Is the Volume Right for What You’re Trying to Accomplish?

man-yellingI have long lamented the fact that today’s concerts are way too loud. That’s not just a matter of opinion. It’s a matter of science. Years ago, we learned that prolonged exposure to high sound levels could permanently damage our hearing. In fact, here in the U.S., there are regulations that limit daily exposure to sound levels above 85 db(A). If you’re interested in a little side reading, here’s a site that shows how long you can be exposed to certain levels within a 24-hour period before you have to retreat to your happy “quiet” space.

These days I wear earplugs to all live events where I’m not mixing the sound. Yes, I do take them out if I discover that the volume is in a range that won’t damage my hearing, but that doesn’t happen often. I went to a concert at the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta, GA, awhile back and even earplugs weren’t enough. Ironically, the relative mix was nice, but the main volume should have been turned down significantly.

What saddens me even more than today’s loud concerts is that this has become just as big a problem in many churches. The fact that the church service is too loud is a problem on many levels, in my opinion, and I’m not alone in my thinking. One question I find myself asking is, “What’s the purpose of the church service?” You may be able to answer that in many ways, but if “leading the congregation into worship of God” is part of that answer, one should look at the effect of volume on congregational participation in worship. I could go on about this for hours, but why reinvent the conversation. Here’s a blog post that also includes a repost of another blog post — both of which discuss the subject. At least the three of us are singing off the same sheet of music:

The Volume of Worship: Whatever Happened to Human Voices?

As an epilogue to my thoughts on the matter, let me close by mentioning that children have much more sensitive hearing than adults, and that which we old people might choose to tolerate can actually be physically painful to young children and can cause permanent hearing loss at significantly lower levels than it can in adults. Please consider that when choosing where to take your children.