A Naturally Soundproof Music Venue

Music venue noise control and noise exposure

Noise control

Appropriate building site selection is important to effective noise control and to minimizing environmental noise [1]. This is important for both, noise entering a building from the outside, and for noise from the inside of the building disturbing neighbours.

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A British music group took this concept of noise control to the extreme, as described in this BBC article “Underground music centre gets backing”.

Plans were approved at a meeting of Wiltshire council to change the use of an unused underground communication centre and a bunker into a music venue.

Ross Sanderson, of the Sound Emporium, told the BBC the venue was "unique" and "inspiring". "What better place to have a music venue than underground, with the natural soundproofing of the earth plus between 5ft-10ft thick concrete walls?". This is the ultimate in noise control.

Rock bands can practice in this underground bunker as loud as they want, without disturbing anyone. The underground space is also big enough to hold moderately sized concerts.

Noise Exposure​

However, the musicians and the audience should not get carried away with excessively loud music. Even relatively quiet “rock band level” loudness (about 90 dBA) can lead to hearing damage with prolonged exposure, especially for the musicians. At full “rock band” loudness, sound exposure should be limited as per OSHA noise exposure guidelines [2].

​OSHA permissible noise exposure times

Sound-Pressure Level, dBA

Maximum Daily Exposure, Hours

85

16

90

8

92

6

95

4

97

3

100

2

102

1.5

105

1

110

0.5

115

0.25 or less

100 dBA noise level is not unusual during a rock concert. Audience can exceed the recommended maximum noise exposure during a single concert, leading to a temporary hearing loss. A rock band musicians, however, are at serious risk of permanent hearing damage. They definitely should wear noise dosimeter during rehearsals and performances to measure and limit their noise exposure.

References

[1] Noise Control Manual for Residential Buildings (1997) by David A. Harris (McGraw Hill) ; page 12

[2] Master Handbook of Acoustics, Sixth Edition (2015) by Everest & Pohlmann (McGraw Hill Education); page 66

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About the Author Ivan Koval

The author is the publisher of the Soundproofing.Expert website. He is a soundproofing and building acoustics consultant working in Toronto and GTA, Ontario, Canada. Telephone (416) 471-2130

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