Hi folks. I know this is not the usual topic of discussion here but I feel so strongly about this that I can’t stop myself.
First, I’m a musician, turned live sound engineer, turned studio engineer, turned producer. I love music and am geeky about sound. Therefore, I want to take care of my ears. As hard core as Beethoven was to compose while deaf, if doesn’t sound like a life plan.
Second, you should know that my sister is deaf in one ear. She lost her hearing at her very first rock concert when she and her friends ran to the front of the stage. She was fourteen. One Concert! I’m still pretty ticked about it. My Dad, a musician, dealt with hearing loss from WWII. War is loud. So . . .
I realized that I had to keep my hearing as protected as possible. Given the volume of most control rooms I decided to eliminate other loud activities and, with great trepidation, gave up shooting guns and concerts. I like shooting sports and am pretty darn good at it so this was a loss. I love live music and this one really hurt but having two people I love with hearing loss was a serious warning.
So, what’s the problem? *Sigh.* It’s this: my church built a great new building with a terrific sound system including major subwoofers. Let the conundrum begin.
Every service now sounds like the concerts I’ve had to avoid. My ears still ring Monday morning. That’s 52 concerts a year with Sunday mornings alone. The conversations between professionals, amateur mixers, church congregations and staff are all well documented. Online church policies have been posted, as if that settles anything. Opposing sides are entrenched. It’s a mess.
Here’s what I know to be fact, regardless of outdated government regulations and church policies – we are damaging people’s ears.
If you think otherwise you are wrong. If you think God needs a subwoofer to communicate love you’re wrong. If you think God is somehow uninformed and needs our help to be relevant to the culture you are wrong. If you think people want hipster-god you’re wrong. If you think we can trick or entertain people into a relationship with God you are wrong. If you think God is somehow missing sub-lows go stand in a thunderstorm.
If you think I’m too old and deaf to understand, I would like to refer you to one of my students in the college level class I taught on studio recording. She was fresh out of high school. She loved music, particularly rap. Producing it was her dream career. Then, one day in class she told me she couldn’t understand what I said unless she could see my mouth.
I asked a few questions and found out she had massive subwoofers in her car. She had Beats headphones to emphasize the sub lows of rap. She loved listening loud. Those of you who’ve been around the hearing challenged will realize she was compensating for her significant hearing loss by lip reading.
I have many more stories and reams of engineering data that I will not repeat here and now.
I could go on but let’s talk about solutions. I could stick my nose in at church and be that guy. I could launch a mission to educate and elucidate the dangers of sub-woofer emissions and be that guy. I could post blogs. I could keep the peace and just sit outside until worship is over, as I’m doing now.
Or I could get some serious noise-canceling earbuds. It’s a ridiculous solution for an unnecessary problem but I miss my wife. And worship. Until I can change the world, I guess it will have to do.
Let the discussions begin . . .