End the Loudness War WITHOUT a Sound Level Meter [SPL decibel meter]

If you have been in church for very long,
you have heard numerous complaints about the sound being too loud. However, it seems a small percentage of people
are doing all the complaining. But, how do we know if their complaint is legitimate? This question often leads to the purchase
of an SPL meter, which definitely has its purpose. But, there’s a better way. And
I’ll tell you all about it in this video. This video is brought to you by Behringer
X32 Mastery, the fastest way for church sound techs to master the X32. And, with a team license, you can enroll unlimited
team members now and in the future. Finally, everyone will be on the same page. Visit x32.church or click the link in the
description to learn more. First off, what is an SPL meter anyways? They measure the sound pressure level in decibels
and are primarily used in industrial spaces to help protect workers’ ears. Wikipedia states: “…the reading from a
sound level meter does not correlate well to human-perceived loudness…” and I couldn’t
agree more. But, before I explain why, let’s touch on
frequency weighting. The human ear is more sensitive to frequencies
between 500 Hz and 8 kHz and is less responsive to very low-pitch or high-pitch frequencies. However, in a louder environment (such as
a modern church service), the human ear has a much flatter response, becoming more responsive
to those very low-pitch and high-pitch frequencies. Because of this, most SPL meters have two
frequency weighting options: A & C. A-weighting gives the very low-pitch and high-pitched
frequencies less weight than the 500 Hz to 8kHz range. Like the human ear, it effectively cuts off
the frequencies the average person cannot hear. C-weighting has a much flatter response, just
like the human ear does in louder environments. In situations such as a modern church service
or concert, c-weighting should be used due to higher volumes and use of subwoofers to
produce a higher volume of low frequency noise. Now that you know what they are, let’s talk
about why SPL meters may not be the most effective way to solve the ‘loudness’ problem. The problem with using an SPL meter for a
church service is that it only gives you an overview of what is going on in the room. Using it to gauge how loud to run your mixer
is like flying over your house in a helicopter to see if you need a new roof. Sure, you may be able to see a missing patch
of shingles from up there, but you will not see the one cracked shingle that is actually
causing the leak. When someone complains that the music is too
loud, it is generally one portion of the frequency range hurting their ears, not the entire mix. However, to fix the problem, most sound techs
are instructed to turn the entire mix down. The result: a mix that lacks energy. Instead of using an SPL meter, I recommend
using a sound frequency analyzer, also known as a real-time analyzer (RTA). Specifically,
I recommend the Octave RTA iPhone app. This will enable you to find the exact frequency
range causing your loudness problem. Then, you can simply use EQ to fix the problem without
having to turn down the entire mix. For example, I once mixed in a building that
had all kinds of sound problems. Microphones would easily feedback and achieving a good
mix was impossible. By using the Octave RTA app, I found that
400 Hz and 800 Hz bounced around like wild in our room. I am not sure why this happens, but I know
that surfaces and room dimensions have a big part to play. Luckily, I was able to use an EQ to cut troublesome
frequencies and provide a more even room response – setting the foundation for good sound. Looking for a step by step process on how
to set EQ using an RTA? Luckily, I have a video for that. I’ll include a link in the description to
a video called, “How to Set EQ with iPhone Sound Frequency Analyzer”. There is a happy place in church sound where
there is plenty of energy but it is not overly loud. This is where I want to be every service. The room should not feel naked but should
be full of sound. Keep in mind, there are still those who will
think this type of environment is too loud, but it is absolutely impossible to keep everyone
happy, so don’t even try. Simply do your best to create an atmosphere
conducive to worship. If you have questions, drop them in the comments.
I’d be glad to answer. If you’d like to see more videos like this, give me a thumbs
up to let me know. And if you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe
to our channel and ring the little bell so we can let you know when a new video comes
out. See ya next time.

9 thoughts on “End the Loudness War WITHOUT a Sound Level Meter [SPL decibel meter]

  1. How to set wedges pre fader? And I'm not able to control the main bus fader if it's on pre fader. I'm using behringer xr18

  2. Hi, Kade.
    I've got two questions:
    Does using an RTA lessen the need to calibrate mic levels? I've been fussing about what the SPL is but if the overall shape of the spectrum is the thing, the only thing we need are flat mics, not flat mics that are calibrated to show exact SPL.

    Is there a good RTA for Android phones? (I was about to ask about using the spectrum display in Audacity when I realized the Audacity signal is the audio before it hits the room, so that won't help us very much!)


  3. Hi kade. I've tuned up our monitor wedgest to make sure we won't have any feed back during services. But we face a problem our worship pastor wants to turn up his monitor volume way high to the point where feed back would occur already.
    Question is, have I done something wrong during tune up? Is it me or it's our worship pastor wanting more volume?

  4. How can you be sure that the phone is "hearing" the room accurately. Wouldn't it already be tuned for the human voice for speakerphone/video calls?

  5. Hello!
    I need your help with something; hopefully you get a chance to respond to me or make a video about the answer to this question soon, if you can.
    I’ve been trying to make a virtual Soundcheck with the x32 at my church. I want to use it to practice EQ. I have all the equipment necessary: X32, Logic Pro, speakers, etc. I just need help setting it up without messing up my mix that I use at church and without messing up my x32 settings (since I heard that you have to select card settings, instead of local settings).
    Can I get some help, please? I’d greatly appreciate it.

  6. Thanks for another very well done and informative video Kade. But my Android brethren and I are feeling a bit lonely and are wondering if we can somehow accomplish the same RTA goals using our chosen devices? Someday we will all be united 🙂

  7. Hi Kade. Jakes here from South Africa. Really enjoy and appreciate your tutorials. We've learnt so much.
    I have a few questions relates to this video:

    1.) Where's the best place to position my phone with using the RTA App? At the sound desk?

    2.) When it comes to "analysing" the room, do you play white or pink noise, or a certain song via iTunes for example? Or the band itself?

    3.) Would you post some photos of "before and after" you adjusted the EQ? Would be interested to see what frequencies you picked out and how you adjusted them.


  8. there is a simple Tool from Thomas Neumann – LEVELcheck – www.levelchek.de – no fear its also in english and with settings for USA, and other Countries – have fun.

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