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The loudest band in the world is a subject of some dispute in musical circles. Many bands have claimed to be the loudest, measuring this in various ways including with decibel meters at concerts and by engineering analysis of the CDs on which their albums are published. Guinness World Records no longer celebrate "The Loudest Band in the World" for fear of promoting hearing loss.
Sound level may be metered on several ways: Average, maximum level (with the sound level meter set to Fast, Slow, Impulse, or Peak), etc. In addition, there are several decibel scales. Therefore, the decibels on the following list are not necessarily comparable.
Deep Purple held the record and were recognized by The Guinness Book of World Records as the "globe's loudest band" when in a concert at the London Rainbow Theatre their sound reached 117 dB. Three of their audience members were rendered unconscious.
1984 and 1994
American heavy metal band Manowar is one claimant of the title of "loudest band in the world", citing a measurement of 129.5 dB in 1994 in Hanover. However, The Guinness Book of World Records listed Manowar as the record holder for the loudest musical performance for an earlier performance in 1984. Guinness does not recognize Manowar's later claim, because it no longer includes a category of loudest band, reportedly because it does not want to encourage hearing damage.
In 1986, an article by Scott Cohen was published in the February issue of Spin entitled "Motörhead is the Loudest Band on Earth". In this article, Cohen mentions an undated concert in which the Cleveland Variety Theater was damaged when the band Motörhead reached a reported decibel level of 130. Cohen reported that this was 10 decibels louder than the record set by The Who.
Pioneering English House/Electronica band Leftfield became known for the volume of its live shows on the tour to support their debut album Leftism. In June 1996, while the group was playing at Brixton Academy, the sound system caused dust and plaster to fall from the roof. Sound volume was 137 dB.
British punk band Gallows allegedly broke Manowar's next to last record for loudest band in the world, claiming to have achieved 132.5 dB; however, this record was claimed in an isolated studio environment as opposed to live.
On July 15, 2009, in Ottawa, Canada, the band Kiss achieved an SPL of 136 dB measured during their live performance (not the sound check). After noise complaints from neighbors in the area, the band was forced to turn the volume down.
Loud sounds have long been known to cause damage to ears. In Norway, this fact was proved for coppersmiths as far back as 1731. Also acoustic instruments may represent a risk for hearing damages, especially with lengthy exercising in rooms with high reverberation. However, the sound level and the risk have increased with more powerful amplifiers and loudspeakers, and the volume at some concerts is far above the level which may induce such damages without ear protection. 115 dBA (Decibel-A) at average may be risky even after 30 seconds, and a 3 dB increase means doubling the sound level (an angle grinder at 1 m gives about 100 dBA, and in UK, Norway etc., it is strictly prohibited for workers to use it more than a few minutes without ear protection). The sound level claimed at some of Manowar's performances, may cause ear damages almost immediately; the phrase deafening sound should be taken literally. The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 introduced safety limits for daily noise exposure in the UK like 92 dBA as average during 30 minutes.
The notion of "loudness equals greatness" pervades rock music to the extent that it has been satirized. In the mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap, the band is presented by the fictional filmmaker Marty di Bergi, as "one of England's loudest bands". One popular joke from the film features Nigel Tufnel displaying the band's amplifiers which are calibrated up to 11, instead of up to 10, allowing them to go "one louder". As a consequence of this, manufacturers began making amplifiers with knobs that went up to 11, or even higher, with Eddie Van Halen reputedly being the first to purchase one. Marshall, the company that provided amplifiers for the film that the custom marked knobs were applied to, now sells amplifiers such as its JCM900 (first sold in 1990) whose knobs are marked from 0 to 20.
The fictional band Disaster Area (appearing in Douglas Adams's The Restaurant at the End of the Universe), plays concerts which can literally devastate entire planets. The audience listens from a specially-constructed concrete bunker some thirty miles from the stage, and the band plays its instruments by remote control from a spacecraft in orbit around the planet (or around a different planet).
- Kreps, Daniel. “Led Zeppelin II” Turns 40. Rolling Stone
- Jason Ankeny. "Deep Purple". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-12-24.
- McWhirter, Ross (1975). Guinness Book of World Records (14 ed.). Sterling Pub. Co. p. 242. ISBN 978-0-8069-0012-4.
- "The World's Loudest Band, Manowar Kicks It Up a Notch with Meyer Sound and Westfalen Sound". Meyer Sound Laboratories Inc. Retrieved 2008-09-24.
- "Manowar Bio". The Gauntlet. Retrieved 2008-09-24.
- Dawk Sound Limited. "Manowar's Unofficial Founding Member".
- "Manowar's History". MetalYOU.
- Jose Fritz. "Bright Channel: Flight Approved Records". Ear To The Tracks. Planetary Group, LLC.
- Phil Brodie. "UK & WORLD Record Holders".
- Scott Cohen, "Motorhead is the Loudest Band on Earth", Spin 1, no. 10 (February 1986): 36 ISSN 0886-3032.
- "Leftfield Interview" (24). February 2011. Retrieved March 14, 2011.
- "Gallows become the world's loudest band!". Kerrang! magazine. June 2007. Archived from the original (21) on June 26, 2007. Retrieved July 15, 2007.
- "MANOWAR Kicks It Up a Notch with Meyer Sound and Westfalen Sound". antiMusic. Retrieved 2008-10-19.
- "Bluesfest 2009: Bigger, wetter, quieter. It was 'definitely a successful year'". Ottawa Citizen. July 20, 2009. Retrieved July 20, 2010.
- http://www.handboka.no/Kvasyb/Veiled/At/stoykons.htm; in Norwegian
- Norsk Standard NS 8178:20014; Acoustic criteria for rooms and spaces for music rehearsal and performance; in Norwegian
- Prevention Guidelines for Exposure Time for Continuous Decibels; http://www.stuartxchange.org/Noise.html
- Karl French (2000-09-22). "The A-Z of Spinal Tap". The Guardian.
- "Eleven". Spinal Tap A to Zed.
- Jonathan Ringen (2005-11-18). "Music Making Fans Deaf?". Rolling Stone.
- "Mick Fleetwood Tells Boomers How to Keep Rockin' — Responsibly". Healthy Hearing. 2005-04-11. — Mick Fleetwood performs the "World's Quietest Concert" to help educate people about the risks of loud concerts.