Apple to Launch iPod with Automatic Volume Control

Listening to music non-stop has never been easier since the iPod came along. But future versions of Apple's MP3 player are to be adapted to prevent users from playing tracks at full blast through their earphones for too long. Amid growing fears that listeners could cause irreversible damage to their hearing - the highest setting is as loud as a chainsaw - Apple is developing an automatic volume control. A new patent reveals that the next iPods and iPhones could automatically calculate how long a person has been listening and at what volume, before gradually reducing the sound level. The device will also calculate the amount of "quiet time" between when the iPod is turned off and when it is restarted, allowing the volume to be increased again to a safe level. The patent states: "Since the damaging effect on users' hearing is both gradual and cumulative, even those users who are concerned about hearing loss may not behave in a manner that would limit or minimise such damaging effects."

Listening to volumes below 70 decibels is considered safe. But iPods can currently reach volumes of over 100 decibels - the equivalent to standing 10ft from a pneumatic drill - and enough to cause permanent damage after just 15 minutes. Some MP3 players can even exceed 120 decibels. In April, Apple revealed it had sold more than 100million iPods worldwide and was expecting, by the end of this year, to have sold more than 4.5million iPhones. Of those 200,000 will have been bought in Britain. Its patent application, however, is the first time Apple has acknowledged concerns over the risk the iPod poses to hearing and comes after a series of damning studies highlighted the potentially damaging effects. The Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) has led calls for restrained listening and claimed that more than four million young people aged between 16- and 24-years-old are at risk of hearing damage from listening to loud music.

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I think there should be a subtle but obvious warning signal so that you know when you should turn the volume down, if you want to. It shouldn't be forced upon you and I certainly won't be buying crap like that.

The headphones that came with my Shuffle are an insult. I'd rather have paid £2 less for the thing.

European people can use the program GOPOD to disable the volume limits.
It's a great program

I'm sure Apple won't go through with it or I will buy an MP3 player from another company.

i don't see why this cant be attempted in a new firmware for the ipods currently out in the market. WHY APPLE WHY? I JUST BOUGHT THE NEW IPOD!! god i hate this. i really really want this feature. but not by spending extra $$$$!!!! that volume limit thing just doesn't cut it just doesn't. -->waiting for ipod linux or rockbox to work on the current ipod nanos.....hopefully they will incorporate some feature like this.

and if apple is not gonna incorporate the feature into old ipods....then go ahead and make another one...but while you are at it improve the equalizer settings... i wanna be able to manipulate the setting presets. and please apple dont go whining around how your ipods do not have enough processing capability for a manual equalizer setting feature.

If you are listening to your crap ipod earbuds that came with your ipod sure...
But if you like me have some real headphones like beyerdynamics, sennheiser, akg, grado or whatever then you don't need this.
Good luck trying to drive my headphones with an ipod. I had to invest in a dedicated headphone amp just to be able to listen at normal levels...
I say put a good ad converter and a good amplifier in the ipod and let the consumer choose their listening level. And to stop the lawsuits stop bundling the crap earbuds and let everyone buy them separate. That way they cant blame the ipod...

maybe apple can include better headphones with their ipods... they are already overpricing everything. why be such cheap b#$trds and include crap headphones....?

would this not be completely useless/annoying, if you were trying to play the ipod through big speakers? ie. through a deck ->car speakers, or if you plugged it up to your amp in your home theatre or whatever? Good job apple. learn2life

Any decent set of car speakers, home theater systems, stereos, etc already have their own set of volume control. So it doesn't really matter. learn2life

I honestly think this is a good thing. When it's to the point where you can hear other people's music blaring while they're wearing earphones/headphones, it's way too damn loud. Earphones/headphones are made for portability, and to keep the sound to yourself. They are NOT so everyone walking by can hear your dumb crap.

ummm doesnt this technology already exist cant see how apple could get a patent for it

some programs have this built in for microphone recording levels

This article is complete rubbish - Apple don't announce new products, features or innovations ahead of their release. The whole thing is based on a patent application which, like most Apple patents, may never see it's way into a product.

Also, to the person who mentioned iPods in France, yes their maximum output is firmware limited below that of the maximum output of American iPods. Unfortunately, the limit is also applied to other European iPods.

The level of European iPods is perfectly adequate - anything more can be damaging to the user. I've seen loads of people with earbuds on their iPods and they're so loud that other people can hear them. I think people need to be protected from themselves.

I have a European ipod and I've no idea really why you'd want it to go above the 100db set limit. Its already ULTRA loud at that point. If you have an ultra quiet MP3, normalise it before copying it over.

This is pretty sure a option which can be disabled. There are multiple cases when this is not needed, like when an iPod being switched in between friends or family, or when being used on a stereo, just to name a few.

"Listening to music non-stop has never been easier since the iPod came along."

You sound like a whore for Apple. Why are you writing for Neowin?

GEIST said,
Cool. I hope future iPods will also wipe my ass, clean my glasses and brush my teeth.

First comment my eyes hit, and I honestly laughed out loud Still chuckling..

Different head phones may require different sound volumes. This patent is stupid. Surely a disclaimer would be sufficient enough to shield Apple from law suits. If Apple implements this, and it isn't a feature that can be turned off, then I'm afraid I'm going to have to go with the non-restrictive competition.

I read it. Please enlighten me as to why my post makes me "ignorant" and a "fool" when I distinctly rember iPod's having their volume limited in some European country.

necrosis, this system adapts the volume based on how long you've been listening to the song for. I'm pretty sure all iPods have what you describe, even on my sister's nano where you can alter the maximum possible volume in the settings

I don't believe that the iPod is the first portable music device that could potentially damage hearing. I don't understand why this is an issue now. Hasn't portable music been available for decades now? I remember as a child hearing about problems with playing music too loud, why is this something new now?

This is a bad idea. Who cares how loud someone else is listenting to their music? Let the people decide if they'd like to be able to hear properly or not

If they truly wanted to combat this sort of thing they would change the maximum volume output by adjusting it at the hardware level. This is just another one of those, 'look at what we can do' features - nothing more.

Sranshaft said,
If they truly wanted to combat this sort of thing they would change the maximum volume output by adjusting it at the hardware level. This is just another one of those, 'look at what we can do' features - nothing more.

Have to agree with that, waste of time this new technology, just limit the sound output to 70 decibels if that's the safe level.

How does the patent filing for a system by which volume could be limited in this way translate into "Apple to Launch iPod with Automatic Volume Control" ???

It's just a patent filing folks, and a company like Apple is sure to patent every possible thing they can, whether or not they ever use it.

As others have said if theres a option to turn it on it would be a good idea.

I don't understand how people can use iPod earphones on max in the first place the sound must be so distorted I wouldn't think it would be worth listening to it at that level and alot of the time it is people with the stock earphones doing this?

skkkkkkkkkkkkkswwcckkkk < ends up sounding like that imo.

Now if only they would stop providing the cr@ppiest earphones possible that leak sound allowing all around to hear the doof

this feature could turn into a very annoying thing. I hope they have the option to turn the auto volume off for songs or videos that have very low volume.

It depends on what headphones you have. My 2G iPod Nano CRANKS at max volume on my Sony MDR-7506's. Definitely enough to not only damage my ears but to give me a quick headache.

kezzzs said,
WHAT?! No seriously. I didn't get any of that.

Its to stop them getting sued in a few years time who will start complaining about losing their hearing due to playing a Ipod and want 50 million in damages

kezzzs said,
I meant it as a poorly advised joke :)

Your joke doesn't work on the internet because you have to READ the story. Even in real life I doubt it would be funny anyways. Sorry lol

They'll probably add a seperate line out that outputs sound at a non controllable setting. (For external speakers). 50% output or something.

I hope someone releases a hack for this or theres an option to turn it off.
Not all of us plug out ipods into headphones you know.... I sometimes use travel speakers etc

I normally take i break from listening to my MP3 player and give my ears a good rest (a few weeks). My Shure SE530 pack a serious punch and i need to be careful how loud i listen to my music, especially since these headphones go right into your ear.