Hiring a live band for your event is a great way to get your guests entertained and energised. However what many event planners forget is that live sound is typically fraught with difficulties – especially when it comes to venues with sound restrictions.
Sound restrictions are put in place for a variety of reasons, for example if your venue is close to a residential area or even if other venues are running events of their own. Local authorities and venues themselves have a vested interest in making sure their events don’t get too noisy.
Due to these restrictions, most venues have sound limiters in place – although they are not without difficulties themselves. Live bands have completely different audio dynamics compared to DJs and so it can be difficult to limit sounds that may come from other sources such as crowd noise.
So if you’re looking to book a live band for your event and the venue says the sound limit is 85 decibels – what does that even mean?
How Loud Is Too Loud?
To help explain sound levels in an event context – Sternberg Clarke devised a simple sound ruler shown below.
SEE ALSO: Making The Most Out Of Your Event Video
Most function bands will usually reach a level of 95DB – around the same level as a pneumatic drill and will sometimes be able to accommodate their playing to around 90DB.
Unsurprisingly however, decibel levels aren’t that simple.
Sound Physics 101
Decibel levels are on an exponential scale so 120DB is not twice as loud as 60DB. This is because the decibel unit is, surprisingly, not a value – decibels levels are, for lack of a better word, ratios.
In mathematical terms – equal increases in decibel levels corresponds to an equal amount of multiplications.
Don’t worry if you’re scratching your head, just keep in mind that when your venue says you can turn it up to from 90 to 100DB, that’s a much bigger increase in loudness than, say 40DB to 50DB.
So What Does This Mean For The Event Planner?
In essence, handling live sound should be left to the professionals – many venues offer on-site sound engineers to ensure nothing goes awry during the performance.
However, when deciding to book bands for certain venues that have specified decibel limits (anything from churches and exhibition halls to hotels with guests staying) ask yourself – can this band play within the allowed range? Is it reasonable to ask if the band can stay within these limits? Does the venue have a sound limiter?
Hopefully this guide will have helped you to answer some of these questions if they ever crop up during the planning stage of your event – most venues will be knowledgeable of their live sound capabilities, and it helps if you are too.
Stephen Warr is the social media editor for Sternberg Clarke, a leading entertainment supplier for corporate events, weddings and private parties based in London, UK. You can follow him on twitter @SternbergClarke.