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Hearing Blog

Music To My Ears

March 22, 2023

I personally Love to see live performers.  It doesn’t matter if it is at a sporting event, performing art center or a concert…I just love the total experience.  I must admit that live performances can come with some hidden obstacles. 

To get the very best experience you need to be in the best seat or position possible for your specific needs and wants.  What comes to mind first is the best seat.   When you are picking seats to baseball game everyone has a place they want to sit.  Some pick behind home plate while others like first base line.  This is based on many reasons.  Maybe you played first base, or you were a pitcher.  Maybe you like to sit where your dad used to sit where your dad took you as a kid.  Maybe you just sit where your eyesight suits you the best.

Performing art and concert venue’s yield all new challenges.  Take for instance our wonderful performing arts center up at the college.  I know for certain that they have decibel monitors set up at the back of auditorium that are checked throughout the performances to stay within safe listening limits.  An interesting fact that I found out a couple years ago is that it is the visiting bands / performers run their own sound equipment.  While the college recommends keeping the decibel levels around 88.  I was at the CHER concert recently.  We sat facing the stage…to the left at the beginning of 2nd section from the stage.  The sound was perfect.  Even when she was belting it out briefly the sound only peaked to about 94 db.  It looked like most of the people loved the concert.  

So why are some performances so much louder than others?  Or they seem that way.  And why do some annoy us why others do not?  Well, first… at least in our entertainment venue; the performers are NOT spring chicken’s.  Due to the noise exposure of their career; they more than likely have hearing losses… probably the whole band has some degree of hearing loss.  Then they must wear ear monitors to hear themselves and their band mates correctly.

So, what does that mean?  For instance, everyone on stage has a monitor so they can hear everyone else.  The piano player has a monitor to hear the bass player and the other musicians.  The vocalists have a monitor so they can hear the band and each other.  All these monitors increase the volume onstage.  Plus, you are dealing with performers with hearing loss.  You know how your spouse with the hearing loss wears a hearing aid and yet turns up the tv louder that you want it….   Same principle.   There is a “monitor mix technician” that works on stage to try and make everything sound perfect and pleasing with the live performers who suddenly may want to “belt it out”!!

From this point…the sound engineer must mix the sound that is ONSTAGE with the sound volume for the audience.  They must get the sound from the front seats of the audience to the very back seats of the audience.  The sound engineer must get the sound to the very last seats high up in the balcony.  The intricate sound system at our performing arts theatre has been professionally tuned and speakers pointed and calibrated to provide the proper direction of sound.  I noticed with the CHER concert she was very clear, and the band was awesome sounding.  This has to do with this Meyers sound system that the college invested a sizable amount of money in.   

As I went to scoot out to take a quick bathroom break; I noticed as I got near the back half of the auditorium the while “Cher” was belting out her song, the sound was just a little smoother.  Not quite as sharp.  This is because as you get further from the sound source the sound gets less.  High frequencies fade the fastest as they are the weakest.   No matter what, the sound fades with distance.  If we get a hearing loss our ears become more sensitive to sound variations.  This is due to the nerve damage of our hearing cells.  

So where is the best seat at a concert or live performance?  Usually NOT the front few rows.  The sounds coming out of the speakers WILL knock your socks off… maybe even your shirts! Lol!!   This is because you are hearing BOTH the sounds on stage and what is coming out for the audience to hear.  Unfortunately, it is a must.  Sit a few rows back.  

People with better hearing are not as sensitive to the variations in sound levels.  But it doesn’t matter… to protect your hearing and your nerves… pick a seat that is comfortable for you.  The balcony seats on the sides are always a great pick too.  Sometimes If I think the concert performer may be extra loud then I will take a set of foam ear plugs with me in case I did end up getting seats a little closer that I like.  They just take the edge off.  This subtle reduction makes me more comfortable and yet my friends and neighbors further back in the auditorium are getting a great concert performance too.  I am just thankful our little community has such an awesome entertainment venue that many other communities are not privileged to have.  Enjoy and rock on!! To Hear Better Is To Live Better!!


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