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Is the iPod Generation Going Deaf?

ScuttleMonkey posted about 9 years ago | from the welcome-your-hearing-aid-dependant-overlords dept.

Portables 632

prozac79 writes "Ars Technica and Wired News are both running interesting articles on how personal music players are a major contributor [ArsTechnica] to early hearing loss [Wired]. According the ArsTechnica article, an increasing number of people are now living in "noisy" environments that is only made worse by blocking it out with even louder music. The article also suggests that listening to music for one hour a day is considered safe. So now you have a choice... go deaf early or go insane listening to your coworkers chatter."

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What about Bose Headphones? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13554674)

I have a pair of Bose Quietcomfort headphones, and I wonder if the noise cancelling is actually damaging my hearing. What do you think?

Re:What about Bose Headphones? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13554681)

What did you say?

Re:What about Bose Headphones? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13554683)

Sorry what was that?

Re:What about Bose Headphones? (1)

mrselfdestrukt (149193) | about 9 years ago | (#13554903)

He said his boss is quite comfortable with his nose-channeling hearing phones.

Re:What about Bose Headphones? (2, Funny)

fireklar (533430) | about 9 years ago | (#13554719)

No, but it may be damaging your thinking.

Noise Cancelling Headphones (1, Offtopic)

zippthorne (748122) | about 9 years ago | (#13554755)

The technology has been around quite a while. so long in fact that I have a pair from Circuit City that cost around $14 that blocks the low frequency stuff quite well. (so amazingly well on airplanes that I use them even when not listening to anything just to take a nap.)

It's just speakers, an inverting op-amp, and microphones. None of those components are very expensive or complicated, so what's with the bose pricing.

for that matter, what's with bose pricing on any of its equipment. It's still just cheap speakers in a plastic case no matter how you dress it up.

Probably not (3, Interesting)

jpardey (569633) | about 9 years ago | (#13554775)

Even if they are active, they will just cancel out the external sounds. I am not sure how to work it out, but I would expect the energy to transfer to heat or somethin'. I would think that noise cancelling headphones would reduce hearing loss, as you don't need as much sound.

Re:What about Bose Headphones? (1)

slash_quark (577285) | about 9 years ago | (#13554838)

I'd think it would help...+20 + -20 = 0, no?

Ditch the stock buds and anything Bose (1)

ogewo (652234) | about 9 years ago | (#13554855)

A pair of high quality phones will reveal details without you neededing to turn up the volume. Isolation also means you aren't turning up the juice to make up for loud surroundings. Shure Etymotic Ultimate Ears Sensaphonics Westone

Re:What about Bose Headphones? (5, Funny)

afidel (530433) | about 9 years ago | (#13554856)

I'll make the typical audiophile quip: If you like the sound of Bose you have nothing to worry about, you're already deaf =)

Go deaf. (3, Funny)

Mister Impressive (875697) | about 9 years ago | (#13554678)

Win win situation. Listen to music until you're deaf, and then never be able to here your chatty coworkers again!

All good (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13554680)

If you go deaf you won't have to hear your coworkers chatter. Where's the downside?

1985 (5, Insightful)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | about 9 years ago | (#13554682)

Is the Walkman Generation Going Deaf?

US News and World Report and Newsweek are both running interesting articles on how personal tape players are a major contributor [US News] to early hearing loss [Newsweek]. According the US News article, an increasing number of people are now living in "noisy" environments that is only made worse by blocking it out with even louder music. The article also suggests that listening to music for one hour a day is considered safe. So now you have a choice... go deaf early or go insane listening to your coworkers chatter."

Nothing new hear, we've been getting this since at least 1980. There are likely stories about how the photograph, motion picture "talkie", transister radio and lord knows whatelse cause problems.

Re:1985 (5, Insightful)

Nutria (679911) | about 9 years ago | (#13554721)

Nothing new hear, we've been getting this since at least 1980.

I am hard of hearing, and I lay the blame squarely on myself for, in the late 70s/early 80s, slapping on headphones and cranking up the volume.

My parents warned me, but of course I didn't pay attention...

Re:1985 (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | about 9 years ago | (#13554742)

I think I've suffered slight hearing damage from too much time in nightclubs where the volume was way high.

However, I never listen to portable music, not for the risk of hearing damage, but because it lowers concentration levels, I think. I spend most of my day thinking quite deeply about various things, and a constant soundtrack in the background interferes with that. Plus it's anti-social as it cuts out any interaction with people you don't know who might otherwise say "hello," along with all the little social lubricants, like thanks, sorry and jokes.

Re:1985 (1)

Trillan (597339) | about 9 years ago | (#13554759)

I think quite deeply most of the day, too.

"Lunch -- Quizno's or Subway?"

Re:1985 (1)

Kelson (129150) | about 9 years ago | (#13554763)

War Games, portable music... We really are still preoccupied with 1985!

Re:1985 (1)

Barlo_Mung_42 (411228) | about 9 years ago | (#13554788)

"Nothing new hear"
Pun intended I assume.
I agree with you to the extent that this was my first reaction as well. But then I considered the difference between the iPod and the Walkman. I was there in 1984 and played Panama and Hot for Teacher (but not Jump) over and over and over.
But I didn't have 20+ GB of music to listen to and play all day long like I do now.
Maybe now that I'm in the late summer of my 30s I'm just getting older but it does seem like my hearing is going more now than it did back then.

Going Def? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13554684)

Oh so that explains why I can olny hear stuff with my ipod on..

Someone had to say it... (1)

deadlierchair (852262) | about 9 years ago | (#13554686)


Trust me... (1)

jpardey (569633) | about 9 years ago | (#13554843)

Somebody did.

Hello, Mcfly! (5, Insightful)

Glendale2x (210533) | about 9 years ago | (#13554687)

Uhm... yes? If I can hear the music clearly from your earbuds across the room, your "coolness factor" (apparently consisting of making sure everyone can hear your really loud rap music) will not prevent hearing damage. I say let 'em. Common sense will prevail for the rest of us.

Re:Hello, Mcfly! (-1, Flamebait)

MWoody (222806) | about 9 years ago | (#13554798)

Wow, Ma'am, you're awfully old to be posting on slashdot. You should probably get back to your bridge game.

Re:Hello, Mcfly! (1)

y0saph (865086) | about 9 years ago | (#13554815)

well, listening to rap music would turn anyone deaf :D

Re:Hello, Mcfly! (1)

E8086 (698978) | about 9 years ago | (#13554886)

I am Darth Vader from the planet Vulcan

"If I can hear the music clearly from your earbuds across the room" I once told that to a friend then tested them myself, for some reason some cheap headphones, the ones that rest on your ear sound louder to everyone else in the room than to the person wearing them. I'm sure there are others who max out the volume to cover up all other noise in the room/bus/train or want to seem "cool" to everyone else, like that guy in Star Trek IV with the boom box, yes, another mid-80s movie.
My iPod volume is never over 40%, as much as I like to hear what I'm listening to, I like to be able to hear what's going on around me. I have no desire to be "that guy/girl" completely preoccupied with their music or cell phone that they loose their situational awareness and walk inot cars and other people.

Re:Hello, Mcfly! (5, Funny)

Farmer Tim (530755) | about 9 years ago | (#13554915)

I say let 'em. Common sense will prevail for the rest of us.

Problem: if stupid people go deaf the rest of us will have to listen to them shouting their inane conversations at each other.

Is it just music players? (5, Insightful)

miaDWZ (820679) | about 9 years ago | (#13554691)

I find, when walking down the street - that I've got my iPod's volume up to the highest level. It's not because I really like the song, and want to hear it really loudly, but rather, I can't hear it if I turn it down at all. Simply because of the passing traffic is so noisy.

Had I kept the iPod down to a lower level, say at 0.75 or 0.5 - then I simply wouldn't be able to hear it - so, perhaps the problem is not the music players, but rather, an increase in noise from other locations? For example, traffic?

Is the world itself getting noisier?

Re:Is it just music players? (3, Interesting)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 9 years ago | (#13554733)

It also doesn't help that iPods come with earbud-style headphones. If they came with larger ones that covered your ears, then you wouldn't have to turn the volume up so loud to hear it.

Re:Is it just music players? (2, Insightful)

Neil Blender (555885) | about 9 years ago | (#13554774)

When I was a teenager, I worked in a wood processing plant during the summer. It was really loud and everyone wore hearing protection. I started using a walkman and played it really loud to cover the noise. I was quickly warned that anecdotal evidence (experience of people working at that particular plant) suggested that that was a very bad idea. I switched to ear plugs.

As for the world being noisier, I think it is. Get a pair of Bose noise reduction headphones and try them in your office. Once the drone of your computer, any other office machines and the HVAC goes away, it gets pretty quiet. The difference between wearing the headphones turned off (no noise reduction) and turned on (with noise reduction) is amazing. Plus, if you have an ipod, I can't imagine the sound being worse for you than having earbuds jammed in your ear. In addition, the noise reduction allows you to listen at a lower volume. The downside is they cost $300 but I say worth every cent.

Re:Is it just music players? (1)

ForestGrump (644805) | about 9 years ago | (#13554810)

whats 300 bucks now if you lose your hearing tomorrow? 300 bucks is peanuts compared to hearing aids and doctor appointments, etc etc. trust me, i used to have a friend who was hard of hearing. (he got it when he was a kid and had a high fever, but my point still holds).

As for the world getting noiser, yes it is. Cars with farting cans of bumble bees, increasing amounts of traffic, hvac, and more and more electronics/gadgets.

go away to a national park for a week and come back to a major city. holy moly you'll go crazy.

Re:Is it just music players? (1)

Neil Blender (555885) | about 9 years ago | (#13554890)

Go away to a national park for a week and come back to a major city. holy moly you'll go crazy.

When I was in college, I drove way out to the middle of nowhere in a friend's POS car that was really, really noisy, plus we blasted music all the way. When we stopped the car, turned off the music, and got out, I experienced an epiphany with regards to what "the silence is deafening" meant.

Re:Is it just music players? (2, Informative)

rm999 (775449) | about 9 years ago | (#13554873)

I just bought these headphones: 065BP9/ []

They offer really good sound isolation (I sat next to the engines in a loud airplane last month and when I wore them I heard almost nothing).

They are a good alternative to sound cancellation - if you don't let sound in, you don't need to cancel it with iffy technology. Plus it costs less than 10% of the money and gives superb sound quality (not audiophile, but the best you can expect for less than a 100 imo).

Re:Is it just music players? (2, Insightful)

earnest murderer (888716) | about 9 years ago | (#13554802)

Had I kept the iPod down to a lower level, say at 0.75 or 0.5 - then I simply wouldn't be able to hear it - so, perhaps the problem is not the music players, but rather, an increase in noise from other locations? For example, traffic?

Headphones with active noise canceling will help with that. Where I used to keep the volume at 75% or more, I now rarely bump it above 30%.

Re:Is it just music players? (2, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | about 9 years ago | (#13554840)

I like quiet, so sometimes I use noise cancelling headphones. Good ones can be expensive but worth it to keep my sanity - plus I have a reason not to hear the phone :)

Anyway, on the few times I use it to play music versus regular pairs of headphone, I notice that I don't have to set the volume up nearly as much.

Even when a TV is blaring in the next room.

Note: I don't know if those things fit an iPod or portable music player in general as I don't have one..... but mine uses a battery in of itself, so I see no problem.

Car stereos + loud exhausts (4, Interesting)

JonTurner (178845) | about 9 years ago | (#13554844)

It's not just mp3 players, it's car stereos (especially the 1000+ watt "boom cars") and loud exhausts. Some of the cars on the streets in my town can produce sound pressures that are actually painful -- from a distance of ten feet, in another car, with the windows up!!

Even base stereo systems these days are 60+ watts. That's enough to cause substantial hearing loss in a matter of weeks if listened to repeatedly, for an hour or more per day.

I can't even imagine how profound the boomcar boyz hearing loss must be. Not that I care... karma and all that.

Ever attended a rock concert? It's a near certainty that you did permanent damage toyour high frequency hearing.

Bring lawn tools into the equation (leaf blowers, lawn mowers, chainsaws, etc.) and that == more hearing loss.

However, it's not just the under-thirty crowd. Many of our fathers served time in the military, when hearing protection meant sticking your finger in your ear before the guy next to you threw a grenade or fired a 30.06. Hearing loss didn't mean shit when your biggest concern was not being shot on a beach landing. The difference is the genX'ers are *choosing* to damage their hearing.

err dude... TFA. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13554847)

That's exactly what TFA was referring to. Being in a noisy environment, people have to turn up the volume on their players -- resulting in greater stress to their hearing.

Walkmen (3, Interesting)

esaloch (733370) | about 9 years ago | (#13554693)

Was this not a problem when the walkman was introduced or is our environment a lot noisier now? I'm just curious as it seems this would affect every generation since the walkman was introduced not just the "ipod generation". Then again, I admit I didn't rtfa.

Re:Walkmen (1)

madbastd (632125) | about 9 years ago | (#13554734)

Yes, there was exactly the same problem when the walkman was first popular in the early 80s (I'm showing my age here): lots of sensationalist hype about hearing loss, which didn't pan out into much reality.

Re:Walkmen (1)

DingerX (847589) | about 9 years ago | (#13554781)

That's what the article's about (or rather the article's parent on the major news feeds). iPod generation my butt. We're just getting the data in from the "Walkman generation", and sure enough:

Hearing specialists say they're also seeing more people in their 30s and 40s -- many of them among the first Walkman users -- who suffer from more pronounced tinnitus, an internal ringing or even the sound of whooshing or buzzing in the ears.

I didn't use my walkman that much, so my tinnitus isn't that bad.

Not a binary solution set (4, Insightful)

Nutria (679911) | about 9 years ago | (#13554694)

go deaf early or go insane listening to your coworkers chatter.

Or wear ear plugs.

It'll be difficult for some people to stop wearing headsets. You get used to the "company", and become a bit nervous when there's silence.

Re:Not a binary solution set (5, Funny)

Mateito (746185) | about 9 years ago | (#13554908)

I find that I can better hear the voices in my head with the iPod turned off.

Eh, what? What's that you say? Speak up!! (4, Interesting)

pieterh (196118) | about 9 years ago | (#13554696)

Deafness is a useful adaption to the modern working environment. A touch of deafness blocks out the computer fans, the traffic noise, the endless airplanes flying overhead, the neighbour's kids, and the wife. The only problem is that it takes more and more volume to produce that "oh, yeah!"effect when listening to music. But that's someone else's problem.

Personally, I went partly deaf at the age of 16 from spending too much time on a firing range. But most of my peers went similarly deaf not from the iPod, but from the Sony Walkman.

This story is about 25 years too late. I guess each generation reinvents the "we went deaf because..." story.

Re:Eh, what? What's that you say? Speak up!! (1)

StarkRG (888216) | about 9 years ago | (#13554909)

I guess each generation reinvents the "we went deaf because..." story.

Yeah, before walkmen it was phonographs, and before that it was masturbation. Oh wait, that was blindness...

Misbranded (2, Insightful)

gunpowda (825571) | about 9 years ago | (#13554697)

This could happen regardless of whether you use a portable music device or not. Anyone who goes out to clubs will be exposed to loud music anyway, and in that kind of setting you can't control the volume.

I believe EU iPods have a volume limit anyway, but this is easily removed [] .

maybe... (1)

fearanddread (836731) | about 9 years ago | (#13554700)


Re:maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13554747)


Industrial Rev? (1)

hot_Karls_bad_cavern (759797) | about 9 years ago | (#13554701)

er ... a marked movement for us as humans ... how'd their ears weather?

Just asking.

Your damange from your iPod isn't changing the planet ... at this time.

Simple question (1)

Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) | about 9 years ago | (#13554704)

What the fuck, exactly, is the "iPod Generation"? Theres a whole generation that defines itself by its MP3 player now? Where are they and are their women cute, cos they sure ain't too smart.

Re:Simple question (1)

Mateito (746185) | about 9 years ago | (#13554745)

What is the age Span of a generation? I know grandmothers and 5 year olds with iPods. So find the mean age and look one standard deviation each side and call that a generation?

I wonder if these are the sames people that we the "Tamagotchi" generation only a few years ago.

Re:Simple question (1)

Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) | about 9 years ago | (#13554820)

A generation is the period from when a person is born to when they start having children, or something like that. I think the common acceptance is 30 years. I've had people 4 years younger than me telling me they were a different generation. The next generation is being born now, my fine redheaded stepchild, at least from my perspective. Whatever it is, it AIN'T what the marketroids tell you. And yes I'm talking to you MTV and Apple fans.

Re:Simple question (1)

mcc (14761) | about 9 years ago | (#13554760)

Where are they and are their women cute

They're mostly dancing in front of single-color backdrops, and their women are pretty much just silhouettes

Re:Simple question (1)

Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) | about 9 years ago | (#13554836)

and their women are pretty much just silhouettes

I'll still find a way to hit it.

Re:Simple question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13554870)

The ipod generation is those who are old enough to recognize a cassette if they see one but young enough to have never owned one. They would be astounded to know that they were actually used as digital mass storage media for the really hot game consoles (and PCs) of an earlier generation.

Chatter is good for you (1, Flamebait)

ReformedExCon (897248) | about 9 years ago | (#13554706)

A sign of a healthy office is a fairly high level of chatter. It means that people get along well with each other and are comfortable talking amongst themselves. Some large, draconian corporations try to encourage this through "company picnics" and other hokey things that force people together who would otherwise not normally associate. Companies where people like each other generally do not need such encouragement.

If you are so anti-social that you feel that your coworkers' chatting is driving you insane (I'm sure you're exaggerating), I wouldn't be surprised to find that others also find you socially repulsive. Humans are a social animal and anti-social behavior is a sign of sickness. If you notice people chatting near you, it is a sign of a healthy personality that you join them for a few laughs. Turning up your iPod is not healthy.

And who said you need to have music to tune out coworkers anyway? If you are really bothered by their presence, earplugs work very well. And they don't hurt your hearing.

Re:Chatter is good for you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13554779) oversion []
Facts are good for you too.

Re:Chatter is good for you (1)

ReformedExCon (897248) | about 9 years ago | (#13554807)

Thanks for the link!

Yes, just as too much introversion is a sign of a problem, so too is too much extroversion.

A mentally healthy person will typically find some middle ground.

Re:Chatter is good for you (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Crowhead (577505) | about 9 years ago | (#13554860)

If you are so anti-social that you feel that your coworkers' chatting is driving you insane

I don't know about you, but I find a twenty minute "chat" about the latest goings-on of Survivor or the some other reality show to be about all it takes to drive me nuts. Especially when the "chat" involves someone who hasn't done a 5 minute task I asked them to do three days ago but has found time to have numerous other "chats" in addition to lunch breaks, coffee breaks, etc.

Sony AVLS (1)

astromog (866411) | about 9 years ago | (#13554710)

From the Ars article:

Should companies like Apple take the initiative and add functionality to music players that assess the safety of output sound levels? Given the wide-variety of headphone options and quality, is it even possible?

Sony's portable audio players have had a system to limit the volume for quite a long time now (many years at least), the Automatic Volume Limiter System (AVLS). A quick search with google [] reveals that it was/is quite wide-spread amongst their devices. Even their PDAs feature it.

Keep out of the Charity Noise on the Streets! (1)

nighty5 (615965) | about 9 years ago | (#13554714)

I love my music device, especially when I can glide past the ever annoying people trying to sell you something on the streets.

Almost every street block now in Sydney, we have these hawkers that try to come up to with "with a question" or some other crap, now I just simply ignore them - and it doesnt seem as rude if you have something stuck in your ear!

Re:Keep out of the Charity Noise on the Streets! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13554887)

Really? Sydney.. Australia. I hardly ever see hawkers. Occasionally you see people who are asking for money for shitty things like Cancer Research, AIDS research and starving children in Africa.

Even worse are those monkey's who stand on the corner selling the Big Issue, trying to make a living even though they are homeless.

etymotic in ear headphones (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13554723)

They block outside noise by 23db, so you don't have to turn the music up to drown out the noise. I sometimes leave them in even without listening to music. They are nearly as good as a pair of headphone style hearing protectors. []

Re:etymotic in ear headphones (5, Informative)

cbirkett (904502) | about 9 years ago | (#13554901)

I was going to suggest exactly the same thing. My er6is are a godsend in noisy environments. When I stick them in my ears, I can't even hear a person talking beside me. An added bonus is that because there's no background noise, you don't need to turn up the volume as much. Of course, there are cons, like the inability to hear warnings, phones, and such, but you have to take that into account when you decide to use them. I keep the phone where I can see it ringing, keep an eye on the receptionist when I'm waiting for an appointment, etc. They're basically like earplugs that can play music.

Etymotic also makes sound attenuators for use when you actually want to be able to hear what's going on. They reduce sound by approximately 20dB in a fairly linear way, which is great for obnoxiously loud concerts, clubs, etc. They're pretty cheap, too.

What? (1, Redundant)

mlwarrior (914762) | about 9 years ago | (#13554728)

Could you turn it up?

What? (1, Funny)

cmacb (547347) | about 9 years ago | (#13554738)

I can't hear you.

Twat? (0, Troll) troll (593289) | about 9 years ago | (#13554800)

I cunt hair you.

Sound level meter (1)

toucci (834101) | about 9 years ago | (#13554743)

I picked up a high quality, handheld sound level meter at a local electronics store for less than $100. No more worrying or second guessing myself when enjoying music in loud environments. I figure the potential hearing damage I'll be preventing is well worth the small investment.

Ironic (2, Funny)

gpw213 (691600) | about 9 years ago | (#13554744)

I followed the link to the Wired News article, and the ad on the side of the page was for the iPod nano.

Every generation has it's own disease. (5, Informative)

Talondel (693866) | about 9 years ago | (#13554746)

Didn't I read this same story about Walkman's 20 years ago? And didn't they decide the effects were negligable? Oh yeah I did. Abstract from a study in 1987: Krahenbuhl D, Arnold W, Fried R, Chuden H. Investigations on 50 high school students showed that this group had been using the "Walkman" only 1.5 h. per day during the last 14 months. A comparison of the audiometric results obtained with these 50 "Walkman" users, with those of 20 age-related non-"Walkman" users, showed no statistically significant differences. The investigation further revealed that to avoid hearing loss, an upper threshold level of 93 dB (A) should not be exceeded for a daily "Walkman" user time of two hours. PMID: 3613781 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Is the pr0n generation going blind? (1)

Bob Cat - NYMPHS (313647) | about 9 years ago | (#13554748)

Dunno, but I typed this on my Braille keyboard.

Not just the iPodsters (1)

wlvdc (842653) | about 9 years ago | (#13554753)

Ofcourse it's not just the iPod, but people voluntarily exposing their very sensitive ears to very music/sound/noise for a longer period. It was really cool to play very loud music when the first walkman came out. I also wonder what the long term effects will be of using the Click Wheel and exposure to 1.5 inch iPod nano screens. Also afraid that the hearing loss will cause people to turn up their volume, causing even more noise.

I can still hear the music... (1)

Bob Cat - NYMPHS (313647) | about 9 years ago | (#13554767)

Then again, this iPod goes to 11.

Re:I can still hear the music... (1)

eurenix (912380) | about 9 years ago | (#13554859)

Somehow, this made me feel old. I never even watched the movie, just that one clip, but it still maked me feel old.

Re:I can still hear the music... (1)

trellick (67244) | about 9 years ago | (#13554868)

Mod this up ++ !!

LOL - had to do a double-take when I read this comment.

Moderators learn your pop culture references!

thats why.. (1)

dotpavan (829804) | about 9 years ago | (#13554770)

..the present day singers believe in lip-syncing, this way they are not the "cause" for noise pollution into your ears, it is the original singer. on a serious note, ear-buds are also known to cause ear infection, especially when shared. Maybe directional speakers (heard somewhere) can help, which can beam sound in a particular direction (assuming you are in office/room).

Personally, I've noticed the opposite. (2, Interesting)

Mustang Matt (133426) | about 9 years ago | (#13554793)

I don't have an ipod, but I do listen to music through headphones. I'm a bit hard of hearing and for the past year or so when I listen to music I play it at the absolute lowest volume that I can hear it. Maybe it's just in my mind but I've noticed an improvement in my hearing. Not to mention it's less of a distraction to my development (and/or slashdot postings).

Consequently, this behavior makes me realize that I need a quieter PC case. I've got a home made hack job case too many fans. I think it's time to upgrade to a professionally built case that would be quieter but I'm still having a hard time justifying dumping $150-$300 on a case.

After that I've still got fish tanks that make a significant amount of noise. Not much I can do about that other than keep the water levels full or get rid of them alltogether.

The 80s called ... (5, Insightful)

Udo Schmitz (738216) | about 9 years ago | (#13554796)

... they want their discussion back :)

Seriously: I was born 1969 and clearly are part of the walkman generation, using one (OK, cheap copycats) from the mid 80s till the early 90s. Then I exposed my ears to techno parties :-P Whenever they check my hearing at the doctor or hospital they are surprised how good I hear considered my age.

So let me say:


Get better headphones!!!! (1)

Piranhaa (672441) | about 9 years ago | (#13554804)

The ear-plug style headphones (Sony's and Apple's off the top of my head) are very good. Even if noise cancelling isn't built into them - they help substantially in blocking outside noises. That allows the listener to to listen to their music at whatever volume they want. They are really nice when in noisy environments (mowing the lawn and trimming, etc)...

ipod == gateway device (2, Funny)

Boss Sauce (655550) | about 9 years ago | (#13554805)

Careful folks, these iPods are just a hint of things to come. iPod listeners are sure to move onto harder stuff-- their fiendish desires will lead them to actual *concerts* where large speakers will jackhammer their tender little eardrums to oblivion.

iPods don't make people deaf; really really loud sounds make people deaf.

Speakin of (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13554811)

Yes, i like loud music with mo background noise whatsoever. Im 20 and i think things are getting a tad softer. Gotta watch it...egh

Ipods are the new nicotine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13554817)

If your workmates can stand it use low powered portable speakers and you'll find that thats far less stressful.


This type of thing is the reason why I have not bought an ipod. Being someone who writes music every day and has to listen to it loudly a lot of the time I'm not stupid enough to fill in the gaps at work and travelling with yet more abuse

Personally I'd rather have a lifetime of enjoying music than a gradually declining one. Much as the attraction of being a geriatric curmudgeon demanding people scream at him so he can hear attracts me.

Well... (1)

dauthur (828910) | about 9 years ago | (#13554825)

"So now you have a choice... go deaf early or go insane listening to your coworkers chatter."

Oh noes, I have to choose? Excuse me, but going deaf via good music, as opposed to listening to my wonderful Belarusian computer geek co-workers bicker in Russian? Hah! I think I'll choose music! At least it's in Englisch.

Obligitory... (-1, Redundant)

rthille (8526) | about 9 years ago | (#13554845)


same old, same old (1)

l3v1 (787564) | about 9 years ago | (#13554865)

They said the same about walkmans back in the day. I'd like to see some real statistics about how many people went deaf from walkman listening, then some real statistics about how many went deaf from portable music player listening, then maybe I'll start paying attention. Until then, all this is just yet another guy's need for attention.

Closed ear headphones (1)

Dogun (7502) | about 9 years ago | (#13554867)

Just get something that closes over the ear entirely. Sennheiser hd212's are pretty nice, and they don't need to be loud to ignore the outside environment (closed form muffles some of the outside sound.) You'll appreciate them.

Re:Closed ear headphones (1)

toucci (834101) | about 9 years ago | (#13554896)

Yes, I was using cirucmaural headphones today and the measured spl was nearly the same as the ambient noise (~58 dba) and yet it was clearly audible due to the ambient noise attenuation of closed ear cans. The only downside is looking like a dork in public, but most of us already do anyways.

FP? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13554872)

I would have got first post, but I couldn't hear the sound of the reply button (I use IE, with sounds enabled).

Pardon? (2, Funny)

Dunwich (155562) | about 9 years ago | (#13554877)

Aye? what was that? SPEAK UP!

Just don't use open-air earphones (1)

Wwolmack (731212) | about 9 years ago | (#13554879)

Most headphones and earbuds sold nowadays are "open air" which allows all the noise you don't want in.
This is ostensibly a saftey "feature" so you don't get run over by a bus that you didn't hear.

I find this to be stupid.
You aren't going to be hit by a bus on the subway/bus/if you aren't brain dead. The point of earbuds is to hear ONLY what you want.
If I wanted to hear the subway wheel orchestra, i'd take an earbud out.

I bought a pair of Sony MDR-EX51LP earbuds (the ones that have the silicone gaskets) and they block out pretty much everything without having to crank the volume up to uncomfortable levels. The sony's are a great cheap ($26 on amazon) alternative to the $100+ Shure earbuds and definately the $200+ etymolic research earbuds.

A good pair of "studio monitor" type headphones will also do the trick, but they are way bigger, more expensive, and you will look dorky on the subway/bus. Its also kind of odd when your headphones/earbuds are bigger than your mp3 player.

1 hour a day is safe?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13554883)

According to [] in order for 1 hour a day of safe listening you could play your music at 105 db which is louder than a chainsaw!

At 90db or the loudness of a motor cycle you could safely listen for 8 hours a day. so meh.

- Coward

inadvertent danger (2, Insightful)

ctime (755868) | about 9 years ago | (#13554885)

This is a similar comparison to the thoery that cell phones might give you some kind of brain cancer. It's still highly disputed and nobody can be too certain, there is logic to it but it's hard to prove either way when dealing with sublties of the human body (obviously this isn't always the case)

The real dangers lie with people inadvertantly exposing themselves to danger because they are effectively disabling an important sensory organ.

Take hiking/running in the desert with a music player on full blast, how the world are you going to hear a rattle snake or other really pissed-off animal or reptile. conversely how can anyone tell if a car has just ramped on the sidewalk behind you while jogging in manhattan?

You've essentially reduced yourself to someone who is deaf. Although...when compared to listening to my coworkers....gimme the friggin thing on full blast.

Have a Heart (1)

csrster (861411) | about 9 years ago | (#13554895)

I only listen to loud music on my MP3 player while taking exercise. I figure that sacrificing my hearing for my heart is a good trade-off.

What worries me is that I often listen to spoken-word material on the bus, and to hear it I have to crank the volume up to levels that would be uncomfortable to listen to in a silent room. So are my fellow passengers and I all being deafened every morning by the ordinary background noise of travelling by bus?

Noise cancelling headphones do work (5, Interesting)

panurge (573432) | about 9 years ago | (#13554899)

I'm deliberately starting a new top level thread because the previous poster on this is getting negative moderation on some of the replies, and there is then no point in responding to them.

Noise cancelling headphones if correctly implemented are rather more complex than just inserting an inverted signal. For the record, I am deaf (artillery and large engines, as if you care) and because of the strange hole in my hearing response I use a digital hearing aid. The configuration screen for programming this runs to a number of pages, and I can have it set to include or exclude things like refrigerator and fan noise. In fact, I have one program that does optimised noise cancelling to get the best speech response, and another that does no noise cancelling which is useful for music and for checking that things like HDDs are making the right noises.
Noise cancelling technology is already used in professional telephone headsets, and I am surprised that it is missing from iPods and the like. It would be easy enough to have a button which switched between cancelling and not cancelling external noise sources and which, like my hearing aid, has a setting which allows through a sudden loud noise when in N/C mode, as a safety factor in traffic. This would mean the ability to listen at lower volume levels in noisy conditions.

I have a local inductive loopset (one of the few good things to come out of Nokia in my view) which allows me to use the cell phone and to inject another sound source. With the hearing aid switched to inductive pickup only, and to block external sound, I can make a phone call in noisy conditions without difficulty.

Conclusion: the technology exists to fix these problems and enable people to listen at lower volumes, manufacturers just can't be bothered.

Solution (5, Insightful)

Biotech9 (704202) | about 9 years ago | (#13554900)

Noise cancelling or isolating headphones.

Etymotic, Shure and Koss all make noise isolating headphones, which are generally cheaper and have higher quality sound than noise cancelling gimmicks like the Bose headsets.

Basically, you put in a set of these ear-canal plugs, you hear nothing but the music, and therefore can listen to your music at far lower levels in noisy environments than you would be able to with normal open or closed can style headphones.

The isolation from the Etymotic ER-4p/s for example, is 44 decibels, which is phenomenal. I own a pair of Er-4ps myself, and have used them a lot while travelling, and have to say that spending 300 euro on a set of headphones does not look like a waste of cash once you get up to 30,000 feet in a packed Airbus.

The isolation is so complete that it's shocking to hear the noise levels that everyone else is being exposed to once you pull the headphones out after a period of use.

Not to mention the fantastic sound quality.

Dad says, "Turn down that racket!" (1)

spooje (582773) | about 9 years ago | (#13554902)

Doesn't this remind you of the times you had to drive your dad somewhere and all he did was complain about how loud your music was?

Sealed/Noise Canceling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13554904)

HeadRoom might be the best headphone store in the world. They have a lot of realy good headphones and give you information about the differences. d-and-noise-canceling/ []
"There are three types of headphones that can provide isolation from outside sound: IEMs, full-size sealed headphones, and noise canceling headphones. Noise-canceling cans use a microphone in the earpiece to pick up and the produce an acoustic canceling signal at the ear. These cans typically provide about 10dB of isolation over a limited frequency response range. Full-size, sealed headphones also provide about 10db of isolation, but over a wider frequency range (better high frequency isolation) giving a better feeling of isolation overall. In-Ear-Monitors (IEMs) completely seal the ear canal which delivers far better isolation than either headphone above. IEMs commonly achieve better than 20dB isolation over most frequencies."

I am living in Norway and have bought several headphones from them trought the years. It is a american online store, but they sell globaly. droom/ordering-internationally/ []

Partial deaf people and I have advantages... (2, Insightful)

antdude (79039) | about 9 years ago | (#13554905)

I was born with hearing impediment so I have to wear a bone conduction hearing aid since I cannot hear well. Let's just say you would have to yell at me just to talk to me. I can hear music from loud concerts, loud movie theaters, loud churches, etc.

Anyways, I can always turn off my hearing aid if things get too loud. :) I could have a surgery to regain hearing but I think I will use my partial deafness as an advantage. Turn it off, and poof. Less audio to hear for me.

Although wearing hearing aid can be annoying (e.g., changing batteries, fall off if I shake my head, hurt a lot if wearing too much, my head gets itchy, etc.).

What is safe???? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13554910)

The article also suggests that listening to music for one hour a day is considered safe

this is incorrect.

It all depends what level the music is to decide what is safe. For example

if you listen to music @ 94 dB(A) for 1 hour a day that is fine. However if the music level is at 100 dB(A) the safe limit per day is around 15 minutes.

people. ..people (1)

tklive (755607) | about 9 years ago | (#13554914)

all we have to do is keep making louder and louder ipods and the problem is licked.

Cheap headphones (1)

elbenito69 (868244) | about 9 years ago | (#13554917)

Cheap headphones and earbuds are the worst... What's needed are either in-ear designs like Shure offers (think earplugs with speakers in them), or big ol' studio headphones that cover your whole ear. These allow you to actually hear your music without turning it all the way up.

Not only the iPod. (1)

Pig Hogger (10379) | about 9 years ago | (#13554922)

The French National Railways (SNCF) have a hard time recruiting railroaders.

They demand perfect physical condition. Anyone who shows-up to the medical exam wearing headphones is immediately rejected, as listening to music suchly damages the hearing.

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