Reasonable Volumes/Stage Planning

Discussion in 'Live Sound' started by Codemonkey, Sep 1, 2009.

  1. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Distinguished Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Scotland, UK
    So I picked up an SPL meter a while ago (and a multimeter with test leads that don't always sit right). And I reckon that over the past months, the volume has crept up a little.
    Also, you know how I post in threads - provide enough information to bore people to tears and then tell people to skim half of it, and provide an MS paint image to illustrate it (you won't be disappointed).

    I realise that a lot of this is subjective and mostly just number-throwing, but does anything strike you as completely whacked about it?

    The SPL meter isn't calibrated but these figures were all taken in a 5-minute period so they're accurate in a relative sense but may all be off by about 4dB from the actual value.

    I'd need too many words to do this properly; so here's my fantastic drawing. You guys must really look forward to these...

    Honestly, thanks for your patience.

    The drummer plays with plastic spaghetti-things (Flix) rather than wooden sticks, so they have less volume/attack. And when he gets going with the fills, the recordings - which are normally devoid of drums as I don't/can't mic them effectively - suddenly flood with the sound of crash cymbals.

    The vocalists are packed into that corner like that because they:
    Can't stand in front of the screen.
    Can't stand too far back - they need to see a display on the wall just below the area marked [empty].

    The piano is behind the screen which is about 2m up the wall.
    The stage is 8m across and about 6m deep, but a lot is lost to the empty area and the pulpit. FWIW the minister never uses it, but we can't get rid of it too easily.

    We're not a rock band, so I feel that while it's not ear-piercing, it's unnecessarily loud.
    At the mix position (12m away from the mains, 15m away from the stage) it peaks at about 80dB on Sundays if we really get into it. Maybe 75 normally. If I leave the whole system muted while someone plays guitar onstage, it gets to about 58 at the mix position.

    We play for an hour every Sunday and a 2 hour practice every week. It's about half-half between music and not. I don't feel that it's killing anyone although I usually feel a little fatigued toward the end of the practice. Depends if I've sat at the back with cans on, or (like tonight) stood around onstage sorting through a box full of busted music stands.

    Ugh. If a picture is worth a thousand words - this post must have two thousand.

    And... a little bit of stage planning.
    This week we're probably getting new wedges. One or two, I dunno for sure. Hopefully two.
    I'd place 1 at the "A" to cover where the guitarists stand (beside the screen). Possibly nearer B.
    There's not always a pianist, but if there was I might place a second wedge at B (but this is unlikely to be needed).
    The minister stands at the lectern and plays guitar/bass - I'm thinking of going with two wedges at A and C. No, one at each!

    I don't know anything about the spread (odds are on them being Dynacord LM-8s or LM-10s). Neither wedge can be very loud (the amp isn't up to snuff), they're acting more "spot wedges" than anything. But if I can reduce the overall volume, louder monitors should be less needed.

    Cheers all who are still awake.
  2. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    Plexi-glass the drums.

    Volume in room go down now.
  3. jg49

    jg49 Distinguished Member

    Oct 16, 2008
    Frozen Tundra of CT
    Hey I don't know about anyone else but I like your drawings, the guitars in this one are really something else. The one with the magic Kingdom amplifier really got me. Keep em coming!
  4. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Moderator Resource Member

    Dec 18, 2008
    Western Pennsylvania, USA
    If you can keep a praise band with drums under 90dB you're doing OK. Were you measuring it A-weighted or C-weighted?

    If it's 75dB at the mix-position, it's about 81dB halfway to the platform and 87dB just a few feet out from the pulpit. That's not so bad. If I remember from an old picture your sanctuary is a proper old-world church with lots of reflective surfaces (stained-glass, & stone). Is there excessive reverb? It just might be the reverb that's fatiguing your ears. - just a thought.

    Plexi-glass can redirect the drum sound, but the sound doesn't just disappear. If the room is lively, you'll still have to contend with the reflected sound.


    Duration per day, hours Sound level dBA [ slow response A- weighted ]

    8...........................| 90
    6...........................| 92
    4...........................| 95
    3...........................| 97
    2...........................| 100
    1 1/2 ....................| 102
    1...........................| 105
    1/2 .......................| 110
    1/4 or less............| 115
  5. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Distinguished Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Scotland, UK
    Davedog, such a simple solution.
    That idea was actually mentioned tonight at practice - I was the one who pointed out the cost of them (plus the need to mic the kit which means expanding meaning more cost...).

    dvdhawk, it was C weighted, sorry. Knew I forgot something. (The meter won't do A weighted)

    The walls are actually quite reflective (stone, maybe sandstone) which doesn't help with cymbals. However the drums are tolerable provided the drummer keeps it light.

    I've been meaning to do a frequency sweep on the place and note the variations but I don't think it's that bad. The decay time is quite short especially since we put down carpet and chairs instead of pews and wood.

    Far shot, unfortuantely the rest of the photos I have are old or blurry.

    I've seen loads of figures for noise levels per day but they vary and seem to be based on heavy-duty machine noise rather than a band. So I gave up looking. However I've made a note of the list anyway.

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