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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 January 2006, 10:54 GMT
Who guitarist's deafness warning
Pete Townshend
Townshend is recording a new album for a Who tour this year
The Who guitarist Pete Townshend has warned music fans against potential hearing damage caused by headphones as portable players become more popular.

The 60-year-old said studio headphones caused his hearing problems, rather than playing loudly on stage.

"I have unwittingly helped to invent and refine a type of music that makes its principal proponents deaf," Townshend wrote on his website.

"My intuition tells me there is terrible trouble ahead."

'Ears ringing'

Townshend, who is preparing to tour with the Who this year, said he discovered he had "badly damaged" his hearing in the 1970s.

"My ears are ringing, loudly," he wrote. "My own particular kind of damage was caused by using earphones in the recording studio, not playing loud on stage."

He said he must take 36-hour hearing rests while recording a new album with fellow Who member Roger Daltrey, breaks he describes as "frustrating and agonising, but compulsory".

Hearing loss is a terrible thing because it cannot be repaired
Pete Townshend
Townshend said late bandmate John Entwistle also suffered hearing problems, causing him to play out of time at a Who concert in 2000.

"Hearing loss is a terrible thing because it cannot be repaired," he wrote.

"If you use an iPod or anything like it, or your child uses one, you may be OK. It may only be studio earphones that cause bad damage."

But he added that headphone use will increase because "the computer is now central to our world".

"The downside may be that on our computers - for privacy, for respect to family and co-workers, and for convenience - we use earphones at almost every stage of interaction with sound."

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