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Volume limiters

09/09/2015

Normally a real bug bear for working bands, the dreaded volume limiter is a device that some venues install (often at the council's request) in order to control the volume of bands and DJs. They work by measuring the loudness of the room, and then cutting off all power to the performance area if it exceeds the given threshold for too long. This is normally around 95-100 decibels.

95db can be very difficult to stay under, especially with a live band. Drums in particular are very difficult to keep under this level, even with a disciplined drummer - a single hit of the snare drum can be enough to trigger it.

We recently played a wedding with a sound limiter, which we were prepared for - but when we arrived and found the device (calibrated to 95db) was located a few inches from the main PA speakers, we were starting to worry whether it would even be possible to play! 

We had prepared for the event by rehearsing with a decibel meter monitoring the levels. Some steps we took included using mesh heads on the drums (to deaden the acoustic volume) and running all guitars through the PA for full control over the volume with a single volume knob. 

Well, fortunately it paid off. Despite our concerns we managed to play the wedding unhindered by the sound limiter, and it ended up being a great night. We were actually grateful for the challenge in the end - we certainly don't want to be turning away gigs because we can't play quiet enough, so it was good to know that even in the toughest of circumstances we can pull it off. It's unlikely we'll encounter a tougher situation than that!

It's quite difficult for a live band to play quietly, especially rock music. But playing at the appropriate volume for any event is important, and it's good to know we can do it :)

If you're looking for a wedding band in Surrey and are worried about your venue's noise policy, or you know that they have a volume limiting device installed, speak to us - it will probably be fine.

The decision was made for me when drummer Ben reminded me of the old Marshall 2x12 cabinet that was sitting in his garage. Despite being a 2x12, it's actually in a massive 4x12 enclosure. It's really sturdy (and heavy), so I figured I'd pimp it up to being a 4x12. If it's that big already, I may as well stick another couple of speakers in it!

My plan is to use the existing two 8ohm speakers, and add two more. Two lots of series-wired 2x12s running in parallel will bring it back to 8ohms total, which is exactly what I need to match my amp. I've already got a spare 8ohm Celestion Vintage 30 (currently residing in my first amp, a Trace Elliot Supertramp combo). So I just need one more to finish it.

I'm also going to tart it up. It's very old and battered, so I'm going to re-tolex it in green (to match the amp that'll be sitting on it - a Fender Hotrod Deluxe in ltd. green tolex). I'll also replace all the corners and handles, and add castors to make shifting it about a bit more bearable.

Here are a few 'before' pics, including one where I've stripped it bare (the tolex peeled off really easily):


Speaker cab - before
Speaker cab - before (front)
Speaker cab - after dismantlement
Once I've finished it, I'll hopefully be building a 2x12 cab from scratch. Then at least I'll have the option if I'm feeling lazy!


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