Why does rock concert sound suck?

I have been to two rock concert in the past year : Brit Floyd in Bridgeport CT and Eric Clapton at Madison Square Garden, NYC (last Monday)

For Brit Floyd I was about 40 feet form the stage and treble end was an ear-splitting distorted sound - the soprano solo on Dark Side of the Moon sounded like a chain saw running at 5x speed.

For Eric Clapton I was sitting at floor level about 20 rows behind the mixing desk - i.e., the opposite end from the stage. In this case the high top end was not so distorted, but the voices were still very harsh - seemingly a massive response peak at ~1500hz. Imagine AM radio with the treble turned up 20db.

I knew a lot of the words form the songs ahead of time of course, and just about recognized them, but otherwise the lyrics were unintelligible. The only exceptions were when he sang a quieter song - e.g., “Tears in Heaven” . Clapton moved back from the mic rather than place his mouth right next to it. Then the sound was quite listenable .

Of course managing the acoustics in such a big venue is no doubt a challenge — but does it have to be this bad?


Especially since they have had Rock Concerts for decades now and all the money spent, you would think they could do a better job.


Because they think that louder is better. Gone are the days of making good sound in any venue, The Dead and ELP come to mind for QC.

By now many soundmen are deaf above 5kHz.

In the 70’s I sat 5th row for ZZ Top. Loud AND sweet.

Or maybe it was the Mad Dog 2020.

Agree with above, the musicians are also deaf I went to see Carl Palmer at a small venue and he kept ordering the volume to be increased until it was painful and drove folks out, the same with Mick Taylor and also The Other Ones.

The House of Blues when in Cambridge was the same concert going should be enjoyable.

What's there to fix. Go to concert, look around, masses loving it, you, the audiophile cringing, too bad for you. Live rock concerts and audiophiles hardly ever mix well.

"In the 70’s I sat 5th row for ZZ Top. Loud AND sweet.

Or maybe it was the Mad Dog 2020."

I bet you still have a thumpin'  headache...

I remember I went to a "YELLOWJACKETS" concert at the Berklee performance center in Boston 88. They had just released their album "Four Corners". The back up artist was Larry Carlton who played lead guitar on Kid Charlemagne. He had his set up SOO loud it hurt my ears so rather than get a ringing too early in the show I sat there mid 10th row with my fingers in my ears throughout his entire set. His volume just overloaded the hall. The Yellowjackets on the other hand, had their volume set at a lower volume. The drummer was on the back of the stage left side at a 45 dgree angle facing the mid hall with a oriental rug under his drumset, Which I believe helped to soften the kickdrum's reverberation off of the stage and into the hall. All in all the sound was much more evenly balanced. And yes their performance was I thought very close to the recording.

WAY too loud.  That is my major complaint.  I could deal with the distortion if it was at 90 db or less.  Plus, if was less loud the distortion would drop considerably.   We see concerts that are not "rock" and big venues and they are amazing and very clear.  

I don't go to rock concerts for sound quality it just needs to be loud. And I've found MSG to be a good sounding venue.

Been to plenty of rock concerts in my years. I no longer attend many of them, as they're way overpriced these days (for my budget), and yeah, IMO, with all of the latest fancy sound gear that's out these days, I'll chime in also saying that I think 95% of the time the sound is not to my liking. Summerfest in Milwaukee WI comes to mind. Plenty of outdoor stages where you can walk from one to the other. Almost all of the time the subs are overly emphasized, and the rest of the mix is muddy. I've thought this numerous times when being there. I happened to see Nick Lowe in the past few years at another location, and my friend and I both thought the sound was horrible, so much so, we didn't even stick around for the whole show. I happened to be at a State Fair this summer and heard a stage where a 12 piece big band was playing along with dancers and singers (lots of wireless mics for the singers dancing around). There was probably a crowd of 1,000 that was there for this performance. The sound was absolutely perfect and amazing. Spectral balance and loudness level was just right (IMO). Sometimes, for my taste, some get it right, although these days, I'm most times much happier simply enjoying my system at home.  

Most venues are multi- purpose. I find older venues sound worse. Heavy metal is difficult to mix, Saw Iron Maiden on their last tour and sound was great even with a loud crowd. Saw Judas priest and it was not near as good. After touring 40 to 50 years Iron Maiden has it perfected.

I have to disagree with the central premise of this thread, and kindly suggest that some bands should not play some venues.  I saw My Morning Jacket this summer at a small outdoor theater in Dillon CO.  The sound was impressive beyond belief.  I do station myself as close to the mix board as possible, and in this case was directly to the right of it.  I also saw Spiritualized recently at a small indoor venue in Chicago and the sound there again was very good.  GA show, make sure you're not under any overhangs or balconies for an indoor show and you're in good shape.  

If we are talking repurposed basketball arenas with assigned seats then yeah, not going to be the best experience.  This technology though is worth keeping an eye on....I thought U2 dabbled in it prior.  

Last thing I'll add is some people want the live experience to sound exactly like the record.  F that.....to me the live experience is about how well the band adapts, evolves and presents that song in this new venue outside the studio....that's the true test.  

One big mistake at the pro level is to think that electronic manipulation of the actual room acoustical problems will somehow fix them.

Never has, never will. Mitigate to some small degree, yes. but turn it around and make for a ’higher quality in the same scenario than without electronic manipulation?’ No.

They tell you to fix the room (acoustics) first, for some very important fundamental reasons and no amount of electronic measurement and subsequent purely electronic manipulation will ever change that. Mitigate some of the greater issues, with regard to our immediate realization/sensitivity of said problems? Yes. But... fix? No, not at all.

Electronic manipulation of acoustics is an ill conceived badly applied sometimes half-trick pony, at best.

the modern version of pro sound has this electronic manipulation of concert and venue acoustics ’repair and/or mitigation’ as being quite prominent, it has ’gone mainstream’.

so now we have the combined problem of ’overpowering the room with volume/power’ which was the prior norm before the extreme levels of digitization that are currently in use (in fix attempts), combined with electronic manipulation fixes.

Just...Great. The worst of both worlds.

I guess they never got the memo on acoustics as good acoustics is more difficult to achieve. It’s probably that the money and the ease of the idea (lazy or incapable, or some combination thereof) was just too darned appealing.

"Thinking is difficult, therefore let the herd pronounce judgment!" ~Carl Jung. Or, as said in Monty Python.. "Very small rocks!"

@mtbiker29 Thanks for posting that a friend and I were just talking the other night about the Sphere Center about to open in Vegas and whether Phish would play there vs the MGM.

I can’t tell you how many terrible sounding concerts I have been to.

I stopped going to amplified concerts over twenty years ago. I had to put paper in my ears to prevent hearing damage. I still had access through conferences I attended every year… I would stuff napkins in my ear… seldom have i lasted more than one or two tunes.

I have been to the Orange County Conference center, Orlando at least a dozen times. It sounded pretty good once.

Generally too loud, difficult acoustics, electronics built more for volume versus quality, In house audio engineer… well, I don’t know what is wrong with them. I am sure one could come up with a half dozen more.


Even twenty five years ago my system sounded much better than I could hear at a concert. Also, I hate fighting to claim seats.


However, I have had season tickets to the symphony for over ten years. Reserved seats on the aisle, front and center. From my seat if a violin soloist is playing a Stradivarius it takes me a couple notes to be able to tell. The sound hole of the violin is pointed at my seat. This also helped me calibrate my hearing for choosing electronics. Has been one of the most positive influences in audio for me.

Never sit close to the stage as it is really loud. I went to a Deep Purple concert in 73 and was sitting second row with the left speaker almost in my face. My ears rang for over a week. I believe that was the beginning of my hearing loss. After that, I always brought ear plugs with me to concerts.

Just saw Brandi Carlile at Red Rocks and the sound was terrible. Far, far too loud and just awful. In addition, so many people around us just talked loudly throughout the entire concert!

This has been my experience over the last few years without exception. My wife and I have decided we will no longer attend concerts at large venues as the experience is no longer enjoyable.

Saw both Rickie Lee Jones and Aimee Mann at smaller theatre venues and really enjoyed those concerts.

Probably because it doesn't always suck. I've been to hundreds of rock concerts and some have had absolutely pristine sound, like hearing it on a great hi-fi system. And sure, plenty sound horrible, too. Venue, sound crew, lots of reasons... 

Most of the concerts I go to I am wearing ear plugs these days, no need to aggravate tinnitus, I go for the show not the sound quality which is poor +90% of the time especially in the large venues.  No doubt there are exceptions

The larger the venue is, the worse it will probably sound. When you add in the stratospheric prices at most of the larger venues, this is not a good mix.

Learn where the good sounding venues are in your area and support them. In the past year I've seen King Crimson, The Ocean Blue, Gang of Four, Steve Hackett, Joe Jackson, China Crisis and Norah Jones. All of them were in good sounding venues and the cumulative ticket price of those shows was far less than what a ticket would have cost me to see Elton John or Van Morrison when they recently passed thru town

I never thought that it would happen, but I LEFT an Elton John concert right at the beginning! Loud was not word for it. Jet engine loud was a better description. I could feel the MIDRANGE bouncing off the wall. Too bad.


 Went to a YES concert many years ago. It was nearly perfect in spite of the fact the concert was at a multipurpose venue. Never a good sign.

 Last concert was a cover band for Led Zep. Completely incredible, and not damaging. High level of talent there. Was very surprised.

I was once at a concert by the Cars, on the Panorama tour, and of all bands, this was one of the loudest I'd ever heard - the PA was blowing the hair on my head and punching me in the gut and blasting my ears!! Yes, Grand Funk did that once to me in the early 70's, but this was the CARS!

But I think a lot is down to the sound crew - there are some venues I've been at a great many times, and most bands sound excellent, but a few bands sound as atrocious as can be in the same venue. 

But then there are bands like the Grateful Dead who always put big, big emphasis on sound, back to the days when Owsley Stanley was their extremely innovative sound man. I've heard the Dead sound superb in all kinds of venues, inside and outdoors. 

A lot has to do with who is running the mixing boards I have heard 3 bands at one concert and the speaker setup used and most important the mixer board  to set the 

tine ,i have  seen some have a person on the floor and relaying , and others juston  stage what they think is best, mixing is an art in itself .


I’m a decades long pro musician (basically retired now) and small venue live sound mixer. Most people have absolutely no idea how modern sound systems work, including claims of "electronic manipulation." Huh? You mean EQ? The mains mixer has all the control, and it’s up to that person to make things sound good. Go to a concert at the Berkeley Music Hall and see things done right...I avoid large shows mostly because of dumb crowds and bad sound, but sometimes we get invited to something like a few years ago seeing Steely Dan (with Becker) with Elvis Costello opening at some gigantic outdoor thing in Boston...sounded great. Paul Simon and Sting at the Garden from a "box" sounded great...Jeff Beck some years ago at the House of Blues with perfectly balanced sound. So hey...good things CAN happen. Talked into going to the last day of the Newport Folk Festival a while back and the sound people must have been asleep...inexcusably bad sound at a legendary show...Gillian Welch played her first couple of songs, and note these guys use 3 mics or something, and she had to ask the sound people to turn on the guitar mic of the brilliant David Rawlings...man...I could go on and on and on...wait...I just did.

@larsman +1

Ahhh...the good old Owsley Stanley "Wall of Sound" days.  That was by far the best outdoor sound I've ever heard.  You could actually use audiophile terms to describe it.  

OTOH the worst was McCartney at Giants stadium which was so loud all the lighting fixtures were vibrating/buzzing loudly.



It has been a long time since I went to a big concert and ended up at Red Rocks and seeing The War On Drugs and support this week. The sound was  interesting. Lots of washy echo, clear yet layered guitars, keyboard synths and a bass so firm my mid chest vibrated (and I kept telling myself to buy a subwoofer). It sounded for all its loudness completely involving and visceral. The live impact was huge and that idiot audiophile thought that my system should capture it an obvious pipe dream, unless I want to build a room the size of a hall and put a PA system in place! I was with another audiophile and we both said how much we had missed such gigs. In the end the sound does suck but that’s not why you go. The sheer presence, volume and of being there made the band so much better than their recordings and that musical immediacy far outweighs pristine HiFi sound. Sure smaller venues or better rooms sound a lot more HiFi and artists with more complex and intimate sounds suit those venues well. But for a rock concert with a rock band, then that’s different. In the end recorded music and gigs are very different experiences and long may it remain so.

@barts + 1 - Yeah, I saw/heard that 'Wall of Sound' a couple of times, and Owsley was doing their sound from before that, almost as far back as their beginning. He was brilliant, and the Grateful Dead live sound quality continued on well past Owsley until the end. They always had serious sound systems and sound crews.  

I'm not a big fan of the audience singing every song either. The first time this really bothered me was at a Tim McGraw show about 15 years ago. I think every audience member sang every song, and very loudly too. Guess what, I didn't pay to hear the *audience* sing these songs, I paid to hear the *artist* sing these songs. If that's now the norm, see ya later. 

Happy I saw Pink Floyd throughout the years on two different outdoor stadium tours. Sound quality always seemed to be perfect. I know for sure that one of those tours supported a quad sound system, and it sounded excellent. I saw Christine McVie when she was touring for her 1984  solo album. It was at a venue that was noted for symphony performances, and not only was Christine's performance stunning, but the sound quality was outstanding. I'll never forget it.

I will also mention a few live recordings that I think incorporate the venue well - Chicago Live at Carnegie Hall, and Atlanta Rhythm Section's Are You Ready.   

@dpop Totally agree, drives me nuts!. Really crazy how audience behavior has changed over the decades. This as it pertained to rock concerts and personal experience. Early 70's audiences rather reverential in that they were totally engaged with performance, quiet and even sitting in their seats with exception of encores. This behavior was common at indoor venues, outdoor or festival audiences far more rowdy. Over time audience participation increased, I really think Peter Frampton's Come Alive release exacerbated the audience as participant in performance thing, Springsteen certainly added to it.


As far as recent sound quality at shows, I've seen Railroad Earth, Beach House and War On Drugs at same local venue, Railroad Earth best of three. This theatre has pretty bad room acoustics and house sound reinforcement guys have no idea, louder and louder better for them. Railroad Earth saved by being more acoustic based band. Saw Kraftwerk recently at another venue, much better room acoustics here and house sound reinforcement guys controlled volume much better.


The problem largely lies with house sound guys and equipment, you learn some venues never produce good sound. In order to get good sound, very high likelihood band has to have their own sound guys,  equipment, and how many bands have the resources or even care about good sound quality to do that.



After attending a couple of terrible sounding shows at an outdoor venue in San Antonio, I swore I'd never attend another show there. That is until Steely Dan was booked. I figured if their sound guy couldn't tame the sonic issues there, then no one could.

Sure enough, it only took him about 5 songs into the opening act (Michael McDonald) for Steely Dan's sound guy to dial in the sound. So, as has been mentioned numerous times, the sound guy has a huge influence on the issue of good or bad sound. 

Having actually done live sound for large venues I can tell you that at best it is extremely difficult, trying to work with the acoustics of the venue, the artists (onstage monitors are a completely different mix with different objectives from the house mix), the road managers who love to backseat drive the mix, often with little or no regard for overall sound quality. Add to that most sound guys have little or no formal training in sound reinforcement, architectural acoustics, or even basic listening. There are notable exceptions, many already mentioned, the last gig I helped produce was in the chapel at Bastyr University outside Seattle. We hired Morgan Sound for the job, and when they learned the venue, they assigned one of their 'A' crews. Bastyr Chapel is long, narrow, tall and very reverberant. It required 4 speaker sets, the second set delayed about 60 msec  to account for the distance from the primaries. They pulse tested the rig to set the delay, and only eq'd using the singer's voices to get a natural sound. The result was exceptional. These guys were pros. More recently I heard the Mavericks, and their opening act sound was hideous, both muddy and harsh, basically a mess. The mixer clearly had no idea what they were doing. The Mavericks were a revelation, same gear, same venue, different hands on the controls.  controls. They sounded great, and the volume was appropriate. 

Thevbest recorded example of how tough live sound can be is the the track "Stay" from Jackson Brown's " Running on Empty".  At one point you can clearly hear the system being pushed hard by the performance and the vocals start into feedback, only to be caught just in time by the monitor mixer and pulled back, into control. Believe me, because the show was being recorded, the mixer saved himself an uncomfortable post-show moment, and maybe even got a thanks for that. The result on the record is the the band, the vocals, and the system all giving everything they have for the music, and it's there for all to hear. Some days it just all comes together like that.

It's too bad that a good home hi fi set up can & often does sound better than many live rock concerts. Small venues (less than about 400) can still sound really good but the larger venues rarely do; very hard, upper midrange peaky, boomy loose bass & shrill highs. This is the worst example of what the solid state / horn combo can do if poorly done. 

IMO, here's the reason & when I was in pro sound reinforcement, this wasn't the case. The use almost universal use now of arrays from just maybe 6 speakers to upwards of 20 powered by high powered, well built, very reliable but sound crappy class D amps. The theory of the array is to try to create the same sound balance for every seat in an arena w/ minimal "sweet spots". The benefits of the pro class D amps are obvious but sacrifice a  lot. Almost Every instrument in a band is now run through this stupidly loud, hard as hell sound system & the beautiful magic of stacked Marshalls or Fender tube powered amps is lost.

I saw the Grateful Dead many times in the 70's, never w/ their short lived, giant "wall of sound" system ,but w/ a very good one that included about 30 Macintosh 2300 amps, & piles of Altec & JBL speakers. The sound was truly dynamic, meaning loud only when it was supposed to be & not continually, crisp, clean & beautiful. It was the same w/ many great shows I saw at Radio City Music Hall in NYC back then w/ many great bands. If you had a good seat, fantastic sound & if not it was ok. Today, its pretty bad in any seat but arenas are still filled so no one seems to care.  

I guess the sound today of rock concerts is on par w/ the music itself...... loud, bland, boring & bordering on unlistenable. 




Thank you @wolf_garcia ​​​​@panzrwagn for sharing and validating that yes, it can be done.  

@sparksgja "Lots of washy echo, clear yet layered guitars, keyboard synths and a bass so firm my mid chest vibrated (and I kept telling myself to buy a subwoofer). It sounded for all its loudness completely involving and visceral."  - sounds like you got the War on Drugs exactly as you should have.  Love that band.  

Honestly (and not to be mean) the rest of this thread should be followed up with a "Get off my lawn" type of complaint.  Know the venue, know your band, and set expectations accordingly.  

Sincerely, fellow grey haired gentleman.  

I put my money on the venue/structure and the design/build in the bad acoustics. Where I come from is a great example, in Edmonton Alberta, Rodgers Place(home of the NHL Edmonton Oilers), is perfect venue for concerts in its design and sounds awesome. When they built the building concerts/music was part of the design/build. Now go south down the highway to Calgary Alberta, and the Saddle Dome(home of the NHL Calgary Flames), the building is shaped like a "saddle" and every concert I've been to there, the acoustics suck...bad, really bad! 

Blaming Class D phased array speakers is silly...a good sound mixer can make nearly anything work well. Also, now that in-ear monitors are nearly universally adopted, the on stage levels can be anything. A little history: Piles of Altec A7s or similar JBL boxes were standard (often with Mac amps) until maybe the mid 70s when Clair Bros. boxes (or similar) were introduced. They could have JBL 15s with other JBL horns and tweeters in a single box often stacked or flown)..often powered by piles of Phase Linear amps...anybody think those amps sounded better than modern Class D arrays? No they did not...the days of super loud crowd blasting sound had arrived.

’electronic manipulation’, wolf, in this case...means ’dsp based acoustic redress’, or some similar meant set of words. But the paragraph,and half the post’s intent was that it as all about DSP based attempts at acoustic manipulation so for me to say it in that specific sentence was not required.

You CHOSE to quote it out of context.

When others say something you don’t have to go out of your way to misinterpret what they say, so you can put a chip on your shoulder about them, and then attack that thing you created. It’s disingenuous. then you proceed to lambaste that person as uninformed an an idiot in a smarmy round about condescending way.

Grow up child. You attempt to appear as an adult; Then show yourself to be one.

IMO it’s a large part of why your commenting PO’s a notable number of people. It’s missing critical aspects of human integrity in the idea of sharing space on a forum and relating.

I PO people for different reasons. To each their own ability to PO, I guess.

An entirely different genre, but last night I went to a rave held in a 100 year old warehouse in Detroit. Not surprising that such a venue not at all conducive to good sound. Concrete floor, high ceiling, metal beams. Highly reflective surfaces everywhere. The sound engineers always crank the bass at events like this, and 24 18" subwoofers in a relatively small space pressurizes the room. The treble was the worst part. On multiple occasions it became ear piercing. Attending such an event and expecting good sound is foolish. Best to set aside critical listening and indulge in the experience.

There are many reasons rock shows generally can sound awful. For one thing, and the most important one is that most of these arenas are not designed for sound quality at all. They are echoey, sound smearing, godawful places of zero acoustics.  All the DSP in the world isn't going to tame that mess. 

In such venues, the best that can be done is to make the show an "experience" with tons of body shaking low bass and a light show to blow your mind.

When you go to a show you aren't paying to see someone in a recording studio. If you get lucky and your band is playing a quality hall, say where a symphony orchestra plays, or a smaller theater with some sound treatment on the walls, you are lucky.

I've seen countless shows over the last 45 years, and the sound quality has run the gambit from great to crap. 

My favorite venues are either outdoor ones that don't have echoey sound or smaller indoor venues having 200 to 2000 people. Think bar shows up to modest venues. They seem to offer your best chance of hearing good sound. 

For instance, over the last 30 years I've gone to an outdoor music festival of Americana/Rock/Jazz/Bluegrass called Merlefest. And the sound there is GREAT, mainly because those running the soundboards actually care. 

Lol a friend and myself went to a bar that had an Irish  band playing for st Patrick s day. On there break asked if they would like us to setup the system  a bit better they said sure asked us what we knew about it told them we were both audio files  and it was a life time hobbie we got the speakers close to equal distance  from the wall leveled them somewhat close one was at leat 2 feet lower than the other did a few basic things they started to play the first song and stopped mid song and thanked us. After the show they offer us a job!!! Lol had fun that night. 

Sound men start with the drums, getting a great-but-too-loud sound from the kit.  Then they do the same with the bass.  After that there's nowhere for the higher pitched instruments and vocals to exist.  And it all sounds like crap.

My wife and I were once at a Los Lobos outdoors show and the sound was so bad we decided to go home.  As we were walking away we hit a point where the sound was decent enough so we sat there and stayed for the rest of the concert.  So it can be a relative thing.

The most painfully loud band I ever heard was the 13th Floor Elevators at the Safari Club in Baytown, Texas ca. 1968.  This was long before big PA systems so I'm not sure how they managed to do it.  Small room, I guess.

I’ve become very picky over the venue choice v. the performance to be attended. Leaning towards smaller halls, outdoor venues, and who is headlined and what they do....

Larger venues, esp. outdoors, draw fans that either spend too much time on a cell or loud chatting with whomever you came with. Esp. with the $ for even a mediocre seat (tending to under a balcony or nosebleed...

The cheers/yowling of the audience is my downfall, the 'beige racket' typically louder than the flown drivers on stage.  I've literally had my ears go 'pop' and toss the towel.  Between that and loud machinery, my hearing required earplugs, later aids for just the day by day...

I’ve been to enough concerts over the span to ’who/where’ determines go or no go.
Overall, it’s served me well...but I still take 3 earplug pairs with me:
Vibes, a ’high fidelity’ version which knock Everything down 15 dB, or...
Hearos, a ’roadie’ plug from Guitar Center. Attenuation varies with fq, 2.7 to 4.9,
’Shop plugs’, used in our wood shop, that slam the door on everything (great ’escape’ plugs, last used for a Dave Matthews gig in a basketball bathtub...worst ever of his attended...spouse is a fan of the ’early’ stuff...)

Fortunately, more good than awful. The occasional ’flawless’:

Paul Simon, Cyntia Woods Pav., north of Houston. Terrific thunderstorm prior to and delaying the opening of the set, we watched as the front rolled in, soaked Everyone (we had grown a brain, rented chairs and brought a tarp (had noted the forecast and the radar...). Opened with ’rainforest noodling’, perfect choice that brought cheers...
Same venue, The Blue Man Group to a 33.3% crowd, the Complex Tour. (A lot of which is on YT; ’I Feel Love’ w/Venus Hum vocal is a good example). More percussion horsepower imaginable handled nicely. And just f’n Fun...

Talking Heads~David Byne: Previous at the Greek Theatre, Berkeley, Byne twice right here in AVL, small hall. Both times, front row balcony dead center. Pefect.
First tour had a player on a Stroh violin, which went great with what was being performed. Second tour had St. Vincent as guest vocalist on some of her ’compostions’....

Others: Anything Bill Graham had anything to do with back in the Bay Area.....within ’practical limits’...

I suspect all had their own mix crew, sure sounded that way...

Over the last decade or so, about 90% of the concerts I've attended have had atrocious sound.   I just don't go to many anymore...bad sound damages my ears; bad sound is unpleasant; bad sound prevents me from hearing the artistry that drew me to the concert in the first place; bad sound wastes my money and my time.  I've never understood why a band would carefully craft an amazing sounding album and be content with lousy live reproduction of it.

@77jovian , down with that....👍

Living where we do, most concerts are min. 2+ hours away (Raleigh/Durham, Charlotte, Knoxville...Atlanta is an overnight, and it had better be 'early seat pick')

If I expect it to be an issue, we don't go.  So much easier to cue up a file of some source and enjoy it on my own sound reinforcement...and my own 'mix'. ;)

Don't have to tip-toe through the too-tripped with beer at ridiculous $s', can light up something of a non-retail variety without making the 'down-wind' crowd start head swiveling for source, Sal stoner with gal Sally either howling like wolves or loud on the cells...

I often wished for a jar of ether with a battery fan....My version of The Cone of Silence...*L*

That, and aerosol LSD...

"You're not f'd up enough...."  *psssht*

Any further yowls will be far more primal, and we'll 'relocate'....😏

I can accept people commenting on bad sound as hey, people pay for a good experience and they should have one whether it’s an audience that behaves themselves (note that classical concert attendees are very touchy about audience jerkwads, although jerkwads still show up), or clean sound. The goal for mixing should be to have an audience not notice it. I can’t accept pseudo expertise in a field I know something about so I will feel free to share my knowledge because after all...I’m a giver. Feel better teo? Good...I knew you would. Note that sound mixers don’t start with the drums and bass...in large venue mixing you simply get a signal from all the mics or direct line feeds in their respective channels and mix ’em. I mention "large venue" because in smaller shows (under 500) it’s not uncommon for musicians to crank an amp up too much and ruin the mix...about which there’s nothing the sound mixer can do other than anger a musician, and you don’t want to do that.

I have to agree with many posters here that the Grateful Dead sound very good live. U2 sounds like their recorded music are they compressing their sound on purpose? I have been very fortunate to see allot of live music, for me it is usually the treble shelving that is most annoying.  Deep Purple was another great sounding show come to think about it but Alice Cooper's show was just plain weird...



I friend of mine (who also helped me set up my home system) set up the sound system for Hamilton - both for the touring shows and for Broadway.

He explained some of the incredible lengths they went to  make the amplified sound as realistic as possible .

These included adding a small delay to the feed from singers at the back of the stage, so the listeners would perceive a more natural sense of depth.

Big concert venues are fundamentally lousy for most contemporary music - the echos and delay just smear all the sound. Perhaps the excess volume is to try and drown out that problem?  

Small clubs much easier because the audience itself deadens the room & makes sound much clearer - but volume remains a choice & sometimes bands & mixers make bad choices even in venues suited for the music 

Before amplification, music was composed in harmony with its venue (think chamber music vs. organ, or choral)…it seems hard to overcome those fundamentals - so, see the music one loves and try not to worry too much about the inevitable issues (earplugs really help at rock concerts, btw - brings down the volume & makes music much clearer)

I think MSG sound not bad (relatively) because it’s actually pretty small (so audience has proportionately more sound absorption) and has a lot of tiers - deader space than many large venues


I saw the fantastic Hamilton show at the beautiful Providence Performing Arts Center. Great show , great venue ( completely re-done to bring back its majesty) & I was about 20 rows back in the center of the Orchestra. Sound was fair at best, very hard & edgy  & quite annoying at times. Big speaker arrays, class D amps & plenty of DSP. I’m not at all a fan of this now typical set up & have not experienced it once where it sounded really good. 

I've many times read discussions where audio enthusiasts construct home systems to try and recreate a live performance type sound. I don't know about you, but I'm the complete opposite. I try to create a system and sound that closely replicates (as much as my budget allows) the one the Mixing Engineer heard while mixing an album, or what the Mastering Engineer heard while mastering it. I leave the live performance sound (none of which many in this thread seem to appreciate these days) for the live performance venue(s).