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Don’t Go to 11: Insights from the Apple Hearing Study

The combination of tightly integrated Apple hardware and software, a huge user base, and Apple’s Research app is enabling the kind of large-scale studies that were previously infeasible. Current studies include the Apple Women’s Health Study, the Apple Heart and Movement Study, and—in the news now—the Apple Hearing Study, conducted in partnership with the University of Michigan to help advance the understanding of how sound exposure levels over time can impact your hearing, stress levels, and cardiac health. Apple is now sharing data from the hearing study to help people better understand their hearing health.Headphone safety settings

Hearing health is a big deal—the World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that, by 2050, more than 700 million people worldwide will have severe hearing loss. Apple and the University of Michigan are also sharing data with the WHO’s Make Listening Safe initiative.

Apple found that many of its users are at risk of hearing loss. 25% of participants were exposed to a daily average sound level over WHO recommendations. Average weekly headphone exposure was higher than the WHO recommendations for about 10% of participants. 20% had some sort of hearing loss, 10% had hearing loss likely caused by noise exposure, and 25% of participants said they experience ringing in their ears a few times a week or more, which could be a sign of hearing damage.

In short, turn that volume down and take advantage of the options in Settings > Sounds & Haptics > Headphone Safety!

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Comments About Don’t Go to 11: Insights from the Apple Hearing Study

Notable Replies

  1. And I thought the article was saying don’t move to macOS 11.x !! Had me worried for a moment.

  2. I wonder how many times we’ve made the Spinal Tap “these all go 11” reference?

  3. Reminds me of a project I worked on in the distant past. Back in the 90’s Visix Software (no longer in business) developed a Java-based rapid prototyping system for their Galaxy application environment.

    The internal project name for it was “Eleven”, because “it’s one louder”. When it finally shipped, it was sold as “Vibe”.

    Sadly, there’s virtually nothing left of Visix Software on the Internet and at least two other companies have since used the same name (!). But here are some press references I was able to find:

  4. I worked in Apple retail for 15 years. It was almost impossible to get managers to turn down the overhead Sound system In order to talk to customers without raising voices. The store’s background music sound pressure was generally in the 65-75db range. W.H.O. Recommends sound levels of 50db or less. I challenge Apple to keep sound levels in their granite, stainless steel, and solid wood table stores within W.H.O. Recommended levels, rather than “it meets osha standards” ie less than 80db.

  5. What a cop-out answer. OSHA standards are designed to prevent causing injury, not create a comfortable and productive work environment.

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