CriticalDance Forum

High sound volume levels
Page 1 of 2

Author:  Andre Yew [ Sun Jul 13, 2003 10:08 am ]
Post subject:  High sound volume levels

This is something the movie industry's already had to address, and now it appears to be hitting live shows too: high sound volume levels.

Lewis Segal, LA Times

Why did someone who has visited Brazil and always been fascinated by its dynamic traditional culture walk out midway through a performance last weekend by the Viver Brasil Dance Company at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre? Because the amplification of the company's live music proved so extreme and ruinous that it created an impenetrable screen, nullifying the dancing.

Yes, virtually the entire entertainment spectrum — pop music, movies, Broadway musicals and even opera — has become increasingly enslaved to manipulative and sometimes apocalyptic sound engineering, and we've all learned to cope. But in Hollywood on Saturday, the hills were alive with the sound of reverb, and this listener reached his limit.

Author:  djb [ Sun Jul 13, 2003 10:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: High sound volume levels

For years I've often had to stuff something in my ears at movies. Recently I've had to do it at a few dance performances. I think the problem will only get worse as audiences increasingly consist of people who grew up with high sound volume and find nothing wrong with it, or even think it is loud.

Last night my mother and I ate at a new restaurant in our neighborhood that was typical of new restaurants these days, with lack of soundproofing, the everpresent music, and a crowd with loud voices. After a long period of silence on our part because of the strain of making ourselves heard, my mother shouted, "I GUESS WE JUST HAVE TO TALK LIKE THIS." I shouted something back at her, and, to our surprise, there was no reaction from the people around us. Will people like this ever complain about the volume being too high at performances?

Author:  citibob [ Sun Jul 13, 2003 5:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: High sound volume levels

There have been times when the music was too high for me as a dancer. It's generally NOT too loud for the audience because in the particular configuration used, I ended up a lot closer to the speaker than the audience.

Author:  Matthew [ Tue Jul 15, 2003 6:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: High sound volume levels

Everyone has a limited number of these beautiful little ciliia in their inner ear, and at higher noise levels they actually shear off, never to return :( . People can get permanent hearing loss at 8 hours at 85 dB ( note that dBs are tricky because they are exponential - ie every 3 dB increase is a doubling of sound intensity so this is equal to 4 hours at 88 dB.... ).

So here we go -

Gunshot 140-170 dB
Jet Takeoff 140 dB
Rock Concert 110 dB
Motorcycle 90 dB
Conversation 60 dB
Whisper 30 dB

Whats the moral of this story - hmm -if you want to catch someones attention ( and not destroy their beautiful little cilia ) , whisper!

Author:  Andre Yew [ Tue Jul 15, 2003 9:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: High sound volume levels


Actually, technically speaking, 3 dB is doubling of sound power. 6 dB is doubling of intensity, or sound pressure level. That's from a meter's point of view, but from a subjective human point of view, loudness varies. A slight increase in bass energy is perceived as a larger gain than the same increment in the midrange (eg. a high female voice).


<small>[ 15 July 2003, 11:14 PM: Message edited by: Andre Yew ]</small>

Author:  Azlan [ Wed Jul 16, 2003 11:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: High sound volume levels

Hi, would this be better in Backstage or Issues? Let us know...

Author:  salzberg [ Wed Jul 16, 2003 12:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: High sound volume levels

I'm moving this topic to Backstage. Please follow us there.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sat Jul 19, 2003 1:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: High sound volume levels

My old acoustics lecturer had permission to attend a Jimi Hendrix concert in Portsmouth, England back around 1968. He set up his equipment, but left after 5 minutes as he knew the damage the sound levels were doing to his hearing.

The worst I experienced in dance was at a Cholmondleigh's performance with an electric jazz accompaniment. It was loudest at the beginning and for the rest of the show I was frightened that it would go back up to that level. One of their most famous shows was ruined for me.

I complained to the theatre management during a chamber ballet production with recorded music and they did turn it down.

When the Japanese dance group Dumb Type performed in Estonia, the sound levels were high, although not as high as for The Cholmondeleys. Nevertheless several people left because of the the discomfort the sound was causing.

Overall though, these instances from dance are the exception rather than the rule and I hope it stays that way.

<small>[ 19 July 2003, 03:21 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  Andre Yew [ Thu Jul 24, 2003 7:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: High sound volume levels

Amphitheater volume lowered, not off
Jessica Gresko, Orange County Register

Pacific Amphitheater neighbors in College Park, who once said they could hear concert lyrics in their living rooms when a loud band played, could more easily hear barking dogs and cars driving by Wednesday night than cheers and music from the Duran Duran concert.

Other nearby residents in Mesa del Mar could hear the concert more clearly, but most said it wasn't nearly as bad as when noise complaints and lawsuits helped close the amphitheater in 1995.

Author:  Amy Reusch [ Tue Jul 29, 2003 9:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: High sound volume levels

After the actual volume level, could we do something distortion? I hope that cliche of dance companies using miserable recordings fades out of consciousness. It's bad enough that it's loud, must it be distorted as well?

Author:  salzberg [ Wed Jul 30, 2003 3:27 am ]
Post subject:  Re: High sound volume levels

Yes! The number of companies that are willing to settle for (or are oblivious to) bad, distorted sound has always been appalling.

It's all part of a bigger issue; it's all a matter of attention to detail -- which is another way of saying, "professionalism".

Author:  salzberg [ Wed Jul 30, 2003 7:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: High sound volume levels

Some time ago, I wrote an article (now sadly out of date) on sound recording for dancers. Alas, many of the choreographers with whom I worked read it, but only superficially, and so started bringing me tapes which were recorded on high quality media...but from masters which were originally recorded on 99-cent K-Mart cassettes.

They're still doing this, by the way, except now I see compact disks made from low-quality sound files grabbed off the web.

In audio quality, the lowest common denominator always prevails; the recording will never sound better than the worst it's ever sounded*. Dubbing a poor-quality recording onto a CD or minidisk will only faithfully reproduce the existing distortion and poor frequency response.


* Unless you spend a fortune on "fixing" it digitally. It's cheaper to just do it right in the first place.

<small>[ 30 July 2003, 09:03 AM: Message edited by: salzberg ]</small>

Author:  Andre Yew [ Wed Jul 30, 2003 8:07 am ]
Post subject:  Re: High sound volume levels

At one ballet performance I attended, using recorded music from Prokoviev's "Romeo and Juliet", it was obvious that the selections were taken from different recordings because the recorded hall ambience changed from section to section. I assume it was done to get the tempi required for each section. With personal computers being so cheap these days, and decent audio editing software being readily available for fairly low prices, there's really no good reason why companies have to put up with anything but the sound they want (within limits of recorded music).

A friend of mine who is a retired computer programmer helps out with drama productions at a local city college, and did the sound production and sound design for some of their plays. The concept of having all their sound cues pre-edited, ready-to-go on a CD-R, so the sound person just has to press the "Pause" button at the right times was a disturbingly (to us) novel concept for them.

I think the main drawback, as with anything requiring quality, is the amount of time one has to spend preparing the material --- it's still pretty much brute force, and the person doing it has to spend hours listening and tweaking the same things over and over again, often with the director spending lots of time there as well. However, since it's a one-time chore, if the production is mounted again, they'll have everything ready to go.

I don't even want to get started on the abyssmal state of most PA systems.


Author:  wiballet [ Wed Jul 30, 2003 10:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: High sound volume levels

The good news is that forum is VERY good for the ears! :)

Author:  djb [ Wed Jul 30, 2003 10:55 am ]
Post subject:  Re: High sound volume levels

Eh? What did you say?

Page 1 of 2 All times are UTC - 7 hours [ DST ]
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group