Home / News / Portable Audio News / EU Claims 10% of iPod Users RISK HEARING LOSS!

EU Claims 10% of iPod Users RISK HEARING LOSS!

Gordon Kelly


EU Claims 10% of MP3 Player Owners RISK HEARING LOSS!

Ok, I'm going to make this clear from the off: this is news which gives me an excuse to rant about iPod bundled earphones. If you use them then I suggest this article will damage your hearing...

Jolly European giants the EU have caused something of a stir this week with a report from their 'Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks' (SCENIHR - really!) which claims research shows users who listen to their MP3 players for more than five hours per week at a high volume (89 decibels to be precise) risk permanent hearing loss within five years. Apparently the slice of our populace in this predicament is between five and ten per cent of the entire EU.

"The scientific findings indicate a clear risk and we need to react rapidly," said EU Consumer Affairs Commissioner Meglena Kuneva. "Most importantly we need to raise consumer awareness and put this information in the public domain. We need also to look again at the controls in place, in the light of this scientific advice, to make sure they are fully effective and keep pace with new technology."

Ok, first the calm before the storm: the French famously got the ever popular iPod's maximum volume reduced on such a scare years ago so you'd think this would be less of a problem. Sadly no and here's why: BUNDLED HEADPHONES ARE AN INSULT TO YOUR EARS!

They lack range, fidelity, clarity and just as importantly: leak sound SO BADLY that not only do they drive anyone within 15 feet of you crazy, but you also have to turn your MP3 players up to full volume just to HEAR THEM on the bus, train or walking down a busy street! WHEN will people learn that a manufacturer spends pence on bundled headphones? They're an afterthought on a device often costing hundreds of pounds, they're the technological equivalent of the lanyard!

So please readers, tell yourselves, tell your friends, scare your elderly relatives if you have to that if you don't become more discerning about what you stick into your ears then you're GOING TO GO DEAF!

Class dismissed...


Press Release (yep, it keeps the EU tradition of being one uuugly website)


October 15, 2008, 4:02 am

Haha, this made me chuckle.

Its so true as well :P I remember one person at my old college, they used to listen to there ipod on full blast on the bundled headphones and even we could hear it distorting across the class room. Just dont understand how they got any enjoyment out of it at all.


October 15, 2008, 4:21 am

do you know why people are going deaf with ipods.

1) you can't turn the volume right down on some ipods

2) if you have sensitive hearing.

3) number 1 will affect your sensitive hearing because you can't turn the volume down 2 a comfortable level,what i mean here is the volume is still loud at the lowest setting,so after a while your hearing deteriorates because of it.

so whats going 2 happen 2 your music?your going 2 turn it up.

that's why people's hearing is getting damage,because of the volume problems on the ipods

if no-one believes in me?,try listen to music on different ipods and you will see for your self,what i mean by the volume,that's if you can still hear

and i don't blame the person who is listen to the music

i blame apple for not giving us more control,over the volume level


October 15, 2008, 4:22 am

You come across a lot of people using bundled headphones at stupid volumes, and as BinnsY said, I have no idea how they enjoy listening to music like that. I've just tried out some bundled headphones at the kind of volumes people use them at, and it actually hurt my ears. Madness I tell you, Madness!

Tim Sutton

October 15, 2008, 5:30 am

Wait, loud noises damage your hearing? Good lord. Hurrah! More sterling work from Brussels, well done chaps.

Apparently 89 decibels is about as loud as a screaming child. I think the EU should warn people about those little.. tykes too.

I do tend to turn down the volume when I switch from cans to in-ear, but what this news really tells us is to stop buying iPods.


October 15, 2008, 5:47 am

@jonathan - not sure what your on about, tried an iPod and it turns down to zero, tried my iPhone and it turns down to zero and listening to audio at ultra low volumes will no nothing anyhow - the point is that poor quality earphones FORCE people to listen to music far more loudly than they should.

Ultimately, I understand the cost cutting by the manufacturer: the product is the Zen/iPod/Walkman/iPhone NOT the earphones as they are trying to hit certain price points. BUT what is lacking is the education of people to KNOW better.

Quite frankly I have to restrain myself when I see generic iPod earphones in use (that's a LOT) and probably tell 20/30 people a year who I don't know about the idiocy of what they are doing!

I mean, can you imagine buying an iPhone, spending say &#16335pm on the contract and over &#163700 in total ownership over 18 months only to listen to music of the quality of a warped cassette...



October 15, 2008, 1:03 pm

we should lead a campaign against bundled headphones. armed with a bazooka launching sennheiser cx300's into people's ears, we could change the listening habits of millions of people.


October 15, 2008, 2:06 pm

Just like when you buy a printer and you don't get a USB cable. You should just buy your music player and have to buy the headphones seperately.


October 15, 2008, 4:47 pm

Maybe the reason iPod headphones are so rubbish is so that you can't tell that the sound qualify of the iPod itself isn't all that good.


October 16, 2008, 12:15 am

My iPod Nano sounds pretty good with my Shure's. I think the sound quality depends more on your ear/headphones then the iPod (in my opinion).


October 16, 2008, 2:42 am

Its not going deaf that's the problem (Sometimes I think it would be a blessing), its Tinnitus. The possibility of never having a quiet moment again or never being able to concentrate if you are in a quiet environment.

Geoff Richards

October 16, 2008, 3:02 am

That's true - as a sufferer myself, I can report it ain't much fun :(

But you can drown out the high-pitched tone with more tunes :D

mr dog

October 16, 2008, 3:04 pm

Just get a creative player, at IFA this year they had some amazing players and headphones on show with noise cancelling built in, if the EU wants to mandate something, as I am sure the article also suggested, they should mandate not that output power be limited, but that noise cancelling and sound isolation technologies and designs should be a requirement to getting your earphones and players on the market.


October 16, 2008, 5:33 pm

@Peter - agreed. It would allow the players to be sold for a slightly cheaper price and make a huge market for third parties which manufacturers are always trying to encourage 'Made for iPod' style...


March 12, 2009, 1:58 am

A workaround: listen to audiobooks not music. Much more interesting and rewarding--in terms of ear damage as well.


March 12, 2009, 2:02 am

@Лис - love the sentiment: don't upgrade your headphones, instead give up listening to music altogether ;)

That would work though!


March 14, 2009, 4:13 pm

@Gordon "MADNESS!"

THIS. IS. APPLE! WE(The one and truly Steve Jobs) DON'T GIVE TWO APPLES ABOUT IT.

Most of my friends use stock headphones and never get why I keep groaning when they whip out those white buds like they're the best thing since proper headphones.

I do have to drive my music up to higher than average levels - I suffer from moderate hearing loss. Not due to blasting music, though - my aural nerves aren't too good. The doctor suggests it might have been due to me falling on my head as a child - but that's another story for another day.

But most friends with hearing better than mine drive their music players to even higher volumes than mine, ceteris paribus, considering that I used to use a stock earphone prior to getting my IEM, and when I lent them my mp3 player (some rubbishly cheap China player {Tech idiot in the past, now enlightened.} I found my mp3's volume blasted to stupidly high levels. (The music player's volume ranged from 0~31, I listened to them at around ~15 with the stock earphones, ~5 with my IEM, and had it returned with the volume at 30. While it might have been just a prank, if they use their own MP3 players, I can hear their music even if I'm about 2 meters away from them.

Sometimes, I wonder how unfair it is for me to be stuck with the hearing loss.


March 14, 2009, 8:32 pm

@Rickysio - only positive is sometimes you have to lose something to really appreciate it...


March 15, 2009, 6:52 pm


But when you can't hear the difference between .FLAC and .MP3 it's just so really really sad... Though that might be because my .mp3's are all ripped at minimum 320kbps. The only slight difference my impaired ears could detect was a slight modicum of additional clarity.

comments powered by Disqus