Library

A CASE STUDY ON THE IMPACT LIVE EVENT SOUND LEVEL REGULATIONS HAVE ON SOUND ENGINEERING PRACTICE

Authors: 
A J Hill, J Burton

Audience safety and wellbeing has recently entered the spotlight, largely due to the ongoing work of the World Health Organization (WHO), namely their Make Listening Safe initiative1 . A central focus of this initiative is to develop an international regulatory framework for safe listening at live music events, planned for release in 2021 (a comprehensive review of existing audience sound level regulations and guidelines is presented in a recently published AES Technical Document 2 which has fed into the WHO work). In order for this regularity framework to be effective and widely-adopted, it not only has to specify appropriate noise dosage limits and core principles for sound system design that should be followed, but also has to ensure that the noise exposure monitoring is practical for the sound engineer mixing the show. While very large events may have a dedicated professional on hand to monitor and manage sound levels on- and off-site, most events’ sound level control will be generally left to the sound engineer. It is therefore imperative that the sound level monitoring procedure is accessible and understandable to sound engineers and allows them to manage sound levels effectively and efficiently while still delivering the best possible listening experience to the audience. This research focuses, therefore, on analyzing previously captured sound level measurements from recent tour and festival dates of a popular international touring act, looking for any effects the local sound level regulations may have had on overall sound level and live dynamic range. As all data analyzed in this work was generated by the same sound engineer mixing the same international touring act on (largely) the same sound system, differences in recorded levels will be due to a limited set of variables, namely: sound level regulations, venue characteristics and other event-specific circumstances. The first two parameters will be objectively examined while the third parameter will be commented on, where necessary.