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Apple offers volume limits for iPods

Free software update lets some users of the popular devices set a maximum volume limit and includes a parental lock option.

Apple Computer has released a free software update for some iPods that lets listeners set a maximum volume limit.

The free update, available for video iPods and all iPod Nano models, also includes a parental lock option. After setting the volume limit, parents can lock the setting with a combination code to prevent children from raising the maximum volume without their knowledge.

The move follows a string of news articles and research reports, including a recent hearing in Washington, warning people not to listen to their MP3 players at excessive volume levels for prolonged periods.

The Mac maker also faces a class-action lawsuit that charges the company of not taking adequate steps to prevent hearing loss among American iPod consumers, despite limiting the output of the devices to 100 decibels in France.

"With the increased attention (on digital music players), we want to offer customers an easy-to-use option to set their own personal volume limit," Greg Joswiak, Apple vice president of worldwide iPod product marketing, said in a statement.

iPod owners can go to Apple's Web site to get the software update. An Apple ID and password login are required to obtain the download.

iPod owners will also be prompted to download the upgrade when they connect to their computers via iTunes.