160,000 watts of RUSH — how loud is that, really? Turns out, only about 8 times louder than a 300 watt amp! And only about 16 times louder than a 30 watt amp!

The carryon about one-hundred and sixty thousands watts, holy cow, that’s huge! actually breaks down this way: Every doubling of power is represented as 3dB. It takes 10dB difference to make something sound “twice as loud” or “twice as quiet”.

So 160,000 watts only sounds about twice as loud as 20,000 watts (that’s about 9dB difference, which is almost 10dB difference, which “sounds twice as loud”).

20,000 watts only sounds about twice as loud as 2,500 watts.

2,500 watts only sounds about twice as loud as 312 watts.

So that’s a total of only 3 doublings, or “sounding twice as louds” — so 312 watts is only about 8 times less loud compared to 160,000 watts.

Because the Fletcher-Munson curves of hearing response further affect perception of loudness, it is apparent that the seemingly whopping 160,000 is really not all that much, when you figure in distance from speaker to listener, figure in absorption of sound pressure energy by bodies, clothing, water-heavy exhalation of tens of thousands of listeners, and the high probability that the speakers are by design “heavy-duty”, and therefore, inescapably, “low-efficiency” so as to preclude being damaged easily.

The fact that you can hear all of your nearby neighbors, whilst at any position in the arena, at least somewhat compared to the 160,000 watt powered stacks proves how important distance is to sound pressure level, i.e., how quickly the energy dissipates (at square of distance, theoretically).

Given that Rush was from its core an highly intellectual-oriented band, IMO it’s shameful that the pro road crew and probably 99.9999% of listeners likely have no idea about this basic physics of acoustic and perception.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMM8JqKP4uw&t=600s

More here https://milbert.com/articles/how_loud_is_50_watts

 

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