A Warning About Sound Limiters

Before you sign on the dotted line to book your venue, we encourage you to ask the following question: Do you have a sound limiter? 

What is a sound limiter?

A sound limiter is a device that monitors the volume of a band or DJ among other things. The device is set to switch off the electricity supply to the stage or performance area if the noise exceeds a set decibel level.

Some venues also use sound compression systems that the DJ plugs into that automatically control the volume.

Although sound limiters have been around for a long time they are being used more aggressively as a condition of a venues entertainment license particularly those in close proximity of residential properties.

Always ask your venue upfront whether they have a sound limiter installed

It is common for venues not to mention until very late in the planning process (if at all) that a sound limiter is installed.

Picture the scene. Its the day of your dream wedding. As you are about to have your first dance, the DJ announces: “Please welcome to the floor the new Mr & Mrs …” As your guests cheer and applaud the music stops and the venue plunges into darkness. Leaving your magical moment ruined, and no music has been played yet, so just imagine how the rest of your evening will pan out!

Why do venues have sound limiters?

Limiters are usually installed for a variety of reasons


Venues that are in residential areas have a duty to keep any noise to a reasonable level. This can form part of their licensing requirements.

Health & Safety

To help venues comply with the noise at work regulations, designed to ensure workers hearing is protected from excessive noise.

Other Guests

Venues such as hotels may want to keep the noise down for other residential guests. Or not impact other functions.

Historical venues

To protect the structural integrity of old and historically important venues from damage caused by excessively loud music, particularly from powerful bass note vibrations.

What level is a sound limiter set to?

These vary from venue to venue. Generally we find they commonly range 80 – 90 decibels. On occasions higher, and sometimes lower.

How loud is 80 - 90 decibels

A normal party usually registers around 100 – 120 db. So your event may sound and feel a little different in a venue with a sound limiter. Check out graphic below to get an idea of the different sound levels.

One important thing to bear in mind is that as soon as guests start singing or shouting, this adds to the noise level in the room. So in reality your music needs to be kept well under this level to minimise the potential for any disruptions.

Here are some volume comparisons to help you

We know decibels can be meaningless. Below are some comparisons to common objects to help you understand the limits.




Low Flying Aircraft


Power Drill


Rock Concert


Crying Baby


Lawn Mower

90 - 95db

Most venue sound limiters seem to be set around this level. We can cope with this but it will impact the atmosphere of your event as it is rather quiet.
A lively audience could activate a sound limiter at this level suddenly cutting the music and plunging you into darkness.


Electric Hedge Trimmer


Busy Restaurant

80 - 85db

This is really too low to provide you with a proper service.


Alarm Clock


Vacuum Cleaner

60 - 65db

Normal Conversation

Impact of a sound limiter

Just because your venue has a sound limiter, doesn’t mean we cannot provide for your event. But we ask clients to be aware of the potential repercussions.

System Calibration

There is never a guarantee that the limiter has been correctly installed, or maintained. So the limit may not be accurate. And could trip at a lower level than originally anticipated.

Disrupt Your Event

The flow of your party may be interrupted. Some limiters require venue staff to reset. So the power could be off for an indefinite period of time if they are not readily available.

It's Not Our Fault

Your guests will probably be unaware of the situation, and will assume this is a fault with our equipment. Going to complete silence in the middle of a song will result in a number of confused faces.

Accept Its Going To Happen

No venue is going to want to put you off booking, and will tell you there's never a problem. Or it's not a big deal. However no sound limiter sit's there and doesn't function, otherwise it wouldn't be there. Accept that at some point during the event it is going to come into effect.

It Doesn't Just Monitor The DJ

Sound limiters measure the noise in the room. So your guests singing, cheering, applauding all contributes to the overall level in the room, which can trip the limiter. Whilst we can keep our music levels within the boundaries of the limiter we cannot control the crowds voices. And may have to reduce the volume to compensate for this.

Equipment Damage

Sound limiters can and do damage expensive equipment. Fuses and speakers can blow when suddenly powered off and on again, or as a result of signal spikes when the limiter kicks in. Although we take the necessary precautions and bring spare equipment with us there is the potential this could disrupt your event.