Noise Management Guidelines.
Possible Noise Sources
The sources of noise giving rise to complaints from local residents vary considerably, but can include music, public address systems, singing or large screen TVs. Additionally plant and machinery, deliveries, car parks, childrens play areas, pub gardens and people outside the premises (especially in smoking areas) may also contribute. From experience we know that the majority of complaints are made as a result of music being audible in nearby noise sensitive premises. Issues usually arise where licensed premises are close to residential premises. Entertainment noise can break out from licensed premises or be transmitted through the structure to the adjoining buildings. Most councils expect that noise associated with entertainment taking place between 11pm and 9am or which takes place frequently at any time of day, should be managed so that it is inaudible inside noise sensitive properties.
The following noise management measures will reduce the risk of unacceptable noise:
Electronic Noise Limiters
An electronic noise limiter is usually the simplest method of controlling amplified noise levels within a licensed premises. Broadly speaking there are two different types of entertainment noise limiter:
Power Cut Off
These units continually monitor the Music Noise Levels (MNLs) in the premises using a microphone and provide a visual warning if preset threshold MNLs are exceeded. If the volume level is not reduced within a few seconds the power supply to the sound systems is cut off. This type of noise limiter works with any sound system brought into the premises provided it is connected to the electrical circuit under the control of the limiter.
Automatic Volume Controller
These are incorporated into the sound system and operate by automatically attenuating the volume level if the pre-set MNL threshold is exceeded. It is almost impossible to detect when attenuation is being applied so customers and DJs are rarely aware of their operation. A permanently installed house sound system is usually required for best results.
Building Structure and Layout
Whilst a Noise Limiter will always solve noise issues as far as neighbours are concerned, it may result in music having to be played at a lower than ideal level for some events. In this case sound insulation and other changes to the building and layout may be appropriate to manage noise breakout and permit the increase of decibel levels inside the premises. It is advisable to seek the advice of an acoustic consultant to ensure that adequate measures are implemented. However, the following guidelines will apply in most licensed premises.
The walls and roofs of most buildings of traditional construction present significant resistance to the transmission of sound. However, where very high levels of music are employed or buildings are constructed of lightweight materials, there may be insufficient resistance to the passage of sound. In these cases additional sound insulation will be required.
Openings in the structure of the premises, such as windows, doors and vents will allow noise to escape easily. Windows should ideally be non-opening and acoustically sealed with specifically designed and installed acoustic secondary glazing. Opening windows should be kept closed during events especially if they are close to noise sensitive premises. If open windows are used for ventilation, mechanical ventilation may be required instead.
Acoustic lobbies at entrances can provide good noise control. It is important to ensure that all doors to lobbies on a fire exit route can be opened easily and rapidly in the direction of exit.
To ensure that doors and windows are not opened unnecessarily during events most Lime Technologies own brand noise limiters permit the connection of door switches which can cut the music or enforce the reduction of music volume when opened.
Ventilation grilles provide no resistance to the transmission of noise unless acoustic baffles or attenuators are fitted. Conservatories or structures with large areas of glazing provide relatively low sound insulation and are best avoided for events with amplified music if an alternative is available.
Marquees allow high levels of noise breakout and are likely to result in noise complaints if situated near to noise sensitive properties. These structures should be sited carefully and positioning behind a building of fence can help to reduce noise nuisance. If bands or DJs play in marquees a noise limiter is likely to by mandatory and the Lime Technologies Portable Noise Limiter is designed specifically for this eventuality.
It is not advisable to hold loud entertainment in premises which are physically joined to a noise sensitive building as noise travelling through the structure can be very difficult to control. If this is unavoidable, careful thought should be given to the positioning and direction of speakers. The speakers should be mounted on anti-vibration brackets or mats and a noise limiter should be fitted. Reducing the bass content of the music should also be considered. It is possible that extensive sound insulation works may be the only noise management solution that will allow music to be played at high volume levels.
Outdoor areas with music are likely to be problematic especially in the summer. These areas should
be located as far away from residential properties as possible and natural screening by buildings,
walls or fences can help to reduce noise nuisance. Regular monitoring and management of outdoor areas
is important. Noise limiters which use microphones to monitor sound levels are difficult to use
outdoors and Automatic Volume Controllers (sometimes referred to as Electronic In Circuit Devices) are usually the best option although these cannot be used
with some types of sound system. Alternatively the Lime Technologies ILX Noise Level Indicator is a low cost product which
provides a warning of high noise levels so that a manager or other responsible person can be alerted and
take control the situation.
Ensure that speakers are pointed away from the most noise sensitive premises and positioned as far away from these premises as possible. If no existing screening is available an acoustic screen should be provided adjacent to noise sensitive premises. Even without music, outdoor areas are liable to be sources of disturbance to nearby residents and it may be necessary to restrict or prohibit public access to a beer garden, terrace, or childrens play area late in the evening and at night.
In order to prevent disturbance
to nearby residents, entertainment venues should fit one of the products
below to control sound levels from bands / DJs or similar.
If you are experiencing noise problems you should first try talking to the person responsible. If you are not
comfortable doing this alone, your local council will put you in touch with a mediation service.
If the issue cannot be resolved by talking to the person responsible, the local authority environmental health department should be able to help.
It is a good idea to make a record of any disturbance you have suffered prior to contacting them. Include the following information:
The address where the noise comes from.
The type of noise - For example: Loud music, dogs barking.
When and for how long the noise occurs - keep a written record of the dates, times, duration and decibel level if possible.
The way the noise affects you - For example: Unable to sleep, Distracted from your work.
The products above can be used to keep a record of the actual noise level.
If you measure a level of over 35 decibels in an otherwise quiet room it could be considered as noise nuisance.