EU on portable audio: Turn it down.

Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP
And you thought your commute was loud: Workers transport speakers during a loudspeaker competition in Allahabad, India, on Saturday.

We all know them: that person on the subway or elevator with their volume on their iPod cranked so high the rest of the car is bobbing their heads along to The Beatles or Barry White. If a new measure from the EU passes, those encounters could be a thing of the past.

In a meeting with reporters Monday, EU Consumer Affairs Commissioner Meglena Kuneva said a new regulation would require device manufacturers to ship audio players with a default maximum volume level of 80 db.

The move is aimed at young people who may not know the damage they can do to their hearing listening to music at the high levels often needed to drown out typical commute noise. "The evidence is that particularly young people, who are listening to music at high volumes sometimes for hours each week, have no idea they can be putting their hearing at risk," Kuneva said.

The recommendation was being made on the heels of a study from the – get this: EU Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks. Who knew?

But official committees with long names aren't the only ones warning of the damage listening to headphones at high volume can bring. Way back in 2006 – before iPods and MP3 players had achieved the saturated ubiquity they now enjoy – none other than The Who's Pete Townshend sounded off about the damage prolonged use of headphones can do to listeners' hearing.

The good news (or bad, depending on your perspective) for those coordinated enough to head-bang while walking to work? The limitation would only affect devices' default setting – so listeners can still crank it to 11, damn the man, fight the power, or whatever the kids are doing these days.


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Follow us on Twitter (it won't harm your hearing). We're @CSMHorizonsBlog.

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