Thank God the Mexican Federal sound law is getting enforced in Guadalajara (Reporter, June 3-9, 2017).
As a person who has lived in the center of the “Zona del Ruido” of Ajijic, and who also has had nearly 20 years of professional experience using sound amplification equipment, I wish to share my point of view:
Several factors underlie the ever increasing amount of overly loud amplified noise heard around Mexico, in Guadalajara and the Lake Chapala region, which also needs sound law enforcement.
1) Due to innovations in digital sound technology, large sound equipment that used to be available only at music stores for professional musicians is now available at ordinary stores and sold to people who treat it like a toy and have no experience whatsoever in using it. Mexico is still going through the learning curve on amplified sound, unlike the United States where this technology was invented and put into use over 80 years ago.
Invading homes with excessive noise and interfering with people’s private lives has never been acceptable. Musical venues in the United States are all enclosed and soundproofed or situated in industrial zones or outdoors in stadiums away from residential living.
2) The Mexican style of architecture – open-air and constructed with bricks and concrete – produces a very resonant echo which enhances the lovely traditional acoustic music but greatly intensifies and distorts the amplified sounds which are becoming so common. Nearly every structure in Mexico is an echo chamber serving to blast the noise out of the venue and into the surrounding area, much to the extreme aggravation of neighbors who are forced against their wills to hear it.
3) First law of acoustics: Sound waves travel! Competent sound checks are essential. The sound should travel no further than the actual venue and actual audience. Speakers need to be placed judiciously and the sound balanced between highs and lows.
4) Having talked to several involved parties about the noise problem that they created, I’ve observed that running a bar or playing in a group without understanding the above very basic points is like running a restaurant without knowing anything about cooking – a recipe for disaster.
5) Amplified music groups often waste a lot of money by renting or buying equipment that is way too big for their needs. It’s more economical and logical to use smaller equipment in small venues with monitor speakers for all the singers.
There is no reason why musicians or DJs in a bar need to play loud enough for 5,000 people. The owners need to completely soundproof their venue if they are dedicated to the idea of featuring loud entertainment. Involved parties and patrons need to be aware of their potential hearing loss.
All musicians and bar/restaurant owners need to become familiar with the Mexican Federal Law regarding “acoustic contamination.” The law was enacted because of a critical mass of commercial noise problems around the country. When will the gracious politeness of the Mexican culture extend itself into this noise problem?