busker1 busker2

Four buskers on Grafton Street, Dublin with their decibel levels

Shane D writes:

Further to all the Busking Noise Hullaballoo, some science is needed. I got interested in this one day during the summer when lots of buskers were out out of Grafton Street. I downloaded an app to measure decibels and which also allows you to take a photo of the source at the same time. The results were interesting.
The loudest busker I recorded was 93 decibels. That is almost four times louder than the average background street noise of about 74 decibels (The decibel scale is logarithmic). Most “miked-up” buskers came in at 90-92 decibels, though I once recorded one at 97 decibels! Non-boosted performers come in at 75-83 decibels. That is over five times times quieter than their electric cousins…

36 thoughts on “Busker Do

  1. Sinabhfuil

    Walked past a little lad of about 12 playing classical music on his violin while staring at the ground, as he sat about 15 feet either way from amped-up screechers of 1970s hits. Ban the amps!

  2. BB Queen

    So let Busker = a, a =98dB
    and let Background Noise = b, b = 74dB

    a – b = total busker noise
    total busker noise = 98dB -74dB
    total busker noise = 24dB

    24dB quieter than a rural setting http://tinyurl.com/k4rhyto

    Not too shabby

    1. Thomas

      As is stated in the original post, it’s a logarithmic scale so your arithmetic doesn’t apply. Also seeing as a Busker would be starting from near zero and then getting loud enough to be heard over the background noise, the full 98dB is the buskers own.

      1. BB Queen

        Alas I have been out-maths-ed once again… Still though. Council d*ckheads in offices trying to police art… Grrrrrrr

  3. edalicious

    I’m pretty sure you’ve made some mistakes with your maths there, Shane D. If something is 10dB louder, it means it’s 10 times louder so “The loudest busker I recorded was 93 decibels. That is almost four times louder than the average background street noise of about 74 decibels” doesn’t quite make sense.

      1. edalicious

        Sorry, I made a boo-boo. 10 dB is a doubling of perceived volume, 3dB is a doubling of power and 6dB is a doubling of amplitude, usually used in electronic circuits.

  4. munkifisht

    As I now live in London (a city by the way mostly devoid of street performance) I would like to know what the general consensus is on this busking ban which I only learnt about a few days ago.

    Personally (as if anyone cares). I think the ban totally looses sight of Dublin’s great tradition of street performance. The Irish people are seen the world over as great entertainers, and this isn’t a fallacy. Sure U2, the Frames, Hot House Flowers, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Paddy Casey and Damien Rice all cut their teeth on the streets of Dublin, and wasn’t the city only awarded the best Busking city in the world recently:
    http://www.independent.ie/entertainment/music/dublin-lands-top-spot-on-world-busking-charts-30311448.html
    I think of it as part of Irish culture to get up and preform (that said I’m god awful at karaoke and can’t play an instrument to save my live. Not even that good on the flute) and think if we start to restrict it we will loose something very very special.

    Also don’t think you should ban amps. There may be a case made for noise levels but if you were to ban amps you fundamentally change the style of music that can be played.

    1. Mikeyfex

      I think someone should be appointed to be the only person to have the right to tell a person to stop using amps if the quality is shit. As in just walk over, flash their ID and pull the plug and point knowingly into the empty guitar case on the ground. Someone with impeccable music taste and condescending tone, like Bacchus, lol.

      Fella in Limerick used to just fret-w*nk for 90mins on a Saturday. He might have impressed during a 45 second solo in a song but that was too much and it would have been reasonable to ask him to stop.

      (oh and Mani said you were pretty decent on the flute, etc.)

    2. Just sayin'

      You know people living abroad only get to tell us what to do if they loan us several billion first.

    3. scottser

      sorry, but when you use paddy casey as any kind of case in point, you lose your argument straight away.

    4. Boba Fettucine

      “Sure U2, the Frames, Hot House Flowers, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Paddy Casey and Damien Rice all cut their teeth on the streets of Dublin”

      I don’t think U2 ever busked – bit difficult when you’re a post-punk band.

      Otherwise an excellent justification for an immediate, permanent ban on busking.

    5. Scooperman

      There isn’t a busking ban. There’s a proposed busking ban in Templebar because of complaints from residents.

      1. munkifisht

        It’s much further reaching than that. Buskers will be limited in when they can play (up to 11pm in most places and 1am in Grafton st, and will have to get a licence to play in the city.

    6. munkifisht

      I was holding this one in reserve (either that or I forgot at the time), but you can add Mic Christopher to that list.

  5. x&y

    “five times quieter” really boils my goat. Is that 1/5th as loud or 1/500th? I hate the use of “x times less something”. Is it just me?

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