Monday, September 29, 2008

It's Too Loud

You know what I'm tired of hearing? "It's too loud."

I'm a sound guy. Yep, I'm the dude that sits behind all the knobs and buttons and faders that control how a band sounds. Over the last five or so years I've been doing it, I've found that old saying to be 100% true: Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one. For nearly every person that I get that tells me to "turn it down," I have someone else that says "hey, turn it up!"

Mind you, most people have NO idea what loud is. This band is loud. I was at that concert, behind the speakers. Under the the control of a certifiably insane pilot, I listened as they came out of the gate at 126 decibels A-weighted, or dB(A), SPL. At 0:20 in the video there, when the singer screams... I got the nice "ear tickle" standing BEHIND the speakers. It was LOUD. The measurements were take out front, 100 feet away from the speakers by a good friend who was providing the sound system for this band to play through.

Typically I mix the same band weekend after weekend. And typically, I never make it over about 98 dB(A) SPL. Most shows hang around 95 dB. If the band is REALLY rocking out, at a public concert, we might hit 100. To give you and idea of the difference between 126dB and 95dB compare standing by a major highway as cars and trucks go at 90-95dB and Standing 100 feet from a Jet engine at 120-130dB. Every 10 dB increase is a perceived doubling in loudness. Every 6 dB is a doubling in sound power. So 126dB is over 8 times louder than 95dB, and over 32 times as powerful.

Mind you, I'm not asking that I be allowed to run concerts at 126, 120, 115, or even 105 dB all the time. I'm asking that people leave the sound guy the hell alone. We know what we're doing, and if people are plugging their ears and leaving, we'll adjust, don't worry.

This past weekend I was mixing at a moderate 92dB and I was asked to turn it down. I complied, because we were guests of the festival. But after I said "OK" I was subjected to the following comment "because it is just ~SOOO~ loud." Really, it's "Soooo loud." Give me a break.

This all happened as I was carrying on a regular conversation with a friend... neither of us having to raise our voices much at all. It's just silly. People that like the music they are hearing, want it turned up, and if it's just not their "style" they want it turned down, and 5 dB is just not enough... for them, it' needs to be off.

I also love the people that come up to me angry, literally indignant, that the guitar isn't at the exact right level. Or the keyboards are "buried." Or the vocals are too quiet. Which is it? How can the keyboards be buried and the vocals too soft? Then I get a former drummer that says "turn up the kick!" It never ends; people and their damn opinions.

The next time I it happens, I'm just gonna mess up a buncha knobs and when the audience turns around, I'm gonna point at you and walk away. Let's see your opinions mix a 8 piece band on 32 channels now Mr. Smarty Pants.

No comments: