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I regularly get interrupted in watching and listening to video by the volume randomly getting lowered without me asking for it. I get a system notification telling me "the volume was lowered", telling me it's protecting my hearing based on the last 7 days of use. I've never been asked about enabling such a feature.

I have already disabled what relevant items I can find under Sound & Haptics, which is given as the source of the notification. It apparently doesn't matter though because it's not being respected.

How can I make this stop?

iPhone 8, iOS 14.2

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  • Comments removed, discussions about site policy etc can be raised on Meta if necessary. – nohillside Dec 15 '20 at 19:54
  • This crappy "feature" is particularly annoying when using external speakers connected to the 3.5 mm jack of iPhone 6 or older, which always seem to be treated as headphones… – aschipfl 2 days ago
  • I just found a setting (on iOS 14.6) that could help, but I want to verify it before I post it as an answer: navigate to "Settings » Accessibility » Audio/Visual (Hearing)" and deactivate "Headphone Notifications"… – aschipfl 2 days ago
  • @aschipfl Take a look at my comment under my answer and see whether those instructions for wired headphones have become outdated for iOS 14.6. – Andreas 2 days ago
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Update: See @Andreas' answer below - iOS 14.4 addresses this issue by allowing the user to specify what kind of device are they listening to. The loud volume notification features still cannot be turned off, but with the right settings, the notification will no longer lower volume automatically. I am currently on iOS 14.4 with iPhone 8 Plus in EU region and I can confirm that I can set my BT devices as external speakers or car stereos, so that they do not have their volume lowered.

-- Original answer:

In addition to @grg's response it is worth noting that this feature doesn't work properly at least in following circumstances:

  • You are using your phone in a car, where bluetooth car radio is registering itself to the iPhone as bluetooth headphones.
  • You are using non-Apple headphones.
  • You are using home appliances, such as external bluetooth speakers, which register to the iPhone as bluetooth headphones.
  • You have a hearing disability and need to set high listening volume in order to hear anything. You currently have no way to listen to music (or anything, actually), since iPhone will automatically lower the volume.

In these cases, iPhone will determine you are listening to music too loud and will turn the volume down. This cannot be turned off. The screen in your Sound & Haptics setting screen explicitly states these notifications cannot be turned off. This feature was introduced as part of iOS 14, but the inability to turn it off was introduced in iOS 14.2.

I can confirm the above scenarios from my own experience with JBL external speaker and bluetooth receiver I use in my car.

Some users and articles claim that this feature is based on legal requirement in EU and elsewhere. I reside in EU and I was only able to find EU recommendation on hearing protection in mobile devices. I couldn't, however, find any regulation that would make it mandatory for phones to have mandatory automatic volume controllers that can't be turned off. Follow-up discussion is available at Apple forums. This change has arguably created massive amounts of e-waste, since every BT gadget from AliExpress that allows you to use bluetooth in your car has been rendered useless, as well as many, if not most, external speakers and sound appliances on the market currently.

I have no idea why anyone is defending this or why anyone would think I am too incompetent do decide for myself how loud I should listen to music. It's totally broken, not mandatory and dumb idea to begin with even if it worked flawlessly.

Other helpful opinions on how this broken feature affects people's lives:

  • User with experience in concert industry explains how this affects ability to reproduce music with DAC converters and provides evidence that it is not the loud music but screaming people that damage people's hearing at concerts.
  • User that drives motor bike explains how iPhone automatically lowers his volume when listening to traffic information and navigation, which introduces hazardous situations with potentially fatal accidents when people need to stop focusing on the road and start fiddling with their phones while driving.
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  • Thank you for expanding on the problem description. I did not have the energy to explain all of it, but you've hit the nail on the head, and there is no good excuse. Apple is demonstrating incompetence and naivety when they think they have perfect information about the real world and about what kind of device an audio sink actually is. It's like writing a web browser that only accepts perfect HTML... I've used iPhone for 11 years and this is the first time I'm thinking of it as ridiculous, and I'm writing apps for the thing. – Andreas Jan 10 at 0:02
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This is a feature of iOS 14 designed to protect your hearing. iOS lowers the volume if you reach a seven day accumulation of volume played loud enough for durations that engage this safety feature. You can not opt out of this or disable it, but once the time based interval passes, you are then free to adjust the volume back up past the limiter.

[…] over 80 decibels (dB) for a total of 40 hours within the last seven days.

[…] When you receive a notification, you’ll hear a chime and your volume will be turned down automatically. You can dismiss the notification and turn your volume back up if you want to.

Due to regulations and safety standards, headphone notifications can’t be turned off in certain countries or regions.

Headphone notifications on your iPhone, iPod touch or Apple Watch

The over 80 dB for 40 hours in 7 days is just an example, The Telegraph also reports iOS 14 will make the volume

drop automatically after it hits over 90 decibels for more than four hours a week

Apple's iPhones will turn down the volume if your music is too loud - The Telegraph

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IOS update 14.4 introduces a way to classify Bluetooth audio devices as speakers or headphones, which would solve the problem for all misidentified Bluetooth speakers as well as for all headphones that you are allowed to reclassify.

Option to classify Bluetooth device type in Settings for correct identification of headphones for audio notifications

Release notes for 14.4

As a side note, the two speakers I own were identified as headphones and a car stereo.

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  • How do you designate a dongle as "not headphones"? Because I have the same issue but with using a dongle connected to speakers/iHome/sound system etc. – Wimateeka Mar 4 at 20:19
  • @Wimateeka I get an alert asking me whether the dongle is plugged into headphones or something else, except when I plug in a pair of earpods which seem to be identified automatically. Works for apple's lightning to 3.5 mm headphone jack adapter at least. – Andreas Mar 4 at 20:23
  • I plug in speakers to the 3.5 mm headphone jack adapter dongle and have never used headphones with my phone via the port directly or the dongle. I guess I classified it a while ago when I first plugged it in and didn't know the consequences. I tried using the "forget all dongles" from the Sound and Haptics menu but now when I plug the only dongle I own in, nothing comes up asking me to identify the source type. Got any tips? – Wimateeka Mar 4 at 20:33
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    @Wimateeka In Sound and Haptics under Lightning Adapters there is a switch for me that indicates whether the current adapter is connected to headphones. If you don't see it it might be regional, or a different OS version. It's only visible when non-earpod headphones are connected. In my case a 3-pole 3.5 mm plug. The identification might be done by detecting the number of poles on the plug, by impedance measurement, or some other magic. – Andreas Mar 4 at 20:39
  • Thanks for the insight. I found that out this morning. When I was testing for my previous comment, I was plugging headphones in over and over to see if any pop-up came up. When I tried this morning with my speakers + dongle for aux-in, it asked me. Thanks! – Wimateeka Mar 5 at 12:02

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