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January 06, 2007, by Léon Krijnen

The 80/90 Zeng Rule   


My black Aldi's, love and admired as well as despised and hated in the editorial desk room where I'm spending way to much of my time, have led to mail and real time listeners.

An elder classic audiophile needed only seconds of listening to tell me the boxes (as well as the amplifier) are crap, but some younger colleagues with a tiny budget thought the jet black heavy speaker boxes from the German retailer ' stellar'.

At the Internet corner of the central desk we think they're stellar too, so from seven tot nine (digital starts earlier that paper) it's morning disco at war level.

We're playing our favorite songs - varying from The Bolero and Ludwig Von to Creedence Clear Water, and plenty of modern stuff, we love the Scissor Sisters. After all, each day the mailman brings at least ten brand new cd's, to be reviewed by the culture cowboys on the next block, and they don't mind the stuff coming a few minutes later, trimmed and shaved by iTunes.

All legal according to Dutch law, that permits you to make back up copies of something legally acquired. Like review examples sent for free by record companies, right?

By the way; who is the owner when they arrive and the chief culture, who is to split the presents between his disciples, hans't fallen out of his bed yet, after another big night of opera - and after opera?

From 09:00 a.m. sharp we're working under a marching order: the big button on the old Pioneer amplifier is to be tunred ten ticks to the left. Not even enough for some colleagues, apparently gifted with perfect hearing, so the rest of the day we're listening to sleep-inducing muzak. Meanwhile silently growling that the time will come that we have to follow the smokers outside, to do what we can't miss.

But I must admit that the lovers of silence might be right after all.

A lot of blogs and newspapers this week wrote about professor Fan Gang Zeng from the University of California-Irvine, who started noticing something alarming among his students: unexplained hearing loss. In each of his biomedical engineering classes Zeng found several students with the type of damaged hearing you normally wouldn't see until 50 or 60 years old.

It's been two years since the phenomenon began; just about how long it took MP3 player to become a staple for college students nationwide.

Coincidence? Zeng doesn't think so.

"We can't say for sure it's from MP3 players, but I don't know what else has changed," said Zeng, a researcher specializing in hearing loss. "The climate and the food are the same."

While I particular like the last part of the previous sentence (Al Gore doesn't agree), I'm not deaf (yet) for what Zeng is telling.

So, next to the marching order mentioned, we've created another one, The 80/90 Zeng Rule: we won't turn the volume up higher than 80 percent, and limit the listening time to 90 minutes.

In time we'll hear if that helps.

Posted: January 6, 2007 04:00 PM (504 words).   

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