Gigs & Bytes: Falling On Deaf Ears
You shouldn’t drive drunk. You shouldn’t stand in a puddle of water while plugging in a toaster. You shouldn’t assume the gun is empty.
And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that slapping on a pair of earbuds and cranking your iPod’s volume control to the max will affect your hearing.
However, it might take someone who is an expert on sound.
Like Dean Garstecki, a Northwestern University audiologist and professor, who says it’s time to turn down the volume.
Of course, Garstecki isn’t the first person to warn about playing music too loud. Warnings went out in the ‘70s regarding stereo headphones, and Walkmans posed hearing problems in the ‘80s. So it goes to reason that blasting music over those tiny earphones used for MP3 players might cause some problems.
“We’re seeing the kind of hearing loss in younger people typically found in aging adults,” Garstecki said. “Unfortunately, the earbuds preferred by music listeners are even more likely to cause hearing loss than the muff-type earphones that were associated with the older devices.”
Garstecki also said earbuds can boost a sound signal by as much as six to nine decibels, likening the difference in intensity to the sound of a vacuum cleaner compared to the roar from a motorcycle engine.
Garstecki said an audiologist friend at Wichita State University measured the output from MP3 players used by students and discovered that they were listening at 110 to 120 decibels.
“That’s a sound level that’s equivalent to the measures that are made at rock concerts,” Garstecki said. “And it’s enough to cause hearing loss after only about an hour and 15 minutes.”
Of course, most players can play up to 12 hours on a single battery charge.
Garstecki’s solution? He calls it the 60/60 rule: Listening to personal players for no longer than an hour a day at levels below 60 percent of maximum volume.
But it doesn’t take a man with as impressive sound credentials as Garstecki, who is the chairman of Northwestern’s communication sciences and disorders department, to tell us there is a problem. One man known as a long-time victim of hearing problems related to loud music has issued his own warning.
“I have unwittingly helped to invent and refine a type of music that makes its principal components deaf,” Pete Townshend wrote on his Web site. “Hearing loss is a terrible thing because it cannot be repaired. If you use an iPod or anything like it, or your child uses one, you MAY be OK… But my intuition tells me there is terrible trouble ahead.”
Bon Jovi’s Comcast Hookup
While no one is expecting Jon Bon Jovi to trade in his customary cowboy hat for a beanie with a propeller anytime soon, there’s no denying that the current Bon Jovi tour is using the latest technology to bring the band’s music to the fans.
The boys debuted their album Have A Nice Day last September in a performance from New York’s brand-new Nokia Theatre in Times Square that was shown on movie screens across the country as well as cybercasted on AOL and aired on XM Satellite Radio. Then Bon Jovi made headlines in December by transmitting live video from their MCI Center performance to Sprint cell phone customers, which left more than a few people wondering how a venue named MCI ended up hosting an event tied into a promotion for Sprint.
Now there’s more Bon Jovi than ever before, and it’s On Demand.
Comcast’s On Demand, that is. The cable company has partnered with the band to present behind-the-scenes action of Bon Jovi’s current tour.
The On Demand selections include the band gearing up backstage at the tour’s first stop in Des Moines, Iowa, a private “stripped down” performance for military personnel at Fort Monmouth, an army base located near Jon Bon Jovi’s hometown, and the making of the video for “Welcome To Wherever You Are.”
“Comcast is going on the road with Bon Jovi and delivering unique tour content to our customers’ homes when and how they want it,” Marvin Davis, Comcast’s senior vice president of marketing, said. “This is the first time we are partnering with an artist to offer integrated, exclusive content online and On Demand.”