Decibel level at practice and gigging?

Discussion in 'Studio & Stage' started by dmatthews, Apr 7, 2019.

  1. dmatthews

    dmatthews Dave's not here...

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    We mostly play and practice at our studio. It can handle an audience of 100 or so. It has a large stage, seating, a bar, a big dance floor, etc.
    We are 2 guitars, bass, and drums, and sometimes have a conga player as well.
    We also have 3 vocals.
    The only thing going through the PA is vocals right now, and all players just have their own backline. Drums are not mic'd.
    Sometimes I find myself driving home with my ears ringing, and do not like that at all. Other times, no problem.

    Question... do you ever measure your loudness level on stage, or out in the audience?
    If so, what levels are you most happy with?
    I know I can use ear protection, or move the band or myself to IEM, but am looking for that happy/safe decibel level for us and our audience.

    I'm going to measure our next practice with a smartphone app (tomorrow night), with the goal of finding a level that we all agree on, and sounds good/great.
    I realize that the app will not be exactly accurate, but it will give me a reference point.

    Cheers,
    Dave
     
  2. veinbuster

    veinbuster Freeze zone

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    I would measure for the audience and then do whatever I had to for the guys on stage to preserve their hearing.
     
  3. Ovibos

    Ovibos Unsure why all necks aren't rosewood

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    I always wear custom plugs. Gigs, rehearsals, attending shows.

    With the amount we've all likely spent on gear, the cost of custom molded plugs is negligible. Mine are Sensaphonics, with a 15db filter.
     
  4. Rider1260

    Rider1260 New Member

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    I practice at about 60DB
    That said I have ringing ears ( have had for years ) so any sustained louder sound makes them ring more.
    If you can stay below 80 DB according to the government you are OK
    I wear 30DB earplugs when motorcycle riding and at Concerts and on airplanes ( 90 DB measured inside aircraft ) Mowing the lawn is also really loud.


    Noise Source
    Decibel Level (dB) How long can you listen without protection?
    Jet take off 130 0 minutes
    Ambulance siren 109 Less than 2 minutes
    Personal music player at maximum volume 106 3.75 minutes
    Pop/Rock concert 103 7.5 minutes
    Riding a motorcycle 97 30 minutes
    Using an electric drill 94 1 hour
     
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  5. dmatthews

    dmatthews Dave's not here...

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    This seems reasonable. Thanks Pete.
    I may end up with plugs as suggested if we can't keep it down whilst satisfying the audience.
     
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  6. 11top

    11top Cousin Eddie's cousin

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    I use molded earplugs. I actually bought them for trap shooting. I have gotten used to them, but it is harder to hear what’s going on with the band and mix. It’s also harder to get inspired playing muffled hard rock. But, my ears already suck and I can’t afford to lose any more. I live in a wooded area, and I can’t hear the birds or the cicadas. :-(
     
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  7. andy474x

    andy474x Knows the Drill

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    I keep a set of Etymotic Research plugs in all my gig bags, so I always have some on hand. They aren’t as hi fidelity as the custom molded doodads, but they’re much cheaper ($15 or so on amazon) and therefore you can have many pairs and not have to worry about losing them. They’re still FAR superior to the basic foam plugs, and take just enough out that immu ears never ring after playing. But, the thing that has brought down our total stage/rehearsal volume the most (and I mean a LOT) is everyone using IEM’s, and a board that allows us our own monitor mixes. Depending on what you already have, it may not be cheap to do, but it’s very worth it. Our drummer got an Allen and Heath board that we can hook up to via wifi with our phones to control our own mix, and I would say our rehearsal volume is less than half what it used to be.
     
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  8. dmatthews

    dmatthews Dave's not here...

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    Alnus Rubra and bodia like this.
  9. garrett

    garrett Lurkin'

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    I haven't measured, but I wear my custom Sensaphonics plugs pretty much all the time at rehearsals and gigs. I've messed my ears up enough already that I don't take chances. Things often sound better with them in because all the high end swirl is tamed.

    Next I want to try these Session Ace plugs. I've heard good things.
    https://sessionace.com/product/shh/
     
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  10. dmatthews

    dmatthews Dave's not here...

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    Those look good too, thanks Garrett!
     
    #10 dmatthews, Apr 8, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2019
  11. Ovibos

    Ovibos Unsure why all necks aren't rosewood

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    I can't wear most of the 'better than foam' off-the-shelf plugs. They don't go far enough into my ears to get a seal. I discovered when getting my customs molded that my ear canals make a hard 90º pretty early.
     
  12. DickBanks

    DickBanks New Member

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    LOUD, LOUD, LOUD!

    If someone doesn't call the cops, it ain't rock and roll!

    Seriously though, IEMs.

    Then everyone has their own mix, and you have a near-zero dB sound profile, if you include electronic drums.

    Expensive, but worth it.
     
  13. dmatthews

    dmatthews Dave's not here...

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    I forgot to update...
    Last practice I set my phone out about 6' from the stage and started the db meter.
    I'd say it averaged about 95 - 97, and peaked to 102 a few times.
    That being said I have no way to calibrate my phone without a better/more trusted meter available.
    In any case, we agreed that this was a tolerable level with very good coverage. I'd venture to say we could bring it down a tad as well.
    We shall see what tonight brings when I try it again.
     
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  14. Tucson Thump

    Tucson Thump Mint Heavy Relic

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    This thread brings up something else to mind.

    What about the audience's hearing? I've been to bars where the music was so loud you had to shout directly into someone's ear to be heard, and even then it was hit or miss. The music was just too loud for the size of the venue.

    I don't mention this lightly and I'm certainly not pissing on anyone's choices, but it seems it ought to be possible to rock n roll without harming anyone in the venue. Members of the audience have the right to leave and go somewhere else but I don't think they are as informed about hearing damage as musicians are, and probably don't care after a few drinks before the band even starts up.
     
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  15. dmatthews

    dmatthews Dave's not here...

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    That's what we're going for really. The fact that I left practice a couple of weeks ago with my ears ringing, and previous gigs were too loud for some, made us want to work towards a more palatable experience for the room and us.
     
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  16. dmatthews

    dmatthews Dave's not here...

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    Last night I monitored db levels again.
    Same average 95 - 97, but one peak at 103, so not much of a change.
    I went for a stroll out deep into crowd area, and past the dance floor and the mix sounded good and clear. Of course things change when the place is filled with meat puppets, but it's easier to turn up than down.
    So far, looking good... I think...
     
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  17. dogrocketp

    dogrocketp I drank the PRS kool aid, and it was tasty!

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    All the guitar players I play with use amps that are 20:watts or less if the venue holds under 100 people. Then, amps are increased in wattage if the joint is bigger. I max out at 60:watts, with a line out if more volume is needed. My ears haven’t been ringing in 30 years, And my hearing is good for an old musician. It also sounds better to max out a smaller amp imho.
     
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  18. jxe

    jxe babe en der wood

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    fender champ, i’m tellin ya.
     
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  19. dmatthews

    dmatthews Dave's not here...

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    I'm running a Kemper now, so I'm happy with my tone at whatever volume so far. The lead player had his Lonestar blow up, so he's running a Mesa 5:25, and I think that has helped.
    We rent the place out to another band, and they use little Blues Juniors to great success as well.
    Must stay vigilant.:)
     
  20. dogrocketp

    dogrocketp I drank the PRS kool aid, and it was tasty!

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    My PRS 2 channel 20 is plenty loud.
     

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