How To Deal With Sound Limiters

If you have been looking at venues for your wedding or event, you may have come across sound limiters. While sound limiters are not a new device, they are popping up in more and more venues across the country. Some are put in place due to the proximity of their neighbours, others are fitted due to noise complaints, while some new venues have them fitted right from the start with the intention of avoiding any potential problems that they might run into.

What Does It Do?

Sound limiters contain microphones that listen to the noise within a room and provide a reading in decibels (dB). Each limiter will be set to a different ‘limit’ which your venue should be aware of. Commonly this will be somewhere between 90-110dB. The sound limiter itself can come in many shapes and sizes, however they usually follow a traffic light system which helps the band understand how loud they are at any given time. If only green lights are showing then the band can continue exactly as they are. Once an amber light appears the band will know not to push the volume any further. If you see red lights then the band are exceeding the noise threshold. If this continues for a set duration (usually between 3 and 10 seconds) then power to the band will be cut off – which can kill the vibe of the party pretty quickly, so let’s try to avoid that!

How Loud Will My Band Be?

Generally speaking, a function band will sit somewhere around 95-105dB. This will vary depending on the type of band you have hired. For example, an acoustic duo or jazz band are likely to be much quieter than an indie rock or 8-piece soul band. We understand that if you have never had to think about it, then conceptualising what 65dB verses 105dB might be like is quite tricky, so check our decibel graph below (who doesn’t love a good graph?!) to help you get an idea of where certain sounds rank on the scale.
Screen Shot 2020-02-25 at 19.47.30

Our Five Steps To Deal With Sound Limiters

  1. Does the venue actually have a sound limiter? This should be a question that you ask venues when on your first visit there.

  2.  What is the dB limit? Find out what the venues sound limiter is set to and what happens if this is exceeded. (Bonus tip: make sure you ask the venue if their sound limiter is serviced regularly. Unserviced limiters can give inaccurate readings causing additional issues for the band).

  3. Share this information with the band. The band might have steps they need to take to accommodate for the limiter, but won’t be able to do so if they don’t know that it’s there!

  4. Put the band in contact with the venue directly. Venues often provide guides and helpful insights about how their specific limiter works and the best way to deal with it. This also means that your venue and band can sort everything behind the scenes without you having to worry.

  5. Enjoy the party! If you have read through the information above and followed these steps then there is no reason that the sound limiter should dampen your party spirit.

What Do I Need To Do?

Our biggest piece of advice is to speak to you band. They will have worked with sound limiters before and will be able to advise you on what they can do to help stay within the limiters restrictions. They might even have played at the venue before and will be able to reassure you if you have any concerns. Remember, the people you are hiring are professional musicians and have dealt with almost every obstacle that can be thrown at them – so relax, you’re in safe hands.

About the Author Adam Edgeworth

Director of Anthem Music Agency