Re: Loud enough??

Subject: Re: Loud enough??
From: David Worrall (
Date: Mon Mar 01 1999 - 15:32:00 EST

On Feb 28, 11:06pm, Jean-Marc Pelletier wrote:
> Subject: Re: Loud enough??
> ----------
> I think also unfortunately a few diffusers have suffered hearing loss and
> cannot judge acurately the amplitude at which they are projecting.
> Of course there is also the "thrill" of playing it loud, which is why the
> levels are so high at rock concerts and dance clubs.

We should all be warned - damage to the cochlea is mostly not evident
until years after. - like cancer from exposure to radiation.
Hearing damage is a major problem in our profession - a number of the
'old boys' of CM have serious problems now.
Does anyone remember John Chowning's keynote speech at the ICMC in
Tokoyo a few year back - it was about exactly this issue.
He will no longer sit in a hall and listen to an excessively loud
sound system, irrespectve of how goodd the piece might be.

When a work proports to be "about pain" and does so by inflicting it,
it is no longer just *about* ....

> It would be so easy though to adjust the amps so that even with all the
> faders way up on the mixing console the level do not exceed unreasonable
> levels anywhere in the room. Why is this never done?
I think that we judge loudspeaker loudness by the amount of distortion,
not by how loud the sound actually is. When we obtained very good loudspeakers
at ACAT, I noticed that the students started complaining of headaches etc
- they were turning the levels up until it was "loud enough" (ie starting
to distort). Turning the levels down made the headaches disappear
and yet all could still be heard with perfect clarity.

The problem arises with low-distortion amplifiers and loudspeakers.
The hearing system is tricked by such hi-fidelity!

> Dynamics is not so much about absolute amplitude as the difference between
> two levels.

I agree. On the odd occasions when I go to a concert of say stringX4 music,
the low sound levels always take me by surprise, and I can't hear
very much at all. Needless to say, after a couple of minutes my
hearing has adjusted itself to these limits and I can hear
all the subtle nuances perfectly well.


--it's warm and humid and autumn clouds gather the end of summer--

Head, Australian Centre for the Arts and Technology
Australian National University
President, Australasian Computer Music Association

GPO Box 804 Canberra Australia 2601 'phone: +61 2 6249.5640 Fax: +61 2 6247.0229 email: ___________________________________________________

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