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!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

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

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?