Interview with Sound Advisor Ron Westerveld Amsterdam City has decided that, in 2018, every event bigger than 1500 people needs a Sound Plan. This means; more restrictions, more paperwork and a lot more specialised event knowledge. The Good Guyz want to shed some light on this challenging process. This is a series about noise pollution and how different sides of the story show a bigger picture. Our first article is an interview with Sound Advisor Ron Westerveld of Westerveld Advies.

What exactly is a Sound Plan? And why is it so important?

“The new legislations mean that event organisers will not receive an event license without a Sound Plan. The main goal for the Sound Plan is optimizing the Sound Situation. An event needs to meet specific standards. Within the Sound Plan we suggest what measures need to be met to fulfil these standards. We have years of hands on expertise doing this. What we aim for is to produce the best results for the event and the city. Most high performing event organisers, event producers like The Good Guyz and event managers know us.’

Can you give us some Sound Plan tips?

‘It’s a very detailed document about the best conditions for that specific event, to reduce sound pollution to a minimum. Every Sound Plan is unique, however it can be a strong blueprint for the next edition.

  1. We analyse if area’s are not pointed towards large residential areas.
  2. The angle of particularly the main stage is important to consider.
  3. Keep the wind directions in mind, stages pointing in northeast direction are risky because in our Dutch climate there is a major change on a southwest wind direction (the wind will take the sound to the neighbourhood).
  4. Stages pointing to large expanses of water are dangerous because the sound will bounce easily to the other side of the water.
  5. The size of the festival or event area is essential, the bigger the event, the further sound travels.
  6. The setup of subwoofers is an important and very crucial point in the plan.
  7. Delay-stacks are useful to provide that not all the energy has to come from the front p.a.
  8. The speaker radiances should be considered.

What is your role during an event?

‘We have to negotiate between different stakeholders. The challenge is to communicate in such a way that everybody feels they have been heard, and feels comfortable with choices we make to keep the Sound Situation within the game rules. Every stakeholder, the DJ, the booker, the stage manager, the sound technician at  the Front of House, enforcement officers, the organisation, licence providers, police and the neighbours, all have a different idea concerning sound.”

What kind of consequences could a Sound Plan have?

‘The restrictions, policies and rules are set to make it bearable for the city. However, at an event you don’t want people staring at their phones because they are not experiencing the music. What volume is loud enough for people to have a good time on the dancefloor, but not too loud that the neighbours freak out? We leverage our expertise between the two parts of this question. A few examples of what we do. The core of what we do is to unburden the organisations by making a forecast of the sound levels at hand and making a cost-efficient variety of measures that in theory should keep the sound levels within the boundaries. We can place shipping containers close behind the stage. Containers reduce sound from 5 up to 15dB. Some festivals use up to 160 containers. During the event, we analyse the line-up and the timetable to see if we can optimise the available sound space and leverage between areas. We try to give headliners a bit more space. Sometimes we need to cut back the sound level at other stages to give the main stage more “room”.

Producing a festival for more than 1500 people in and around Amsterdam begins with having the right paperwork. We hope to help you make choices for your event by bringing you expert knowledge on different subjects.