What’s on : Lectures

For One Night Only – Engineering the business of show business

11 Dec 2018
Start time
7:30 PM
Tempest Anderson Hall
Peter Wheatcroft, CEng FIET

Event Information

For one night only – engineering the business of show business

Peter Wheatcroft, Commercial Sound Engineer and AV Specialist

Live events attract huge crowds and rely on an array of sophisticated technologies to make them work. This talk will take you ‘behind the scenes’ to discover what is involved in the delivery of a sound experience that will be heard by up to 10,000 people but without destroying anyone’s hearing. The evening will be illustrated by images taken at events around the UK and include demonstrations of the techniques used to manage the sound in theatres, outdoors and on the airwaves. Come prepared to be informed, entertained and amazed!

2018 Year of Engineering mini series

Member’s report

Here was an illuminating insight into the work of a member of YPS Council who over a long career has covered concerts, musicals, local radio and conferences, and now volunteers at the Rowntree Theatre in York.

Hearing is affected by variations in volume, pitch and our own age, as well as ambient noise. Sound levels can be contentious: rock bands always want higher volume, well above the 90-decibel peak for safe hearing, and so do their audiences, for whom big lights and big sounds provide the experience they crave (and have often paid high prices for). Yet health and safety legislation only covers the sound engineer. Musicians play, and audiences elect to hear them, at their own risk. Increasingly, though, new technologies come into play. This evening’s levels (at a safe 75 dB) were controlled on a tiny iPad. Engineers can now focus or steer sound to larger audiences, in a venue the size of the Royal Albert Hall, for example, or where ambient noise might distract. At outdoor events, artists with radio mics can be heard by street audiences on the move wearing headphones. Clubbers with headphones can even dance to different tracks from the same DJ – the 21st century’s ‘silent disco’. This should all ensure more comfortable, more efficient, and less damaged hearing for audiences in future.

Bob Hale