iPod Headphones Cause Hearing Loss: What's Next?

MAKE IT A BUD

This is what your ears feel like after listening to "My Humps"

BREAKING NEWS ABOUT SCIENCE

I hope you're sitting down, as you'll probably want to stand up after you read this. Today CNN reported the following thing about technology: If you listen to loud music, it will actually hurt your ears. This time Apple's iPod earbud headphones play fall guy:

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, [Dean] Garstecki [, chairman of Northwestern's communication sciences and disorders department] said.

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Yet, the earbuds do not always fit snugly in the ear, but often allow background noise to seep in, which causes listeners to crank up the volume.

In turning up the volume to drown out background noise, however, people "don't realize they may be causing some damage" to their hearing, Garstecki said.

Well god fucking damn. Before the Microsoft/MTV/Reuters/MSNBC conspiracies start a-flying--I mean, I absolutely cannot believe someone OK'd a news story with so obviously libelous a bent, shoehorning competitor market maneuvers into a public health puff piece, even on so low-traffic a news day--Riff Raff has learned from secret riff-oriented sources that Apple heads are not sweating the claims. Far from it. Taking Garstecki's advice--people should only use earbuds at 60% volume, for no more than 30 minutes a day--a few designers have begun brainstorming special, "hearing-safe" iPods, designed to prevent hearing loss as much as possible. The news only hit a few hours ago, but here are a few of their ideas:

The 30-Minute iPod. Protecting the public from itself, the 30-Minute iPod is factory-designed to deliver exactly the maximum healthy dosage of music to the listener's ears, then explode into a ball of fire. Currently developers are trying to make the iPod's explosion less deafeningly loud without compromising the flame count.

The 30-Minute Video iPod. Essentially the same as its video-less cousin, the 30-Min Video iPod has an extra safety feature: Around minute 29, Apple CEO Steve Jobs walks across the iPod's LCD screen and, when not shouting about how the iPod is going to explode, threatens to take his clothes off, then actually undresses. The U2 Video iPod replaces Jobs with U2's The Edge standing naked in a pile of clothes, with no intentions of putting them on.

iPod sandwich. Eschewing audio entirely, the iPod sandwich mimics the "soul" of music directly inside the listener's stomach; rumor has it that the idea came to be at Apple's recent holiday party, when Steve Jobs got so drunk he ate an entire shipment of iPod nanos, then reported he liked the "beat" of the machine doctors used to pump his stomach.

iPod snake. Just because Apple's new devices are more hearing-conscious doesn't mean they're any less fashionable. Take the iPod snake: a live snake that wraps its midsection around the listener's neck and whispers the names of r&b singers directly into his ear. What about background noise, you ask? Well let me ask you this: Have you ever heard a snake say "Fantasia"?

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