Anyone who likes gigging NOT loud?

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Shenron, Apr 22, 2024.

  1. Shenron


    Jan 18, 2024
    I am just curious to know how many people are gigging without playing loud.

    I understand that this is not only a matter of want but also of can. I am used to attending rock concerts, where the crowd is so loud that the band needs to be louder so that they can be heard over the crowd noise, and then you need earplugs to keep your hearing safe.

    Luckily, there are also other types of gigs. Last year we attended a concert at a local museum, the band played fairly quiet music (the focus was on the vocals and the lyrics), and even though all instruments had electric amplification, the volume was very pleasantly low. It helped that the crowd was seated, and expected to behave appropriately for being in a museum. At the end, you could hear everything perfectly.

    So I wonder how many of you regularly play non-loud music, thanks to the chosen genre and venues.
  2. As you noticed it really depends on the type of show and what the audience is there for.

    If people are there just to socialize and the band is background so to speak the audience will talk louder to carry on a conversation and the volume just keeps building from there.
    It doesn't have to be a band, even at events with a paging and announcement system if people are talking to each other they will talk louder to each other and "tune out" the announcements, if you turn up the announcements the people will just talk louder and later say I didn't hear the announcement!!
  3. bass12

    bass12 Have You Met Grace Jones? Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    Only a small handful of the gigs I play are "loud" on my end. I have a regular restaurant trio gig that is at a very reasonable volume and most of my other gigs are in-ear (the volume of the band is loud but my in-ear mix isn't). Interestingly, the bandmates who have heard the volume of my in-ear mix have been surprised at how low it is. I personally get no joy from playing on a loud stage (and never have done).
  4. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    For a classic rock band, we are not loud. Our BL won't tolerate anyone who can't control their volume and we run our own sound 95% of the time. We've made many venues very happy with having us and have never been asked to turn up.
  5. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    I play church gigs - ampless, in in ears. I have zero control over how loud I am in the room - that’s all on FOH. The quietest place in the auditorium on these gigs is on stage. I get some idea of how loud I am in the audience by how much my feet are shaking, but in a few places that have concrete stages, you don’t get that - there I have no idea how loud it is.
  6. TheReceder


    Jul 12, 2010
    Happiest sound man I ever dealt with; I told the band to turn down one Friday gig they ignored me...We were so loud it was painful for the crowd and we were chasing people out the door.... next night, I brought in 2 fridges and a couple thousand watts of Power amps with an old Yamaha Preamp. Showed them what it was like to have B A S S during sound check and warned them I wasn't afraid to use it. Ended out getting cussed out by the band, but it was worth it.

    They turned way down... the sound man thanked me, FOH was the best it ever sounded at that venue and after that they caught on that it didn't do any good to have their amps blasting the backs of their legs, and I got away with using a couple 2x10s stacked vertically after that. I love controlled volume.
  7. Davebass77

    Davebass77 Supporting Member

    I'm in a number of bands; permanent members in two and sit in with two when needed. One of the permanent bands is a 60s tribute called the Hullabaloos. We play everything "from British Rock to Woodstock" - Beatles, Kinks, Manfred Mann, Moody Blues, The Band, Canned Heat, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Beach Boys, etc. With a lot of these songs, the emphasis is on the vocals (four of us sing lead AND harmony), so we try to keep volume down, depending on the venue. We have been asked to turn up twice, but seldom turn down.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2024

    AQUANOVA Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Santa Monica,CA
    I very much dislike playing in loud bands.
    Every band I’ve played in, I’ve worn ear plugs.
    Firstly because it helps me filter and hear everything better.
    But mostly because as the gig goes on, guitar players always turn up.
    And there’s usually an out of the blue feedback attack.
    Always protect your ears.
  9. Slade N

    Slade N Supporting Member

    May 28, 2005
    portland, or
    I hate LOUD as a listener and as a player, and wont put up with it. Sure it needs to have some volume to have heft, punch and to feel it but after that is overkill. There is loud enough in suitable/usable volume and then there is LOUD
  10. Wisebass


    Jan 12, 2017
    Lost in Space
    hi Shenron :)

    What a cool thread idea! :bassist:

    Is it too late to get a poll?

    50% of my gigs are low volume (in the room), one party band (cocktail lounge style: piano/voc sax/guitar,

    dr/voc, bass/voc. We use a P.A. with 15/3 speakers and 118 subs (three wedges as monitors)

    which is total overkill :D in most situations (ecxept outdoors) because we never play loud!

    And our local music school - band/ ensemble/ orchestra (all acoustic, I am the only electric player => low volume)

    The other (loud) 50% are metal :D (loud to very loud FOH volume)

    Funny thing: On the low volume gigs my stage volume is louder! :D

    The metal bands are going ampless or super low volume (rehearsal volume) depending on the room size.

    The bigger the place the lower the (stage) volume (IEMs for everybody)

    Amps are only needed on stages without sidefills to get some sound to the first row of headbangers metalhead.gif


  11. JazznFunk


    Mar 26, 2000
    Asheville, NC
    Me. There is no excuse for playing unnecessarily loud, in any context. I have mild hyperacusis and always have worn earplugs in pretty much any band, even some acoustic jazz settings. I can go without plugs though if there isn't a drummer, or unless I'm on-axis with a guitarist's amp. As a concertgoer, I always need earplugs. Most all shows are too loud out front for my comfort. The 'if it's too loud, you're too old' crowd will no doubt chime in, but many of them also have to shout across the living room over a TV that's blaring and wonder why that is. I'm happy being the 'nerd' who has protected my hearing as much as possible since my teenage years, and still has most all of my full range hearing now in my 40s. I hope to keep it for at least another 30-40 years too!
  12. Five or Six

    Five or Six

    Jun 21, 2022
    West Michigan
    Get loud as a reputation and see where it gets you. Some bar owners still attend other bars scoping out bands. Blow them out and it's not hard to figure where it will go. Bar owners talk.
    shoot-r, fdeck, Wyrdlow and 4 others like this.
  13. Zbysek


    Mar 23, 2017
    Czech Republic
    I don’t like gigging unnecessarily loud…
    Wyrdlow, DWBass and Shenron like this.
  14. LowWay

    LowWay It’s got 4 strings ‘cause they’re bigger! Supporting Member

    Dec 16, 2009
    W Mass
    I don’t really gig anymore because of volume. The music I enjoy playing is best presented loud, and the people in the bands are resistant to silent stages. I now only do recording projects for the most part.
    Wyrdlow and Shenron like this.
  15. dalkowski

    dalkowski It's "rout," not "route." Supporting Member

    May 20, 2009
    Massachusetts USofA
    Loud not for me, unless the occasion merits it. Last gig was cocktail music.
    Wyrdlow and Shenron like this.
  16. Bullitt5135


    Nov 16, 2010
    SE Michigan
    I have a dB meter app on my iPhone. I think we sound best when we keep it below 96dB at the back of the dance floor. I run sound for a 9-piece wedding and events band. I get complimented and thanked all of the time from clients and guests saying "not only is the band great, but we REALLY appreciate that it sounds great without being too loud."

    I did a corporate event last week in a huge hotel ballroom. I always keep an eye on the guests to see if they are straining to hear each other talk. I had the volume where I wanted it for the dinner hour (up to 96dB), but the client asked if I could turn it down just a little bit. When I did, the music just sounded so much better...better clarity and separation between instruments and vocals. It reinforced the notion that great dynamics can have more impact than beating people over the head with volume.
  17. I’m no longer interested in playing in a loud band, nor am I interested in listening to one. If I’m in a club or brew pub and I can’t carry on a conversation, I leave.
  18. Smooth_bass88

    Smooth_bass88 vaxx!

    Oct 31, 2006
    Western Hemisphere
    You play to the room, and use common sense to determine SPLs. Obviously an acoustic singer-songwriter gig probably means you’re keeping things at a minimum whereas a metal band on a huge stage is going to require significant volume. Of course if you’re ampless, it’s completely out of your hands- the FOH people determine overall decibel levels.

    I do all manner of gigs. I wear earplugs most of the time, but sometimes I still get annoyed at other peoples’ stage volumes. When that happens I just grin and bear it. I prefer lower stage volume levels personally.
  19. RGerhart

    RGerhart Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2021
    Portland, OR
    Yes, but mostly because 99% of the time we are using IEMs, and all of the tribute bands I'm in the guitarists are using direct-to-board rigs like the Quad Cortex or Axe Fx. Myself, I don't play too loud because I also have the Backbeat, which in my opinion is better than an amp because the response is immediate. Combined with the IEM mix I have, and really the amp is just for looks on the stage. And to have as a backup in case anything goes wrong with the IEM rig.
    Zbysek and Shenron like this.
  20. Esteban Garcia

    Esteban Garcia bassist, arranger, aelurophile, ਵਿਦਿਆਰਥੀ Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2018
    Portland, OR
    Loud is relative. I play mainly acoustic music (Latin jazz), but if you're in front of a trumpet or timbales you are at serious risk of hearing damage.

    My preference is for the quietest stage possible, with the drums being the sound floor, of course. On a big stage with a big group and PA support, I always prefer ampless if the mons are good enough to handle it. For smaller acts in smaller venues I may be the only amplified thing, so a small (1x12) amp just loud enough to be heard is the thing.

    As an audience member I like enough volume that the music is the auditory focal point, but not so loud that you can't order a drink without shouting directly into the ear hole of the server.
    ElMon, Wyrdlow, Jazzdogg and 2 others like this.