A Really Old Dude Complains About Music That Is TOO Loud

Before we attempt a serious discussion, let’s get that riotous joke out of the way. You know the one. Because it’s so damn funny. ROFLMAO funny.

If it’s too loud, then you’re too old!

Sorry. Took me a couple of minutes to compose myself, and it takes a while for an old guy to get up off the floor.

Issue 1. There is “loud” and there is “too loud.” Music that pounds your chest and damages your eardrums isn’t better than music at lower volume; it’s just louder — and potentially damaging. Especially when you are at a small venue, twisting the knobs to Nigel Tufnel levels (that’s 11, for you non-Spinal Tap fans) doesn’t enhance the music.

In fact, several detrimental things happen. Most importantly, lyrics become indecipherable. Horn solos are often blurred. Even guitar solos get buried. Sometimes all you can hear is bass. And we’ve all experienced that twinge when electronic keyboards make you hold your ears.

Louder isn’t better; it’s only louder. Band members wearing ear protection devices rarely have any idea about this problem, but somebody should tell them. Whether sound engineers just have damaged hearing from years on the job or whether they just don’t care, somebody needs to keep them in check.

And you shouldn’t have to scream to order at the bar or ask you friend a question. Also, given the number of people who are bringing children, including babies and toddlers to shows, this is an issue. Yes, some responsible parents have headphones for their children, but by no means do all.

Issue 2. Let’s pretend, just for a moment, that we live in an ideal world where people come to listen to music rather than talk over it. In this ideal world (which we know does not exist), the people would like to be able to hold conversations during set breaks. Unfortunately, this is often when sound engineers crank their music up as loud and sometimes louder than during the live sets.

Responsible club owners should see that there is no excuse for this at all.

Sound engineers: dial it back a bit.

Musicians: one of you or your manager or a trusted friend must go out into the venue to see how the sound is. And then talk to the sound engineer. Unless, of course, you’re running your own board. Then: dial it back a bit.

Club owners: this is about ear health and better business.

If you think that the music must be played at ear-splitting levels to sound “good,” perhaps there’s something wrong with your music.

Oh, right.

If it’s too loud, then you’re too old!





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