• 20 NOV 17
    Why Are Music Concerts Sooooo Loud Lately?

    Why Are Music Concerts Sooooo Loud Lately?

    My wife and I just celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary recently by going to Dallas, Texas and seeing Magpie Salute (members of The Black Crows) at The House of Blues. We were in the balcony on the left side facing stage. First of I should mention I have been a drummer my entire life and was making my living playing music the first half of my life. I went to college for Music and lived and played music in Philadelphia and LA in my 20’s and 30’s. I have a certain amount of hearing loss on the upper register as a result of banging on things throughout the years. So you would think that I could take loud music, right?

    Not so – this concert was so loud that I was glad I brought my ear plugs (that I wear most times now playing music) that were specially formed to my ear canal and cut the decibel (dB) level by -20 dB. There is a lot of information online about hearing loss and ‘safe’ levels. A normal conversation is about 65 dB, a lawn mower is about 90 dB, and a lightning strike about 120 dB. “At 115 decibels of sound exposure, you can have permanent hearing loss after just one minute!” This concert we attended was averaging 111 dB (per my phone). Note: the way decibel increases are measured is tricky (sort of like earthquakes). An example is 115 dB is 10 X’s louder than standard speech (65 dB)

    Maybe I am just getting old, but I don’t really understand why the music needs to be that loud (and I am a drummer). We saw people leaving halfway through the concert and I was thinking they were having issues with the volume. I noticed the three back-up singers putting their fingers in their ears onstage throughout the concert, which means they were having a hard time getting their pitch.

    I counted nine (9) monitors across the front of the stage for four musicians using them (overkill). The PA side stacks X 2 (speaker cabinet arrays hung from the ceiling) had 11 large Bose cabinets in each and I am not sure how many bass bens were on the floor. I should also mention that this was not a large concert room (medium size theatre). Knowing how well technology is these days with speaker design, I could see about half of these speakers as really needed to fill the room adequately. Maybe this was the House System (not sure) though and not the band’s PA.

    I was glad I brought my earplugs and my wife used a pair of disposable earplugs (sponge type). I also noticed that the House of Blues staff was wearing earplugs (smart), though I did not see any free earplug areas (boxes) like I have seen in other recent concerts (I may have missed it though [not noticed]). You can’t get your hearing back once you start losing it (permanent). I am trying to keep what I have left of mine intact. The band was excellent (great players and music) – I just don’t know what the point is of blasting the audience (?) – my opinion!

    Good article: The Musician’s Guide to Hearing Protection — from a Doctor!

    (by: Kevin Ewalt)

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