You might ask why we can’t just reduce the volume at for example a concert or a festival. Of course, this would work in theory – but in real life there are many factors that have an impact on sound levels:
Many musicians often have a hard time hearing their own singing voice at sound checks, andtherefor they enhance the master volume, instead of reducing the volume for a specific instrument. Also, still today, many use disposable foam earplugs, that are not designed for hearing with. Much volume and treble are reduced, and the result is often that you want to increase the volume even more. This means more damaging risk for sound engineers and audience.
It’s often voluntarily to learn about the ear and about hearing when you’re studying to become a sound engineer. And let’s face it, hearing is probably not the most fun thing in the world! Also, many people working as sound engineers have not been schooled for this, instead their sound- and music enthusiasm has lead them to their career. On top of this, many use earplugs when they work. And what does a sound engineer do, if he/she can’t here the treble? Enhances the volume.
Promoters do a great job arranging and promoting concerts, festivals and venues. However, they are not sound engineers, nor are they experts in acoustic sound. Concerts are hold in big venue halls, but also in small clubs, restaurants and churches. Many of these halls are not built for more than an acoustic guitar and singing. Promoters need to know how to adjust the acoustics in their halls, to be able to provide a safe environment for the audience.
Let’s face it, who would go to a to rock or pop concert, paying big money to see their favorite artist, and then get a half-decent experience? This is sadly the case for many when there is a “safe” sound level. We want the experience, the power from the base in our chest, the ability to sing along to our favorite tracks! Also, just think about it – if there is an audience of 30 000 people, of course you need a lot of sound to make it through!
Wherever we are, there is noise. In the streets, restaurants, cinemas, clubs, work places. All of this noise drives the sound levels up. If you want to be able to hear, you need to speak out louder, enhance the volume and over-power the noise. It's not great, but it's the truth we live in.