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Noise Limiters and Restrictions

Published: 24 Aug 15, 11:24am  |  Author: DG Music

If you're booking a venue with a noise limiter or noise restrictions and want to know how they will affect your event, follow our guide and learn what 'too loud' really means.

What is a noise limiter?

A noise limiter is a device that cuts power to the sound system when it detects that a certain volume limit has been exceeded.

It is connected to the power supply and bands/DJs are required to plug all of their equipment into it. If the volume they produce goes above the permitted level for a few seconds, the power cuts out and the band is plunged into silence! The device then needs to be reset before the band can continue.

It’s not always clear that noise limiters or restrictions are in place when you book a venue, so it’s important to understand what they are and what their use could mean for your event.

Noise Limiter

What are noise restrictions?

Noise restrictions are rules put in place, usually by the local council, to limit noise pollution to neighbours. They will vary from venue to venue but can include rules like ‘no live music after 10.30pm’, ‘no amplified music outdoors’, or in extreme cases, ‘no live music at all’.

Restrictions may be imposed as part of a venue’s entertainment licence to cut noise pollution in the area, and some venues choose to use them to stop their staff being exposed to too much noise.

How is sound measured?

Sound is measured in decibels, and it is the level of decibels which matters as far as noise limiters are concerned.

Measurements on the decibel scale are not like climbing a ladder one rung at a time - it's more like taking bigger and bigger steps as the sound gets more intense. Sounds measured at 90dB are ten times as intense as sounds at 80dB, and 100dB is actually 100 times as intense as 80dB.

The decibel scale works this way because it has to express relative intensity - the sound of rustling leaves is a trillion times quieter than a jet engine, so the scale needs to be flexible enough to match! Mathematicians among you may be interested to know that decibels work on a logarithmic scale. Learn more about the way it works here.

The Decibel Scale

There are other factors that can affect noise levels - where the sound is measured from, noise from the audience and the acoustics of the room. A band will sound quieter in a room decked out with soft furnishings, carpets and curtains than a room with wooden floors, high ceilings and bare windows.

Which venues use noise limiters?

Well, the only way to know is to ask. Noise limiters are used at venues in both rural and built-up areas. Rural venues sell themselves on being located in quiet and idyllic places. These are the kind of places which like to retain their peace and tranquility and can often be the subject of noise complaints from neighbours, so restrictions and limiters may be used.

City centre venues may also have restrictions in place. Although they are naturally busier places, many city centre buildings have been developed as residential properties, so don’t assume your venue has no restrictions.

How do I find out if a venue has noise restrictions?

It might not be clear from their promotional material - the only way to to be certain is to ask. Don’t sign a contract with venues or performers until you know for sure. But if you've already booked a venue, that's all right. The show can still go on!

Does it matter to me if a venue uses a noise limiter?

It all comes down to how the limiter is set and what kind of music you want to put on. Limiters set at 100dB are probably fine, even for rock bands, but a limit of 85dB is likely to be too quiet.

Either way, professional bands have no wish to play too loud. They understand that there's a balance between playing loud enough to be energetic and get people dancing, and being so noisy that guests begin to leave the room!

If the noise limit is too low for an electrified band, some groups (for example Monroe Band and The Aesthetic), are willing to perform with acoustic instruments and use percussion instead of full drums in order to reduce overall volume. This can help you get past strict limits and still have great live music. 

Monroe Acoustic

Some musicians won’t perform at venues which use noise limiters - they believe it affects the quality of their performance and would rather not play at all than be distracted worrying about how loud their music is. It’s your responsibility to make sure that the venue is suitable for the band you book before signing any contracts.

Talk with us and we can give you more detailed advice for your booking.

DG’s Top Tips

* Ask your venue directly if it uses a noise limiter or has noise restrictions in place before making your booking.
* Check whether your chosen band will perform with a noise limiter or restrictions in place before making your booking.
* Take time to consider which is more important to your big day if there is a problem - the band or the venue.

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About DG Music

DG Music is a professional Music Agency providing bands and musicians for private events and public performances.

The business has been operating since 2004 and is proud of the professional and friendly service it provides.

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