Specialist organisers of barn dance bands, ceilidh bands and folk/dance/concert groups throughout the UK

© 2018 Jigs 'n' Reels

Jigs 'n' Reels, 'Homeleigh', Claphill Lane, Rushwick, Worcester WR2 5TP

Call or Text brief enquiry to 0788 788 7917

Ceilidhs, Barn dances and sound limiters – is this a problem ?

Really, there should not be a problem with a sound limiter – as long as the limiter has been sensibly installed in terms of its settings and positioning within the room. Some sound limiters at some venues have given cause for concern with bands. So we do offer a few words of caution. Please read on !

Let’s just clarify what a sound limiter is. It is a sound-sensitive device installed in a venue to make sure that certain sound decibel ratings/levels are not exceeded. It prevents the continuation of sound above the set levels by cutting off, temporarily, the electrical power source to the PA equipment emitting the sound (in the case of bands, at any rate!)
Generally, the intention is to limit any harmful effects on ear-drums and prevent excessive sound levels reaching neighbours or others close by who do not want the music of others interrupting their own activities. Some hotels will fit them for the benefit of guests trying to sleep in bedrooms whilst a function continues elsewhere in the hotel. All of this makes perfect common sense.

However, sometimes the sound level settings on a limiter can be set very low which some may consider ‘dulls’ the atmosphere which everybody is trying to create, especially for a party celebration. And many people book our bands for just such an event! It may be that the limiter has been deliberately fitted to achieve this result – or it may be that it was fitted by somebody who, quite honestly, did not really know what they were doing! Our advice would be to try and check out the effects of the sound limiter before booking the venue by doing a ‘dummy run’, if possible, with a portable sound system – or, ask the venue to give you a demonstration as to just how loud any music can be before the limiter cuts off the power supply. Your own common sense will tell you a lot – though do bear in mind that a room full of people will soak up more of the sound than when the room is empty. And if somebody at the venue says that the limiter is ‘no problem...bla – bla’.......remember..........he probably didn’t install it in the first place!

Many sound limiters have something similar to a ‘traffic lights’ warning system – and if the red light stays on for more than, say, 5 seconds the power will cut and stop the music. Band members who are constantly looking at the warning lights won’t be fully focused on the dancers on the floor (which is where their real attention should be). And to have the music stop during the middle of the dancing is of no benefit to any body!
And, if the warning lights are placed above the heads of the musicians – or worse, behind their backs (and this has been known!) – you will have a very disgruntled band!

There are even some bands who will flatly refuse a booking if they know that a sound limiter has been fitted. Clearly it would be totally impractical for all band members to do a ‘dummy run’ months ahead of the event. Rather than run the risk, therefore, of encountering a sudden loss of electric power during the event (which may damage sensitive and expensive equipment),the band may well decide against taking the booking.

Let’s remember that the vast majority of barn dance and ceilidh bands are not The Rolling Stones on tour! They have no wish to deafen the dancers/listeners (or themselves) and are experienced in knowing what are acceptable sound levels which encourage the right atmosphere without shattering the ears of others. Besides, the master volume control on the PA system can always be turned down if necessary to accommodate. In our experience, band members can dictate sensible sound levels simply by using their common sense........which does not, unfortunately, always apply to sound limiters!