is that any silly limiting based on *electrical power* delivered to the heardphones will make the music player useless in all but the quietest environments. The idiot who had this clever idea never actually did any experiments/measurements before speaking crap in the public. Dear EU bureaucrat, ahem, expert, sir/madam, you are an idiot. You deserve to be called nothing less.

There's a better solution.... (1)

zen-o-matic (1699464) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422580)

This problem can be solved much more easily: get a pair of good noise cancelling / in-ear headphones (Sony, Sennheiser et al.) and there's no need for high levels of volume anymore. For example, I listen to music for hours every day and I've never had to crank up the volume more than 50% on my Creative Zen because I have good headphones. (If you stood behind me and screamed or fired a gun and I wouldn't hear a thing.) Perhaps some consumer education is in place?

Already like that in France (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30422582)

For the record, such a law already exists in France since ... well years, maybe a decade; it limits audio output of portable audio players to 100 decibels and the ipod was withdraw from saled a few years ago because it could reach 130. Since then (~2003-2004) every ipod sold in europe has been limited to 100 decibels and everyone doesn't seem to have a problem with it.
Now I know a lot of people dislike it when the governement thinks it knows what's best for us more than ourselves (and I usually agree), but before blaming them remember that 1 - 85/100 decibels is pretty loud given a decent set of plugs and 2 - this limit pretty much already exists, they're just trying to set an EU-wide law to uniform it.

How? (1)

nameer (706715) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422608)

The number of decibels reaching the ear depends on a number of factors. The RMS voltage of the signal, the efficiency of the drivers, the style of the headphones, etc. Is the EU planning to limit the amplifier to a particular gain? If so, will my pre-loudness war recordings suffer as I won't be able to apply enough gain to get them up to even 70 dB? Won't this incentivise the recording studios to make the loudness war even worse (it sounds "good" at maximum gain!) Or will they monitor the RMS voltage after the amplifier, and limit it to some value? In that case, consumers will likely choose low impedance, high sensitivity headphones to get higher volumes.

My point is that simply legislating MP3 players to produce no more than 85 dB is a rather odd request, as the MP3 player can't know what dB it's producing. I see what they are trying to accomplish, but I think it is futile and will probably result in worse players. I guess as long as they restrict it to the headphone amp and leave the line-out alone, one can always build/buy their own amplifier.

Oh, and I love the analogy of 120 dB = jet taking off. From how far away? I'm constantly within ear shot of jets taking off, and I would put it at 60 dB. Of course, that is probably on the order of 1 mile away. I would guess if you were standing on the runway directly below the jet as it was taking off it could even exceed 120 dB.

Re:How? (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422820)

Ya very bad choice with the jet thing. Right next to a jet engine? More like 140dB. 120dB is out in the open probably 200-300m away. 120dB is notable not in relation to a jet but in that it is generally the threshold that produces immediate pain and is unsafe, even for extremely short periods of time. However jets are much louder than that, hence the massive ear protection ground crews wear.

Dear government (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422620)

If we want to retain our hearing we can turn our volume below the maximum. If we want our children to retain their hearing many music players, like the iPod touch, have a parental control feature that limits volume.

Please stop trying to protect people from themselves.

Yeah right... (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422624)

Modern personal players are seen as more dangerous than stationary players or old-fashioned cassette or disk players because they can store hours of music [...]

Because my Walkman with a dozen cassettes in the backpack, and my MP3 CD player couldn’t do that...

[...] and are often listened to while in traffic with the volume very high to drown out outside.

And here is the real reason.

What about other devices? (1)

AusIV (950840) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422656)

I hardly ever use my iPod with headphones. Usually it's plugged into speakers or my car stereo. In those cases the signal quality seems to correlate to the volume set on the player, but the volume itself is set by the amplifier. Admittedly, kicking the volume up to the player's 100% tends to distort the signal, but setting the player to a level that would be "safe" in headphones is short of the best signal.

Re:What about other devices? (1)

eqisow (877574) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422858)

You need to use the line out instead of the headphone jack to get live level [wikipedia.org] output that completely bypasses the internal amp circuity. Unfortunately, for the iPod this means getting a line out device that attaches to the port on the bottom.

At any rate, use the line out for what it's intended and this won't be a problem for you. :)

Nanny state (4, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422674)

Since when is a government in charge of proper parenting? Have we now delegated "common sense" to bureaucrats?

I certainly remember my parents warning me of the dangers of listening to loud music. I have warned my children. Because children rarely listen, I often have to reinforce this warning, and even take their iPods away when I catch them. This is called parenting. It's not 100% successful. My children are not drilled soldiers and so they don't always listen to me. That's normal. I didn't always listen to my parents, either. However it's my job to keep trying.

      The possibilities for one human to harm himself or others are limitless. Are we going to have to legislate each one? Every single law a government makes takes away something from the people. Yes it's stupid to deafen yourself by listening to loud music. However PEOPLE ARE ALLOWED TO BE STUPID. Laws normally help prevent or settle dispute between citizens. It's not right that you play your music on your stereo at full volume in your crowded downtown neighborhood at 3am. Not everyone out of your 400 neighbors is in a partying mood. It's not right that you drive drunk and plow your car into another because of your intoxication. It's not right that everyone in the airplane has to put up with your stench if you haven't quit smoking yet. However who is harmed, apart from yourself, if you wear headphones and crank up the volume?

      The real danger here, I believe, is that sort of legislation that is trying to accomplish one thing - perhaps some legislator is tired of listening to the tinny sounds of people's MP3 players cranked at full volume in public - under the guise of something else - "oh we're doing it to save people from themselves".

While they're at it... (1)

papapurinii (1668842) | more than 4 years ago | (#30422790)

Why don't they ban tobacco, alcohol and Amsterdam's prostitution? Oh wait. That would be CONSISTENT. Sorry.
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