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06-14-2009, 09:21 AM
I had an interesting experience the other evening - I went to my first mid-sized venue rock concert in many, many years. We saw Robin Trower. (My friend had some comp tickets. I'm not a big fan of that style of rock, but the price was right and the man can sling some guitar notes.)

I have to say the whole volume thing left me mystified. This is a fairly new venue (The Pageant in St. Louis, opened about 8 or 9 years ago), holds a maximum of 2000 and ostensibly has a "state of the art" concert sound system.

I think that translates only as "loud." Fortunately I had ear plugs with me. The live events I've attended for the past 10 years or more have primarily been either classical or small club jazz, blues or rock. At none of these have my ears suffered an outright assault of this magnitude.

In my book there is something intrinsically wrong when you must wear ear protection for a single evening's musical performance.

I did a lot of sound engineering concert work in the early 1970s (everyone from Stan Kenton to Marty Robbins) and while we were loud, it was within the range of tolerance.

I just don't understand the need for the volume I heard the other night. Pain doesn't seem to add much to the musical experience. It's like thinking if you enjoyed a nice hot day when it was 95 outside, that you'd like it even better if it was 120.

Oh well, guess I'm just dating myself. We'll move to the "/rant off" mode now. ;-)

JoeE SP9
06-14-2009, 10:01 AM
Totally agree with you. When I go to concerts I always take ear plugs. It's the fault of the persons running the mixing board. I'm beginning to believe they are all deaf or have severe hearing damage at the least. The sound is almost always too loud and usually distorted. When it's not distorted the balance between frequency extremes is way off.

Mr Peabody
06-14-2009, 10:52 AM
I've been to some shows there and totally agree. I even like loud music. But after my first show there I brought ear plugs the next time just in case. It took some days for the ringing to leave. I thought it might have just been the band. Well, no it seems to be the norm and thankfully I brought the ear plugs. I have to saying using them was not fun either so I guess I just will not go there any more. I don't think it's showing age, there's nothing cool about hearing damage. This has to be occurring to these people who go there consistently.

I saw these ear plugs that musicians use that are supposed to some how protect while letting the music be heard, I thought about looking into a pair of those.

JoeE SP9
06-14-2009, 10:57 AM
If you try them I'd like to know how well they work.

Mr Peabody
06-14-2009, 11:09 AM
Other than loud how was Trower. I like his stuff a lot.

If I find the ear plugs I'll let you know. It might even be a good topic for a new thread.

06-14-2009, 11:37 AM
I've heard good things about the Etymotic ear plugs (see for an example) - they claim to reduce volume without altering the frequency response.

However, it is one thing when a professional musician who is exposed to loud music daily needs to wear hearing protection. This is true of even acoustic instruments. Violinists, for example, are more prone to suffer hearing loss in the ear next to the violin than the opposite ear.

What I find objectionable is the need for people in the audience, who are only exposed for an hour or two, to wear hearing protection. This experience was simply so over-the-top on volume that it was detracting from the listening experience, not adding to it.

Of course, looking around at the crowd of aging KSHE rockers (a local radio station of some infamy) I'm sure the volume was just another part of their macho experience. Sort of like the fellow who likes his hot sauce so blazing that there is no other taste present. At that point it becomes irrelevant what dish is being eaten. Might as well just fill up a bowl with only hot sauce and dip your soup spoon in that.

Mr Peabody
06-14-2009, 11:49 AM
LOL, you've got a point. You think you were assaulted you should feel a band like Disturbed with the double kick drum pulsing like a machine gun at that volume.

06-14-2009, 01:37 PM
Yes, many shows are too loud. I find there's a large variability depending on the act - not so much the venue.

Be aware that one of the primary symptoms of hearing loss is discomfort at high sound levels. Many people assume that hearing loss would make everything sound quieter. It's usually the opposite.

The Etymotic earplugs ( are awesome. A half sheet of toilet paper stuffed in each ear sounds pretty good too.

06-15-2009, 02:18 PM
I remember that The Who at one point had the world record for loudest concert volume at 120 db, but it seems that level is now routinely matched or exceeded. I recall Motorhead practically bragging about how their 130+ db sound system managed to do structural damage to a concert venue.

A lot of this is simply the technology. The amps and speakers currently on the market are simply capable of much higher maximum output levels than 30 years ago.

Also, a lot of concert venues indeed have very high quality PA setups that are tuned to the acoustics of the room. But, that doesn't mean that a touring artist will actually use the house PA system. A lot of artists simply bring their own PA rig, and set it at their own levels. I recall an outdoor amphitheater down in Orange County got shut down by nearby residents. This is because while the house PA system was set for a specific maximum level, many touring artists insisted on bringing their own PA system and routinely ignored the allowable db level.

I wonder if members of Kiss still believe "If it's too loud, you're too old."

06-16-2009, 05:56 AM
I remember attending a Bruce Springsteen concert for the Born in the USA tour; I remember the event more than the music. It was very loud and energetic, but, again it was that not the tunes that are remembered. On the other hand, I was fortunate to catch Gordon Lightfoot when he came through. Different genre, different venue, different audience, yes, but still the presentation allowed the music to come through clearly and everyone on stage was given a voice.

Don't why I posted this....I guess it's just a matter of the artists' priorities, then...?

06-16-2009, 07:23 AM
I have been to several Buddy Guy concerts where my ears rang for days after.

It sucks when they think they need to play that loud.

06-16-2009, 08:45 AM
Yeah....Sometimes I wonder if the noise is a screen to cover the musicians' lack of ability or talent...

06-16-2009, 12:07 PM
I think that translates only as "loud."
Which is why I don't pay to go to those kinds of concerts any more. Two years ago, my company hosted a private Huey Lewis concert for a conference in Vegas. Even though I like the music, I stuffed my ears with lots of toilet tissue!

In my book there is something intrinsically wrong when you must wear ear protection for a single evening's musical performance.
And musical detail is nowhere to be found in the monophonic wall of sonic mud.


Mr Peabody
06-16-2009, 05:15 PM
One of the best sounding concerts I heard was the Dr. John set at a Blues festival back in the 90's. It was even one of those outdoor venues. Some how the engineer set him up to where everything could be heard and it was clear from congos to horns to his piano. The best act there that night in my book.

Besides the couple shows I saw at the venue MLSTL was talking about I remember two other stand out loud concerts. One was Dio in the 80's. That scared me because it took at least a week for the ringing to go away and that was the first time I ever experienced ringing ears. The other was Lonnie Brooks doing a concert at a college. That one was too loud to stay inside. I would have stayed outside and watched/listened but food poisoning put me down for the count.

JoeE SP9
06-17-2009, 06:02 PM
The West Oak Lane Jazz And Arts Festival is this weekend in Phila. It really isn't all that much Jazz. Oh well, smooth jazz has had a big effect on the public's perception of what Jazz is. It's free and it's music. So, I'll be attending quite a few of the shows. It starts Friday afternoon and ends Sunday night.
The Line up includes
Billy Paul
Jeffrey Osbourne
Original P
Roy Ayers
Average White Band
Tower Of Power
The Mingus Big Band
Teena Marie
The Intruders
Those are the headliners. There are other artists performing also.

Mr Peabody
06-17-2009, 06:43 PM
Yeah, some of those would not be what come to mind when thinking Jazz. Especially, Teena Marie. I like a lot of her music though. I'd love to see Tower of Power.