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How loud does your bass need to be?

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#21 3ll3d00d


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Posted 08 August 2016 - 09:44 PM

I would have thought the local environment is a major contributing factor here. I can't realistically use all of the capability I have in the house because I live in a densely populated city, have neighbours who I respect (and who haven't minded on the occasions when it does get somewhat feisty in here!) and have ears I don't want to damage further (tinnitus which I would assume is derived from years of standing too close to PA speakers in clubs).


Normal viewing levels for me are ~ -10 (bass has a ~4-5dB rise by the bottom end), -5 probably about as loud as it ever goes for normal film viewing). No idea what that equates to on the scale referenced in the original post.  

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#22 SME


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Posted 10 August 2016 - 05:51 AM

It's interesting to see the variety of views and responses here.  I like that different people interpreted the question a bit differently.  Like Kvalsvoll, I tend to think about max SPL more in terms of short term peaks, and I agree that 130 dB is pretty good.  But I was surprised that the noise ordinance I posted about was based on minute long average levels, and even more surprised that Bassnectar deemed 123 dB, measured this way, to be insufficient for his creative expression.


I found a recording of one of the Bassnectar concerts at Red Rocks that caused complaints on YouTube.  I'm fairly certain that the audio was remixed with much lower bass levels.  What's not clear is how much compression was added for the remix vs. the live event.  I'm very curious, because I think it would make a big difference between me enjoying the event (despite having to wear ear plugs the whole time) and just being annoyed and bored before going home feeling like I spent an 8 hour day handling the worlds biggest power sander.  But because all the 2 channel stuff from the artist is crushed to hell with whimpy bass, I'll never know his appeal without actually going to one of his events.


I did once go to a live Shpongle DJ set in my area.  Shpongle is EDM, but more on the ambient / psy-ambient / psy-trance side.  I was a big fan when they first got started.  Anyway, I think that live event had bass that might have hovered in the 120s dB for a while.  Unfortunately, the bass was extremely bloated and muddy (probably due to the room acoustics) to the point that it seemed to play way behind the music in time.  As for the mids and highs, they were so loud as to be un-listenable.  I honestly couldn't tell if it was the system or my ears or both that were clipping all to hell, to the point that I struggled to discern the tunes of songs I knew well.  It was still grating even with fingers in the ears.  Afterwards, it sounded like I had a few heavy towels wrapped around my head, and it took days for my hearing to fully recover.  That was the last time I went to any live sound event without hearing protection, and I'm very thankful I didn't suffer worse.  Even with hearing protection, I can't say I'm inclined to go to another one of those events again.


On the flip side, I bought the recently released Shpongle "Live at Red Rocks" BD.  Can I just say wow!  For anyone who likes that sort of music, I highly recommend it.  There are some very talented musicians performing there (along with a few who maybe hope to be some day).  The mastering reminds me a lot of the sound in the "Metallica - Through The Never One", at least the YouTube version.  (Shame on me, I still need to buy that BD.)  The natural ambiance of Red Rocks sounded very authentic, and there just seemed to be no shortage of dynamics in the mix with hits getting bigger and bigger toward the end.  I played it at a "-3" because it was starting to make my front stage Hsu HC-1 speakers cry.  I don't doubt it could go well above reference with my upgraded speakers, but I'm waiting until I'm done with some more upgrades before I watch it again.  :)  Through that BD, I saw and heard Shpongle the way I always wanted to hear them but never could.  Sadly, I don't know if I'll find another recording of them that brings them to life like that.


The ironic thing is that the real-life version may have been deafeningly loud to the point of being unintelligible just like the live event I went to.  I'll probably never know.


I wonder who if anyone is doing the long-term exposure studies to figure out how much bass it takes to cause hearing loss.  Hopefully it's pretty high because I don't think most forms of hearing protection do much for bass.

#23 MemX


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Posted 10 August 2016 - 01:35 PM

Great post ^^^



Sad to say that I've not been to many music events, but I can definitely relate to the comments.  


I have been to an under-18s Jungle event (when I wuz young), which had something like a 20k soundsystem in what was effectively a village hall, and the inescapable, excessive bass was doing my head in after a while because my lungs were just vibrating out of my chest in every room in the building.  (The fact there were seemingly 7 year olds smoking did not exactly provide a 'quality' ambiance either...)


I have also been to one of the superclubs in Ibiza once (I think it was Space, I'm pretty sure it wasn't Pasha) and while the music was literally crystal clear so didn't feel that loud once you were in there for 5 minutes and acclimatised, when we got out and into the cab, it was like we were wearing those enormous ear defenders and had to shout at each other.


I'm surprised I'm not more deaf TBH but I seem to be able to hear to about 20kHz on those online test things, so perhaps I've been lucky.  It's just the raging tinnitus and intermittent ringing/deafness after loud noise exposure that is the annoying thing nowadays...


Anyway, enough of my egocentric waffling.



Other than the Red Rocks issue discussed in this thread, I do sometimes wonder how many venues actually tests their volume levels for reasonable-ness.  The Shpongle event described above sounds like it would clearly not pass any Health and Safety tests if they were actually enforced.

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