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Can you hear me?

The so-called MP3 players have given way to iPods — gadgets which rule the roost for packing audio and even audio visuals in memory sizes which extend upto 120Gb, writes Parag Kamani.

music Updated: Apr 06, 2009 20:42 IST

The so-called MP3 players have given way to iPods — gadgets which rule the roost for packing audio and even audio visuals in memory sizes which extend upto 120Gb. Effectively, it means that the storage space available can hold up to 30,000 songs or 150 hours of video or 25,000 photos. “That’s more than enough room for a lifetime’s worth of entertainment,” says manufacturer Apple.

With over 40 million units sold globally, the upside in sales is being countered by a downside through research undertaken by the University Of Colorado, which announced the threat of damaged hearing in teenagers playing loud music on their iPods. Twenty four per cent of the 30 volunteers listened to music at the risk of a permanent hearing loss.

Go figure
One major problem with iPods is that they provide a playing time upto 20 hours prior to recharging. Safe listening is considered at 70 per cent of the full volume for about five hours, dropping to merely 90 minutes at 80 per cent levels. However, at full volume, the safe listening time is merely five minutes!

However, not all the damage is done, mind you, by those MP3 players rooted in your ears. Traffic, crackers bursting at Diwali, machine work at construction sites, attending live concerts, and so forth, all take their toll.
Many musicians themselves are sufferers too. Pete Townshend, the high-octane guitarist of The Who revealed 20 years ago, that he had sustained “very severe hearing damage” and has since become an advocate for raising awareness about the problem. In 2006, he wrote on his website, “I have unwittingly helped to invent and refine a type of music that makes its principal proponents deaf.”

On low levels
Lamenting that “my ears are ringing, loudly,” Townshend said he still takes 36-hour hearing rests while recording in studios. Among the numerous artistes who have reported hearing loss are Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Ted Nugent and Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. Guitarist Jeff Beck says that the pain in his left ear is sometimes “excruciating.”

Some sounds can damage your hearing in a moment — an accidental explosion of a prop on the set of the original Star Trek series, for example, instantly and permanently damaged the hearing of actors William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.
Hearing loss in youngsters is indeed a problem with many of them suffering hearing ailments similar to aging adults. While this fact is indeed scary, I am not preaching you to stop listening to your MP3 players or your iPods.. the advice is
simply to hear them at reasonable levels.

So if you are trying to impress the person next to you with the music that you are listening to and at a level closer to full volume, don’t! It’s better to keep a check on your (hearing) senses rather than losing them permanently.