Ok, it’s time for a bit of a rant.

Recently I’ve been doing a run of hotel and casino gigs. They require silent stage and minimum gear. No problem Helix direct to front of house, in-ear monitors for foldback, job done. There has been one issue with all these gigs though…limiters!

For whatever reason, complaints, management, money, these venues have installed limiters between the FoH desk and the PA and some are set to ridiculously low levels. I played one, or at least tried to play one, set to just 65db! 65db, that’s nothing. Thats ambient low level crowd noise. At another venue the tech informed me his limiter was set to 100db, which I highly doubted but went along with only to find that the microphone that measured the supposed db level from the PA was all of 6 feet from the speakers. So as you can imagine the limiter kept going off, even with cheers from the audience.

The thing that annoys me the most about this limiting is that it kills any kind of atmosphere there would have been had the volume been at an acceptable level. The music becomes a background thing, devoid of performance and energy. These venues seem to want to have live music, but don’t want it to make any noise. You can’t have it both ways! I’m not saying I want to play at Motorhead volumes everywhere, but acceptable gigging volume in all music venues. If volume in a venue is that much of a problem for the surrounding area maybe you shouldn’t have live music. Or maybe you should be investing in sound treatment to sound proof the venue instead of limiting the performance.

I used to turn up to gigs with my 100w Marshall, my drummer would take a huge kit, bass player with his 8×10 and a decent size PA and everyone would have a great time, crowd and venue included. Now though it seems to be how little noise can you make so as to not piss anyone off, very rock n roll.

Volume limiters limit performance, limit atmosphere, limit creativity, limit enjoyment, limit the experience and limit the amount of musicians and performers that will work in you venue. Stop using them. You either want live music or you don’t, make a choice and don’t half ass it by installing a limiter.

Rant over, for now.

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