The ever-popular earbuds used with many iPods and other MP3 players may be more stylish than the bigger and bulkier earmuff-type headphones, but they may also be more damaging to one’s hearing, according to a Northwestern professor.
“No one really knows for sure” the levels at which iPod users listen to music, but “what we do know is that young people like their music loud and seldom worry about any decline in hearing ability,” Dean Garstecki, chairman of Northwestern’s communication sciences and disorders department, told Reuters.
We don’t know, but we know it’s bad.
If only we had some metaphor by which we could grasp the danger so we could better clamor for government regulation, such as warning labels or a mandatory cap on the volume these things could produce.
The earbuds commonly used by iPod listeners are placed directly into the ear and can boost the audio signal by as many as nine decibels — comparable to the difference in sound intensity between an alarm clock and a lawn mower, Garstecki said.
Reuters and the researcher are partying like it’s 1979, though, because we’ve heard this particular chorus since the introduction of the Walkman, which replaced the practice of carrying a portable tape deck with the speaker pressed against one’s ear.
Or we would have heard the particular chorus, if we weren’t deaf. Instead, we’ve had to read it on the Internet.