Why Has It All Got To Be So Loud?

Example Here

In a thread over in IMHO, I see many people remarking that they don’t enjoy going to clubs and parties because the music is always so terribly loud.

I’ve been to many concerts, most of which weren’t uncomfortably loud. I’ve also had the opposite experience, especially in clubs, where the music is so overpoweringly loud that it really is extremely unpleasant. Many times, I have even seen people with hearing protection wandering around… regulars, I expect.

When you have to go outside to order a drink, that’s just too loud. I honestly don’t know how the staff do it every day.

Is there a purpose being served? I assume the volume is more or less the DJ / sound engineer’s choice.

I haven’t been to a club for at least twenty years, but I still go to concerts, where the volume always depends on the venue, the bands and the kind of music played. But I have a hunch: could it have to do with the fact that over the last 40 years or so, since the advent of the walk-man to the now all-availability of portable music devices, people tended to ruin their hearing with headphones? So that the clubs and bars had to raise the average volume to cater to all those hearing-impaired?

I don’t know, but it is main reason I cannot bear almost any amplified music. Always too loud. I think EinsteinsHund is probably correct about hearing loss though.

Estimation is between 6 and 24% of Americans below the age of 70 have noise-induced hearing loss.

This is one of the reasons why I stopped seeing movies at the theatre. I love action movies, but everything is too damm loud. I would love to see a good action or sci-fi flick without having my eardrums blown out.

I posted something along these lines about a series of weddings I attended last summer. Worse, they were held in places other than traditional banquet halls, so there were more reflective surfaces, and no place for people to escape the music and talk. At all 4 weddings, the DJs progressively upped the volume throughout the night.

I play acoustic music. I’m often stricken by performers’ desire to (over) amplify even in relatively intimate settings. Sure, it can be useful to balance out the instruments/voices, but I often think of what people did BEFORE amplification was a thing. And you often see a band getting into an amp-war with itself. The guitar amps to be heard over the fiddle/mando, then they decide they need to be punched up, and then the singers strain to be heard over their own instruments…

This is a problem for me even at Starbucks. They play their music just too damn loud.

One symptom of my hearing loss is that loud music now hurts.

(It’s due to standing in front of the speakers at an early 70s gig by this youngster named Springsteen, so I guess it was worth it…).

But I love live music! I discovered a great work-around. Outdoor concerts, either way back on the grass with a blanket and wine, or, even better … in the front row.

True fact! I go to Summerfest where there are multiple stages running all day. If there’s someone I really want to see, I’ll get there an hour early to sit in the still-sparse front row. Now, that means I’ll miss some other band but if it’s a bucket list band, it’s worth it. (F’rinstance, I missed Ides of March to wait for Neil Finn to start, but it was great to watch him and his son Liam setting up… Liam just HAD to try his homemade theramin, while Neil rolled his eyes…)

Anyhow, here’s my point: Imagine a classic rock stage, with those huge towers of speakers on each side, maybe some hanging way over the performers’ heads… and guess what? If you’re front row center, those are thirty feet away, pointed past you. You’re just getting the smaller front-facing speakers. Bring some basic earplugs, and Neil’s your uncle!

I was to find this out. I saw my first and last movie in ‘IMAX’. The deep rumbling resonance ruined it for me.

I’ve been to only a handful of rock concerts in my life, and this is the reason.

The ones I saw in high school in the 80s were already way too loud, but the way people were screaming, I think that was part of it. People used to sit politely for popular music performances the way they do at classical music performances, but this ended in the late 1950s, or so. That’s when the standing up, the shouting, the dancing in the aisles, and such, started.

I have no idea why things changed. But I remember having conversations about this with my mother.

The only contemporary musicians I’ve ever seen live who didn’t have deafeningly loud music were The Indigo Girls. It was still a lot louder than seeing, say, the Beaux Arts Trio, but not nearly as loud as the Ani DiFranco concert I went to in 2001. I got such a headache from that, I left early, and went and sat in the car.

When I went to Gallaudet, there were places intended for mostly Deaf people, and music was played, OMG, loud, but I knew it would be, and went wearing earplugs. Everyone was using ASL, so speaking over the noise wasn’t an issue. At any rate, the Ani DiFranco concert was about at the same level.

I have no answer for the OP, but it’s something I’d like to know as well.

Here’s The Atlantic on why restaurants have gotten louder over the years: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/11/how-restaurants-got-so-loud/576715/

We enjoy the quiet type films we see in theaters (or used too). I bring my noise-killing gun headphones to the theater to wear during the upcoming trailers nonsense. It’s STILL too loud during those trailers. Geez.

The wife and I love loud volumes in movie theaters, because it drowns out the talkers in the audience. We sit way down front to get away from them too.

I’m glad that Mrs. FtG doesn’t want to go to baseball games anymore.

It was awful in the stands. Non-stop music and other noise played very loudly between at bats (and sometimes during when there’s the tiniest bit of lull).

Can’t hold a conversation. Can’t hear the radio I take along to get commentary of plays. Etc.

For a sport like baseball, who needs any of this?

Yeah, I’ve noticed this too, and in recent years, I’ve attended way fewer games. One of the pleasures of the game used to be conversations with other fans between innings. It’s a lot harder to do that anymore. It’s one of the reasons I still look back on Baltimore’s old Memorial Stadium with fondness, even though Oriole Park at Camden Yards is a much more pleasant venue.

We purposely get “the cheap seats”. The classy seats are under metal overhangs that focus the sound systems and reflect every voice, every noise.

It’s a lot quieter out in the bleachers…

Noisy restaurants? You’ll chew faster and get the hell out of the way for the next hungry masochist.


Well, to take an example from your example, it’s not so loud to “us”. "Us’ being the rabid fans of whoever is being pumped in at eleventy million decibels. :smiley:

At least in the clubs, concerts, etc. I’m a musician who up until recently played loud music at live clubs. Even though I carry a 300W amp around, it’s rarely above 3 on the master volume. It’s loud at that level in our (I’m guessing) 14"x16" practice space. My ears will ring after a 3-4 hour practice, but they wouldn’t after a short set run through. That’s plenty loud for a club, you don’t need anything else really. But they usually either mic or take a direct out off my head (bass player) and run it through the overhead and sides, which in my experience has a minimum of about 5,000W and beaucoup speakers to push it through. The whole band gets this treatment through mics or otherwise. It’s great to get that assault when you love the band, but it’s brutal when you don’t. I’ve ordered a beer by hand signals before.

Part of this is due to a arms race between venues to have a loud and clear sound system. If you have one of those, you’re more likely to make the fans who paid to hear the band you booked happy with the sound, provided the sound man knows what he’s doing and doesn’t try to kill folks. On top of that, there are multiple venues that have rolling garage doors at the back. On warm nights, they’ll open them up and attract a crowd by entertaining folks all over the block. It will attract a crowd outside the doors, and some non-zero amount will decide to go in if they like it. Even if there’s a cover that night, some people will decide a closer look and access to the bar while they do it is worth the ten spot. I’ve seen my own shows become markedly more populated after they roll the doors up. Also, when you open the doors it mercifully removes some of the sound hitting you. I can always hear the monitors better after they do.

digs’ workaround works pretty well, by the way. The vocals can sometimes be a bit hard to hear when your belly is against the stage, though. You’re in that valley where the monitors and the overheads don’t really project. Any vocals you hear are going to be a reflection from somewhere if you get too close. So, get close, but not tooooooo close.

As for that nonsense happening in restaurants? Yeah, no. That’s stupid and I don’t understand it. I don’t want to shout at the waiter or bartender, much less my friends unless what I’m shouting over is the point of my visit. At least it covers up my voice, which is loud, so I get reminded there are children nearby less often. Still doesn’t enhance my dining experience.

I’ve spoken with a professional DJ and a professional sound engineer. Both tell me that the instructions they have been given by club owners are - the drunker the crowd, the louder the music.
This thread is also lacking a nod to Disaster Area who are regarded as being not just the loudest rock band in the Galaxy but the loudest noise of any kind at all.

I really don’t think this is such a new phenomenon. In my early days, clubs and bars were often deafening. Don’t hit them so much these days, especially since they’re so boring compared with Bangkok’s, but from this thread it sounds about the same.

And I suspect that it will progress to the point that the musicians will not be able to be in the same venue as the instruments that are playing the music, should they want to keep their hearing.