Sound Limiter Stories

A Typical Sound Limiter

Sound Limiters - A Warning

Before you book your party in with a venue, we encourage you to ask the following question:

Do you have a sound limiter installed?

If they say "Yes", we urge you to consider another venue. Here is why:

Sound limiters are designed to monitor the amount of noise within a room, once the amount of noise reaches a set threshold (typically around 95db, or roughly the noise level of a food processor), it cuts the power. So you can imagine that can very easily happen during a disco or live music.

Sometimes however, we have known sound limiter thresholds to by much lower, and there are venues have limiters as low as 75db, which is roughly the same level of noise most vaccum cleaners make.

Normally they are installed because the venue is relatively close to residential houses, and in the past, residents have complained about the noise coming from the venue, and the local council have forced the venue to have a limiter fitted.

While we fully appreciate the reasoning behind sound limiters and why venues have to have them fitted, they do have the potential to completely ruin your party. When they are set-up correctly and have a reasonable threshold set, they are fine to work with, unfortunately, we find that most are incorrectly or unreasonably set-up and are impossible to work with.

In our experience, sound limiters are typically set-up with a low threshold and more often than not, is tripped by the noise of guests clapping, singing and cheering. A recent example of a limiter interrupting proceedings was during a first dance, just when the bride and groom were coming towards the end of their dance, all the guests started clapping and cheering, that noise tripped the limiter, cut the power and stopped the music. It then took a couple of minutes while venue staff reset the limiter, by which time most guests had sat back down and the atmosphere was destroyed.

We are also aware that when anything stops the music during a disco, normally guests assume that we have a problem or have done something wrong and we are looked upon negatively when it’s often out of our control.

Finally, there is the possibility of damage caused to our equipment. Our sound system requires a clean, uninterrupted power supply, which needs to be switched on and off in a specific way. When power is simply cut, and then re-applied, the resulting surge could damage the amplifier and blow the speakers.

Sound limiters are for any DJ a nightmare. Normally, we do our best to try and get your guest's up, singing and dancing the night away. When a sound limiter is present, we spend most of the night watching it and constantly trying to keep noise below the limit, which means making sure your guests DON'T clap, sing or cheer, for fear of the noise tripping the limiter.

We urge all our clients to avoid venues with sound limiters fitted where at all possible. We have flagged several venues in our area which have sound limiters on our Venues Page.

Stunning New Venue with a Sound Limiter :(

Before you book your party in with a venue, we encourage you to ask the following question:

Around a year ago, I heard about a new wedding venue that is being set up just 10 minutes down the road from where I live. A week or so later, I had a booking for a wedding at this new venue, and I was able to meet up with the couple on the grand opening day of the venue. It was a converted barn and was stunning.

It was then I learned about its sound limiter, and my heart sank.

I have written before about the issue with sound limiters, and the trouble they cause.

After a conversation with the venue management, I learned that the limiter was set to 95.2db, which is just about workable. I have found that at that level, you can play at a reasonable volume level with a little bit of headroom for some guest clapping and singing. I still warned the couple about the limiter and what it may mean, which they understood.

Fast forward to around a couple of days before the booking, and I get a call from the venue’s owner, who wanted to let me know about the limiter and noise restrictions they have in place. It is then I learned that the local council had lowered the limiter threshold to 85db. It was apparent that, despite having the limiter in place, local residents had still been complaining about the noise, and the local council took action by lowering the limit.

Now, if you were to play music at 85db in an empty room, it sounds quite loud. But add anything else into that, such as, say 30 people clapping, cheering or singing…and you are well over it.

On the night, I managed to keep the music volume under control. The one and only time the limiter cut my power was while I was concentrating getting the next track cued up, and a group had gathered and were singing along to the music. It was impossible to build up the atmosphere because I knew, as soon as I got any momentum, and guests got up to dance and sing, the power would be cut and everything would come to a stop.

Fortunately, it was a lovely warm summers evening, and the bride and groom were having lots of fun interacting with their guests outside.

I did feel sorry for the owners of the venue. They had clearly put a lot of money and hard work into creating this beautiful and picturesque venue, however, in my opinion, the sound limiter renders the venue completely unsuited to an evening wedding reception, and regrettably, I will not be accepting another booking at that venue again.