a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

One of My Rare Public Service Announcements

It seems like all the leisure reading I do is pretty much on the toilet, basically going through the stack of magazines that arrive at the apartment every month.

Anyhow, I was reading the latest Rolling Stone, and there is a really disturbing article about how iPods are likely going to lead to increasing deafness among the U.S. population.

A study showed that, with over-the-ear headphones with a player set at level six (out of ten), you can safely listen to music for only an hour a day. For most in-the-ear headphones, like the earbuds that come with most MP3 players, the acceptable time at that level is less -- around 30 minutes for some models before you've exceeded your safe daily dose.

30 minutes really doesn't seem like much.

And be wary of turning it up all the way. Though in Europe, the decibel level on iPods are capped at 100 db by law, in the U.S. the iPod can crank up to about 130 db.

Rock concerts are bad for your ears too, and not only for the audience. Pete Townsend and Neil Young are among musicians who have reported hearing loss.

By 2030, 78 million Americans are expected to have some degree of hearing loss. Apparently it's cumulative, and doesn't really hit a lot of people until their 40s.

To link it to movies, it isn't clear if sitting through a two-hour action film with a bombastic soundtrack will do any damage. But if hearing loss in the population becomes a huge problem, movies will have to be louder just so the afflicted will be able to hear them.

And in a few decades, large swaths of the older audience just might be too frustrated to sit through a talky movie where they can't pick up a lot of the dialogue.

So, before you curl up with your iPod to listen to music while exercising, or commuting, or just hanging out... just think about your ears.


At 12:44 PM, Anonymous Emily Blake said...

Right now I'm watching my class of high school students do a newspaper scavenger hunt. Several of them are listening to their ipods at extremely loud levels. I will pass this information on to them, but you know teenagers. They're convinced they won't live long enough to need ears.

At 1:42 PM, Blogger Matt Waggoner said...

I have a portable MP3 player but I only ever use it while I'm at the gym -- and I keep the volume down so it doesn't suck battery as fast. I don't need it that loud. At work I have eight gigs of MP3s and OGGs on my computer, and just plug in a regular ol' pair of Labtec earmuffs.

I've noticed that I may be suffering the first stages of hearing loss in my left ear -- if I play music too loud in my car, I start hearing (and feeling) this weird crackling in my left ear. I have a tendency to crank the Zep way up while I'm on the way to or from work, but it looks like I'm going to have to keep it down a bit. There doesn't seem to be any actual loss of hearing sensitivity in that ear, although I may as well nip it in the bud.

My mom has severe hearing loss in both ears, especially low-frequency sounds, but everyone in my dad's family has excellent hearing, even his 87-year-old mother, so I'm probably okay on the congenital front.

Although by 2030, I'll be surprised if we don't have some kind of commonplace cure or treatment for hearing loss.

At 2:00 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

I don't even have an iPod, so I don't even know how loud "6" even is, or how loud the average listener turns it up on headphones.

Probably a good thing that it doesn't go to 11, though.

At 2:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I speak here as a professional acoustician and semi-professional sound mixer of movies.

Things are too loud - but it's mostly environmental noise, car noise and rock concerts. iPods aren't any more prevalent than Walkmen were in the early '80's - they're just monolithic. One of the complaints most people have about iPods is that they don't go loud *enough* compared to the portable players sold by other manufacturers.

People also lose their hearing naturally as they get older - just the same as they lose their eyesight or sense of smell. Loud noises and occupational exposure will necessarily increase this loss.

Should you probably turn the headphones down? Yes. Should you wear earplugs to concerts? Yes. Should you avoid listening to things that are loud enough to hurt your ears? Yes. Should you worry that the iPod is going to be the downfall of Western Civilization just because every third punk has one? Probably not.

At 10:31 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Rodio said...

What?! Huh?! Sorry, I just had to. I had a ringing in my right ear last year and then had some loss. Had it checked out and they told me I had minor hearing loss from a previous illness/ear infection. I ain't got no Ipod jaun yet, but I know I do play the tunes loud in my car. Very loud, but my speakers suck so I have to compensate, right? Anyway, most of my screenplays/ideas/dialogue/inspiration comes when that music is a blasting, so what's a guy to do?

Looking forward to the year 2030. Happy Thanksgivin,' I'm off like a prom dress.

At 7:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd rather they go deaf than's nice to see cars pass by the house without the earth shaking-knocking trinmkets off the shelf woofer explosions from their stupid ass overpriced hey look at me I'm cool car stereos

At 2:17 PM, Anonymous Moses said...

Sometimes it seems like evolution won't be kind to us. Another five hundred years, if we make it, we'll be a deaf, blind, infertile race of oatmeal eaters.


Post a Comment

<< Home