Amplified Live Music

What do you need to do?

Off-stage controls

  • High sound levels can be produced throughout a venue, and the noise risk assessment for an event should identify all the people who are at risk
  • Careful planning of work will minimise the number of workers exposed to high noise levels

You need to think about all the people who work at an amplified live event:

  • Performers
  • Backstage crew
  • Onstage crew
  • Contractors
  • Concessionaires
  • Bar staff

Here are some ways to control off-stage noise and protect people who work off-stage:

  • Where high noise is a risk throughout the venue or site, clearly mark hearing protection zones to advise workers of the risk they face and the legal duty to wear hearing protection. Exclude visitors from these zones.
  • Arrange PA systems with a natural separation between speaker enclosures and staff - this is particularly important for workers in the stage pit and other locations close to speaker stacks. Spill from side fills and other on-stage sources can also be a problem for pit teams.
  • Another useful control measure is to use 'satellite' or 'delay' stacks. These are speaker clusters placed at a long way into the audience from the main speaker positions. The signal to these stacks is delayed to make it coincide with the sound travelling from the main speakers. The sound is reinforced and clear a long way back from the stage and the level at the front can be reduced because the noise from those speakers no longer has to reach all the way to the back. Delay stacks:
    • show how good planning can tackle a noise hazard
    • enhance the public enjoyment of a show
    • maximise use of the available audience space.
  • Noise limiters can be used to set a maximum permissible output level for the sound system. While normally used to manage noise pollution from a venue, you could use the same limiters to control the maximum front-of-house or stage sound output.
  • At large events many concessions and other commercial operations have their own PA systems. The event organiser should ensure that the output of such systems is managed along agreed guidelines taking account of the potential combined effect of several systems.

For guidance on audience protection, see The Event Safety Guide - a guide to health, safety and welfare at music and similar events. HSG195 1999. HSE Books ISBN 9780 7176 2453 9

Case Studies

Back to 'What do you need to do?'