Wedding DJ Blog

Is your Wedding DJ’s music too loud?

Image: Woman holding ears, are Los Angeles DJs too loud? It is a huge honor to be in the category of elite Los Angeles Wedding DJs. As one of the owners of Elegant Event Entertainment, I try to listen attentively to our clients for compliments and concerns in order to constantly try to improve our service.

Although we rarely receive complaints, I recently was reminded that there is one complaint I hear a lot, so often that I’ve nearly become immune to it. Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Orange County – every crowd has someone who mentions this magic topic – volume!

We have a policy when this happens: our DJs immediately walk from behind their DJ table/booth to double check the volume out front, we’ll walk around the room, and if warranted, we will always adjust the volume accordingly. But you can imagine what it’s like for a DJ to get a complaint from 1 or 2 people every night about the music being too loud, especially when hundreds of other guests never say anything at all. I have even had to ask myself if my hearing was going bad, but I am pretty sure it’s not. Some people are just very sensitive to loud music, particularly elderly people.

I have even had complaints where a client felt I should move my DJ set-up, (speakers and all) after a few guests complained that the speakers were blaring in their ears. The problem wasn’t that the music was extremely loud, this was during dinner, however, this table was right next to my DJ system, right in the line of fire of my speakers, and coincidentally, this table had all of the elderly guests seated there. The client’s Event Planner placed me there earlier in the day before any guests had arrived. The floor space was cramped, and although there was an empty stage at one end of the room, I was not instructed to set up on it. Most Event Planners approve the floor plan without ever consulting the DJ, and in their defense, having me on this huge stage all by my self would have looked odd and out of character for the type of event it was. Looking back on it, perhaps I should have overridden the Event Planner, but I assumed I was being placed where the Bride approved me to be. Moving my set up in the middle of the event would have taken at least 30 minutes, it would have been terribly distracting and it just wasn’t an option. Instead, we asked the elderly guests who were seated at this table if they would mind changing tables with a group of 20-somethings on the other end of the room. This wasn’t optimal, but it was our best shot. Problem solved, right? Well almost.

This particular room was acoustically tricky no matter what you did or where you placed the DJ. Wood floors, high ceilings, and other hard surfaces make for a very “live” and “boomy” sounding room. It’s a nightmare for sound technicians. The obvious fix seems to be “add more speakers”. In a perfect world where clients have unlimited budgets for their events, we can optimize sound in a larger room by having “zones” of numerous speakers throughout the room, controlled individually instead of relying on the traditional 1 set of speakers to cover a room. However, this is very a costly option and it’s just not done very often. The typical DJ setup uses 2 speakers placed on either side of the dancefloor or either side of the DJ’s table, and this generally covers the sound in most rooms with no problems. Of course, all of our DJs use professional sound gear, and in most cases, just 2 of the types of speakers we use will accommodate the average wedding or party of up to about 225 guests, inside or out. For larger parties, we bring in more sound gear. But laws of nature are, well, laws. The closer you are to a sound source, the louder it will be. Though speaker technology has improved greatly in the past 10-15 years, there are still sensitive ears that can’t take music at any level.  It is best to plan with this in mind.

If you’re planning a Wedding or Special Event with amplified music, I have listed some suggestion to help you avoid or limit complaints about the volume of music or sound at your Event.

Here are a few steps our DJs take to help with this matter:

1. We Elevate the speakers on Professional Speaker Stands: This gets the sound above the seated guests and helps throw the sound further without having to turn up the volume.
2. We Adjust levels if guests or event managers complain.
3. We keep the volume of music lower during dinner and cocktails and raise it when dancing begins. Our DJs Continually monitor volume levels with professional mixers and our professional ears.

Image: small Los Angeles DJ Set-up

And here are a few things Clients can do to avoid sound complaints from their guests:

1. Make sure that you approve the placement of the DJ before the day of your event. Ask questions about the logistics and acoustics of the room. Ask the DJ for advice and be sure to clear this up before the DJ arrives and is completely set up. It’s likely that if the DJ has to move his equipment, you’ll receive a bill. It takes time and is very distracting to move equipment.
2. Place the DJ near the Dance Floor, and if possible, do not place any table with guests directly beside the DJ. It’s always louder at the DJ booth or near the speakers.
3. Do not place Elderly Guests anywhere near the DJ speakers, they are almost always sensitive to loud noise and they will likely complain. Help make their time more enjoyable and seat them a bit further from the dance floor or designated DJ set up area.
4. Allow your DJ plenty of room for his sound system and setup. Depending on how large your party is and the equipment you rented (i.e. upgraded lights or sound system, movie screens, etc..) the DJ may need a very large space. Most event facilities will show you a diagram of exactly where the DJ will be placed and it’s a good idea to go over this with your DJ a few days before the event.

This Noise Problem can also go the opposite direction. We have had people complain that the music wasn’t loud enough. Since we are primarily Los Angeles DJs, we have to be concerned with noise ordinances in many of the event locations we work. We adhere to those ordinances. Your event facility should tell you about an ordinance if they have one, and you should always ask. At the event we generally alert the guests that we have a noise ordinance to adhere to if we receive too many complaints.

Keep in mind, a  DJ is hired to improve the entertainment value of your event, not detract from it. We are passionate about what we do here at Elegant, and we want your event to be the best that it can be. If you have more questions about DJ sound systems and requirements, where to place the DJ at your event, or about Los Angeles and Ventura County noise ordinances, please feel free to contact me.

Happy Planning!

Comments posted to Is your Wedding DJ’s music too loud?

  • November 9, 2010 at 9:38 pm • Posted by Johnny Mack

    Great post! Sound level is one of those things that you can’t make everyone happy about. But the tip about keeping the elderly away from the speakers if right on!

  • March 12, 2011 at 9:00 am • Posted by daveinsingapore

    great article Jason about sound levels and bad seating…yeah I have been there a couple of times and asides from rotating my speakers so they are not directly pointed at the ‘too close’ tables or having people change tables, there is not much more you can do in the middle of wedding gig. As for what type of speakers to use…I come from a very old school of DJ, where I was taught to put the dance music where it was needed….on the dance floor, and the vocals…when needed…out the back of the room..so when I do have big weddings and I know there will be a lot of speaches, I will put a couple of singles….12″ or 15″ on stands half way down the hall or venue and wind those up when needed for the speaches, and then wind them down during the dancing brackets…using my double 15″ speakers which thump directly on the dance floor…there is no need to wind the volumes up loud and there is less ‘annoying’ levels at the back of the room, cause all the good solid dancing music is going straight to the dance floor at the front of the room….it may seem a bit much, but carrying a couple of singles is nothing compared to my normal rig of double 15″s, my rack always carrys two amps any way, so using one for the singles on poles is never a problem…but then that is the way we do it down this way…btw I worked 25 plus years in New Zealand and now into my 4th year here in Singapore…yep I am an older DJ….

  • February 26, 2012 at 10:18 am • Posted by Phoebe

    Just because most guests don’t complain about volume doesn’t mean they don’t also think it’s too loud. The elderly are just less embarrassed to speak up about it. Just came back from a wedding where the music was way way too loud. Guests were still dancing but not happy with the volume. For the record, I am 27

    • February 26, 2012 at 11:46 am • Posted by Jason

      Thanks for the comment Phoebe. I think some DJs out there are such “gear-heads” that they impress themselves with the amount of speakers and wattage they own so they lug all of this stuff to a gig and instead of impressing you, they merely make your ears bleed and you want to leave early or blow your brains out. I was attending a friend’s Birthday which was held at an outdoor bar/club and the DJ had 2 large powered mackie speakers, about 1500 watts each, which is way more than what I use at most weddings, and there were no more than 75 people at this place. Granted, most of the people were drunk and dancing, but I was not drinking and it occurred to me that the music was so loud, especially the “high levels” or “treble” (which will make you nauseous), that I was ready to head for the exits. The DJ never once walked out of his booth to judge the sound levels, and there wasn’t a separate sound person. It’s up to the DJ to judge this, and if his ears aren’t good or he thinks loud is better, the guests are in for trouble. When you’re at a wedding, even when the dancing is rocking, you don’t want to be thinking about how your ears hurt. There’s no need to blow the speakers to make people dance. My point in the article above is that sometimes, the volume coming directly from the speakers has to be at a certain level to be heard by the entire group particularly during dinner and toasts, so it’s not good to place elderly or small children next to or in the direct line of those speakers because they can be very sensitive to the volume. If at all possible, we like to have some distance between the speakers and the tables, and depending on the size of the room, we like to use several speakers to cover the entire room rather than blasting 1 or 2 speakers. And finally, the levels are important…too much treble and it hurts, too much bass and the sound is muffled, too much mid-level and it’s muddy…your DJ needs to understand sound basics. If you’re hiring a DJ, make sure he understands that the the sound levels don’t always need to be set to “11”, he or she needs to be conscious of and sensitive to the levels at all times during the event. Ask how many speakers the DJ will bring…if you’ve got 100 guests and he says “6 speakers and 2 subwoofers” you’re in big trouble!