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Maximum SPL & Sound level meters


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Does anyone know if there is a legal limit to how loud music can be played? I have tried searching on the internet but cant seem to find much info. It seems to be a general opinion that 98db is the limit.

Is there a maximum safe exposure time?

Also, any sugestions on getting a sound level meter? Analouge or digital, good makes, bad makes, where to get one etc?


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There is no national limit, however venues and local authorities may impose their own limits (UK) also enviromental health may have a say if the levels impact upon other people.

There are recommend safe dosage levels (do search).


In Switzerland there is a national limit of 93db (if free hearing protection is not provided)


RS do a range of meters at several prices

A popular one was made for Tandys, which was ok to give you an idea, however they were far from accurate.

At the moment I cannot recall recommended brands, however if you need one for enforcement I would make sure it has been calibrated, it might also be worth checking with your local enviromental health dept..




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There is Legislation on the subject


The Noise at Work Regulations 1989


However the is a new European Directive which should be come legislation in this country by 2006 which intriduces some changes, To quote the HSE,


Currently (under the Noise at Work Regulations 1989) the first action level (link to heading Action levels) is a daily personal noise exposure of 85 dB(A), the second action level is a daily personal noise exposure of 90 dB(A), and the peak action level is a peak sound pressure of 200 pascals.


When the Physical Agents (Noise) Directive is implemented with new regulations in early 2006, the first action level will be 80 dB(A) and a peak value of 112 pascals, the second action level will be 85 dB(A) and 140 pascals, and there will be a limit value of 87 dB(A) and 200 pascals. The limit value will take into account the reduction afforded by hearing protection.



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It's also worth noting that any measurements are (amongst other things) dependent on where they are being taken from. The H+S@W obvioulsy applies to people working, i.e. bar,door, technical staff. My Interpretation (AND THIS IS IN NO WAY SAYING IT IS THE CORRECT THING TO DO OR A LAW OF ANY KIND) is to ensure a "safe" noise level in areas where staff are working, i.e. the bars, and provide adequate protection (big ear defenders) for those that need to be "in harms way", for example a security bloke/blokess working the pit. The wish of the paying punter who wants to be deafened must be balanced with the hung-over crew who want a nice quiet nap ;)


In our venue we have free ear-plugs available to all staff, and (AFAIK) the punters too- available on request. The biggest noise problem we have encountered is actually local (and not-so local) residents registering complaints- this has meant a great deal of effort and money has been spent on noise-proofing to keep the local area from hearing the PA.

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