How loud is too loud?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by In Absentia, Mar 25, 2020.

  1. HighRoller

    HighRoller Member

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    If your ears are hurting and you're hearing the ringing, then it's too loud. I went to a Slash concert in February 2011, it was a lot of fun but wow was that loud! I couldn't hear properly for two days!
     
  2. aleclee

    aleclee TGP Tech Wrangler Staff Member

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    Your hearing is being damaged long before those symptoms appear
     
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  3. pickdropper

    pickdropper I am Soldering Iron Man Vendor

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  4. jmoose

    jmoose Member

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    Decibel ratings on their own don't mean much... what's the scale & response time? 100dB A weighted peak is widely different then 100dB C weighted RMS. If you simply want the meter to read 100, well, a couple easy adjustments make that happen on any SPL meter.

    In a small room, and 20x20 is certainly small for a live rock band... lets say even 30x50 probably the only thing that should be in the PA speakers are vocals. Maybe a little kick drum for light reinforcement. Certainly not snare and guitar amps though sometimes that happens...

    So what level does the band play at naturally? That's the volume it needs to be. Put some earplugs in, get a big jar of foamies and hand 'em out.
     
  5. HighRoller

    HighRoller Member

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    I recently had an appointment with my primary doctor and had an entire physical check up. I have specifically requested my hearing health to be checked as well for any sort of damage along with describing what musical events I have attended and the equipment I use. I had my hearing tested for any damage with potential loss and I have non at all. I use hearing protection when playing at louder levels however at the circumstance I described at my previous post, no form of protecting my ears were provided and I was not aware at the time how loud it would be. Excessive loudness is hard on hearing though everyone once in a while being exposed to a high level of dBs within our range of capabilities, we will be fine. This is obviously not healthy but we are able to recover from any form of mild abuse.

    Speaking of music, I have attended two Doobie Brother concerts. The first one I saw in 2016 was outdoors but the sound was not 'contained' in excessive volumes, and did not sound too loud. The second one was indoors in 2018, I had hearing protection and I am so glad I did, otherwise I really would have been sorry. I sat at the sixth row from the front and I could see the band members using ear protection because of how loud it was! I attended the concert with another fellow over 30 years older than me saying they were sorry for not using hearing protection but they did recover. We will all be fine with our hearing health as long equipment is not constantly cranked without protection.
     
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  6. pickdropper

    pickdropper I am Soldering Iron Man Vendor

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    FWIW, I think it's great that you've been proactive about getting hearing tests. The thing about hearing loss is that there's no guarantee that everybody can recover from similar exposure. As the doctor told you, most people can recover from some exposure, but that's not a hard and fast rule. While I've met many folks that only had a temporary threshold shift after loud exposure, I do remember one particular individual that ended up with hyperacusis after a U2 concert when he had shown no previous sensitivity to loud situations. I guess that's a long winded way of saying that all of us should be careful, because you never know when something is going to affect you.
     
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  7. Tweeker

    Tweeker Supporting Member

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    If you really want to be responsible "for an enjoyable show without hurting ears", you can see that a simple DBL reading doesn't tell the whole story.
    Also, harsh mid/high frequencies hurt ears quicker than an equally measured amount of lows. But damage is preventable if your levels are within NIOSH limits.
    Since that's probably not gonna happen, hand out foam earplugs for those smart enough to use 'em.
     
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  8. Sleezy E

    Sleezy E Member

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  9. HighRoller

    HighRoller Member

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    Thanks, I have been cautious with my hearing health. Yes, everyone is different for how they recover from exposure, but for me there is nothing permanent fortunately. I take caution before exposure, rather than being sorry later. One time I did turn all the tone knobs down, but the bass knob very high with loud volume, I only played one low note right in front of my amp and it was so boomy that I got anxiety. When I got my hearing tested I did tell my doctor about that as well and I was totally fine after getting checked. I don't have Hyperacusis or anything like that, and I will be careful making sure I don't develop some sort of comorbidity. I'm already rather sensitive to loud sounds and keep bedroom volume levels when playing at home, if I'm going to play loud I use ear plugs, or some ear muffs. But yes, no one is immune to excessive loud noises, we don't know what the affect could be without protection.
     
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  10. jerryfan6

    jerryfan6 Silver Supporting Member

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    A 20’ x 20’ room? Is someone hosting a party in their master bedroom?
     
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  11. sants

    sants Supporting Member

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    Just a heads up about hearing tests: In general if you were tested by your Doctor, they only test between certain frequencies and I believe it’s up to 8khz. The frequency range is based on what’s needed for general communication and doesn’t tell the full story, at least that’s what I was told by the audiologist.

    To get a real gauge of hearing you need see an audiologist where they will do more rigorous testing and have means to test beyond a basic listening test. It’s a pretty eye opening experience.

    I can pass a general hearing test at my doctor no problem but a visit to an audiologist shows I have loss above 10khz in one ear. It in no way affects my daily life but I can tell a difference from ear to ear if I’m listening critically to things like Snare and hat.

    It could be due to a number of things. Music is definitely one and even phone use based on certain studies may be the other.
     
  12. ToneDeVille

    ToneDeVille Supporting Member

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    20x20 room filled with people
    rock music
    keep the db level around 60db and limit the playing time
    to 2 x 45 min sets.
    make sure they have comfortable chairs? that's like a nice sized master bedroom so after you get the band in there you'll have room for what?....7 or 8 people?
    leave them wanting more.
     
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  13. SolidGuitar

    SolidGuitar Member

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    I have not. From some reading, my weak understanding is that this app is one of the best for an iPhone or iPad (no Android support). The app allows you to calibrate if you have a "real" meter.
     
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  14. jmoose

    jmoose Member

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    That's funny.

    No matter how the scale is set 60dB SPL isn't even folk music. Acoustic guitar & bongos, the human voice are way louder then that without amplification.

    Good stuff, keep it coming...
     
  15. pickdropper

    pickdropper I am Soldering Iron Man Vendor

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    Cool, I'll check it out when I have time. Ideally, I'll check it out in a hard room with pink noise up about 120dB or so.

    The issue with the earlier ones was less about the app and more about the linearity of the internal microphone of the iPhone; Some of the cheap MEMs mics they use in cell phones overload at fairly low SPL levels. I'll have to see if the newer ones fare any better. I know some of the old apps I tried worked decently with an external mic (with proper calibration).
     
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  16. pickdropper

    pickdropper I am Soldering Iron Man Vendor

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    And it's not just rock. The brass section of an orchestra can hit 110 dB SPL pretty easily with no amplification. Sometimes, things are just loud.
     
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  17. pickdropper

    pickdropper I am Soldering Iron Man Vendor

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    There is a lot of truth to this. Many doctors will do a simple hearing threshold test. And, as you've pointed out, often stopping at 8kHz. They generally don't test too far beyond it because folks are usually concerned about intelligibility of hearing and anything above 8kHz usually doesn't have much to do with that. That, coupled with the fact that the demographic getting tested usually has age related truncation of their frequency range, results in a more limited bandwidth test. Unfortunately, if you are a musician you may very well care about what's going on above 8kHz.

    In addition to a threshold test (even a full range one), it usually pays to get a Speech-in-Noise (aka SIN) test. This evaluates one's ability to hear in a noisy environment as that is not the same type of loss as a threshold loss (although there is usually some degree of both going on). The SIN test helps identify inner hair cell damage, which provides a different function to the brain than outer hair cells.

    Somewhat simply put, the outer hair cells are the amplifier of sounds. If these are damaged, you can simply increase the overall level via external amplification (usually a hearing aid) and it can somewhat restore one to normal hearing. The inner hair cells provide translation to the brain. So, in theory, if one had entirely inner hair cell damage and no outer hair cell damage, you would hear everything perfectly loud, but you wouldn't understand the words. That's highly unusual, but there have been a few documented cases of it. The reality is that hearing loss often manifests itself as a combination of inner and outer hair cell loss, which is why some folks struggle understanding conversation in loud restaurants, even after getting hearing aids. In order to address that, you need some sort of directionality to the microphone pickup so that the polar pattern favors the person in front of you that you are listening to and reduces the background noise by putting everybody else in the null.
     
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  18. jmoose

    jmoose Member

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    The good news is that modern hearing aids employ crazy DSP and are highly directional.

    Several weeks ago and after years of badgering I finally got my 79 year old Dad to go for a test & get info on hearing aids. Mom and I knew he had problems for many years... he'd tell us we're mumbling and the TV was always blasting.

    I went with him to the appointment, which was actually 2 because he had to get the wax cleaned out first and then come back... but the tests revealed that not only was his hearing down something like -20dB from the average healthy person but everything above 1kHz was pretty well gone... like another 15dB down off the cliff. Its like walking around with foam plugs in all the time.

    They gave him a set to try for a week and its been a night and day difference. Life changing. Now he keeps the TV volume so low that nobody else can hear it... sometimes he has to take them out in noisy restaurants because he can't handle all the audio information.

    The set he got was a middle of the road, totally invisible on his ear, rechargeable set. Forget the brand, was like $3k out of pocket after his copay. They have an app he can use to fine tune EQ curves and a few other parameters but yes, highly directional so he can tell what direction sound is coming from.

    FWIW he went to Hear USA which is a chain. I asked and they also do fittings for IEM & custom plugs. https://www.hearusa.com/

    I wear earplugs all the time & have sets of foamies in my car, backpack and other places like the pedalboard case. Don't go to the movies too much anymore but even there, sometimes those action movies get stupid loud and I'll pop 'em in.
     
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  19. pickdropper

    pickdropper I am Soldering Iron Man Vendor

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    Yeah, hearing aids are often life changing devices. It took me a long time to convince my Dad he needed them (he definitely did). Now that he has them, it's a significant improvement.

    DSP for directionality can be somewhat of a mixed bag. I've measured a bunch over the years that failed to deliver the directionality they promised (many not even close). In the end, it's difficult to beat a good, acoustic microphone design where you know exactly what the polar pattern. That's a bit more of a difficult implementation, however, so nobody really does that anymore.
     
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  20. straightblues

    straightblues Member

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    I look towards the back half of the room and see if people can carry on a conversation without leaning over and yelling in someones ear. If they can, we are good volume wise. If they can't, we are too loud unless it is a music only club where they specifically came to see a concert.
     

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