Concert Sound Board Operators fascination w/the Louder=Better formula

What is it with you guys? Are you not satisfied until people start bleeding from their ears?

I got a chance over the weekend to finally see some awesome metal bands that I’ve been dying to see since the Bay Area put thrash on the map. Too bad a damper was put on the entire experience by you numbskulls manning the sound board.

What is it with shows these days that have to be so gawddamned loud?! I understand that louder=better in these dumbshit board-op’s minds, but fer chrissakes, when it gets so loud that you can’t make out any individual instruments, riffs or notes and it all blends into one gargantuan “BRRRRRRAAAAAAHHHHHHRRRRR” sound, how about backing off on the friggin’ levels a bit there, Einstein?

We were in a ballroom, Mr. Nimrod Sound Mixer, a freaking’ BALLROOM, not Wembley Stadium!

Do you Sound Bored Mixers see that everyone is walking around with ear plugs? Doesn’t that clue you in just a bit? In case it doesn’t, here’s a hint:


There, was that loud enough for you? Christ, you guys were incompetent++.

If I have to wear earplugs to avoid physical pain (standing in the middle of the hall, mind you), guess what? The show is NOT enjoyable and I guaran-fucking-tee you that the sound is completely fucked up at those levels. This is the sound that the band is paying YOU to make sure is quality sound. Any chimp can pot every fucking knob to 10.

God, what dumbasses. I’m pissed you ruined the show! RAAARRRGH!

Let me repeat: RAAARRRGH!

If it’s too loud, you’re too old.

PSA: Wear earplugs at concerts anyway. It’ll protect your hearing without compromising quality if you get high-quality plugs.

I’m a way old metalhead and I’ve only been to one concert that was tool loud. No too loud in db terms but too loud for the sound system. Iron Maiden at The Woodlands in Houston… it sounded like crap, not too loud for my ears but distorted and garbled. I do agree though if 90% of the people in the crowd are wearing ear plugs they maybe you need to re-think your strategy. I saw Pantera at the Brady in Tulsa and there was enough sound equipment in the room for a decent sized ourdoor venue, all crammed into a mid sized club. Sounded great (clear and great mix) but super-super-loud. IMO anything over a constant 125 db is getting up there… FWIW I wonder how some clubs deal with OSHA regs on sound.

I run sound board for my church (how metal is that?!) and we are always really careful about SPL and have the db meter on anytime the board is powered (not that we run it that loud) but it helps to keep you from creeping it up and up and up…

…and I think this may sum up the mentality you are talking about …

Nigel: …the numbers all go to eleven. Look…right across the board.
Marty: Ahh…oh, I see…
Nigel: Eleven…eleven…eleven…
Marty: …and most of these amps go up to ten…
Nigel: Exactly.
Marty: Does that mean it’s…louder? Is it any louder?
Nigel: Well, it’s one louder, isn’t it? It’s not ten. You see, most…most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You’re on ten here…all the way up…all the way up…
Marty: Yeah…
Nigel: …all the way up. You’re on ten on your guitar…where can you go from there? Where?
Marty: I don’t know…
Nigel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is if we need that extra… push over the cliff…you know what we do?
Marty: Put it up to eleven.
Nigel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder.
Marty: Why don’t you just make ten louder and make ten be the top… number… and make that a little louder?
Nigel: These go to eleven!

I think I saw the Thrill Kill Kult there in 1997 … couldn’t hear for a week after that one. At one point during the show, my friend was trying to tell me something - screaming at the top of his lungs less than an inch from my ear and I couldn’t hear a thing.

I love metal, but the soundguys are just nuts for db. I was at a Savatage/Megadeth/Dio show in San Antonio (a looooooong time ago), and Megadeth blew a fuse in the middle of “Devil’s Island”, sending the stadium into darkness for 20 minutes. I had no earplugs, and couldn’t hear for the next 24 hrs.

I saw Swervedriver/MonsterMagnet/Pearl Jam/Soundgarden in Austin in a converted hangar- all concrete & metal- so the sound had nowhere to go but through the audience. My innards were turned to jelly, but my high-end earplugs allowed me to see the show and still hear my professors the next day.

My buddy Bobby saw the Texas Jam with Whitesnake and Deep Purple, after which he could only say “I got Ritchie Blackmore’s slide!” because he couldn’t hear anyone for more than a day.

I plan on being able to hear the next 4 generations of metal without a hearing aid, so I ALWAYS wear my earplugs. My reccomendation-buy shooter’s plugs (for gun users). They allow you to hear but dampen most of the overdriven noise…

I am at the local watering hole, and I see speakers the size of coffins being wheeled in, I leave. Good musicians don’t need massive volume. Shitty musicians need to hide their lack of talent behind overwhelming volume.

Still, I don’t understand some folks’ fascination with ‘loud’. I’ll take quality of music over volume of music any day…

That wasn’t the SOUND that was turned up. It was the “Suck” setting. I betcha that the sound board op was just told that he was being let go…

Possibly true, but there might be another reason… How about, ‘if it’s too loud, the soundguy (who’s been gradually turning the rig up for the last 10 years in an effort to get it to sound the way it did ‘last year’) is now almost completely deaf. Any discernment he once had has long since perished, along with most of his hearing.’

Just a thought.

I’ve got a pretty good threshold for loudness, which is a bonus if you like your bands a bit rough like I do. Only once did I experience a too loud concert: Anthrax and Motorhead, last December in the Heineken Music Hall here in Amsterdam. My GOD, I swear Motorhead were playing at 150 db’s constantly. I had a ringing in my ears for 48 hours after the show. Since the venue is known for having the best accoustics in Europe, it surely wasn’t a faulty PA: it was just turned up TOO loud. Then again, maybe Lemmy can’t hear it when it’s any softer.

From “I’m An Adult Now” by The Pursuit of Happiness:

Speaking of hearing, I can’t take too much loud music
I mean I like to play it, but I sure don’t like the racket