Guitarist Pete Townshend has warned iPod users that they could end up with hearing problems as bad as his own if they don't turn down the volume of the music they are listening to on earphones.

Townshend, 60, guitarist in the 60s band The Who, said his hearing was irreversibly damaged by years of using studio headphones and that he now is forced to take 36-hour breaks between recording sessions to allow his ears to recover.

"I have unwittingly helped to invent and refine a type of music that makes its principal components deaf," he said on his Web site. "Hearing loss is a terrible thing because it cannot be repaired. If you use an iPod or anything like it, or your child uses one, you MAY be OK ... But my intuition tells me there is terrible trouble ahead."

Referring to the increasingly popular practice of downloading music from the Internet, Townshend said: "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."

The Who rock group was famous for its earsplitting live performances, but Townshend said his problem was caused by using earphones in the recording studio.