EU wants safe volume settings on portable music players

MP3 players to feature health warnings, safe volume settings

The European Commission has ordered all makers of portable music players to add a default volume setting of around 80 decibels (dB) and a health warning to all new devices within the next two years.

It is also calling on standards bodies to change industrywide technical safety standards for mobile devices to include the 80 dB default setting.

The current maximum volume level permitted for portable devices of 100 dB in the European Union remains unchanged, the Commission said in a statement.An estimated 10 percent of music player owners in Europe (up to 25 million people) risk going deaf by listening to music at volumes of up to 120 dB - roughly the volume of a jet airliner taking off - for an hour or more each day on a regular basis, consumer rights commissioner Meglana Kuneva said in a press conference Monday.

You can safely listen to music at 80 dB for up to 40 hours a week without harming your ears, a study conducted for the Commission concluded.

Eighty dB is roughly the volume of road traffic.

"It's easy to push up the volume on your MP3 player to damagingly loud levels, especially on busy streets or public transport," Kuneva said, adding that young people especially "have no idea they can be putting their hearing at risk.

"The new standard default setting on devices won't prevent users from overriding the default settings and pumping up the volume, but there will be clear warnings so they know the risks they are taking," Kuneva said.

The industry said it supported the move but it warned the Commission not to try to prescribe universal volume levels for all users.

It urged the Commission and standardization bodies to match the wishes of users with safety considerations when they set the default level.

Bridget Cosgrave, director general of the trade group Digital Europe, added that music players are only one part of the problem of hearing loss, but the industry would cooperate in the European initiative, "to best serve consumer interests" she said.

Digital Europe called for global harmonization of the standards to be applied in Europe.

"Unharmonised requirements would undermine credibility and confuse users, potentially exposing themselves to inappropriate volume of noise," the trade group said in a statement.

And it warned the Commission against setting "overly stringent regulations", pointing out that this would drive sales of products to countries with more relaxed regulation.

Kuneva warned firms that she won't tolerate their failure to observe the new standards.

"Regardless how big the company, no matter how reputable, I will take action," the commissioner said.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags european unionportable media playersmusic players

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Paul Meller

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?