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If It’s Too Loud, It’s Unhealthy

volume iconRocker Ted Nugent used the phrase “If it’s too loud, you’re too old” way back in the day to promote a new album. With all due respect to Mr. Nugent, if it’s too loud, you should turn it down. In fact, as a parent with children in grade school, I insist that my kids turn it down, as I don’t want them to damage their hearing.

Dan Frakes has a terrific article online at Macworld that looks at some of the different headphones available for kids. Any parent worried about the volume of noise their children can be exposed to should read it.

Here at OWC, we sell many different headphones and earphones. We would like to offer some tips to parents who want to limit the audio volume when their kids, or themselves, connect to an iOS device or a Mac.

iOS has a build-in Volume Limit feature. While you may think this setting would be found under Setting—> Sounds, it’s not. It’s actually found via Settings —> Music. Just slide the volume level to where you want to limit the output volume.


Limiting the volume on a Mac is not as simple. Even if you have set up a different user account for the kids to use, with Simple Finder and no option to let them open the System Preferences, the volume can be changed via the keyboard. There is no built-in volume limiter on the Mac. But there are a couple software solutions we have found.

The first is Lockey. While this does not specifically lock the volume of a Mac at a certain level, it does lock the entire keyboard, so that your child cannot turn the volume up. It does not lock out everything, as it would then be impossible to quit the application, but for those with small children who are wearing headphones while watching a movie or listening to music, it is a good solution. It has the added benefit of being useful so your cat won’t accidentally mess something up by walking across the keyboard, or for those times you want to clean out the keyboard without unplugging it or turning the Mac off. Or, like me, when you accidentally drop a small screw in there and need to shake it out. Lockey is $7.99.

Advance user can also use Volimiter, which is a Command Line Interface application. You will want to read first on everything you will need to do in order to use the application, but it is only for advanced users who understand the command line and have a healthy respect for non-GUI Mac operation. If that’s you, give Volimiter a try.

The Macworld article is a good example of hardware solutions, that being headphones which actually limit the volume. As pointed out in the article, however, most headphones that do so also degrade the audio quality.

Education, as is usually the case, is the best solution. Below is a video by Gloria Clarke, an audiologist at Akron Children’s Hospital, discussing the potential impact that loud music or noise can have on people, especially kids.

Inform your kids, explain why it’s important, and monitor the audio output when they are listening to headphones.

Sorry, Ted, but if it’s too loud, it’s unhealthy.


Rocket Yard Contributor
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  • Unfortunately nobody has mentioned dB Logic Headphones. Very affordable and some of the best technology for limiting the sound level to a safe 85 decibels. Not all ways of limiting the volume in headphone are necessarily safe. My kids love them. Highly Recommend!

  • Thanks to a Ted Nugent concert in 1977, I have a constant screeching sound that is over all other sounds. If i’m in a quiet room, it is not quiet to me. If i’m in the dark woods where others are hearing crickets and tree frogs, i hear this constant high pitched sound. If i’m in a noisy room, I can’t hear the conversation that’s right in front of me.

    Thanks for everything, Ted.

  • It may help to explain what listening to loud music may mean. You won’t simply lose your hearing as you age. You may get tinnitus, a ringing sound that makes your life utterly miserable. At present, there is no cure.