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Noise Meters

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Petebass, Jun 19, 2003.


  1. Petebass

    Petebass

    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    They're a plauge spreading like wildfire in Sydney at the moment. For those of you who haven't come across one:- the venue installs a little microphone that measures how loud the band is. It's connected to a box with three flashing lights. The first light is green, the second light is blue and comes on as you get louder. The final light is red and if it stays illuminated for 4 seconds, the electricity on stage gets cut.

    Word of advice, if your ever caught in this situation, remember that the power will come back on in 20 seconds or so. You've got 20 seconds to turn your amp off and avoid an almighty THUMP through your speakers when the power comes back on.

    The venue can adjust the Decibel level at which the red light comes on. But most venue managers are simpelton beer-pigs don't understand the mechanics of sound pressure levels. The seem to want to negotiate in steps of 5dB, without realising that a)100dB is a hell of a lot quiter than 105dB, and b)they'd be better off negotiating in units of 3dB at a time.

    I'm curious, how common are these ghastly devices in your neck of the woods? And do they have the Db threshold set to a realistic level for a full band?
     
  2. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    dB thresholds are not set to realistic levels for bands. They are set to realistic levels for ears. ;) :p
     
  3. Mcrelly

    Mcrelly

    Jun 16, 2003
    Minnesota, USA
    for curiosity sake and my ear's sake I play with a db meter and from my experience and my taste I prefer not to play higher than about 100 dbc on stage without ear plugs. I know my bass can get up to about 120dbc, but I also know that listening to that for more than 15 min is damaging.

    I think protecting ears is cool, but dB nazi's? not cool. If I were a club owner I'd maybe warn people and offer earplugs, but ultimately its up to each person to decide if they want to protect themselves.
     
  4. Petebass

    Petebass

    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    I didn't mention the reason for the noise meters did I. It has nothing to do with protection the parton's ears. We had people in the crowd call out "play louder, we can barely hear you".

    Unfortunately the problem is the neighbouring residents. I struggle with the logic though - often the pub has been in the same spot for 50+ years. A person moving into a residence next to a pub must surely expect to cop some noise shouldn't they?

    I'd like to see some sort of "First occupancy" rule put in place to protect whoever has been at that location longest. It would work both ways, protecting homeowners from future noisy developments, as well as protecting established businesses.
     
  5. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    Agree on the "first occupancy" idea, and for other businesses than pubs and the like too. People who build close to existing development should have to accept any existing inconveniences as well, be it smell, noise, traffic and so on. Unfortunately many businesses have had to close or make costly changes even though they were there first. Just another case where individuals are very small and unprotected when the a public authority makes decisions. That's stupid.
     
  6. fastplant

    fastplant

    Sep 26, 2002
    Connecticut
    BIG RANT HERE!

    There's this place we play around here where the sound guy uses a db meter. This happens every time we play there. He tells me to play my bass and checks the dbs and keeps telling me to turn down, eventually I can't even hear my bass. Then he goes to our guitar player and does the same but keeps telling him to turn up until his volume is so freakin loud that people are falling to the floor grabbing their ears. I keep trying to tell him that his db meter is either broken or he needs to learn how to use it, then he gets all mad at us. But come on, how can you think that is normal, that the bass is basically off yet the guitar is making ears bleed??
     
  7. Petebass

    Petebass

    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    Similar problem at the gig I mentioned above regarding the DJ that played while we were on our breakes. I could have sworn he was much louder than the band, yet the noise meter was barely tickling the red light.

    All I can suggest it maybe these devices are more sensitive to certain frequencies than others.

    If this sound guy is using a hand-held dB meter, ha may have it set to the wrong "weighting".
     
  8. Taylor Livingston

    Taylor Livingston Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    Louisiana, US
    Owner, Iron Ether Electronics
    I'm terribly knowledgeless when it comes to amps, and you guys probably know far more than I, but isn't the perceived loudness of a guitar (especially a distorted one) much higher than a bass, even if they're at the same dB level?
     
  9. Mcrelly

    Mcrelly

    Jun 16, 2003
    Minnesota, USA
    Well, I hate to say it, but Bass cabs, amps and the amount of bass we bass players need/want to hear our selves registers much easier on the db meter because so much of our loud volume is not as irritating to our ears so we perceive that its not as loud as the guitar because it doesn't hurt like the guitar or other mid-range instrument.

    try rolling off the bass cabs low end and see if the red light comes on less often?
     
  10. Petebass

    Petebass

    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    I don't know about that. Whenever I play a gig where I know there's a noise meter installed, I turn up with my 2 bass wedges. I put the in front of me facing towards my head, blowing my sound in the opposite dierction of the pecky device. Then I let the sound guy put as much of my bass in the mix as it can take. Playing on my own, I was barely tickling the first green light.

    The drummer on the other hand...... at one point we lost power during an intro to a song that was only drums and nothing else. He's young, talented, but inexperienced. I ended up having a go at him (Aussie slang for yelling a little bit)because every time I motioned for him to play a little softer, he'd only do so for a bar or 2 then start whacking again.

    We lost power a second time during a guitar solo, and a third time when our singer hit a big note and held it for a while.

    Also the DJ rig actually sounded quite good, with a nice thump in the kick drum that's compulsory for that sort of dance music.

    These gigs are frustrating. It takes the fun out of playing. God knows we don't do it for the money, well at least I don't. So I don't appreciate anything that takes the enjoyment away......
     
  11. There was one installed in a hall where I used to reherse.

    After it cut the power in the middle of a Fish gig (the dude from Marillion.... he lives round here) it got killed with wire cutters and screwdrivers.
     
  12. Petebass

    Petebass

    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    They're one step ahead of us on this. The box is installed with no external wiring showing. It's all inside the wall.

    Someone worked out that if you use hair spray on the little microphone, it gives you an extra 10dB. So now they put the mic where you can't possibly reach it without a ladder. Bummer.
     
  13. fastplant

    fastplant

    Sep 26, 2002
    Connecticut
    I see where you're coming from, but in my case, my amp was set at the point between 0 and 1 where it just starts to make noise, it was almost inaudible unless you were less that 6 inches from the speaker. Our guitar player who never plays above maybe 4 even at husge clubs was set to between 9 and 10 and was told to go louder. I just think that db meters are useless and volume should be controlled by the sound guy's ears only.
     
  14. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    Perhaps the meter-man should read the manual?
     
  15. fastplant

    fastplant

    Sep 26, 2002
    Connecticut
    Or that could be the case :D
     
  16. enzyme

    enzyme

    Feb 4, 2003
    I have only run into one in Tassie, but thank God that place is closed now. The other guys in my band say that they have come across lots of them on the mainland. Just about every big RSL they have played in has one.

    We were sound checking and the drummer hits the snare. POW, straight into the red. One freakin snare hit. Sheesh! One of the worst gigs I've done. I spent all night watching the lights. Horrible things.