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Loudness of shows


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Ok I know this is going to brand me as an old fart (55 y/o) but I want to broach this issue now that the tour is done.

 

I am an ex- Deadhead of sorts, though the highest I ever got for a show was one plastic cup of beer. I have also seen Paul McCartney during his most recent tour. And the Stones. Yes it is true that I do not "get out much," but what those tours had in common was the loudness of the music. Dead shows in particular were always noted for being loud enough, but never painful. I never wore hearing protection and did not need it.

 

With this experience I went to the U2 show in Seattle. From the first notes played by the Lenny Kravitz band I was, uh, shocked. Sorry folks but it was too loud and I had nothing for my ears. Stuffing crap like paper or cotton into them is not a good option because this just rolls off the high end, making all a muffled mess. A bigger problem was the U2 show itself. If anything my ears adjusted somewhat and so it eventually did not seem quite so loud. However I notice that with very loud music the ability to hear subtleties in a mix go bye bye. My wife even asked me later if they played COBL. Of course they did but the point is loud music as such actually decreases one's ability to hear clearly all that is going on.

 

I fell in love with U2 a year and a half ago after reading a crucial book about them (irrelevant here but certainly deserving of its own thread). I expected them to be very considerate of their fans and provide a show that was loud but not painfully loud, like the Dead used to provide. Since they did not do this but instead made it as loud as was legal, I was rather disappointed. I still like them but before I see them again I will invest in some musician's ear plugs, devices that drop the volume without muffling the sound.ohwell.gif

 

Your thoughts?

 

Bob V

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i must be getting Deaf, but i'm starting to think that  gigs i go to need to turn the Volume Up.....damage is done alas :(

 

i urge people to Ask Security for earplugs or bring their own, uncool  i know, but if you intend to go to lots of gigs, bring them in for at least the support acts.

 

when i first went to gigs decades ago, venues did not give a fug about the Db's, earplugs were not seen >

young-un's... wear the ruddy things, sod anyone taking the mick.....i got that ringing/buzz noise in ears= not good.

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Ok I know this is going to brand me as an old fart (55 y/o) but I want to broach this issue now that the tour is done.

 

I am an ex- Deadhead of sorts, though the highest I ever got for a show was one plastic cup of beer. I have also seen Paul McCartney during his most recent tour. And the Stones. Yes it is true that I do not "get out much," but what those tours had in common was the loudness of the music. Dead shows in particular were always noted for being loud enough, but never painful. I never wore hearing protection and did not need it.

 

With this experience I went to the U2 show in Seattle. From the first notes played by the Lenny Kravitz band I was, uh, shocked. Sorry folks but it was too loud and I had nothing for my ears. Stuffing crap like paper or cotton into them is not a good option because this just rolls off the high end, making all a muffled mess. A bigger problem was the U2 show itself. If anything my ears adjusted somewhat and so it eventually did not seem quite so loud. However I notice that with very loud music the ability to hear subtleties in a mix go bye bye. My wife even asked me later if they played COBL. Of course they did but the point is loud music as such actually decreases one's ability to hear clearly all that is going on.

 

I fell in love with U2 a year and a half ago after reading a crucial book about them (irrelevant here but certainly deserving of its own thread). I expected them to be very considerate of their fans and provide a show that was loud but not painfully loud, like the Dead used to provide. Since they did not do this but instead made it as loud as was legal, I was rather disappointed. I still like them but before I see them again I will invest in some musician's ear plugs, devices that drop the volume without muffling the sound.ohwell.gif

 

Your thoughts?

 

Bob V

Can you please tell us where you were located (in the venue), during the show? Also, most outdoor venues (here in the U.S.) have dB limits for overall, and for certain frequencies (63hz, 500hz, 1khz and 4 or 5khz)...the local county usually enforces them...it's usually about 102dB to 105dB overall limit, depending where the venue is.
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I can tell you (IMO), that for U2's 360 tour, The Edge's guitar, Bono's vocals and the kick drum dominated the mix. I tend to mix low, coz for me it doesn't need to be loud, unless it calls for it. When I do FOH, I usually look around the audience, to see their body language. Shaking their hips = groove (bass), bopping their heads = beat (kick drum)...just enough pounding on the chest, singing along/responding = clarity of voice (vocals), fist pumps/devil horns/"I'm not worthy"/air guitars = solos, riffs (guitars). I usually put the vocals on top of everything. Just mentioning Seattle....which (correct me, if I'm wrong), is built to be the loudest football stadium in the U.S....the 12th Man!

However, when the common person says it's "loud", what do they really mean? Is it the overall mix? Is it that the vocals or guitars are too "sharp"? Is the bass, and the kick too "boomy" or "muddy"? Sometimes just lowering certain frequencies can change how loud people perceive things. The last time I saw U2 (in Miami), I thought The Edge's guitar was too sharp, which made it stand out from everything else (around 4khz to 5khz freq. range....which is the "sharp/harsh" range). I was sitting in the noise bleed section. It can also be the dynamics. For example, Linkin Park's FOH engr. is great at using dynamics. Their dB overall limit is 98dB, yet it sounds like 110dB. On the other side, Motorhead's FOH engr. mixes at 115dB to 120dB, indoors...it's just plain loud. But it also depends on where you're standing at. Although a finely tuned P.A. is supposed to give even dispersion throughout the venue, you might encounter what's called a "combing effect"....where, if you image a comb, that's what it sounds like (loud, then soft, then loud...venue and P.A. placement take into consideration).

Another important factor is how the band would like it to sound. There's some bands, out there, that will do this. They'll listen to the recordings of some shows, to see if they're getting what they want the crowd to hear. Another well-known band, for instance, wants different settings for the vocals for almost every song, even though the vocals sounded better to the previous one. Some, don't want the drummer's vocals to be present in the P.A.

Then there's the "listening with your eyes", and "seeing with your ears". Some of the bands I do are catered more towards the Vietnam Vet era. You'll see the crowd enjoying it when it's artists similar to Sinatra or Tony Bennett. Yet, the moment they see an electric guitar, or a big drum set, they automatically think it's louder....even though the dB meter is showing otherwise.

As for U2, they go for the "big" sound, the "stadium" sound....not necessarily the loud sound.

Then there's the one group that says to turn it up, and the other that says it's too loud....you can't win there...just do what the band paid you to do.

 

What do you think Mick?

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I was located in the VIP section, section 112, which was stage left and just off the floor. Those stacks of speakers up in the claw  had a good (and fairly close) view of me!

 

As for what I mean by loud, I can tell you that objectively I measured the loudness with a meter on my iPhone. It averaged about 98 dB but I noted some peaks that seemed to be 10 dB above this, either this or that the volume crept up as the band played on - the Lenny Kravitz band in particular.

 

However more important to me is the  subjective quality of the loudness. First, the volume seemed rather compressed, right around that 98 figure and this "constant scream" contributed to that subjective quality. Please note that I too know a thing or two about pro audio so when I say compressed, I mean it and know of what I speak.

 

Secondly (and this is obviously much more subjective) when the volume gets above a certain level my brain or my hearing system distorts the sound. For this to happen there must be a fair amount of high mid range sound energy, such as the sound of a distorted electric guitar. I hear this as a sizzly, buzzy sound superimposed upon that which the PA is putting out. I may hear more of this as I have aged and my hearing has gone to scheist. Oh, my hearing is not bad at all but all of us lose acuity as we ahem... mature.

 

Another thing I noticed after the Lenny Kravitz band ended their performance was that the music on the PA system sounded awfully funky: distant and distorted. By the time Space Oddity came on things were more normal. I wonder if the LKB was louder than U2.

 

Finally, as I said before, the loudness and perhaps all the compression tended to smear the sound so that over all it was less distinct. Subtleties were gone and I couldn't always clearly hear whatever Bono was saying or singing. It all became a vague, pillowy gauze of blur.

 

Oddly enough, my ears did not ring afterwards and hearing was normal the next day.

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I was at the Brisbane Australia show and was located inside the ring right up at the back. Now, I'm 21, and that was LOUD. The Edge's guitar when he hit those higher notes got so high pitched it was as though somebody was screaming in your ear.

 

I think that did some damage (though I wasn't paranoid about losing my hearing last year) Now I am and I recent other show has left my with some sort of ringing in my ears and my right ear not as good as my left for well over a week after the show. I've bought earplugs and I don't care what people say I'm wearing them.

 

I really do think earplugs should be sold at the venues or given away free for people to use. There is no worse feeling than the concert starting and the noise being so loud you know it's going to ruin your ears and you can't do anything about it.

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When I was at the Sydney shows there were a few people around that was saying "that this was a very loud show" given that I was in the Seats I didn't feel that it was all that loud. My 14 teen year old agreed that it wasn't much louder than other bands weve seen (but it was loud) in parts I was still able to hear the people next to me singing along. For me the only thing that hurt the next day my voice:).But then again I love my rock loud my damage was done years ago.

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Minneapolis wasn't too bad. The opening act really was obnoxiously loud, but it seems that they turned the volume down a a few notches for U2. My ears were ringing when I went to bed that night, but I was fine the next day. That said, I'm glad I was way up in the back, in the second-to-the-last row, because if I'd been any closer, it probably would have been too much.

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loudness , sounds like the kids in the next room while Im trying to get back to sleep so ended up having to listen to what their response to what their listening to..

 

ear+plugs.jpg

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