At FixTheMusic, we receive hundreds of enquiries each year from couples getting married at venues with strict sound limiters in place.
The couples have normally booked an incredible wedding venue (usually a historic building or at an amazing central city location), only to be informed by the venue staff that if they book a band, they need to ensure the band doesn’t make too much noise.
So, why are sound limiters potentially problematic?
Most amplified function bands will reach around 110 decibels when performing live. Sound limiters are usually set to between 80 - 95 decibels. If the noise levels in the room go above the set limit, the supply of electricity to the sound equipment (amplifiers etc.) will be cut. This can be pretty disastrous: the last thing you want when all your guests are on the dance floor is for the music to suddenly go silent.
You can read more about noise limiters in our blog post.
What can I do if my venue has a sound limiter?
If live music is really important to you and your wedding, and you want to hire a function band with drum kit (such as a rock or pop covers band), then you might need to consider hiring a different venue. Whilst some bands are able to play more quietly when there is a limiter in place, it can certainly detract from the overall experience if they have to tone things down.
If you can’t change venue, speak with your band – all of the bands on FixTheMusic have experience of performing at venues with noise limiters and so depending on the particular level, most bands can find a solution, e.g. using hot rods or brushes instead of wooden drum sticks, or even an electric drum kit.
Which bands are recommended for venues with sound limiters?
The following wedding bands all have experience with sound limiters or are perfectly suited to such situations. For example, we find that acoustic roaming bands are a great way to get around onerous noise limiters: they don’t need a PA system or amplifiers and as such are generally much quieter than amplified rock and pop bands.
Wandering Three are our most popular acoustic wandering band. They consist of a violinist and two acoustic guitarists, all singing. Although acoustic, they are still guaranteed to get your guests dancing.
The Manhattan Roamers are a high-energy acoustic roaming band based in London.
They perform modern and classic pop and rock acoustically at weddings, parties and corporate events.
Hiring a duo is another popular option. The Tonics use clever live-looping to make a sound that mimics a much larger band, but as there are only two of them, it means their overall sound level will be much lower than a larger band.
They can add a cajon player to the band for an extra bit of rhythm, which also works well for venues with noise limiters.
Acoustic Nights are a trio consisting of vocals, acoustic guitar and electric drums. The electric drums make this group ideal for venues with noise limits. Unlike acoustic drum kits, with an electric kit, the drummer can adjust the volume to an exact level without compromising on the percussive nature of the sound.
The Sidekicks are a popular 3-piece band based in Somerset. Their repertoire consists of folky pop music, including covers of Mumford & Sons and Ed Sheeran. They frequently perform with an acoustic guitar and double bass – often amplified, but their style means the band is frequently booked for events in more intimate settings and often at venues with sound limiters.
Starboard are an acoustic band based in London, consisting of female vocals, acoustic guitar, sax and cajon. Their acoustic line-up means they are perfect for wedding venues where noise needs to be kept to a minimum. But the size of the 4-piece group means they still grab the attention of guests and have a big impact at each event. They are in particular demand for hire at corporate events in London.
If you prefer a modern jazz or swing band rather than rock or indie band, then look no further than The Swing of Things. Their repertoire consists of modern renditions of jazz classics, as well as jazzy arrangements of current pop songs. They perform upbeat songs in a light arrangement that suit smaller events venues and ones with sound limiters.
So if you’re now ready to receive offers from wedding bands suitable for your wedding with a sound limiter, just tell us about your event and you’ll have appropriate and experienced musicians sending you their offers in a few hours.
And if you're planning your own wedding at a venue with a noise limiter in place, what are your plans for the live music or entertainment? Tell us in the comments section below!
— Ed is a recovering lawyer, having worked at international firm Hogan Lovells in London and Hong Kong before moving to a specialist practice in Mayfair. He left law to return to one of his earliest passions — music.