What do the sound restrictions really mean?

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GeekStar
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What do the sound restrictions really mean?

Post by GeekStar » Mon Jan 06, 2014 3:17 pm

Hello! Long time burner, first time theme camp organizer. I have an amazing group of people that are pulling a camp together, we already have experience and most of our questions answered, but for the life of me I can't figure out some seemingly simple information on sound restrictions.

I have been poking around for quite a while and here is what I know:

-"large scale" sound camps are located basically on 2 and 10. Duh.
-The rest of the city has to play at 90 decibels at 20 feet, or 300 watts.
-I really feel like I saw several camps near us on/near 7:30, such as the Glamcocks and Trifuckta, that had kick-ass dance floors and sound systems and were, I feel, playing above the 90 decibel level but not on the scale of a large sound camp.

So what is the deal? We want to have a welcoming dance space with reasonable dance space sound, above 90 decibels but not annoying loud, so how does this fit in when applying to be a camp? Of course we only want to welcome in and please our neighbors, which is why I would like some clarification.

As a side note, I am somewhat acquainted with sound systems but I am actually just making an educated guess that the sound camp dance floors I have seen near 7:30 are above 90 decibels, and that 90 decibels is pretty quiet. Am I wrong? Is 90 decibels louder than I am thinking it is?

My main reasons for registering to be a theme camp is to be able to play a decent level of sound, and to get a few early arrival passes to set up. We have all the rest of our interactive projects and infrastructure thought out, and have actually set up most of it in the past already by just staking out a chunk of land by 7:45 and J and setting up on Monday. A theme camp without registering if you will.

But this sound thing! It's really confusing me! Anyone know more? Thank you so much.

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Re: What do the sound restrictions really mean?

Post by TT120 » Mon Jan 06, 2014 3:21 pm

Here are some sound levels:

Weakest sound heard 0dB
Whisper Quiet Library at 6' 30dB
Normal conversation at 3' 60-65dB
Telephone dial tone 80dB
City Traffic (inside car) 85dB
Train whistle at 500', Truck Traffic 90dB
Jackhammer at 50' 95dB
Subway train at 200' 95dB
Level at which sustained exposure may result in hearing loss 90 - 95dB
Hand Drill 98dB
Power mower at 3' 107dB
Snowmobile, Motorcycle 100dB
Power saw at 3' 110dB
Sandblasting, Loud Rock Concert 115dB
Pain begins 125dB
Pneumatic riveter at 4' 125dB
Even short term exposure can cause permanent damage - Loudest recommended exposure WITH hearing protection 140dB
Jet engine at 100' 140dB
12 Gauge Shotgun Blast 165dB
Death of hearing tissue 180dB
Loudest sound possible 194dB
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Re: What do the sound restrictions really mean?

Post by theCryptofishist » Mon Jan 06, 2014 3:22 pm

Just because the sound policy may have been unevenly enforced in the past, doesn't mean you should rely on it being unevenly enforced in the future. I don't even know how many decibel readers the Rangers have. Or how busy they are. Also, it might take more than one visit to get the sound properly adjusted. Or a camp may never have adjusted the sound and don't know that they won't get placement this year until placement is announced.

Trilobyte is apt to know more or have a better sense of nuance.
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Re: What do the sound restrictions really mean?

Post by Ugly Dougly » Mon Jan 06, 2014 6:40 pm

I think that GeekStar is saying "Why do I have to play by the rules? Those guys down the street are obviously not playing by the rules! So I can crank my noise up too!"
Am I misapprehending this?

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Re: What do the sound restrictions really mean?

Post by GreyCoyote » Mon Jan 06, 2014 7:16 pm

TT120 wrote:Here are some sound levels:

Weakest sound heard 0dB
(snip of good stuff for sake of brevity)
Loudest sound possible 194dB
I would question that "Loudest sound possible" as being 194db. The scale is open-ended by design.

An SPL of 194 db comes out to about 100KW/sq/meter. Loud? Oh yeah! But you can easily get energy densities far, far beyond that when snuggled-up next to a nuke or even a conventional explosive. Remember that in free space when you cut the distance to a source by half you increase the energy by 6. Remember too there is no "standard distance" for these types of measurements. The distance value is whatever it is, and it's always stated as part of the measurement (ie, "80 db @ 20 feet"). So the closer you go, the louder it gets until the instrument disintegrates or vaporizes. Sound is, after all, energy.

Might be fun to run the calc for a 100kt yield weapon at 200 feet. :) I think Glasstone and Dolan even have a table of concussive effects that could be readily back-converted. :idea:

Now how any of this applies to theme camp sound systems is admittedly a mystery, but it feeds my inner nerd-child so neener-neener.
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Re: What do the sound restrictions really mean?

Post by theCryptofishist » Mon Jan 06, 2014 7:17 pm

You could be right, Dougly. I'm not going to give him the go-ahead.
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Re: What do the sound restrictions really mean?

Post by Lonesomebri » Mon Jan 06, 2014 7:37 pm

Set up out by 7:45 and J? Sound really isn't a problem. But if you're setting up a bit over nearer to 8:15 or 30...ya gotta keep that shit turned down. And especially if you've set up a camp out there before and are the same guys who ran me off your yellow taped-off un-official spread last year, or kept me awake with bad music left on all night while your camp was empty the year before..... This year I'm gifting vengeance. Anyway, a gifted hotdog is worth a dozen more dance floors.
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Re: What do the sound restrictions really mean?

Post by some seeing eye » Mon Jan 06, 2014 9:38 pm

As an experienced live sound and studio sound mixer.. Cryptofishist is spot on. So get a sound meter. Cheap, uncalibrated to start, calibrated and calibrated periodically if you get serious.

Use it around events you attend year round to calibrate to your ears.

Watts and powerful dB is a "my male member is bigger than your" competition. The value of music in your camp is purely based on welcomeness to individuals, sexiness and the participants ability, based on lower sound level, to commune and flirt by speaking and hearing one another person to person.
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Re: What do the sound restrictions really mean?

Post by Elliot » Mon Jan 06, 2014 10:25 pm

some seeing eye wrote:As an experienced live sound and studio sound mixer.. Cryptofishist is spot on. So get a sound meter. Cheap, uncalibrated to start, calibrated and calibrated periodically if you get serious.

Use it around events you attend year round to calibrate to your ears.

Watts and powerful dB is a "my male member is bigger than your" competition. The value of music in your camp is purely based on welcomeness to individuals, sexiness and the participants ability, based on lower sound level, to commune and flirt by speaking and hearing one another person to person.
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Re: What do the sound restrictions really mean?

Post by EspressoDude » Tue Jan 07, 2014 6:37 am

some seeing eye wrote:As an experienced live sound and studio sound mixer.. Cryptofishist is spot on. So get a sound meter. Cheap, uncalibrated to start, calibrated and calibrated periodically if you get serious.

Use it around events you attend year round to calibrate to your ears.

Watts and powerful dB is a "my male member is bigger than your" competition. The value of music in your camp is purely based on welcomeness to individuals, sexiness and the participants ability, based on lower sound level, to commune and flirt by speaking and hearing one another person to person.
there are applications for smart phones that measure dB levels. not perfect, but give a sense of loudness
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Re: What do the sound restrictions really mean?

Post by CaffeineGirl » Tue Jan 07, 2014 6:52 am

Speaker orientation is a big factor. Last year we had a dance camp set up across the street from us. First morning, we could not hear conversaations within our camp. Noticed the dance camp had their speakers aimed right at us. Went across the street and politely asked that they play music for their camp. Speakers were turned inward. Enjoyed their music after that.

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Re: What do the sound restrictions really mean?

Post by AntiM » Tue Jan 07, 2014 7:30 am

Also, getting the speakers up off the ground means you are less likely to shake the bones of those tenting it near you camp.

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Re: What do the sound restrictions really mean?

Post by Patamon » Wed Jan 08, 2014 9:07 pm

As a 15 year burner, I can tell you that without a doubt, regardless of what the guidelines are when you fill out your placement questionnaire...

The sound limit (90db / 300 watts) in the city (outside of 2:00 and 10:00) is ignored, all over the city, every day of the week. Period.

I've been 5 streets back, I've been on the plaza's, I've been on the Esplanade. Makes no difference. If a camp is running 1,000 watt subs (as was the case with our neighbors last year) they are going to do it, and they are going to do it as long as they want, because there is never any enforcement or ramification of the sound policy, ever.

Its the luck of the draw.

The best bet for anyone to get a good sound situation, is to be good in with placement so you can have assurances that your neighbors activities are not sound related.

This is the system, it is what it is.

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Re: What do the sound restrictions really mean?

Post by BBadger » Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:18 pm

GreyCoyote wrote:I would question that "Loudest sound possible" as being 194db. The scale is open-ended by design.

An SPL of 194 db comes out to about 100KW/sq/meter. Loud? Oh yeah! But you can easily get energy densities far, far beyond that when snuggled-up next to a nuke or even a conventional explosive. Remember that in free space when you cut the distance to a source by half you increase the energy by 6. Remember too there is no "standard distance" for these types of measurements. The distance value is whatever it is, and it's always stated as part of the measurement (ie, "80 db @ 20 feet"). So the closer you go, the louder it gets until the instrument disintegrates or vaporizes. Sound is, after all, energy.
I was curious about that exact limit as well. Upon further investigation, I found out what the source of it is: the largest pressure variation in Earth's atmosphere, and therefore the "loudest" sound possible is 1 atmosphere, which translates to 194dB peak. If we were in the ocean or some other medium, the pressure variation could be much higher, but for our atmosphere that's the limit.
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Re: What do the sound restrictions really mean?

Post by trilobyte » Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:41 pm

There are already a lot of good suggestions in this thread - particularly when it comes to placing them and getting them off the ground.

I also agree with patamon, I think that the posted limits in the city are largely ignored. Where I think it translates in practice is whether or not what you're doing is negatively affecting your neighbors' burn experience. I'd bet that most people (except Hushville, the clue is in their camp name) would be down for the neighbors having the occasional big loud party... most people would start to take exception to that neighbor having 24/7 dance parties.

I'd suggest getting a handle on the kind of wattage you're talking about, and then emailing placement@burningman.com.

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Re: What do the sound restrictions really mean?

Post by GeekStar » Sat Jan 11, 2014 12:15 pm

Ugly Dougly wrote:I think that GeekStar is saying "Why do I have to play by the rules? Those guys down the street are obviously not playing by the rules! So I can crank my noise up too!"
Am I misapprehending this?

I would say you are misunderstanding, yes :) I am not asking or saying that "hey, they are playing loud music, I will too!". I am checking here and everywhere I can to find more information so as to try to play music at a respectful level that is okayed by the community.

I forgot to go more into this in my original post but I am fully aware of how much this all hinges on communicating with your neighbors and neighborhood, something I am planning on doing no matter how this goes down. Of course if we have a neighbor that hates our music we will respectfully work it out and not play if that is the decision. I am NOT going to just play loud music disrespectfully.

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Re: What do the sound restrictions really mean?

Post by BBadger » Sat Jan 11, 2014 8:38 pm

The funny thing is that even if everyone abided by the sound restrictions on their music systems, the true noise menace would still remain audible and annoying: loud generators. Those don't have any such restrictions, and some people will just place them such that they don't annoy the members of the owner's camp with little regard for the neighbors.

This is also why Hushville is not so much about music noise, but more about generator noise.
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Re: What do the sound restrictions really mean?

Post by Lonesomebri » Sat Jan 11, 2014 8:54 pm

BBadger wrote:The funny thing is that even if everyone abided by the sound restrictions on their music systems, the true noise menace would still remain audible and annoying: loud generators. Those don't have any such restrictions, and some people will just place them such that they don't annoy the members of the owner's camp with little regard for the neighbors.
This is also why Hushville is not so much about music noise, but more about generator noise.
True, so true, but there have been times, rare times, late at night, the thumpa thumpa of bad music coming from some over-powered sound system penetrating my dreams, where I've looked out and longed for the relief of some obnoxious generator to cover the pain.
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Re: What do the sound restrictions really mean?

Post by trilobyte » Sun Jan 12, 2014 11:00 pm

Whoops, sorry to have missed this before. I'm giving this a nudge over to the Shelter And Camping board, since that's a better fit for general preparation questions about camp planning. The year-specific theme camp board is intended more for announcing or posting about camp plans at that year's event.

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Re: What do the sound restrictions really mean?

Post by GeekStar » Mon Jan 13, 2014 12:35 pm

trilobyte wrote:Whoops, sorry to have missed this before. I'm giving this a nudge over to the Shelter And Camping board, since that's a better fit for general preparation questions about camp planning. The year-specific theme camp board is intended more for announcing or posting about camp plans at that year's event.

Ah, thanks! And I really appreciate your advice. I knew even talking about potentially loud-ish potentially electronic music on eplaya would get me a vibe of "ewwww, don't do thaaaaat" but I did basically get the info I was hoping for. I am really just interested in being as informed and prepared as possible about any projects I might be taking on and I have been able to find surprisingly little info about the sound thing.

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Re: What do the sound restrictions really mean?

Post by theCryptofishist » Mon Jan 13, 2014 12:42 pm

Actually, I think most of the snark was around the interpretation of the scanty data leading to an idea that you were going to "cheat". And a lot of it was discussion/thread drift not aimed at you. Okay, I have some people plonked, so I'm not perfect. But we've jumped on people about being djs much harder in the past. I think it was the basic lack of posts. We needed to talk about something, not just shove you under the rug.
I do realize it might have felt like more.

maybe I should start writing up little in thread reviews of threads. and thread drift...
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