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Author Topic: How LOUD is your band? (A follow-up)  (Read 6369 times)
slejhamer
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« on: September 30, 2009, 06:39:29 PM »

Just wondering how loud you get during services.  I had thought we were pushing the volume level a little bit (relative to the traditional service, at least,) but recently our pastor told us to turn it up a notch or two!  He says the congregation seems to be more involved when there's more energy coming from the worship team, and that the message is better "felt."   So, how loud do you get?  Can you be too loud in a Sunday morning service?  (We're acoustic pop / rock to light gospel; Chris Tomlin to Hillsong to Israel Houghton.)  Any gear-related concerns when turning up the levels, like a need for compression or things like that?
« Last Edit: November 19, 2009, 09:46:38 AM by slejhamer » Logged

Mitch
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« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2009, 07:16:53 PM »

 At one time I felt that our Worship band was entirely to loud. Please don't misunderstand me,I personally like music loud, especially when I am playing it, but it was actually pushing the point of being to loud by my standards.
 
 I am thinking there might have been some complaints because for the past few months the volume has been lowered and I think it sounds much better now. The volume was only lowered a slight touch but it took that edge off that I felt was making it to loud and I also feel it improved our sound.

 I think the bottom line should be when setting the volume in a church is to take into consideration that there are probably people there with sensitive hearing, young children and babies that really don't need to be exposed to music that is starting to push the line of being extremely loud, and it is NOT a rock concert but a gathering to worship and praise God.

Dave
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Eddy
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« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2009, 07:07:24 AM »

We are NOT loud at all. The drummer is inside a Clearsonic cage. I play DI, most of the time.
The electric guitar amps are mic'd but not loud. I'd say the loudest instrument in our ensemble is the grand piano.

The soundcrew says that the meter reads between 85-95 db during the loudest portions of music. So it's not "loud" by any measurable standard.

I suppose one of the bets ways to illustrate how loud our band is. Our IEM's went out a couple weeks ago, so I've been using an amp to monitor. (signal is bass to pedal board, board goes to the DI, with one line to FOH the other to my amp).
My bass amp that I'm using in the application is a Fender Bassman 25. It's a 30 watt amp with one ten inch speaker. My volume sits at about .75. That's less than 1 on a scale of 1-10.

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slejhamer
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« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2009, 04:52:03 AM »

Thanks guys. 

Yeah, I'm not talking about rock concert loud, just loud for what one might expect in a Sunday morning service.

I think it's that "edge" Dave mentions that I'm worried about;  my opinion is we're already there, and pushing it further is going to hurt the sound. (Our sound people are very inexperienced; I've spent a lot of time with them just to get a 1/2-way decent balance between the main PA speakers and the stage monitors.)

I guess we'll have to deal with some trial and error experimentation ...
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Mitch
1954bassman
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« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2009, 09:19:16 AM »

How loud you ask. So most of you know I inherited the soundman / tech job at our church about a year ago. Our church runs about 450 each service. 9am service runs 85 to 90dB at the back where the open sound booth is, second service - 11am - I run about 90 to 95dB. 95dB where I am setting translates in about 100 to 102 if you are setting in direct line with the center cluster. I have found that warming up our system with lows while rolling back certain highs allows a "louder' mix, without being so offensive to the 'turn-it-down' crowd'.

We use Avioms for the musicians, and floor wedges for the WL and singers. The drummer is in a plexi room. No amps on the platform. The drummers are young, so they are still loud, even with the room. Stage volume runs about 85 or 90 where I am sitting, so it is still somewhat of a problem. Our pastor says we are getting ready to build a room (a real room) with a riser for the drums. That has got to help.

A lot of times, volume issues can be worked out with EQ.

Mark
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slejhamer
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« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2009, 06:49:48 AM »

What kind of SPL meters are you guys using?  Are the cheap ones from Radio Shack usable?  I can see something like that being a help ...

Good point about EQing; thanks.

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Mitch
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« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2009, 10:37:59 AM »

In general, a sound meter will give you some feedback as to what your FOH volume is like.

However, you should take into consideration that not all rooms are created equal.

Some venues are so quiet, you really CAN hear a pin drop on stage.

Other venues have so much noise from traffic, lights, HVACs, common walls with other parts of the church that a simple "XX is the correct sound pressure for worship" is overly simplistic.

NOT without use, but it does not tell the whole story.

Like 1954bassman alluded, EQ'ing can make a HUGE difference. And an inexperienced sound tech will struggle using relative volume settings to try to solve EQ'ing issues.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2009, 02:32:04 PM by CRBMoA » Logged

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tank
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« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2009, 12:15:51 PM »

At one time some of the folks in our church were complaining about the drums being to loud.  We have a blended service at 8:10 and a contemporary service at 10:45,  so needless to say the majority of the complaints were coming from the early service.  Our worship leader tried to tone it down using a lexan shield and such but there was always some complaints. Not enough to cause them to not come to worship the Lord but some just the same.  Our church only seats about 250 to 300 so we're not in a very large room.  The worship leader finally came up with the perfect solution.  A set of Roland electronic drums.  Now the drummers are happy and the congregation couldn't be happier. Cheesy

Tank
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Walk by Faith
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« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2009, 02:34:53 PM »

Yeah, the sound floor will never go below the volume of the live drum kit. We have our drummer in a cage, but not an airtight isolation booth, so there is still bleed thru and splash noise bouncing around, but now with delay! Grin
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Brim
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« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2009, 06:26:20 PM »

Loud. We try very hard to dial it back but it's hard.

The reason why we're going to an Avoim system, to get all the amps off the stage. Drummer is already in a booth but the sound bleeds for sure. We're going put the guitar amps in a separate room off the stage to retain the "mic'd" sound.
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slejhamer
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« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2009, 06:30:14 PM »

a simple "XX is the correct sound pressure for worship" is overly simplistic.

NOT without use, but it does not tell the whole story.

Like 1954bassman alluded, EQ'ing can make a HUGE difference. And an inexperienced sound tech will struggle using relative volume settings to try to solve EQ'ing issues.


Oh yes, very good points.  I was thinking more in terms of balancing stage and FOH levels at a very basic level, as sometimes they get out of whack ... our sound team isn't the most experienced.  But yes, EQ will be vital.  

As far as drums, we have a Roland V-drum set, though I think the drummers tend to set the drum monitor at levels at least as loud as the small acoustic set we used to have, so we're often competing to be heard ...   in-ears would be good for us, but that idea was nixed a while ago by those in charge.

I think what we really need is a very experienced sound person to come in;  there was talk that the church might be willing to pay someone, but they've been holding out for volunteers.  No luck with that approach, yet. 
« Last Edit: October 05, 2009, 06:32:07 PM by slejhamer » Logged

Mitch
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« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2009, 08:16:07 AM »

Not to be a thread hog, but I have been through what you are going through.

One thing I found was that if I brought in an outside 'Expert', a man with a pedigree, and asked him to repeat what I have been telling the team about how to set up their Aviom mixes, where different instruments should sit in the mix, working to keep monitor levels low and sparse, etc., they will accept the 'new' info as gospel.

No man is a prophet in is hometown, but that doesn't mean you can't hire one! Cheesy
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JohnH
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« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2009, 06:23:39 PM »

We're not allowed to be loud.  I can't even hear my bass most of the time (I'm gonna try a Rolls PM351 so at least I can hear myself.)
There is a big ratio between the volume of the vocalists and the instruments.  Vocalists are much louder so that the congregation sang sing along with the vocalists.  Instruments are kind of an afterthought. 

I'd love a sound level meter to compare the worship team to the organ and choir, especially on Hallelujah Chorus Sunday. Wink
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danders
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« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2009, 01:28:29 PM »

I honestly don't know.  I have thought a simple SPL meter might be helpful in terms of having a consistent level between different sound guys but we don't currently have one.  We have an interesting situation in which the pastors generally want the FOH volume louder than the levels the sound guys typically are comfortable running it at.

Stage volume varies greatly with who and what is playing on any given week.  Last week, we had my bass, an electric guitar, and a keyboard all with their own amp/cab combination on stage.  Combine that with accoustic drums, and a grand piano, and floor monitors pumping out high levels of three vocalists and an accoustic guitar and I found things uncomfortably loud on stage.   Our sound guy was perplexed and even commented that stage volume was sufficient for the room.  I've heard that the FOH has to be 10 db louder than stage for clarity and it already was louder than what our sound guy is comfortable with. As an aside, this particular sound guy does like things very quiet.  I use an amp and cab as a monitor on stage and it is pretty common for the sound guys to remove me from what is being amplified FOH but I found they also managed to make sure I wasn't in the recording either.  I try to keep my levels on stage fairly quiet, it doesn't help though that the worship leader likes to hear a fair amount of bass on stage.  This past week, I physically had to move during a song to try to move out of the direct line of the keyboard monitor.  The last voicing change she did made the monitor loud enough to both be a significant distraction and to prevent me from hearing what I was playing.  On stage, things sounded good even though a bit loud. I have often said that the best sound in the building is what we hear on stage.  I have no idea how it sounded out front - my youngest said it sounded "pretty good" but that may have been more a comment on the guest worship leader than anything else. 

EQ has been a particularly sore subject with me, in part because I have seen our board set to boost low, mid and high frequencys on the same channels.  Messing with EQ can be a very good thing if done for the right reasons but you kind of need to know what you're doing and the general rule of cutting what you've got too much of rather than boosting should be followed the majority of the time.  There was an article in the last Worship Bassist Magazine that talked about trying to identify the natural tuning of your sanctuary and I played around a little before practice last night trying to do that.  I think it only makes sense to not contribute to frequencies that are particularly resonant in our building; it feels like I'm part of the clarity problem if I don't try to avoid those.  I didn't get very far, mainly because other people showed up just when I was starting out and we ended up talking about what I was trying to do instead of actually doing it.  I'll try to play with that again.

Next week we have just bass, piano, an accoustic guitar and a flute so it should be much quieter on stage but I still don't know how that will translate into FOH volume.

JohnH - we kind of have the same deal going in that the vocalist (and primarily the lead vocalist) is cranked significantly higher in volume than anything else.  I think we can probably use some EQ help with that instead of just cranking the fader up.  There have been times where I can hear the lead vocalist clipping badly in the recording.
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1954bassman
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« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2009, 04:55:13 PM »

What kind of SPL meters are you guys using?  Are the cheap ones from Radio Shack usable?  I can see something like that being a help ...

Good point about EQing; thanks.



yea, I just use the inexpensive Radio Shack dB meter. I also used a room analizer to help me on the peaky EQ frequencies.

Mark
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