Legislation is going to be drafted and considered in the first months of 2010 by the EU that would limit the volume levels on personal media players to 85dB (they now peak around 120). There are several things they should know.
First, they have better things to do. I know the “children are starving in Africa” argument is a tired one, so let’s be a little more specific. If you’re willing to spend so much time and money on such a silly issue, why not spend some time and money on securing consumer goods against hackers and botnets? Or organizing a task force to take down spammers?
Second, if consumers are turning up the volume so high that it damages their ears, that’s their problem. Yes, it really is.
Third, even if they do succeed in legislating a maximum output level from the players, the market will circumvent it instantaneously. I guarantee that if this legislation goes through, within a month or two of the first compliant players coming out, there will be tiny amps available to put on your headphone cords that simply increase the volume of the sound. And new headphones would have them integrated.
This legislation will probably go through, though I’d guess 100dB will be the number they choose, just because it’s big and round. Once that’s done, a very slight adjustment to gain in headphones will make things exactly as they were today.
Luckily there’s someone sane who will hopefully intervene in the proceedings: Martin Callanan, who is on the Committee considering the legislation. He says:
Kids have always listened to their music loud and this is not going to stop them.
…You have to educate them to the risks but ultimately you have to allow personal responsibility and personal choice.
Thank you, Martin.