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 PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags european unionportable media playersmusic players

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

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

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?