The trend toward low wattage amps and low sound levels

Discussion in 'The Backstage' started by Trelwheen, Apr 2, 2021.

  1. Mitchell Pearrow

    Mitchell Pearrow Well-Known Member VIP Member

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    I am still breaking in the new ones next door, but I do the loud volumes when it’s typically not going to bother any of them.
    Cheers
     
  2. Mitchell Pearrow

    Mitchell Pearrow Well-Known Member VIP Member

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    Plus my grandson has been playing through his rig as of recent, and his amp is facing the street (south) mine all face west (the other side of the garage)
     
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  3. ricksdisconnected

    ricksdisconnected Well-Known Member

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    laughter.png
     
  4. Ramo

    Ramo Well-Known Member

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    Oh, I do care and I keep pushing my luck with neighbours and rest of the family.

    I would play as loud as possible if I didnt have people winging at me :)
     
  5. Trelwheen

    Trelwheen Certified B.S. Launcher Double Platinum Supporting Member

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    How about a little perspective on sound pressure levels.....

    I bet many of us would be surprised to know just how loud an average symphony orchestra can be during the most aggressive passages.

    Let me give you an example that I found to be a good illustration of this:

    I looked up some tests that had recently been done

    Shostakovich 7th symphony
    ----------------
    At finale: 116 db
    Several forte passages reached 115db

    Symphony sound pressure levels generally average around 89 to 95 db

    Even Brahms 4th symphony reached 109 db at the finale and it's not a particularly powerful piece with a whole lot of percussion and brass blasting away.

    Compare to the readings I got with my 2203 through a 4x12 with G12K100 speakers. At 4 1/2 on the master the amp is howling pretty good, sounding exactly like it ought to. I was at roughly 115 db. Should sit in the mix pretty well with a symphony orchestra!
     
  6. Maggot Brain

    Maggot Brain Well-Known Member

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    it's all about getting experienced, I'm still eagerly awaiting a 1960B to pop up to complete a stack... I can't wait to run thru a dimed stack again... been so many years.

    I'll agree there is a time and place for all volume levels, I hate how pussified the public are. Every single gig I've ever played the owner or manager bitched about our volume. Nearly every open jam I've been to I've been banned due to excessive volume... I didn't give a fk about their threats for banning me from the jams and I pushed my amp... The other musicians followed my lead and we rocked like they used to... yeah all the old bar hags and alchies parted from the front row like the red sea but you instantly saw who the real rockers were.

    I'm happy to report that the live performances I've witnessed living in Mexico, like Rock, Ska, banda y mariachi, they all play loud and proud and ain't no one is a pussy about volume levels. That is one aspect I love about Mexico and living in Mexico, they haven't pussified like the US has, no PC BS. Men are still men and woman are still woman... And music is still LOUD.....


    Don't get me wrong I still love and prefer the US, born and raised haha but Mexico does have some things right.
     
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  7. ricksdisconnected

    ricksdisconnected Well-Known Member

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    to scared to go to mexico. :ohno: however, i want a couple switchblades from there
     
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  8. Jethro Rocker

    Jethro Rocker Well-Known Member Silver Supporting Member

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    At what distance? Cause over 100 dB starts to actually cause discomfort to my ears amd not sure sitting in the audience of a symphony would do that. Standing too close to 110 dB amp would be painful, not particulafly pleasing to me. As much fun as the floor shaking is. I have been there and done that but never stood in front of it. Always mostly beside.
     
  9. Trelwheen

    Trelwheen Certified B.S. Launcher Double Platinum Supporting Member

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    The orchestra tests were front center stage which may or may not be the spot for the highest reading depending on the way the instruments are arranged.
     
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  10. WellBurnTheSky

    WellBurnTheSky Well-Known Member

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    Apart from the fact most people here probably never experienced a full symphony orchestra, that's a pretty bad analogy, as none of the instruments individually are that loud, yet they manage to be heard. It's all about 1) frequencies 2) dynamics of the ensemble.
    Trying to be as loud as the whole orchestra combined (which is what the numbers you're quoting amount to) is using the brute force approach of overpowering the ensemble. Kinda like using a hammer to drive a screw. Sure it'll work. But it's neither the most efficient nor the most sensible approach.

    And yeah, standing directly in front of a full symphony at fff can be painful. But pretty fun. I've played in one for a few years (when I was studying classical violin as a kid/teenager), then on several occasions with one (as a working guitarist), and have to mike one up several times a year at the venue I do sound at, and it's pretty cool. The violin and flute players usually are pretty uptight, but the cellists are loads of fun (and for some reason usually the hottest chicks in the bunch) and the brass/woodwinds are wacko. Fun times.
     
  11. anitoli

    anitoli Well-Known Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Mitch kickin ass as usual!
     
  12. Trelwheen

    Trelwheen Certified B.S. Launcher Double Platinum Supporting Member

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    My point didn't have anything to do with trying to be as loud as the orchestra or louder or whatever....

    My point was that even a symphony orchestra is as loud as a fairly cranked up 100 watt guitar amp.

    Which brings me back to my original point that people don't turn their amps up enough to take advantage of all they have to offer. The popular trend is low, low sound levels and I can hear it often in recent recordings.

    Edit to add:

    I played cello in small and large orchestras for a long time. Since strings are always in front, we get a lot of thunder from the cats in back. As you said, its loud and fun but nothing that ever felt overbearing to my senses.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2021
  13. Biff Maloy

    Biff Maloy Well-Known Member

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    I ran a decibel level check while taking a shit. I'm impressed with my peaks considering i have a good bowl seal. Still got good pressure.

    SmartSelectImage_2021-04-08-07-41-58.png
     
  14. PelliX

    PelliX Member

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    Loud is fun, but all in all, from a sound engineer's perspective, you want the right volume and tone for the room you're in. In a studio typically noise levels don't have to go too far north. If you're going for some bounce from (far away) distant walls, etc - yes, you'll need some dB to get that. Small room, less volume required. When I record, I typically try not to cough or sneeze as the mics might just pick that up during some passages.

    However, all that being said, yes - there's something ballsy about cranking the stack. It's partly the vibration, the interplay you can get between the guitar and your speaker(s). I wish my neighbors were a little less soy boy and more into making noise - that would justify some coming back from my side. I always encourage people around me to be as loud they f*cking want - and in return I'll have the odd 10 minutes of "oomph". Fortunately, they're often all gone, so I just keep an eye on the cars and when they arrive... return to a level where I could theoretically hear my phone/doorbell/etc. :applause:

    Yeah, people have lost (or rather given up on) the concept of doing things at their own risk. If you play with a chainsaw - you could hurt yourself. If you do soundchecks, you could hurt yourself. If you don't want to risk breaking a nail, don't go laying bricks. If you don't like the risks of loud noise - why visit a concert/construction site/etc? I wish people would 'man up' a tad from time to time, accept that life is full of risks and you're guaranteed to die anyway. End rant.
     
  15. Mitchell Pearrow

    Mitchell Pearrow Well-Known Member VIP Member

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    Thanks brother I just wanted to hear some examples.
    Cheers
     
  16. Clockworkmike

    Clockworkmike Well-Known Member

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    Fun facts about dB from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association

    "Sound-level meters measure noise levels. We record noise levels in decibels, or dBA. The higher the noise level, the louder the noise. You can listen to sounds at 70 dBA or lower for as long as you want. Sounds at 85 dBA can lead to hearing loss if you listen to them for more than 8 hours at a time.

    Sounds over 85 dBa can damage your hearing faster. The safe listening time is cut in half for every 3-dB rise in noise levels over 85 dBA. For example, you can listen to sounds at 85 dBA for up to 8 hours. If the sound goes up to 88 dBA, it is safe to listen to those same sounds for 4 hours. And if the sound goes up to 91 dBA, your safe listening time is down to 2 hours."
    noiselevelchart.png

    So by this math:
    85db 8hrs
    88db 4hrs
    91db 2hrs
    94db 1hr
    97db 30min
    100db 15min
    103db 7m 30s
    106db 3m 45sec
    108db 1m 50sec
    111db 55sec
    114db 22.5sec
    117db 11.25sec
    120db 6.185sec
    124db 3sec
    127db 1.5sec
    130db .75sec

    So literally above 120dB, it can be almost instant hearing damage, thus a single rock concert could do irreparable damage depending on how much dB is reaching your ears in the crowd. Ive measured my amps before and have read between 108dB to about 116.5dB at roughly 9ft away, yet im usually in front of the amplifiers within arms reach sometimes lol
     
  17. Biff Maloy

    Biff Maloy Well-Known Member

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    For obvious reasons, protecting my hearing is engrained in me. Concerts, i put those thoughts aside but Iron Maiden put a dent in my left ear a couple summers ago. Hasn't been the same since. I was off to the side of Dave Murray and pretty close. He'd cut loose and it was like "Whoa!!" Finally conceded and my Wife and I shoved pieces of napkin in our ears. Been to a bunch of concerts over the years, seen them 5 times, but that was a first.
     
  18. WellBurnTheSky

    WellBurnTheSky Well-Known Member

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    Yeah that's the main reason for enforcing strict guidelines regarding SPL. Though "100dB" in itself doesn't mean much, the way you measure it can mean totally different SPLs.
    Here in France the rule is, no more than 102dB(A) on average over 15 minutes, and no more than 118dB(C), which takes low frequencies into account (without getting too technical on the subject). And max 120dBA peaks. And there's pretty strict guidelines about how you measure SPL, how the metering device is calibrated, etc. And NO, a phone app won't do.
    But as an engineer, that's definitely something you have to take into account.
    And also, with modern PAs you don't need massive SPL to get good coverage, that's the whole point of mid- and long-range systems and why you see them more and more often in middle size and big venues.
    But hey, that's my main gig, I could talk and write for days about this...

    Yeah totally agreed on this.
    Though in my experience most working guitar players (that don't use DI solutions) set their amp so as to match the drummer's volume (which is usually around 100dB). At least that's how I do it and how all the players I've worked with do it.
    So that's not what I'd define as "low volume" by any stretch of imagination. The only difference being, with a 100w amp, you're at 3 on the MV, while a lower-wattage amp will be opened up (with my SV20H and a 2x12 cab I can open the amp up almost all the way...which means it pretty much sounds the way it's supposed to).
    If you need more, you have monitors, which allow to have overall a much more balance sound onstage than purely relying on the amp itself (better coverage too). Not even talking about being heard by the audience (also, a HUGE upside of having less volume onstage is, it allows a better balance in the PA and let it do the heavy lifting).
    Honestly in this day and age, IMHO the main reason for wanting a 100w amp is if you want/need the higher headroom, be it for those that want a perfectly clean tone or for those that use modern amps built around preamp distortion and a clean power amp.
    So yeah, you CAN be pretty loud. But that doesn't mean you should be, and most of the time that's totally counter-productive. If your drummer is hitting 101dB without any mic opened and the guitar player pushed 103dB by himself, you have nowhere to go if you want to add anything else.
    And if the venue has a SPL-meter controlled limiter (as is required of many venues)...you're toast.

    So yeah, by saying "I'll play as loud as I please, if you don't like it you're a pussy" (not talking about you specifically, mind you, that's more a general remark), apart from acting like a jerk, 1) you're damaging your hearing in the long (and possibly short) term; 2) you're damaging your audience's hearing, which is even worse; 3) you're acting against the best interest of your band (by not being to use the PA to its full extent) and the venue. Don't be that guy. Jerks don't last long in that line of work anyway. Unless you're incredibly talented and massively above average, but even then...
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2021
  19. jimmyjames

    jimmyjames Well-Known Member

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    My wife accompanied me to see Supersuckers a few yrs back. I packed her some earplugs ;)
     
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  20. Trelwheen

    Trelwheen Certified B.S. Launcher Double Platinum Supporting Member

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    Great post, and so true where regards live applications. I must admit that in my particular case I always tend to think inside my little box, which is recording one instrument at a time in my studio. This affords me great luxuries in attaining optimum levels for whatever it is I'm recording at the moment, obviously....I only wish that recording in that fashion didn't come with all obvious disadvantages that it carries (like laying down a difficult drum part for an entire tune with nothing but the tune in my head to follow for example, but that's a whole other wad of misery for another discussion)

    The wattage of an amp only matters to me if the amp is not capable of placing stress on whatever speakers it happens to be connected to, and then only if the material at hand calls for that sort of thing. I truly wish that an SC20, for example, would sound exactly like a 2203 without being so loud. But to me it doesn't, so quite often I'll find myself firing up the old dinosaur and melting the walls.

    And I think it's good that in this modern day and age we know so much more about our ears and sound pressure levels that we can pay closer attention and protect ourselves better. Also think there can be too much of anything, no matter how good, and that it can creep into the equation more often and more heavily than it should.

    Hence my purple-font admonitions to "Dime the Amps and wait till later to count the bodies" (although I'm too lazy to use the little codes to turn the text purple, so everybody will just have to guess how serious or sarcastic I might be at any given moment)

    :headbanger:
     

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