back to article Eurocrat demands MP3 player volume limit mandate

MP3 players sold in Europe could one day come with pre-set audio volume limits if plans proposed by a European Commissioner become official. Most MP3 players already allow users to set a maximum volume. However, an EC mandate would force manufacturers to automatically limit each player's volume before it could be sold in …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Nanny state ...

    I demand a politician intelligence minimum, preferably on a 6-month license after which they have to prove again they are competent enough to keep their jobs.

    If they fail they cannot practice their jobs in the EU.

    Seriously, it's nanny-state male bovine excrement like this that makes me believe the European (Dis)union is better off imitating the UN - a toothless, loudmouthed quango that cries, complains and wails a lot but has no real effect, than a proto-government.

    Because they damn well fail at the latter.

    You can take away my choice how loud I choose to listen to my music when you pry it from my cold, dead hands ....

    If they want to do something partially possibly effective, they ought to ban all headphones that can't effectively direct that volume at the person wearing them.

  2. Alex Walsh


    I thought this already happened?

    I remember diligently putting the US firmware on my iRiver H140 to overcome the sound cap so I could destroy my hearing properly and that was years ago.

    A bit of googling comes up with plenty of comments like "Basically, don't get the European firmware because it restricts how loud the player can go, due to EU safety regulations."

  3. Frosty840

    What about really quiet files?

    Are they planning to mandate that the player must scan the entire track before playing, then reset the maximum volume to prevent a damaging peak? Would this affect the volume of the whole track, or just the loud section?

    And what about really quiet files where one needs to turn the volume up to its hissing, crackling highest in order to hear anything at all? You've all listened to one of those podcasts once or twice, I'm sure...

    Definite health benefits aside, I fear that this idea is rather on the unworkable side...

  4. DAN*tastik

    Easy solution?

    If MP3 tracks at high volume can damage your hearing, maybe it is enough to replace them all with OGGs?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    decibel is a ratio - not an absolute

    100dB compared to what? anyway - different headphones have different output per microvolt applied - so they could limit to their "100dB" and I put some extra-sensitive phones on and get "110dB" - what's next then? proprietary headphone connectors? that'll go well because I've yet to buy a device with supplied phones that are worth putting near my ears.

  6. Jolyon Ralph



  7. Dale Richards

    Sound levels...

    "...portable audio devices must not pump out music beyond 100dB"

    100 dB what?

    100 dB SPL @ 1 m would be loud enough for general consumer listening.

    100 dB SPL @ 1 cm probably wouldn't be.

    Please finish the sentence, so we can more accurately judge the stupidity level of this law.

  8. Rob

    @Jolyon Ralph


  9. npupp 1


    ah. fuck. time to build an Altoild tin headphone amp

  10. Richard 31
    Paris Hilton


    So if a limit was set and someone's hearing was damaged who would be responsible. If the nanny state wants to control everything, then they should take all the blame.

    That said they should sod right off, we know loud music is bad. Loud music serves its purpose!

    Paris coz she is pretty loud in more ways than one.

  11. B3vil

    Just drives the loudness war...

    If the players have limits music producers will just further overcompress their releases so that they sound 'louder' still thus destroying the sound completel and making them near impossible to listen to on a decent set-up.

    The current volume limits are problem even right now if you're listening to older 'pre-remaster' material which is significantly quieter than the modern music the current limits were based around. In some cases the older material only hitting 50% peak amplitude, and has no excessive compression which is great for listening to on a proper setup, but near useless on portable players due to these silly limits.

  12. damonlab


    I want louder mp3 players where I can turn the volume up to 11.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I need Loud music

    As it drowns out the voices in my head

  14. Haku

    @Alex Walsh

    I remember that farce, I've got the Korean firmware on mine to get around that crap, however I rarely need to put the volume above 11 (out of 40) when listening through earphones because they're so good, however outputting to speakers etc. the unit is pretty quiet.

    On that note, if they do limit volume output there are easy ways round it - decent earphones that don't take much input to be loud, or something like a Boostaroo headphone amp.

  15. John Robson Silver badge

    And they monitor volume by what mechanism?

    After all I can switch the headphones for a pair of active PA speakers at 500W each..

    100db (or dbA even) is useless without mentioning some distance...

  16. Kurgan


    This is ridiculous. But I believe that we should be accustomed with such idiot ideas from the EU.

    The comment about different efficiency of different headphones is true! If they want to mandate a maximum sound level, they'll need fixed and non-swappable headphones. Then we will have to throw away our players if the headphone breaks.

    Or we'll have to retro-fit a connector for headphones, then buy new headphones at the black market, and obviously crack the firmware to get a proper volume.

    Headphones will become illegal, headphone connectors will be confiscated, loud players will be burned in public squares!

    Oh, my...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Royal National Institute for the Deaf

    It was not so long ago that the RNID stopped people in the street who were wearing personal audio equipment and measured the volume of their headphones, I think more than 70% had the volume too loud and were going to effect their hearing, so that in later life they would be deaf or only partially hearing. Perhaps they should just come with a health warning.

  18. peyton?

    I especially like

    How the Royal National Whatever of Deaf People supports this. Apparently, they don't give a rat's ass about those who are merely hearing impaired.

  19. HFoster

    Whatever next?

    Rubberized cutlery, for fear we plebs do ourselves an injury during mealtimes? Yes, it can be a massive irritation listening to other people's dodgy music spilling out of their inadequate earphones on public transport, but compare that against the horrid engine noise, or the clatter and rattle of ancient rolling stock.

    However, I don't the the Europratts have our comfort at heart, so much as a desire to wrap us all in political cotton wool, lest we enjoy ourselves. Or something.

  20. John I'm only dancing

    I want a Spinal Tap volume control

    Most amps only go up to 10 but, you know, when you want that bit extra, you can crank it up to 11.

  21. Charles 9 Silver badge

    For those saying a distance is needed for sound measurement...

    ...we're talking MP3 players, where the normal listening mode is with little earbuds (packed with the player) put right into the ear. A sensible standard would be to have the music come out no louder than 100dB out of the standard-equipment earbuds at point blank.

  22. Test Man

    @EU decibel cap? Nope

    There never was an EU decibel cap, but there was a French cap, which meant that the manufacturers couldn't be arsed to produce two (or more) different models according to local markets in the EU so they simply produced one with the decibel cap on all of them.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Dont limit noise levels

    just make it legal to kill people who have them on too loud... bingo problem sorted

  24. Neil 7
    Jobs Horns

    Eurocrats: Do something useful...

    ...and ban the craptastic stock Apple headphones.

    Every time there is someone annoying the feck out of an entire train carriage it's ALWAYS someone with a white pair of Apple headphones, most times hanging out of their ears because they're so uncomfortable.

    Apple iPod/iPhone owners do yourself and your fellow travellers a favour and buy some fcking decent headphones - you wouldn't even need to spend much more than a tenner.

  25. Tony W

    Predictable rubbish

    Yes I mean the comments. A lot of the commenters have not read the article properly. And a lot of them are laying down the law about decibels and sound level while obviously not knowing much about the subject.

    First, ordinary consumers cannot measure sound level, so they cannot properly protect themselves. Hands up all those who think that it is OK to sell a product that can permanently damage people without them being aware of it. Consumer law is not adequate to protect people in this case because damage will take a long time to become apparent and it would usually be impossible to prove what exposure had deafened someone. But, you should be able to turn it up if you choose - which at the moment seems to be the proposal.

    Those determined to deafen themselves will always find a way to do it, and this is not about trying to stop them. So shut up, go ahead and risk your hearing. By the time the damage has become apparent there might be a way to repair it - and then again there might not.

    Second, earphone sound levels are measured according to an international standard ISO11904-2. Distance does not come into it.

    Third, the vast majority of earphones suitable for MP3 players etc. have fairly similar sensitivity so in most cases choosing an ultra-sensitive model would not make a great deal of difference.

  26. J 3

    @whining libertards

    I can't tell whether your reading skills are limited or whether the frothing at the mouth after reading the title alone was so strong that it even blackened your vision, but the article does say that the user CAN override the preset limit.

    So who cares.

    If they did NOT allow the overriding, then I would complain too (not that Europe has any direct influence on me). But I can read. I think. Writing though...

  27. Dale 3

    @Dale Richards

    Actually, it would be quite nice to have a law limiting SPL measured at a distance of 1m, then perhaps the train trip will become slightly more bearable. I propose the limit be set to "silence, measured at 1m". That would do nicely.

  28. davolente


    Might sound relatively unimportant until you actually find yourself sitting next to some brainless cretin blasting away his drum, bass and garage (is that the correct modern terminology, squire?), so loud through his ear buds that it's surprising his ears don't bleed. Annoying or what?

  29. Anonymous Coward

    But if

    Consumers will still be able to override the safe default setting, she admitted.

    then whats the point???

    Fucking idiotic eurotwats.

    And to think Blair will be sitting on his throne directing them all.

    Be afraid, be very afraid...

  30. Greg J Preece

    This already annoys me

    The model of DAP I have now is decidedly quieter than the model before it, and *that* one allegedly had a limiter (though I call BS on that). Good point about the US firmware though. Might look into that.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    couldn't they shut up

    blasted mobile phones playing gangsta rap at umpteen db on the bus. Cant they make a little dongle concerned parents can buy tghatll shut off the volume of noise making equipment laing out loud by spotty herberts on public transport? If they pump it into their brains, why I care?

  32. Annihilator Silver badge


    We know it's bad for you, leave us alone. Is there a massive deficit in the NHS budget because of overspend in treating patients for ear damage after excessive volumes on mp3 players (incidentally, does this extend to a DVD player, Nintendo DS, PSP, or, lord forbid - the headphone jack on my amp?

  33. Brian 6

    @everyone going on about distance.

    They are talking about portable audio players being played through headphones, SO NO DISTANCE AT ALL.

  34. cor

    no no, let Darwinism run its course

    But I am in favour of a dB cap on the noise *outside* of the earphone domain.

  35. scotchbonnet

    The Deaf Generation

    Though I probably won't be around to see the worst of it, I've been predicting for years that the iPod generation are going to have more than their fair share of deaf people. Almost daily, I'll be sitting on the train on the way to work and there'll be at least one younger person with earbuds loud enough that I have identify the beat of what they're listening to, if not the actual track to which they're listening. If I can hear your earbuds from 10+ feet on a moving train while they're in your ears, you're listening to your music too loudly.

    What's worse tho' is the nanny-staters wanting to step in to help those who're too stupid to figure out for themselves that protracted exposure to loud sounds = hearing impairment.

  36. Graham Marsden

    Is this legislating against stupidity?

    Or just stupid legislation?

    (Is there a difference...?!)

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    On the other hand...

    I have to agree with the technical issues commented here.

    However, what IS true is the deafness problem is going to be huge in 10/20 years time.

    Of that there is no doubt.

  38. dervheid

    F**K OFF!!


    I'll decide how loud I have my music when using headphones, thank you very much.

  39. Christopher Martin

    Mp3 player

    So if it supports ogg vorbis, is it free from this retarded legislation?

  40. Anonymous Coward

    well, 'tis a nice nanny state

    100db = painful

    110db = hearing loss

    120db = able to tune out politicians

    130db - blissfully dead

  41. Jazzman
    Thumb Down


    I, for one, am SERIOUSLY pissed off with Brussels telling me what I can and cannot do. The sooner this weak, good for nothing Labour government, who pander to Brussels every whim, are democratically 'booted out' of office, the sooner the better. 'Loony Labour' have RUINED this once, proud country.

  42. TeeCee Gold badge

    Re: HUH?


  43. A41202813GMAILCOM


    Why Are Helmets Mandatory For Motorcycle Users ?

    Why Are Seat Belts Mandatory For Car Users ?

  44. Anonymous Coward

    @Dale 3

    That's actually a really good idea. You'd get rid of so much annoyance, help stop people being irritating on the bus- removing another reason for people to complain about using the bus- and it wouldn't really affect those who wanted loud music.

    I would make it less-than-old-diesel-bus-engine-noise at 1m, rather than silence. More realistic, and it lowers the amount of padding required.

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