Mobile Disco

A warning about sound limiters

Before you book your party in with a venue, we encourage you to ask the following question:

Do you have a sound limiter?

A Typical Sound Limiter

If they say ‘Yes’, we urge you to consider another venue. Here is why.

Sound limiters are boxes on the wall wired in the power sockets within the room it's in, and they are are designed to monitor the amount of noise within the room. When the amount of noise reaches a set threshold (typically around 95db, or roughly the equivalent noise level of a food processor), it cuts the power to the sockets.

So you can imagine that it can very easily happen during a disco or live music. Although 95db tends to be the level most limiters are set to, we have known some sound limiter thresholds to by much lower, and there are venues have limiters as low as 75db, which is roughly the same level of noise of a vacuum cleaner.

Typically, they are installed because the venue is relatively close to residential houses, and residents have complained about the noise coming from the venue to the local council. Forcing a venue to have a limiter fitted is one of the actions a local council can take in order to address persistent noise complaints. There are also some hotels have chosen to have sound limiters installed even if they are not required to by the council, as they are worried about parties taking place disturbing other guests who may be trying to sleep.

While we fully appreciate the reasoning behind sound limiters and why venues have to have them installed, they do have the potential to ruin your party.

Unfortunately, we find that many are incorrectly or unreasonably set-up and very difficult to work with. As a mobile disco operator, we can control the volume of the music and can turn it down. What we cannot control is the noise your guests make, and more often than not, it’s the sound of guests clapping, singing and cheering which trip sound limiters.

A recent example of a limiter interrupting proceedings was at a wedding. Just when the bride and groom were coming towards the end of their first dance, all the guests started clapping and cheering, that noise tripped the limiter, cut the power and stopped the music. It then took a couple of minutes while venue staff reset the limiter, by which time most guests had sat back down, and the atmosphere was destroyed.

We are aware that, when anything stops the music during a disco, normally guests assume that we have a problem or have done something wrong and we are looked upon negatively when it’s often out of our control.

Finally, there is the possibility of damage caused to our equipment. Our sound system requires a clean, uninterrupted power supply, which needs to be switched on and off in a specific way. When power is simply cut, and then re-applied, the resulting surge could damage the amplifier and blow the speakers.

Sound limiters are for any live entertainment a nightmare (especially for a live band when they typically cannot control the volume). Usually, we do our best to try and get everyone at your party up, singing and dancing the night away. When a sound limiter is present, we spend most of the night watching it and continually trying to keep noise below the limit, which means making sure your guests DON'T clap, sing or cheer, for fear of the noise tripping the limiter.

We urge all our clients to avoid venues with sound limiters fitted where at all possible. We have flagged several venues in our area which have sound limiters on our Venues Page.