dB Levels at Regionals and Nationals

We are now halfway through another great build season of the FRC! With this comes hope for great regionals and an amazing national competition.

As many others have stated before, FIRST FRC Competitions are quite loud. Most of the time at them I wear ear protection as normally after a couple hours it starts to hurt.

To get straight to the point, I think that this is an issue we need to fix. A mentor from Team 2062 tried to get this started last year, but it fell apart. I think that if we gather data, (dB Levels, maybe a survey,etc…) from regionals around the USA and globe that we could bring a formalized “complaint” to FIRST.

Thank you for the Support in this regard.

I’m going to have to disagree here, now, granted, I’m sure that volume varies from regional to regional, however, the regionals I’ve attended (GTR and Waterloo, since 2003, except 05 and 06 WAT and 05 GTR) have all been well within non-damaging levels. Yeah, its a highly-charged loud event, but I havent ever felt that my hearing was endangered.

Did you have problems last year after informing pit administration, Like Bill Miller told you to?

I highly disagree. When I was in high school, I looked forward to going to competitions because they were loud, fast paced and just awesome. If you actually had to control the volume level, I would foresee many people getting angry about it.

If you go to a basketball game, do people just sit and watch? No. FIRST wants this competition to be like a sporting event, so it should be loud and up tempo.

I remember seeing a sign by you guys in Minnesota that was to be written on if noise levels got loud enough to recommend ear protection, and that the sign recommended none as the pits were at a fairly normal volume. Was the project abandoned by then, or did Minnesota have oddly quiet pits?

Where sound levels get too high, ear protection would not be a bad idea. It would be nice if ear plugs could be handed out by teams using very loud machinery, I guess. I’ve personally never had a problem with sound at an FRC event, though.

If you do some searching there was a thread on the subject a year ago. Yes we want the event to be up-tempo and exciting and not like a funeral parlor.

There has been a lot of instances of potential supporters, contributors, mentors, partners, etc walking out of an event because of sound levels. Not to mention that it is simply unsafe.

Two years ago data was taken. Last year corrective action was taken. There was a specific directive from FIRST to the sound folks about monitoring and managing sound levels.

Generally speaking sound levels were much better last year. That isn’t to say there wasn’t a regional or two that wasn’t out of control. But most regionals and the Championship did have noticibly better sound control.

Bottom line: The data and directives from FIRST are there - it is now a matter of compliance by the event managers.

ever been to a sporting event or concert?
i am very sure FIRST sound levels dont reach that of a college student section…

with the level of complexity and size of our events, im sure the trained technicians are monitoring such things, not to mention a few fire inspectors. They keep things in the legal limits.

I must agree that telling people they cant scream for their team will spark a few angers. Its like when people are told to sit down while their team is on the field.

The sound data that we looked at had two components. Crowd noise and the sound system. At FIRST events the crowd noise is held at high levels for very short periods of time. The loudest recorded sounds were for the introductions of Dean and Woodie. But for only a moment.

The Championship sound level was pleasant this year compared to the prior year.

Football games have a much much shorter duration and spikes of high and lowel level sound.

It is the incessant amp’d up music systems and PA systems that create the problem, both in intensity an duration. The real issue is the sound level coming off like a 3 day, 10 hour a day Green Day concert.

Our sign in Minnesota was based on sound in the pit are, on average, pits are quieter then the stands. I was unclear when I posted.

Yes, I understand that being loud and fast-paced is a goal that is being sought after by FIRST. But levels of Regionals being in the danger zone is bad. Not physically, but for FIRST as well, as posted prior, supporters, VIPs, and sponsors walk out because of the sound level. I’m only looking for safety not ruining the event for fans.

Maybe I missed it, but do you have any thing that suggests the sound is in the ‘danger zone’?

I would agree that if the sound is in the danger zone and significantly louder than daily life, then something should be done. But without any support (other than, ‘I think it too loud’), I think you will have a hard time getting anything changed.

Edit: I see some data was collected a few years ago before the change took place. Has anyone (FIRST or not) followed through to see if the changes worked?

Is regional sound a little loud for some outsiders to come in? In some cases yes, some people don’t like the loud noise, but I don’t think is is something to fight over. Have you ever sat in the stand on practice day? I don’t know about other regionals, but at GSR is is wicked lame as they have quiet music and no emcee. It is not the same without the loud music.

Personally, I find off-season competitions worse as they are held in gyms which echo a lot more that the average multi use arena. Echo+loud music= bad day as you can’t hear the music, those around you, the emcee, or your brain hurt!:stuck_out_tongue:

Disagreed here too.

Clearly, individuals should know how to handle things if they feel the event is too loud (such as yourself wearing ear protection). Its fun, its mildly loud, its entertaining. Filing a “formal complaint” to FIRST just sounds like overkill and IMHO something a team might pursue just for an award.

I disagree with the original poster.

I’m not trying to sound glib or mean - but if it hurts please put in earplugs. I absolutely love the electrified feel of the event. In our events (districts in Michigan) we don’t have the super-high-tech sound systems anymore - we provide more than enough noise just via the crowd, and it still gets very noisy at times.

Even when we DID have the big sound systems I can’t remember a time when it was truly loud enough to bother most folks. But if it does, they are free to take action.

Frankly, if sponsors don’t understand how loud a sporting event is, perhaps it’s time to educate them. I don’t believe in changing an event just to appease a sponsor. Sponsorship is wonderful but I don’t believe their sponsorship allows them to dictate how we play our game. That seems a bit of a straw-man argument to me.

Oh - and you really haven’t heard what loud is until you get a single bleacher section filled with Rush, Code Red, Pi, and Wings of Fire Members. You DO need hearing protection for that. (WE have spirit… yes we do…)

Before I go into my opinion, I’d first like to lay out where I’m coming from. I’m currently a Music Technology major, and running Live Sound and working in Recording Studios is both a career and a passion. That being said, we’re supposed to be supporting engineering. So step back and look at this a little more objectively.

Yes, people like their thumping music and upbeat times. Yes, sporting games are loud. However, rather than throwing around “loud” and “quiet” and so on, it would be nice if we could get some objective measurements in here. Were I working a venue, I wouldn’t listen to someone complaining that it feels “too loud.” Once they begin breaking out SPL’s and OSHA statements, then and only then am I required to listen. We’re supposed to be working for engineering folks, so let’s try and act like it.

So, here we go. Anything greater than 78 decibels over time (not necessarily constant, but many exposures to sound over this level) will cause hearing damage. Hearing damage sounds extreme, so let me clarify: Not talking about losing your hearing, but beginning to dull your eardrum’s ability to decipher higher frequency sound, and lower definition can come as a result. Anything over 120 dB is instant damage, and should be avoided if possible.

Now the common level to stay away from in the Live Sound industry varies by company, venue, and type of gig. I’ve run events where we’ve been capped at 85 (very frustrating, 85 is softer than a busy highway at 10 meters) all the way up to 120 dB. I’m sure that whoever is contracted to DJ or Mix the event has some company mandated cap, or the venue may impose one of their own. However, no technician should refuse an empirical reading. If you approach the booth and bring a chart of SPL’s over the last hour, the tech will probably listen and bring it down. The off the shoulder comment about it being “too loud” will probably be ignored, as no data is presented.

So what does this rambling mean? If you have a problem with the sound, take measurements, approach the Tech politely, and know that he may not take your opinion. After all, those that make it in audio are either insanely headstrong or very very accommodating. There’s not much of a middle ground in the industry.

I see the point in db levels being too loud. So, since I am curious & help organize the Suffield Shakedown I will try to get a db meter & monitor the event on Feb 20th. I’ll have to admit, it usually is very loud in the gym & sometimes in the past I have worn ear protection both in Suffield & other local events here in the Northeast. It has been said, the louder it is, the more hyped up the students get supporting their teams.