The European Commission is calling for limitations to be placed on the maximum volume that MP3 players can output at. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard this, but it’s certainly gathering momentum.
This time, news comes from the BBC that the European Commission wants to see all MP3 players to have the same maximum volume. Of course, it’s all a little up in the air for the moment. The commission’s recommendation would see the maximum volume cap placed at the 85 decibel range, with users able to voluntarily choose to go up as far as 100 decibels if they felt that they really want the extra bit of volume.
Of course, there are a couple of issues with implementing these kinds of limitations. One of the biggest obstacles is the manifold hardware combinations. The BBC article on the subject quotes a piece of research as having stated that,
“Some personal players examined in testing facilities have been found to reach 120 decibels, the equivalent of a jet taking off…”
Certainly, we’d be curious to see which players managed that kind of output, and just what kind of headphones were plugged in to get that kind of volume. The fact is that different headphones do give you different volumes – it’s a bit of a fact-of-life for people who destroy headphones quickly or find the need to upgrade often.
The question isn’t whether or not the EU Commission can persuade manufacturers of devices like Apple’s iPod to tone down their maximum volume so much as it is whether or not they can enforce a standard of volume across all combinations of media players and audio equipment… which seems a bit unlikely.
It’s a noble plan, and it’s sad to see people putting their hearing at risk by listening to music at unsafe volumes, but there’s little enough to be done about it that will achieve as much as educating people about the damage they could be doing themselves.