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Has live music gotten too loud


Rabs

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I was just thinking about this (as I do :))

 

Starting to sound like and an old man here.. BUT, when I go to some gigs these days, I sometimes need ear protection ive already got tinnitus and don't want to make it worse so if a gig is too loud I sometimes stick my earplug headphones in to dampen it a bit lol.. (cos I still don't have proper ear plugs (stupidly).

 

But it leads me to ask.. If the audience needs ear protection and the artist uses ear protection (which they really should and if they are pros probably do).. then why don't they just turn it down a bit and save all the hassle? I mean im all for loud, but they really push it at some gigs.

 

:P :)

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"But it leads me to ask.. If the audience needs ear protection and the artist uses ear protection (which they really should and if they are pros probably do).. then why don't they just turn it down a bit and save all the hassle? I mean im all for loud, but they really push it at some gigs."

What a bloody good idea!

 

Ian.

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It ain't new.

 

When I was playing rock in the '60s, we got the loudest amps we could find and played them at max power for some sort of "balance" among instruments.

 

I recall being unable to hear the water running in the shower after a gig and a two-three hour drive home.

 

OTOH, it's stupid. It was then and is now. All it does is damage ears and give a portion of an audience a physical feeling of rhythm battering their ears and bodies. They're not really hearing lyric or what certainly a half-quality band would like to think they're performing.

 

Then again, I've howled that since I've been on the forum. It's not about individual guitarists' "power amp," it's about the audience experience. I guess there are some audiences who care more for being battered by sound waves regardless of what the band thinks they're producing. Even in my old days our intent was to produce music of quality, not just thumping noise. We just didn't know how, and I think it's in the nature of the ongoing beast of rock and country that "we" tend to put a quality music experience lower on our priorities setting up for gigs than volume.

 

m

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I agree with the loudness. Some places/bands are louder than others with some be obnoxiously loud. I've been bringing ear plugs to shows I see (not play) for a few years now, but only need to use them a quarter of the time. I hate wearing ear plugs and it took me a good year of loud band practices to finally start using ear plugs at practices. I think my hearing is probably at about 90% as there are times I know i can't hear as well as a 'normal person.' I bet if I never started wearing plugs i'd be half deaf by now.

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Once "Excuse," in the '60's, was that amps (the bigger the better) HAD to be played

on 10, 11, or 12...to "sound good!" LOL To get that saturated "tube" creamy distortion,

we all loved (and, still do). We'd "clean it up," by using the volume/tone controls, on

our guitars, NOT by turning down the amps! Funny, huh...we still do that, more often than not.

"Rock" had to be LOUD, to be any good...or, so we thought. One band I was in, had more

amps (6 Vox Super Beatles), for ANY gig, than The Beatles used, at Shea Stadium! If it

was a small bar, we used only 3 of them, with the speaker cabinets turned toward the wall!

I STILL do that, in small bars...but NOW, it's with a Blues Jr....so I can "crank it",

get the "tone," but not make the audience members ears bleed, in the process.

 

With the plethora, of effects, both built in, and as "stomp boxes," and being able to mic

into the PA, pretty regularly, there's absolutely no "need" anymore, for more than 50 watts

tops! Most gigs, could be done quite well, with 20-30 watt amps. So, the need for "ear

bleeding" loud, is as extinct, as the dinosaurs...IMHO.

 

Personally, I love "loud" "Rock & Roll!" But, within reason. What I love more, is "dynamics!"

Being able to hear the vocals, clearly, with the instruments tamed down, during those vocal

passages, and then opened up, again, for solos, etc. What I can't stand, are bands that have

ONE volume, all the time...ear bleeding loud!

 

The PA should be the loudest thing, on stage...IMHO. All other things, into it, or deferred

to it. But (maybe?), that's just me!

 

CB

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And the ears are still ringing. That said I heard a band Fri night who opened for Blues Traveler a few weeks ago. only inside at a club this time. 1-hr in the far end of the room and I thought that was daring. Loud, ha, I'm astonished people were in front of the stage. They were so loud it took the club an hour to realize the sound wasn't coming through their system. When they figured it out I left. Punishing loud. lol.

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What makes me roll my eyes is when artists change guitars during gigs. Not even a muso can tell a different guitar when it's THAT loud - it's just noise! :rolleyes:

 

However, in answer to the original question... it's been too loud since The Who and probably before!

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What makes me roll my eyes is when artists change guitars during gigs. Not even a muso can tell a different guitar when it's THAT loud - it's just noise! :rolleyes:

 

However, in answer to the original question... it's been too loud since The Who and probably before!

 

I always assumed the guitar player, (I'm sorry.... most... near all... are NOT artists....), changed guitars so the Tech could retune it, or another guitar

was needed due to special tuning.

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I think a lot of "live music" is way-too-loud. Personally, I like to hear the words. If I can't, I lose interest quickly in the song. However, it didn't just get loud recently. It's often been too loud for decades. I believe much of it has to do with the type of music and what each of us likes. Rock is typically loud, while blues and folk can be more subtle and easy-on-the-ears.

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One thing...in the '50's and '60's "Loud" was necessary, in large venues, and outdoor concerts,

as the PA (AKA "Sound Systems") were sadly lacking. Perfect example, was the fact that The

Beatles (and other's of that period) could not be heard, over the screams, of their fans.

 

Hence, Vox developed a 100 Watt Amp (AC-100), and Marshall (later) the 100 and 200 watt

Stacks, for those bands to use in the outdoor, or large indoor venues, so their instruments,

at least, could be heard, both by the audience, and by the bands, themselves, over the screaming.

Therefore, bands, and audiences got "used to," those volumes, and it became part of the "ambience"

of Rock & Roll.

 

Blues, and Folk, typically were performed in smaller "intimate" venues, or even in larger outdoor

venues (Newport Folk Festival, for example) the audience is quiet, during their performances,

compared to Rock audiences, so the smaller PA's were at least "adequate," even if not "ideal,"

at the time. As PA/Sound Systems continued to improve, and amps as well, the mindset was still

that "loud" was "normal," even desired (to literally "Feel" the music), and, unfortunately for some

musicians, and audiences, alike...hearing damage was secondary, (if at all?) in consideration,

until fairly recently, when the long term effects became glaringly obvious. Still, even with adequate,

to outstanding PA's available, to even "bar bands"...the "too loud" is still more common, than not.

That's bad (IMHO), for the music (can't really hear, or understand the lyrics, little use of real "dynamics"

(all too often), and it risks the audiences hearing, as well as alienating the audience.

 

I'm fighting this, even now, with the band that I play with, now and then. They play WAY to loud,

and, mostly at a constant volume, as well..AKA NO dynamics! I've protested, even stopped playing

(and they didn't even notice), trying to get (at the very least) some "dynamics" into the mix.

It's totally lost, on them. They play now, as if they were still "teenagers," with amps cranked

way beyond necessary, or that would allow anyone singing, to hear what they were singing..even

with floor monitors, right in front of us! In fact, I'm just about ready to "throw in the towel,"

with this bunch, because of this issue, alone. Problem (for me) is, there's precious few other

musicians, locally, to play with, and the one's that do exist, have the same mindset, for the most

part. Maybe, I really AM, "Too Old" to "Rock and Roll," anymore??? But, don't get me wrong, I

like a decent "full" sounding volume...just not the unnecessary, ear bleeding, heart stopping, kind.

[cursing][unsure][crying]

 

CB

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CB...

 

Yup, as here, too soon oldt, too late schmardt. Eh?

 

m

[biggrin]

 

I think it's the same old story - everything louder than everything else [scared]

 

It all began with blowing up orchestras from the late 18th century on. If there weren't timing problems, they would keep on doing so I think. It took them hundred years to realize that they would have to play music incredibly slooow to match dimensions with speed of sound.

 

So they found a new toy to compete on - they increase pitch more and more. Typical classical orchestras intonate at a 443 Hz A4, and the Berlin Philharmonics use 444 Hz already. [mellow]

 

I think they will go on with that until vocalists won't be able to sing their stuff anymore [crying] , and the wind instrument makers keep on selling more and more gear, appropriate until the next pitch leap only. <_<

[unsure]

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What makes me roll my eyes is when artists change guitars during gigs. Not even a muso can tell a different guitar when it's THAT loud - it's just noise! :rolleyes:

 

However, in answer to the original question... it's been too loud since The Who and probably before!

O:)

 

Pardon?

[biggrin]

 

Perhaps we should have read their music instead of listening to it - just like we do with the messages in this forum... [biggrin]

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literally caused intense pain in my ears

 

 

Exactly, when pain replaces the joy of music it's counterproductive. I have Tinnitus in my left ear, so I know what your saying, it is painful to particular noise levels and frequencies such as bridge pick-up Telecasters on "bright".

 

I think there's a trade off here also. There's a point where volume does sound great, is tasteful and also captivates and involves the crowd. But some of this as I seen last weekend was out and out abuse.

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No, I think you're on to something rabs...

 

I've been to shows in recent years where the sound was so loud and muddy that it was a waste of my time and money.

 

I only go to see shows in small venues now. Having said this, I was at one of those small venue shows to see a local band recently. They sound SO GOOD on record: gorgeous harmonies, laid-back sound with an acoustical preponderance.... but the sound was way loud. They should have cut back on it by several decibels.

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Excuse me for jumping in late and not reading all the previous posts, so there might be some repeat here.

 

I wear Westone Etymotic high fidelity musician's ear plugs on the gig, and have for decades. I also keep a sound level meter on stage. I do not allow any more than 85dba to enter my ear canals.

 

So why don't I just turn it down? I'd love to, but the audience demands volume. If it's too low, it doesn't move them. I keep the volume down around 100 on the dance floor, and in many clubs I'm under the 85 limit. But there are those where 85 just doesn't work.

 

I know it's damaging, but I have to make a living. And if we're not there, the next band will probably be even louder, so in a way I'm damaging less.

 

Personally, I'd like to see an 85dba limit imposed on all public spaces. That includes clubs, aerobics rooms, sports bars, and anywhere else. Don't get me wrong, I love loud music, I just don't want to pay the price and don't think customers who don't know should have their ears permanently damaged.

 

Insights and incites by Notes

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Speak up! I can't hear you over the buzzing in my head! It's been that way since 1968, got worse each year, sitting on a drum set next to a wall of amps cranked up etc. Today with the improvements in mixers and sound systems and with ear protection, hopefully this will not be as much of a problem for today's musicians.

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My ears rang for two days after seeing KISS in the late 70's. Definitely the loudest concert I've been to. Then sometime in the 80's Roy Buchanan, with his high pitched feedback, finished off what Kiss started. Now my ears ring constantly.

I started wearing earplugs in my mid-late 20's because I didn't want to damage my hearing any more than it was. Now when I go to a club to see a band I'll bring my earplugs just in case it's too loud for me.

It's funny though, when we were kids and jamming in a friends garage one night, I started screaming into the mic over and over, "if it's too loud, you're too old. IF IT'S TOO LOUD YOU'RE TOO OLD!!!" I guess I got too old at kind of a young age.

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My ears rang for two days after seeing KISS in the late 70's. Definitely the loudest concert I've been to. Then sometime in the 80's Roy Buchanan, with his high pitched feedback, finished off what Kiss started. Now my ears ring constantly.

I started wearing earplugs in my mid-late 20's because I didn't want to damage my hearing any more than it was. Now when I go to a club to see a band I'll bring my earplugs just in case it's too loud for me.

It's funny though, when we were kids and jamming in a friends garage one night, I started screaming into the mic over and over, "if it's too loud, you're too old. IF IT'S TOO LOUD YOU'RE TOO OLD!!!" I guess I got too old at kind of a young age.

 

Yup that would do it. Loud Tele on top of ringing. Bad combination. [biggrin]

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I think Bob Norton has a good point...

 

Folks like "loud."

 

OTOH, "loud" is in ways subjective.

 

I'm convinced that Notes' 85 db can be plenty IF it's pretty well through the whole venue. CB also is correct IMHO in that you need dynamics as well as raw volume - especially with vocals.

 

The bands I know of that are making a living on the local economy - not just weekend warriors, but making a living - do just what I'm suggesting here.

 

One of the worst outdoor venues I can think of is in Deadwood, SD, for street concerts. But with active speakers strategically placed, you can hear the band "loud" for around four city blocks without breaking windows at the front of the stage (where I've stood to shoot) or being mud-noise a block away.

 

IMHO folks do wanna hear music at the kinda levels they can hear recordings; some damage their ears with earbuds, but generally the music itself at least offers CB's dynamics.

 

Yeah, loud - but I remember being in a Montgomery, Ala., bar some years ago and I don't have any idea how anybody could hold a conversation short of passing notes. That was before texting - but I can just about imagine even today it'd not make it.

 

I think "Cap" has a good point, though, about increasing volumes that date back to adding more instruments to an orchestra. The technology of manufacturing decent enough wire for steel strings also played a role there - and the social circumstances were such that larger crowds could/would gather.

 

OTOH, don't forget that acoustics were quite important and studied quite a bit in even the ancient world. Vetruvius wrote, for example, of sound augmentation in theaters...

 

I think there's a middle ground where people can "feel" the beat, but also can hear the music.

 

I'll also never forget the horrid "mud" of listening to a recording of the first rock band I played in when we got our first rehearsal recording. We were in a cinderblock building and between the volume of the band and the acoustics of the walls, it was hard to tell what was causing the noise...

 

m

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