Since Sony invented the walkman, the trains, trams and busses have been flooding with people wearing earphones. At first, they irritated everybody with the “ts…ts…ts…ts…ts…ts…ts…” sound comming out of their ears, and now, many early walkman owners are starting to show hearing problems. The European Union has stepped in to protect our ears, and have set some limits to how much sound a personal music device can produce.
In theory this is a terrific idea, but in practice, it doesn’t work. Most manufacturers, like Apple are simply limiting the absolute maximum the device can use by measuring how loud a very loud mp3 plays at max volume. Then, they apply a software cap on the volume slider and that’s that. As a side effect, people who like to listen to inheritly low-volume music (classical music or some talkshow podcasts) are very limited in where they can use this device.
I have an 8GB iPod nano myself (a.k.a. the “second generation”), and I am having trouble hearing the voices of a podcast when walking on the street. Most music has a sort-of-okay volume level, but this particular podcast I’m listening is very low on volume. Because it is a news podcast, I don’t have the time, or patience, to manually manipulate the audio level of this podcast every single day before synchronizing it to my nano.
Today I found GoPod, a tool which can remove the volume limit on many iPod models. This process is called “uncapping” the volume. I’m on an Intel mac, and even found someone who has compiled it for Intel Macs (not available on the original site). After some fiddling with it, I found that it didn’t work with my iPod nano. In a search on the internet, I found that the 2nd generation nanos were not supported by GoPod because the developers had not figured out how to do this for the 2nd generation. Aperantly it is not that simple.
When entering diagnostic mode, you can make the iPod produce a really loud 1KHz tone, which shows that the nano is capable of much more than Apple is showing you. The writers of the GoPod software also found the regional strings interesting, and everybody started posting:
|Reginal code||Purchase location||Capped|
|0x0022 0x0001||France, Italy, UK||yes|
|0x0020 0x0001||Swiss, Austria||yes|
|0x0021 0x0001||Finland, Sweden||yes|
|0x001f 0x0001||Slovenia, Hungary, Israel, Mauritius||yes|
So far, the regional codes have not helped solving the problem. The GoPod people are still working on a hack, meanwhile the only options you have are the following:
- Sell your European (capped) iPod and buy a new one from the US, make sure it is a US version. Maybe this is the moment to upgrade to that nice new generation nano 🙂
- Buy isolating in-ear headphones like the Sony Fontopia, or the Sennheiser cx300, or the Shure E2c. Isolating in-ear phones will cost you anywhere between 30 and 100 euros.
- Buy a set of earjams to turn your iPod earphones into in-ear earphones. The cheapest, but maybe also clumsiest solution.
Please note that the first option is the most expensive, but actually solves the output voltage problem some people are experiencing when connecting the iPod to other hardware like amplifiers.