- How Loud Is A Rock Concert
1.1 Outdoor Concert
1.2 Indoor Concert
- Why Are Rock Concerts So Loud
- The Loudest Music Events In History
3.1 Manowar Concert – 139 DB
3.2 Kiss Concert – 136 DB
3.3 Motorhead Concert – 130 DB
3.4 AC/DC Concert – 130 DB
3.5 Led Zeppelin Concert – 130 DB
- Can Rock Concert Decibels Damage Your Hearing
- How To Protect Your Hearing During Music Events
5.1 Keep A Track Of Decibel Level
5.2 Choose Places Further Away From The Speakers
5.3 Use Hearing Aids
- How To Measure Rock Concert Decibel Level
If you’ve ever enjoyed live concerts, you’ve probably noticed the effects of loud music on your ears. From discomfort to tinnitus or temporary hearing loss, loud noise can have different negative effects on human hearing.
And, as it happens, this is especially true for rock music.
It’s safe to assume you’ve wondered ‘How loud is a rock concert?’ at least once. If you haven’t, you should have. To protect your hearing, you need to be aware of exposure to high noise levels and their potential consequences on your hearing health.
So, how many decibels is a rock concert and why are rock concerts so loud? That’s exactly what we’re going to find out in this article.
How Loud is a Rock Concert?
How loud a rock concert is will depend on where the concert is held. An answer to ‘How many decibels is a rock concert?’ depends on whether it is held in an outdoor or indoor space.
However, a rock concert can be very loud no matter the space. On average, rock concert decibel levels are between 90 and 120 dB.
This decibel level is concerning as it can threaten your hearing health. Sounds above 85 dB are considered harmful to human hearing. For this reason, you should treat exposure to such high decibel levels with caution.
Concerts are often held in outdoor spaces like stadiums or parks.
An outdoor rock concert may have lower decibel levels than an indoor concert. This is because sound vibrations reverberate less in outdoor venues since there are no walls or ceilings in outdoor spaces.
For this reason, rock concert decibels in outdoor venues range between 90 to 100 dB.
Indoor concerts are held in concert halls, festival tents, or music clubs.
In indoor venues, the rock concert decibel level will be higher. Music sounds louder in indoor spaces because they are reverberant spaces. This causes the energy of the sound to bounce around the space and add to the direct energy generated by the speakers, filling the room with the sound of music.
Indoor rock concert decibels range between 90 and 120 dB.
Why Are Rock Concerts So Loud?
Rock concerts are loud for several reasons.
The first reason is that the loudness is how musicians transmit their energy to the public. The louder the music, the more energy is sent into the crowd. Therefore, the more animated the crowd will be. And the more memorable the concert experience.
In fact, loud music is believed to cause the release of endorphins. Musicians play on that.
Rock concerts are often loud also because of the venue. Depending on where they are held, different spaces have different reverberation levels. Sound technicians sometimes need to turn the volume up to avoid or suppress reverberation and generate quality sound.
The instruments used in rock concerts also play an important part in why rock concerts are so loud. Instruments such as drums or electric guitars can get very loud (above 115 dB). In turn, the other performing artists often need to turn their volume up, too. That is if they want to be heard over the instruments.
Last but not least, rock concerts are loud because they are rock concerts. Rock musicians have a history of using loud music as part of the experience they create for their audiences. Plus, ask any rock music enthusiast. They’ll tell you that when it comes to rock music, the louder it is the better.
The Loudest Music Events in History
Although most rock concerts are very loud, some were particularly loud. So loud in fact that they’ve made history. From heavy metal to thrash metal performers and some in between, here are the rock concert decibel levels that have left a mark:
Manowar Concert – 139 dB
Manowar is a heavy metal band that holds the record for ‘World’s Loudest Band’. Believe it or not, that record exists. And they hold it.
The rock concert decibel level they reached is 139 dB. This was back in 1984 in Hanover, Germany.
Lucky for the audience of that performance, they were not around to hear it. The decibel level was recorded in a pre-performance sound check. This way, Manowar was distinguished with a notable record of loudness, and no one’s hearing was damaged in the process.
Kiss Concert – 136 dB
Kiss managed to ruffle a few feathers during a live concert in 2009 in Ottawa, Canada. No one knows if they were attempting to break the record of loudest rock concert. However, their music performance reached a decibel level of 136 dB.
That is the actual threshold of pain.
Pain is what the venue neighbors must have felt since their numerous complaints led to the band having to turn down their volume mid-show.
Motorhead Concert – 130 dB
Thrash metal is known for being a very loud genre of rock music. The English thrash metal band Motorhead actually has an album called Everything Louder Than Everyone Else.
In February 1986 they were named ‘Loudest Band on Earth’ by Spin Magazine. The reason? Apparently, in 1984 their music managed to reach a decibel level of 130 dB. In turn, this led to the venue (Variety Theater in Cleveland) sustaining several damages like cracks in the ceiling.
AC/DC Concert – 130 dB
AC/DC are legends of loud rock music. It is said that the band played not one but several shows in the 1980s that reached decibel levels of +/-130 dB. In 2015 in Auckland, they actually started a dispute over rock concert decibel levels because their live performance could be heard over 4 miles away. It was measured at 103 dB.
Led Zeppelin Concert – 130 dB
The sound of Led Zeppelin’s heavy metal guitar sounds is legendary. For this reason, their concerts are often legendarily loud.
Although the band never spoke about their rock concert decibel levels, others did.
In 1969 in Canada a music critic referred to their music as “an earthquake of sound”. Rolling Stone magazine called the performance of “Whole Lotta Love” ‘the loudest live music act of 1970’. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) also took part in estimating the decibel level of Led Zeppelin concerts. Their measurements reached 130 dB.
Can Rock Concert Decibels Damage Your Hearing?
An over 14-minute exposure to decibel levels above 100 dB can cause hearing damage. A rock concert decibel level is between 90 and 120 dB. Therefore, the answer is yes. Rock concert decibels can damage your hearing.
After attending live concerts, you may have noticed some after-effects. Ringing in your ears and a temporary inability to hear properly are the most common ones. These physical manifestations are signs of impending permanent hearing damage or hearing loss.
Depending on how high the decibel level is, even a short-time exposure can be damaging. For instance, an over 2-hour exposure to decibel levels above 90 dB can lead to hearing damage. In the same way, an over 2-minute exposure to decibel levels above 110 dB can lead to hearing damage/loss.
The table below shows what exposure is recommended for different decibel levels and how noise causes damage:
How Rock Concert Decibels Can Damage Your Hearing
Your inner ear contains small hair cells. They are part of the auditory nerve and their role is to detect auditory signals and send them to the brain. However, long-term exposure to high levels of noise or short-term exposure to very high levels can damage these small hairs. Consequently, this causes temporary/permanent hearing damage/loss.
In many cases, there is no treatment for these issues.
The level of hearing damage/loss will depend on the decibel level of the sound and the duration of your exposure. Therefore, monitoring decibel levels and exposure time are vital for maintaining your hearing health.
How to Protect Your Hearing During Music Events
As any rock music fan knows, rock music concerts are meant to be loud. However, you can still enjoy a loud rock concert while maintaining your hearing health.
Here are some of the things you can do to keep your hearing safe at a rock concert:
Keep Track of Decibel Levels
Monitoring decibel levels is always a good idea. Not only at rock concerts. The easiest way to do this is by using an app or a sound level meter.
At concerts, you should move away from the speakers whenever sound levels measured where you are exceed 90 dB.
Choose Places Further Away from the Speakers
To avoid having to constantly monitor noise levels, you can choose a quieter spot from the start. Stand further away from the stage and as far as you can from the main speakers.
Use Hearing Aids
Hearing safety devotees have been trying to coin the phrase ‘Hearing Protection is Sexy!’
While sexy is not quite the word to describe them, hearing protection solutions such as earplugs and earmuffs are great. They offer protection from any discomfort, damage, or other hearing-impairment dangers at rock concerts and beyond.
How to Measure Rock Concert Decibel Levels
To measure rock concert decibel levels, use an app like Decibel Pro. It is a convenient way to track noise levels and know when you should limit your exposure to keep your hearing safe.
Apps like Decibel Pro are easy to use and always on hand. Simply download the app on your smartphone or tablet and place it close to the noise source to get professional-grade readings right on your screen.
To learn more about the Decibel app, click here.