How loud should the music be?

Music volume levels at events is a contentious issue and one that needs consideration and constructive discussion. One on the biggest issues entertainers are faced with, is venue restrictions that are unreasonable and the table placement of parents and grandparents close to the music and dance floor, whilst friends and younger guests are the furthest from the music. The difference in volume from the music source and 10 metres away is 20db, which is quite a bit and very noticeable.

John Middleton DJ/MC Celebrant sat down with Audiologist – Elise Champion and was interesting to hear her perspective regarding appropriate levels.

“The maximum safe level of dB for any entertainment venue is 115, but that doesn’t mean people should push it to the max just because they can. Many venues need to protect their staff as prolonged exposure to extremely loud sound will cause damage. The issue also lies in the sound intensity, because it’s not just the music that is contributing to the noise environment. If you push your music to 100dB then people will shout to have conversations, people on the dancefloor will yell with the music, all this contributes to the sound environment and increases the sound intensity. Sound isn’t invisible, it’s actually a physical force. This is why some sounds scare you because you hear the sound but also feel the pressure change in the air. A noise that is 100dB at one meter will have an intensity of only 1/100 as much at ten meters. That’s 2 bels, or 20 decibels less since a bel corresponds to a factor of ten. So at 10 meters, the sound is 80 dB.

What is the trend?

We are seeing a trend from some venues across Adelaide who are controlling volume levels to a point it’s becoming a real issue and effecting the atmosphere and vibe at events…..and in some cases have installed an in-house PA that is not up to professional standards and sub standard.

Middleton Events has performed at many events (25,000) across most venues in SA and across Australia and I completely understand their compliance around contractors coming onsite, as it can be a nightmare.

Some venues have special circumstances and volume level restrictions with their liquor licenses given housing residents close by and in-house guests. Contractors must respect their rules and policies……however there are some ‘non negotiables’.

This needs to be disclosed PRE booking, not AFTER booking. Don’t take bookings to only then enforce restrictions by killing the party!

I’m not saying you shouldn’t play your music loud and have fun, just consider the potential risk of sound intensity”.

Do your homework and make sure you ask the right questions given your expectations for your event.

Is 90db loud enough?

Here’s my view around ‘90db’ max volume levels being set by some venues and we need to put this into perspective.

A whisper is about 30 dB, normal conversation is about 60 dB and conversations can reach 85-90 db with a tiled floor venue with 80-100 guests. A motorcycle engine running is about 95 dB….so 90 db for a party is quiet and below practical levels.

Middleton Events policy
  • Our policy (Middleton Events) is to play around 100db (unless circumstances change for larger outdoor events). This is equivalent to a lawn mower, or the use of an outboard motor. This of course is when the party starts after speeches and all formalities.
We Recommend

Whilst we are employed by our clients and they’re contracted to the venue, I would suggest you address this with the venue BEFORE you book, or at the very least BEFORE the event. Most entertainers only want to ensure their service surpasses your expectations and to ensure a memorable event.

Middleton Events uses Bose sound equipment to optimise the performance without the ear bleeding sound from conventional powered speakers on stands. See our equipment here and we’ll MEET YOU ON THE DANCE FLOOR