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New Tech to Help Prevent Hearing Loss? 162

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the could-you-speak-up-please dept.
Wired is reporting that Blomberg is working on an invention to help users maintain a greater control over the volume output of portable music devices. Many people have expressed a growing concern about hearing loss in recent years due to the increased use of headphones and exposure to loud music. From the article: "Les Blomberg, executive director of the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse, described hearing loss with a nice analogy: 'If you have a field of grass and you walk on it, you compress the grass and it bends down over the night, and in a few days, it springs back up and is OK again. But if you keep doing that over and over, you wear a path in it. And that's kind of what happens with hearing loss.'"
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New Tech to Help Prevent Hearing Loss?

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Monday March 20, 2006 @02:08PM (#14958312) Journal
    I'm a bass player.

    Not a sound engineer, but a bassist. And I think I can provide the answer.

    The solution we seek is what's known in the guitar world as a "compressor [harmony-central.com]" or "limiter."

    Fortunately, they are cheap and easy to build. What they do is put a ceiling on a range or ranges of frequency. I use it when I want punch in my high end but I don't want the thump in my low end to get out of control.

    1. Learn how to make a general sound compressor [generalguitargadgets.com].
    2. Hire a few electrical engineers and send them to order a few thousand PCB circuits [expresspcb.com].
    3. Hire a mechanical engineer and have them make the encasings [emachineshop.com]. Oh, most importantly, make sure the encasings are iPod white in color.
    4. Your design should have a 1/8" audio jack in and a 1/8" audio jack out with a 3" length of audio cable. It's plugged into any media device and then your headphones plug into it.
    5. Profit!

    You can build the compressor to kick in and level anything (on all ranges) that exceeds the normal medically accepted maximum amplitude for human hearing [cdc.gov].

    The beautiful thing about compressors is that they stop you from producing obvious sounds you don't want but they don't simply reduce all sounds produced by your device.

    What's so hard about this? And why in the hell are we calling this a "new tech?!" How about calling it "common sense?" If I ever designed a media player, this would be implemented regardless. The end user could look to find an amplifier if they want to blow their ears out, Apple has faced lawsuits and they will face even more as the millions who purchased their products use them and then deafly eye Jobs' deep pockets.
    • Yah. And then there's always the "Oh-enn/Oh-eff-eff" digital signal filter technology....

    • I mean, according to my common sense, blowing loud noise (and music, no matter how good, is just that) into your ears causes deafness. Anyone claiming he didn't know that should probably start going to elementary school again. He might have missed more than just that.

      What's next, smokers claiming that ... oh ... umm...

      Can I sign up for that suit somehow?
    • Um, OK... let's now apply your half-assed knowledge:

      a) modern pop music already massively overcompressed due to the studio trend of squeezing something into every frequency range (there is very little dynamic range in modern music)

      b) the problem is due to compensating for high ambient dB by increasing the player's volume

      b) compressing 120 dB of your favorite pop music is still 120 dB of volume because if you compress it so that there are no "dangerous" peaks, you have a DC signal. duuuhhhhh.
    • by gclef (96311) on Monday March 20, 2006 @02:26PM (#14958456)
      A few things:

      1) compressors have nothing to do with frequency. What they do is slow the growth of amplitude in a sound, after hitting a certain trigger level. They do this across the board for all frequencies: they're amplitude devices, not a frequency ones.

      2) Setting up a compressor *right* is a skill, and is very dependent on the sound you're compressing. A poorly-configured compressor sounds like crap. You do not want to hear the compressor "breathing" (triggering & releasing hard & quickly)...it sounds like ass.

      3) The compressor has no idea what sound level is actually coming out of the headphones. All it knows about is the electric signal passing through it. So, it would have to be set for specific headsets, as the different headsets are more/less efficient. This would be complicated & expensive.

      4) Classical music folks *hate* compressors. You can hear the difference when you compress classical, and it sounds wrong. You really don't want to do this to classical if you can at all avoid it.
      • it's not only classical music that is affected by the compressor, good rock music too. if you've got a silent nice guitar solo, you don't want it to scream as loud as the chorus, it totally ruins the song.

        sure the everyday trance/disco music doesn't really lose any quality by this, but then again, it's not real music either, it's a natural noise pollution that has nothing to do with notes or melody :)

        it's really difficult to even manually adjust the volume as a preset for a song to make it sound right and s
      • Some would even say that configuring a compressor correctly is impossible, if your goal is to maintain the fidelity of a recorded signal. There's nothing quite like removing dynamic range from a recording on purpose...

        People that listen to anything remotely acoustic hate compressors. Compressors are great for normalizing a recording so that it's more uniformly loud on playback ("ready-for-radio"), but they suck for maintaining fidelity. It doesn't matter quite as much with britney spears (or whatever th

      • 1) compressors have nothing to do with frequency. What they do is slow the growth of amplitude in a sound, after hitting a certain trigger level. They do this across the board for all frequencies: they're amplitude devices, not a frequency ones.

        I think he was talking about a multiband compressor, which is really just a set of band pass filters attached to a series of compressors where the result is mixed back down. There are a bunch of software effects that can do this, and I guess hardware versions exist t
      • 1) compressors have nothing to do with frequency. What they do is slow the growth of amplitude in a sound, after hitting a certain trigger level. They do this across the board for all frequencies: they're amplitude devices, not a frequency ones.

        Multi-band compressors are pretty common now that have different attack, gain, and hold by frequency.

    • The solution we seek is what's known in the guitar world as a "compressor" or "limiter."

      The iPod already has a compressor, it's called Sound Check [playlistmag.com]. However, a compressor doesn't make things quieter, it just reduces the difference between the loudest and quietest sounds in a music track.

      If a particular track has a very wide dynamic range, than a compressor can be useful because you don't have to turn up the volume to hear the quiet parts (and blowing away your eardrums when the loud parts kick in), but a

    • Modern music is already limited to all hell, there's no dynamic range at all.
    • Well I am a live-sound engineer and a compressor merely reduces the dynamic range (the difference between the loudest and softest sounds). More technically once the threshold has been reached the input must increase by X db to give 1db of output. If you use a ratio > 10:1 you've effectively created a limiter.

      None of this necessarily reduces volume... in fact compressors are often used along with their make-up gain setting to result in an increase in volume, just with a smashed dynamic range.

      Personally, a
    • The problem is that different drivers (speakers) do not operate all at the same efficiency level.

      For example, a really efficient driver may only need x watts to produce a given sound at 1 meter at 100dB SPL (sout pressure level).

      While a less efficient driver may need y wats to produce that same sound at 1 meter at 100dB SPL.

      Therefore, limiting the output of the device will limit the types of drivers (speakers) you can use with the device. If you limit it much, then really crappy low efficiency speakers won'
  • by rdurell (827253) on Monday March 20, 2006 @02:10PM (#14958325)
    You know... I've always wanted a more complicated, over-engineered way of controlling the volume of my iPod. The volume control interface is just too damn easy to use.
    • Well, if you listen to the same thrashing heavy metal track all day, sure. Set the volume just above ambient, and voila -- you're floating along in your own little sound bubble.

      But many kinds of music have a great deal more dynamic range.

      I like opera, but I can't listen to it in my car because if I turn it up high enough to hear the recicative, when the consumptive heroine (played by a robust 250 pound soprano who probably could snap your arm in two like a dry stick) sings here death aria, it hits glass sh
      • Set the volume just above ambient, and voila -- you're floating along in your own little sound bubble.
        I set mine to ELEVEN!
      • I have seen a number of MP3 players (not sure if iPod has it, but I wouldn't be surprised) with a Normalize feature. I do understand that one song may have been recorded in a louder tone then another...so setting "five" (for simplicity, let's assume this is 5 decibals) on my music player will play one song at 5 decibal, but another song at 6, and another at 3 - but the Normalize mode was created to help keep a song at setting "five" - so every song plays at 5 decibals.
      • Has nobody come up with headphones which always keep the music just above ambient?

        I know you can get noise cancelling ones, can something not be created which doesn't cancel all external noise (So you can still hear things like car horns) but which tweaks volume to always be marginally above the 'ambient', so that your music doesn't become obviously loud but is always audible (And adjusts on-the-fly)?
  • News Flash! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ShaniaTwain (197446) on Monday March 20, 2006 @02:11PM (#14958337) Homepage
    It's called a volume control - sometimes in the form of a knob, sometime a button.. This is going to revolutionize the industry!
    • Brilliant!
    • I think on the contary, there is very little though given to this by designers.

      Even the iPod, the volume control is pretty bad. The loudness moves in steps and at night with particular headphones, volume level 1 is too loud. The only other value lower is 0, no sound.

      • Just pick up a separate in-line volume controller. I picked one up for six bucks, IIRC. Works great.
        • by mochan_s (536939)

          But my headphone has gold plated connectors and extra thick and insulated wires for best sounds.

          Putting a $6 volume controller in the signal path would make the headphone only good as a $6 headphone!

          • LOL. Well, in all seriousness, if one is concerned about this, you could spend a couple bucks more and get a higher-quality one. I know Shure sells the PA235 [shurestore.com]. They include that as part of the E5C bundle, which is their top-tier canalphone, so I can only assume it's of decent quality. :)
    • Re:News Flash! (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jerf (17166)
      No, it's more complicated than that, and it's very important that you, you the reader, realize this.

      You ears, like your eyes, adjust to the ambient level of sound. Your ears are only slighty better at telling you the absolute volume of a sound that your eyes are at telling you the absolute brightness of a room.

      (You think you're good at that? Ha! Get a real light meter and prepare to be amazed.)

      Unlike your eyes, which are at least decent at telling you when something is too bright, your ears suck at telling
      • Thank you, Jerf. It seems you are in the 1% of posters who have a clue about the issues and even about what the article is about.

        The software solution briefly alleged in the article would provide a way to let the user know what the levels were, presumably by knowing the variables for the frequency range, the volume setting, and the signal amplitude, all of which are stored as variables in the iPod. I do not see it alleged that the solution will automatically reduce volumes outside the user's control, bu

      • In addition I'd love it if active noise suppression was built into more things like these. The nice thing about active suppression is that you then need less volume for the music to sound just as loud. I use sound suppression when talking on skype and because the humm of the computer and other background noises are suppressed I can hear much better than with the sound suppression turned off.
      • That's interesting, I do believe you completely about that, and it explains why sometimes late at night, when I try turning my music down a bit, I realise it was up way higher than I expected, then start feeling bad for the neighbours who sleep a room away from me :s you can notice more detail when the music is up, but you dont realise how loud it is until you realise how far down the volume slider is having to go!
    • ...is that considered 'new tech'? Or old skool?
  • The last thing I'd want is some funky crazy software automagically controlling the "volume" of my iPod so that I can't here my music...



    REA Doesn't this mean that it'll sit there and ramp up and down the volume with a certain periodicity or randomness? In this case... it sounds REALLY annoying!

    Matthew Wong
    San Francisco, California
    http://www.themindofmatthew.com [themindofmatthew.com]
    • Oops I messed up the post. Here is what I "meant" to write! The last thing I'd want is some funky crazy software automagically controlling the "volume" of my iPod so that I can't hear my music...

      FROM THE ARTICLE: The analogy: 'If you have a field of grass and you walk on it, you compress the grass and it bends down over the night, and in a few days, it springs back up and is OK again. But if you keep doing that over and over, you wear a path in it. And that's kind of what happens with hearing loss.'"
      • Fortunately the hinted solution doesn't allege to do either of the things you find annoying. As for what the solution might be, the article claims only, "I gleaned it's some sort of software solution for the iPod that can make users aware of unsafe volumes."

        Thus, it would let you know when your music is too loud. Humans are usually unaware that the volume is unsafe since it's not always painful to listen to music too loud. This seems more like a friendly reminder to turn the music down. Of course it o

    • The last thing I'd want is some funky crazy software automagically controlling the "volume" of my iPod so that I can't here my music...

      Given enough time, you already own a pair of these devices [wikipedia.org]. Unfortunately, they only work to decrease what you can hear, not amplify it.
  • by mobiux (118006) on Monday March 20, 2006 @02:13PM (#14958355)
    I remember hearing about this when portable cassette players and cd players first came out.
    Much more hearing loss that ever before recorded because of headphones.

    Last time I checked, the only thing that is different since the 70's is the size of the headphone.
    Kids still wear them too much, and listen to them too loud and unfortunately some still will have hearing loss.

    It's not a "new" technology that is causing the problem, iPods didn't invent loud music.
    It's kids not knowing about the volume control until it's too late.
    • It's not a "new" technology that is causing the problem, iPods didn't invent loud music. It's kids not knowing about the volume control until it's too late.

      Part of the problem is that the environmental noise has gotten so bad, headphone wearers have to crank their portable devices to be able to hear their tunes over the noise of traffic, trains, construction, etc.

      It's kinda sad that Congress wants to talk about iPod volume levels [house.gov] when in fact the government has the power to directly [dot.gov] affect [dot.gov] some [faa.gov] of the

      • I work in a lab full of computers, and the volume level here is ridiculous, just because of all these stupid cooling fans. Which government agency do we complain to about Intel's power-guzzling CPUs?
        • I work in a lab full of computers, and the volume level here is ridiculous, just because of all these stupid cooling fans. Which government agency do we complain to about Intel's power-guzzling CPUs?

          Who do you complain to about Intel's "power-guzzling CPUs"? None.

          Who do you complain to about your employer's loud working conditions? OSHA [osha.gov].

    • Kids still wear them too much, and listen to them too loud and unfortunately some still will have hearing loss.

      I resent this statement saying kids listen to loud music and it implies that adults do not. As a 29 year old male, urbanite, I can tell you I enjoy blasting my ears out - in fact my music is so loud, if you were standing 5 feet from me, you could clearly hear Linkin Park blaring! ;)
  • The only description of this "new tech" I could find in the article was:

    Blomberg is working on an invention to give users more control over the volume output of their portable devices. Although he declined to tell me much about it, I gleaned it's some sort of software solution for the iPod that can make users aware of unsafe volumes. Whatever Blomberg's working on, we should know more about it in a couple of months.

    The rest of the article has some fairly common-sense stuff about protecting your hearing... n

    • "The whole ipod is killing this generation's hearing hysteria lately has been bugging me though. Loud music and earbuds were around long before the ipod..."

      That's true but the iPod ships with in-ear style earbuds which have were recently found to be more dangerous than over-the-ear style headphones.

      The only reason any of this is an issue is simply that people have no idea when they move into the dangerous volume territory. There's not even a simple answer to that since safe valumes vary depending on the du
  • No one has *ever* thought of using a saturator before! Capping music's volume is *such* a novel idea, let's get them a patent. Get them a fucking patent! I mean, normally, I'm against patents, but we gotta have some kind of way to reward those with truly novel inventions. Where would we be if these guys hadn't thought of limiting the music's volume? We're be throwing rocks at each other, I tell you!
  • by fatduck (961824) on Monday March 20, 2006 @02:17PM (#14958386)
    This just in, Wired is reporting that Bloomberg is working on an invention to help users talk over long distances without shouting [wikipedia.org] and thus save the strain and inevitable hoarseness that comes with it:
  • If I keep reading Slashdot day and night, I'll go blind. :P
  • by oasisweb (924178) on Monday March 20, 2006 @02:21PM (#14958413)
    Most people who listen to loud music do so with full knowledge that listening to music so loud might be bad for their hearing. And they choose to do so anyway. Some sort of device or software that "makes users aware of unsafe volumes" will not do much to stop them from listening at that volume. It's not like most people don't already know. The EU already tried to force iPods to limit their volumes, and European consumers went out of their way to circumvent those restrictions. What's this new invention going to do to try to stop me?
    • Yea, but in the same vein, people who drive fast and/or accelerate hard know that it's bad for their fuel mileage, but they choose to do so anyways.

      Being mentally aware of something isn't the same as having tangible, real-time proof that what you're doing is no good.

      If portable music players (that have a display) showed you just how many db's you're pumping out, you might turn the volume down. It's exactly the same as if car manufacturers put fuel consumption guages right in front of your eyes.

      People do cha
  • It's called a VOLUME CONTROL! And it's already on EVERY DEVICE that outputs audio. Now you mess with the volume level of my equipment I WILL SUE. People have a right to fry thier ears. It's NOT the fault of the equipment and if you go and mess with it, people CAN undo it and WILL.

    • It's called product liability.

      Does a company have a responsibility to prebent you from deafening yourself with their product? It's not what you think, it's what they can get their butts sued over in a class action suit.

      If a company takes steps to prevent you from deafening yourself whenusing their music player and then you undo that protection, you'd have a pretty hard time convincing anybody that the company was to blame for your hearing loss.
      • Well then why do they make 2000 watt stereo amplifiers? Listening to music at the maximum volume is going to make you deaf, especially if you are right in front of the speakers. Just because you can hurt yourself with a product doesn't mean the product shouldn't exist.
        • First of all, there's a big difference betweem audio output power and Sound Pressure Level.

          IIRC, the iPod has a max output of 120dB SPL using the standard headphones. That's the equivalent of being near a riveter, a jackhammer or putting your ear next to the grille of a car with a very loud horn. Should they be allowed to generate SPLs of 140dB (jet engine at take off power at 75 or so feet). Or 150db? How about so loud that it makes your cranial fluid seep out your ears?

          Just because you can hurt yourse
      • Whoops....I cut my finger with my knife....now knives should be made so they can't cut through my skin therefore making all knives useless....and now you see the fallacy in this.....

        This is not product liability....it's just people being stupid.
    • No need to SHOUT !

      (or perhaps there is, but for those for whom it is necessary it's already too late.)

    • Fortunately for you and everyone else who is writing-off this article, the only comment about what the "new tech" might be is that it is something to let the user know when the volume is too loud. Nothing claimed it would limit the sound without the user's control.
  • Why is this even news? How hard is it to turn down the volume? Idiots...

    - Andrew
    • It's not about "volume" but "dynamic range".

      If you have background noise of 40db (not uncommon in a car), then if you turn the volume up loud enough to hear the soft parts, the loud parts get blasted out.

      Happens all the time on TV -- real noticable on Sci-Fi, where they compress program volume down so that the max-sound is at about 65% (numbers are guestimates based on experience) of the dynamic range of the medium. Then the advertisers come in and balance commercials with the minimum range set to about 30
  • In other news from the future: Blomberg invents revolutionary button that you can press when you want the music to stop immediately, and continues at the same point when you press the button again! Very useful when you have to pick up the phone.
  • I really think I suffer more hearing loss from those noisy mufflers people put on there cars than my actual MP3 player. Even if this is in fact successful we can still suffer from outside noises like cars, jet planes, etc. Also sometimes the noise outside is greater than the actual music playing when walking on the street or on the bus that you are forced to crank up the music in order to hear the music itself. I know there are noise canceling headphones but frankly they do not work that well and cannot pre
    • Bingo!

      My commuter car has an interrnal Cabin sound level of 80+Db at highway speeds. it goes up to 105+Db when I roll down the windows.
      So to hear the radio I have to get it another 3 or more DB above that.

      some kid cranking 90 to 100 Db into his/her ears is not new and certianly much less damaging compared to the insane levels I have been exposed to all my life in industry, on the highway (Morons on a Harley at 80mph ergister almost 120Db)
  • The easy way to avoid hearing loss from your portable media player is, as Chris Rock would say, "turn that $h!t down!"

    Really, just turn it down. I'm known amoung my freinds as the one who likes to listen at really low levels. And I don't think thats a bad thing.
  • Like boiled lobsters, damaged ears cannot be returned to their previous state.

    While yes, it's best to avoid things that are bad for you, why don't I see anything about ear therapy? Is there something one could be doing besides limiting noise to help the ear? Treating it like a binary "loud bad, quiet good", there's got to be something that can be done to help the ear in its downtime, no?
    • Giving your ears some downtime in the first place is one of the best things you can do, actually. If you're listening to loud music, taking a break for 10 minutes out of every hour will reduce your chances of suffering from hearing loss. There are cells in your ear (called outer hair cells) that are actively helping you hear. That activity produces byproducts which can build up in the cells. Taking a rest gives the cells a chance to clear out those byproducts before they build to a point where they can
  • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Monday March 20, 2006 @02:34PM (#14958529) Homepage
    For the most part, the reason people crank their music up so loud is to drown out ambient noise. Standard buds are *horrible* for sound isolation. Not only do they allow plenty of ambient noise in, but they waste energy leaking sound out, which also has the effect of annoying the people around you.

    The solution? Either get a good set of cans, or buy canalphones. Personally, I picked up a set of Shure E2C's. Expensive? Yes. But the sound isolation is *amazing*. I can drive these phones at easily half the power of my old buds and still be able to hear my music perfectly while dropping ambient noise at least 10-15 db. As an added side effect, they have excellent sound quality, particularly at their price point. They're worth every penny, IMHO. And for things like long road trips or flights, they're a life saver.
    • Agreed. Loudness is a subjective, relative quantity, while sound pressure level (which determines hearing damage) is an absolute. In a noisy environment, a given setting may not seem loud at all, while in reality the SPL is quite high. It is also worth noting that hearing damage is a function of both sound level (SPL) as well as exposure time -- a noise "dose". Turning up your favorite song to rock out for a few minutes may not harm your hearing in the least. Leaving the volume up for hours at a time,
    • ditto.. I love my E2Cs. The only downside is that they are so sensitive that with my old Gateway 3150 laptop (fireant) that I keep by my recliner, the total noise is just ridiculous. Even with the "mute all" box checked there's still a nasty hiss. And of course you get to hear every disk access etc. I keep the master volume turned down just as low as it will go without being off and it's still plenty of volume with the wav slider about 3/4 the way up. My cheap-o Muvo mp3 player is quiet as can be, thou
      • Yeah, I had a very similar problem with my Palm. Solution? Get a separate inline volume control. Then turn the device volume up and turn the inline volume down. This effectively increases the impedence of the line, thus cutting out the noise. Voila! Also useful for crappy airline jacks or other places where they have stepped volume.
  • I've been in the subway and I could hear the music some guy is playing on his earbuds. 5 feet away.

    So when I ask why he plays it so loud, he answers: "Because i can't hear it otherwise".

    And the problem is that in the discos (or whatever they're called now), they play the music too loud, so much that you have to SHOUT so you can hear anything. Has anyone gone to those parties and measure the decibels there? (or course it's much cheaper to play the music at deafening levels than having speakers distributed ov
    • Those dorks that have the bass/volume so pumped-up in their car that you can hear it half a block away must have made themeselves almost totally deaf.

      Isn't it strange how they all listen to the same type of (c)rap music?
    • the problem is that in the discos (or whatever they're called now)

      Wow, that's classic. Welcome to 1981.
    • And the problem is that in the discos (or whatever they're called now), they play the music too loud, so much that you have to SHOUT so you can hear anything.

      That's because they don't want you to talk. They want you to drink. I thought everyone knew this...

      You can always end up in music-free pubs where you are deafened by the sound of everyone talking, and talking louder to hear themselves over everyone else...
    • I buy flesh-colored earplugs and cut them off at the half or 3/4 and throw them in at the bathroom when I first get somewhere going out. It's not like it's any harder to hear people yell, and my hair goes conveniently over my ears now. None of my friends want to do this, and I cannot understand why. I do not enjoy being deaf at work the next day.
  • by TrevorB (57780) on Monday March 20, 2006 @03:01PM (#14958762) Homepage
    It's going to be a dupe comment but here goes.

    If I want to have any chance of actually *hearing* the music in an urban setting, I need to crank the volume up to max. The environmental noise of busses, people chatting on their cell phones, (heck, even an office environment,) means that I need to have that music set at max-1 or max (depending on the track) to have any chance of actually hearing it.

    I had the pleasant surprise of being in a park this weekend and found that 60% volume was more than adequate to actually hear the music. But finally being in a park and not having all that incessant background noise, I didn't feel the need to listen to music that much.

    I should really just shell out the cash and get a good set of earplug/earbud combo headphones that block external noise. Do these things really work at 50% volume?
    • I should really just shell out the cash and get a good set of earplug/earbud combo headphones that block external noise. Do these things really work at 50% volume?

      Just to echo the other poster's statement, "yes". I got the Shure E2C's and I'd never go back Superior sound quality, awesome noise isolation. Perfect for riding the bus, road trips, or flights.
    • If I want to have any chance of actually *hearing* the music in an urban setting, I need to crank the volume up to max. The environmental noise of busses, people chatting on their cell phones, (heck, even an office environment,) means that I need to have that music set at max-1 or max (depending on the track) to have any chance of actually hearing it.

      Hyperbole much?

      Alternatively, if you're serious, then your hearing's probably already fucked, so go for it!

  • Read the subject line I wrote above. I frickin hate repeating myself in this format.

  • To protect my hearing I would love to have a car mounted electromagnetic pulse gun for zapping cars or trucks who play their stereos way too fucking loud. Not only could I use this tech to protect my hearing but any passenger in my car and of course those in targeted vehicle. Next time I pull up to a stop light near a car or truck with it's stereo booming it automatically targets. As soon as the light changes I zap the offending vehicle and drive off. I'd also like to have one mounted on the roof of my hous
  • by PaulRivers (647856) on Monday March 20, 2006 @03:28PM (#14958977)
    ...is that different headphones have different volumes at the same power output. One of the really cool things about the high output of the iPod is that you can hook up higher quality headphones to them and it's still powerful enough to drive them. For example, my BeyerDynamic 250-80's have 80 ohms of resistance vs. the about 40ohms for the standard iPod earbuds. I have to turn the "volume" up higher on my iPod to reach the same volume with my headphones compared to the earbuds, but it's still able to drive them, which is really cool. If you read head-fi.com, you'll find that some people actually buy portable headphone amps so they can drive their high-resistance headphones. I think it would be really cool if my iPod could tell me the decibel level that I'm playing my headphones at. But you'd need some sort of extra interface between the headphones and the player, and possibly some sort of microphone in the headphones, to be able to do that.
  • First of all, the solution briefly mentioned in the article is apparently software vaporware. A software solution is going to either be overlimiting or worthless because it doesn't take into account the characteristics of the earbuds, headset, speakers, or whatever you are using. A given signal output will generate widely differing volumes depending on those characteristics. Especially if the output device contains amplification or other signal modification capabilities of its own.

    Second, the misleading

  • I have a tape player that already has this, it's called AVS (Auto volume somethingIforgot). If you turn it on, the volume only goes up to a certian point. If you keep increasing the volume knob, nothing happens. In effect, it's a switch that breaks the volume knob.

    But this software will just WARN people of dangerious volume. Which will really really work, cus nobody ignores warnings or popups on electronic devices, right?
  • When Doug Lenat gets Cyc [cyc.com] working we'll have a machine with common sense. Was can then shrink this down to a single chip and implant it in people's brains. Should also solve some other problems like preventing people placing hot coffee between their legs in the car.
  • FTFS: Blomberg is working on an invention to help users maintain a greater control over the volume output of portable music devices.

    Isn't that called a volume control? If they patent it, I'm going to kill somebody.....
  • The problem with current volume controls is that your ear adapts the gain to potentially high levels of noise. For example in a noisy environment you crank up the volume and your hearing adapts to that level of sound and you stop noticing how loud it is. An improved volume control system in my opinion should let you crank it up to whatever level you want, but afterwards it will reduce the volume very slowly so in the end you you are not exposed to unsafe levels of sound for too long. Has this been tried?
  • by Derling Whirvish (636322) on Monday March 20, 2006 @04:36PM (#14959559) Journal
    The original article for the hearing impaired: WIRED IS REPORTING THAT BLOMBERG IS WORKING ON AN INVENTION ....

    /apologies to Garrett Morris

  • Blomberg is working on an invention to give users more control over the volume output of their portable devices

    You mean like the volume knob that has been installed on every single portable music device that I have ever seen in my entire 29 years of existance? And if someone want's more precise sound control, many (if not most) high end (or MP3) devices have an equalizer built in. Why do we need an external device for something that has already been in place for many many years. Hell, even some headp
  • Just get a set of these [shure.com] Shure headphones.
    They act as real earplugs, which keeps sound out. So...without the outside distractions, I don't need to turn up the volume.
    With my iPod volume at 20-25%, I've had people at my desk talking to me, and I didn't even know they were there
  • It drives me crazy - I call someone who mumbles, so I turn up the volume all the way on my phone, straining to hear them... Then they start yelling to a co-worker, or kids, whatever. Or they push touch-tones.

    My wife says my ears are just too sensitive - but that sort of rapid volume change, especially on tinny little speakers like most telephones - it hurts.

    I want a limiter I can plug inline using normal sub-mini jacks for my cell phone that will set an absolute top limit for volume, while allowing m
  • There seem to be so many bullshit comments I felt to add another comment (hopefully not 100% BS).

    Different headphones have different sensitivies - by as much as 20dB. This means that even if the player has a calibrated output to ensure it cannot blow your ears, switching to more sensitive headphones will cause overload on your ears. Conversely, the player will be unusable with an insensitive pair of 'phones.

    I have read many mp3 player reviews, and one of the key things pointed out by reviewers is whethe

  • by InakaBoyJoe (687694) on Monday March 20, 2006 @08:25PM (#14961078)
    Headphones, speakers, and amplifiers operate best at certain volume settings, that's why people crank it up -- because the output sounds like crap at low volumes. Unfortunately, these things are specced in terms of things like "watts" and "signal to noise dB" -- all measures that favour high volumes. Even specs like frequency range don't talk about changes in frequency response as you adjust the volume.

    Just try searching for audio equipment that produces high-quality sound at relatively low volumes. Good luck! Not even us Slashdotters could find any measure, or review based on such criteria, let alone your average Joe walking into a consumer electronics store where he's encouraged to buy the 300 watt sound system because it's better than the 150 watt one.

    Change needs to happen at the manufacturer spec level, and also the audio review level, to take into account the fact that some of us still want clear music without blowing out our ears.

  • "Ear plugs." Or maybe they could stop making audio equipment where the volume can go up to 11.

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