Loudness Wars in a 'live' setting?

Aloha guys,

Just wondering about using loudness maximizer plugs in a
typical 'live setting.

I know this stuff works with media like CDs,Mp3s.DVDs, etc but
in a live setting would loading a maximizer plug be
any different than just turning up the over all sound?

any thoughts?

Wouldn’t work for my band, we have a drummer. Maybe a loudness minimizer plugin would help. Just wondering where to plug it in on him.

Just what we need, as if live isn’t loud enough already lets max the hell out of it and make the audiences ears bleed :laughing:

I’m already old enough to walk out of gigs that are too loud, I value my ears :open_mouth:

Oh, and I would think a maximiser would be different than just raw or slightly compressed on a PA, after all It’ll raise the average level up substantially, no doubt some are already doing just that.

If the drummer’s too loud just turn down your amps. Drummers don’t like wasting enrgy so he’ll soon come down to your new level instead of having to play to an unreasonable one.
Drums can only get to so loud and after that they sound dreadful and with all that effort there’s no energy to keep time.

ps: replacing cracked cymbals (each! at circa 4 to 6 per kit) cost more than most guitars so it’s in the drummers interest not to be so loud unless he’s a millionaire.

Don’t use a loudness maximizer live, seriously. You want to keep dynamics in the music. A compressor for certain things (like bass) yes, but even when using a compressor on guitars and vocals don’t over compress or that will kill the dynamics too. Just apply it enough to control the volumes from swinging too wildly.


The whole reason for the ‘loudness wars’ on recorded media was to get more perceived volume compared to A.N. Other record, on a medium where 0dB Full Scale is all bits on, and there is nowhere else to go… So you make the quieter bits louder in comparison.

The thing with a live setting, is of course that to make it a bit louder, the sound engineer has this thing that everyone with an iPod has forgotten about, and that’s a gain control.

To be insanely loud in a gig is all about watts and not bits.

Of course you will eventually fall foul of local noise ordinances… In the UK the venue employees are protected by law, so you’ll often find club levels closely monitored, to ensure the bar staff exposure doesn’t exceed the legal limits…

Of course, venues don’t have a duty of care for the punters, so if the bar is sufficiently isolated from the stage, ear-bleedingly high levels can ensue. And not a maximiser in sight :slight_smile:


I do not have too big PA but I have enough (7,5 kW for P.A., 2 kW for monitors) to fill a large pub…

No “loudness maximizers” but DBX driverack which is doing its’ thing as a x-over, eq, spkr protection and…let’s say…master compressor. Coupled with four long throw subs (folded horns) and modest tops it can be fairly loud but still pleasant. Volume / sound pressure is not the most important thing in live public address either…


I have actually been to some shows where they hypercompress the mix to sound like the cds, it can be very taxing on the ears, especially the low end.

Point taken,

In trying to compete for volume, for many years now
dynamics have been pushed out of popular (recorded)
music to the point to where;
to many folks ears, ‘good sound is compressed sound’
because that is all they have heard all their lives.

How many people have heard (in a live setting) a
symphony orch hit over 100db with wooden
instruments only (no amplification of any kind)
or a big band (18 pieces) do the same.

Our notion of what is ‘good sound’ is changing day by day.

It’s the sort of thing that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.