Why sell with earphones in the box?

iBug2

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Jun 12, 2005
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Because Apple sells iPhones with earphones in the box, they have to stick to the European Union volume limit law, which limits all iPhones sold in EU countries to 100 dB's earphones output.

iPads are not sold with earphones so they are not volume limited. Same with laptops or other Macs.

Would it be terrible if Apple sold iPhones without earphones as well? They did buy Beats and are now selling Beats headphones in their stores. Apple's own earbuds are sold in all Apple stores as well. If they dropped the earphones from the package, maybe they can shave off some of the iPhone's cost. Not everyone needs a new earbud every time they buy a new iPhone anyway, people keep using their old ones, or just a different brand anyway. And more importantly, this whole EU Volume limit nonsense would be done with.
 

nickchallis92

macrumors 6502a
Mar 4, 2012
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The European Union is a terrible entity and I really hope the UK votes out of it. That said there are worse things about it than this particular directive.

I imagine Apple wants to include earphones as they help reinforce the apple brand.
 

kilcher

macrumors 65816
Jul 3, 2011
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The earphones probably cost 15 cents to make. I'd rather have them "included" with a new phone than to go out and pay $20 at the Apple Store. Yes, I know I'm still paying for them either way but in this case I prefer ignorance.
 

eyoungren

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Aug 31, 2011
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Assuming Apple does this (stops including earbuds in the iPhone package) would not the EU see that as an attempt to get around this regulation? Would they not respond with action of some kind against Apple?

I don't live over there which is why I ask.
 
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CTHarrryH

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Jul 4, 2012
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100 db sounds very loud - what db level do you want?
I'm sure if Apple dropped the headphones they wouldn't drop the price at all anyway.
 

iBug2

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Jun 12, 2005
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Assuming Apple does this (stops including earbuds in the iPhone package) would not the EU see that as an attempt to get around this regulation? Would they not respond with action of some kind against Apple?

I don't live over there which is why I ask.
Nope. Just like with iPads, if they don't sell them with earbuds included, the law does not apply.
 

iBug2

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100 db sounds very loud - what db level do you want?
The problem is that the 100dB is a hard limit, which is tested using the included earbuds. If you are using higher impedance big headphones, they will be much more limited than 100dBs. Or if you are listening to songs not mastered for loudness like 99% of the pop/rock music out there, the limit causes them to be way too quiet.
 
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sunking101

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Sep 19, 2013
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100 db sounds very loud - what db level do you want?
I'm sure if Apple dropped the headphones they wouldn't drop the price at all anyway.
Yeah, like 100dB isn't loud enough:rolleyes:
Ah, you mean the iPhone output is limited to 100dB (*and not the earbuds themselves)? Right. It still sounds super-loud to me and unless you're using really high impedance HiFi headphones it won't be a problem.

Really though, as someone who suffers from severe tinnitus I strongly suggest you curb your need for volume.
 

recoil80

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Jul 16, 2014
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Since they bought Beats they have plenty of earphones and headset.
They could sell the phone without earphones in the box and offer a discount to buy earphones and headset on the Apple store. The discount should be enough to buy the current earphones for free so a customer may get the basic earphones for free and be able to pay a little more for another headset.
They now sell earphones with a variety of colours to match the Apple Watch bands and they could be great to match iPhone 5C as well.
 

iBug2

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Right. It still sounds super-loud to me and unless you're using really high impedance HiFi headphones it won't be a problem.
So what if you are using high impedance HiFi headphones?

Also, I can find you so many tracks in my iTunes library that are not mastered for loudness, which will sound quiet even with Apple earbuds and EU iPhones.

If Apple wants to impose a limit, at least make it track based. If a track is recorded and mastered much more quietly than standard, let it go higher in volume. Applying a hard limit on every single track uniformly is just stupid.

The volume slider changes so much when I'm listening to music with my iPhone. Pop songs are listened at 35%, but then there are certain old classical recordings which I listen to around 85%, and 85% on a US iPhone is higher than an EU iPhone can deliver at 100%.
 

Phil A.

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Apr 2, 2006
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I was under the impression that manufacturers can allow higher volumes as long as they prompt the user about potential hearing damage and the user chooses to go higher. I've seen other manufacturers do exactly this so maybe the issue is part EU and part Apple for choosing not to implement like that
 

iBug2

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I was under the impression that manufacturers can allow higher volumes as long as they prompt the user about potential hearing damage and the user chooses to go higher. I've seen other manufacturers do exactly this so maybe the issue is part EU and part Apple for choosing not to implement like that
There's a 85dB limit which the user can remove, and the 100dB limit which the user cannot.
 
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hamiltonDSi

macrumors 68000
Jul 29, 2012
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I agree.
I walk everyday and I can hear the traffic and the street noise over my music !

When I go to class I have my iPad Air 2 in my backpack and I listen to music from it and it's much better.
I can't hear the traffic and the street noise.
 

sunking101

macrumors 604
Sep 19, 2013
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I agree.
I walk everyday and I can hear the traffic and the street noise over my music !

When I go to class I have my iPad Air 2 in my backpack and I listen to music from it and it's much better.
I can't hear the traffic and the street noise.
You should be thankful that Apple have imposed these limits. You shouldn't just keep turning the volume up until everything else is blocked out. I have some specialist ear plugs and they blot-out 40% of background noise, but I can still hear traffic and hustle-bustle whilst wearing them, and that's whilst using a device which is designed to reduce noise. Earphones and headphones, especially open headphones do not attempt to blot out background noise. There are some special in-canal earphones which do go a long way to blotting out background noise (and your musical noise pollution for others) but I wouldn't recommend those. The ability to damage your hearing is much stronger with them.
 

LCPepper

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Aug 5, 2013
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There is no specific EU law and/ or ruling that mandates Apple to impose any such upper limit. The EU has imposed limits on sound exposure for workplace environments only.

The EU requires that consumers be informed of audio exposure:

So far, limits have only been set to protect workers from excessive noise exposure and not for other situations such as the use of personal music players with headphones. The limits are nonetheless relevant to other situations where sound can have harmful effects.
http://ec.europa.eu/health/opinions/en/hearing-loss-personal-music-player-mp3/index.htm

None of the standards currently prescribe any maximum pressure limit nor require any specific labelling in respect of noise emissions but require that a statement be put in the instruction manual to warn against adverse effects of exposure to excessive sound pressure.
http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-09-418_en.htm?locale=en

This is something that is imposed at a individual member state level (France 2002), but has nothing to do with supranational EU law. This was discussed between 2008/ 2009 and hasn't been mentioned since as far as the European Union's website is concerned.

There is an option to disable the supposèd "EU limit" in the settings on iPhones and iPods; which may or may not relate to the 80db or 100db. But really there is no official upper limit, and the EU identifies 80db as the upper limit for safe extended listening:

There is no single safe sound level because the risk of hearing damage depends on two factors: (1 ) the sound level (2 ) the length of the listening time:
  • For example, for sound levels below 80 dB(A) – a level that is roughly equivalent to traffic noise from a nearby road – the probability of acquiring a hearing loss is negligible. Sound levels below 80 dB(A) might therefore be regarded as safe, no matter how long (daily or weekly) a person listens to a personal music player.
  • For sound levels above 80 dB(A), the listening time has to be limited in order for them to be safe. As the sound level increases, the safe listening time decreases.
http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-09-418_en.htm?locale=en
 

iBug2

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There is an option to disable the supposèd "EU limit" in the settings on iPhones and iPods; which may or may not relate to the 80db or 100db. But really there is no official upper limit, and the EU identifies 80db as the upper limit for safe extended listening:
Disabling the EU limit removes the 85dB limit, but the 100 dB limit cannot be removed. Of course these numbers are based on Apple earbuds and if you use another earphone/headphone with different impedance, the maximum SPL will be different.

Non-EU iPhones can go up to 120 dB with Apple Earbuds, so there's a 20 dB difference between the EU and non-EU ones.

The law is a France law but every EU product has to match the specs because of the trade union laws. Even in countries that do not belong to EU, if they are part of the trade union, they have to sell the iPhones with the limit.
 

LCPepper

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Aug 5, 2013
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There is absolutely no precedent in EU Law regarding the common market that says if one country imposes a certain restriction or condition on a product, that this also applies to all units of that product sold in other member state countries and those operating with and/ or within the common market.

The major and most significant competence of the EU in this area is that a member state cannot impose a quantitive restriction or condition on a product if this would cause a contradiction on the free movement of products and free market principles. If France chooses to impose a volume limit, this would not be seen as an act of creating a barrier for the product.

There is no evidence whatsoever to support that the EU or EC has supranationalised the French law on volume limits, and neither is this automatic.

In early 2006 a law suit was filed against Apple Corporation on the grounds that the iPod is a dangerous and defective device (BBC News Brief, 2006). This was on the basis that the volumes produced could reach over 115 decibels, which could cause hearing damage in as little as 30 seconds use. It was noted also that each device does carry the warning that permanent hearing loss could occur if it is used at high volumes. Additionally this article reported that there is a mandatory decibel limit of 100dB in France and models for that market are restricted to this level.
http://www.acc.co.nz/PRD_EXT_CSMP/groups/external_ip/documents/reports_results/wpc120204.pdf

From the above article, we see that the EU warning is respected, but that the restriction appears only to apply to 'models for that market', read France.

In fact the original BBC article appears to suggest that the 100db limit existed in France before the iPod, and that the law suit in the US prompted/ highlighted in France the iPod's contravention of this, leading to Apple reworking the iPod for the French market:

Apple was forced to rework its iPod for France after it was shown to exceed that country's decibel limit of 100.

Each iPod does carry the warning that "permanent hearing loss may occur if earphones or headphones are used at high volume".
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4673584.stm

Or if you prefer something less official and academic, this article in 2009 from the Telegraph also reinforces this:

There are no current European standards on volume controls for MP3 players, though under French law personal music players must be limited to an output of 100 decibels (db). The Apple iPod, which can reach 130db, was briefly withdrawn from sale in France in 2002 until Apple updated the software to reduce the maximum volume.

All iPods sold in Europe are now limited to an output of 100db.

The European Commission’s new proposals call for the default setting on all personal music players to be 80db. This would apply to MP3 players and mobile phones that are capable of playing music.

However, the proposals apply only to the default setting, not to the maximum setting for the device.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/6240432/EU-calls-for-volume-limit-on-MP3-players.html

So really, what this is saying is, France imposed this restriction on iPods in the French market only. However, Apple was the one who on their own initiative applied the restriction in a blanket sense for European sold iPods (who knows what their definition of the European market is, don't just assume EU). The EC proposals are proof to the fact that the French law does not obligate other member states, and that the blame for the blanket imposition of the restriction lies with Apple alone; most likely because they are lazy.
 

LCPepper

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Aug 5, 2013
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Just to add to this, I have found some more information.

It would appear that the BBC was right in that the decibel limit exited before the iPod in France. The limit was imposed in 24 July 1998 and pertained to Walkmans/ portable music players.

Les textes d’application de la loi ont permis l’introduction dans le code de la santé publique d’un article. L. 5232-1 du Code santé publique : « les baladeurs musicaux vendus sur le marché français ne peuvent excéder une puissance sonore maximale de sortie correspondant à une pression acoustique de 100 décibels SPL. Ils doivent porter un message de caractère sanitaire précisant que, à pleine puissance, l'écoute prolongée du baladeur peut endommager l'oreille de l'utilisateur. Les baladeurs musicaux qui ne sont pas conformes à ces dispositions ne peuvent être commercialisés en France ».
The texts in the application of the law have allow the addition of a new article in Public Health Law: L. 5232-1 of Public Health Law: "music players sold on the French markets cannot exceed a maximum sound level corresponding to an acoustic pressure of 100 SPL decibels. They must carry a health warning that, at full power, prologued listening to the player can damage the ear of the user. Music players that do not conform to these criteria cannot be sold in France."
http://www.inpes.sante.fr/70000/dp/08/dp081023.pdf (page 6)
http://www.lne.fr/publications/acoustique/reglementation_baladeurs.pdf
 

Azzin

macrumors 601
Jun 23, 2010
4,224
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London, England.
Apple won't drop the earbuds from iPhones.

Apart from also being a hands free device to speak on the phone, they're far too valuable from an advertising/marketing perspective.
 

LCPepper

macrumors 6502
Aug 5, 2013
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United Kingdom
That's true.

Also, I am not saying here that this limit does not exist. But rather that, it's Apple's fault and doing that it exists in Europe outside France... So don't blame the EU, it's a great thing. People just need a bit more information about things.

One thing I've just realised too, is that, there is nothing around that seems to suggest at all that the inclusion or exclusion of earbuds/ phones would affect the iPod's/ iPhone's classification as a portable music player. So it really wouldn't make much difference.

To counter as to the assertion that iPads and Macs don't have the limit because they don't have the earbuds/ phones, is would most likely be due to the fact that they wouldn't be classed as portable music players, but rather as a computer of some description...
 

iBug2

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Jun 12, 2005
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To counter as to the assertion that iPads and Macs don't have the limit because they don't have the earbuds/ phones, is would most likely be due to the fact that they wouldn't be classed as portable music players, but rather as a computer of some description...
That's interesting since an iPad mini is not much less portable than an iPhone 6+.