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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Chris/Darwin BS: Musical: are sound engineers deaf ? (27) RE: BS: Musical: are sound engineers deaf ? 31 Jan 00

This is one of those things that worry most (older) listeners to music in public halls.

Like Soundman, I have run PA systems for years in public halls, and have gone through the EQ procedures he describes. Generally I have been trying to achieve an acoustic sound for my (mostly acoustic instrument) band, so used Bose speakers, good EQ, and clean amps.

I have always considered myself to have done a good job if the audience was basically unaware of the PA system, but rather focussed on the performers. I am very sensitive to volume, so used the minimum necessary to ensure that the audience could hear the music clearly enough for dancing, or could understand the words of the songs.

Having said that, I often attend concerts where the sound level is so high that my ears hurt. I have taken to bringing ear plugs with me just in case. It's not just me either, my wife always appreciates ear plugs, and I often get asked for spares.

Concerts have ranged from Steeleye Span to the Bushwackers - bands you would think are acoustically based, and rely on clear vocal harmonies and accurate renditions of acoustic instruments. So why 130 dBA??

I long ago concluded that most sound engineers have lost much of their hearing, and this becomes particularly pronounced later in a concert. My youngest son does this for a living with a production company in Sydney, after playing in a rock band for a while. He always takes ear plugs and a sound pressure meter, and gets few complaints either way (too loud or too soft). He firmly believes that most of his colleagues are hearing - impaired.

The problem compounds with young audiences. Many younger people are already, even at 20, showing signs of serious impairment, and so demand that music be loud so that they can hear it. This is a problem with a mix of ages in an audience, as no-one is going to be happy with the sound level.

Public authorities have been very slow in addressing the problem. Some UK authorities have placed limits on sound level, and this is occasionally found in Australia as well. But that is the exception. The cheapness of high - power sound equipment means everyone can afford equipment capable of deafening them. From home stereos to car systems, there is loud music everywhere, and as long as there is, whole generations will be deafened, and will demand that public performances are played loud.


What was that you said?? Sorry, couldn't hear you.


PS. This is my work PC, so I am probably a "Guest".

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