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Letters To The Editor - April 20, 2024

Dear Sir,

As a person with 20 years of professional experience using amplified sound equipment, I would like to respond to your recent story about the noise conflict in Puerto Vallarta.

This type of conflict is often misleadingly described as a foreigner versus Mexican culture issue, but this is not accurate.  Having experienced excessive amplified noise in Ajijic,  where I have lived in predominantly Mexican neighborhoods and speak Spanish, I have spoken on the subject with many Mexican people.

Not a single Mexican person has told me they are happy to have this often overwhelmingly loud noise blasted into their homes, as I myself have also experienced.  Only a few have said they have “gotten used to it,” or told me they go to visit relatives when the noise becomes too loud.

One popular doctor in Ajijic told me that he has had Mexican patients come to him because of the stress of being forced to endure so much disturbance.

Continuous loud music has been used as a weapon of torture by the U.S. military in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay and Vietnam.  It is said that 24 to 48 hours or such treatment will make a person literally lose their minds. So, even a small amount of such noise is unhealthy.

Due to innovations in digital sound technology, large sound equipment that used to be available only at music stores for professional musicians can now be purchased at ordinary stores in Mexico. It is sold to people who treat it like a toy and have no experience whatsoever in using it.

The determining factor which must be used to consciously choose a volume level is the size of the audience in the venue.  Operators of sound equipment need to learn what all the little dials and buttons are for—these can help them create the most aesthetically pleasing sound for all concerned.

Also, many venues and/or musicians use sound equipment that is way too big for their needs.  A smart working band or group should always use the smallest suitable equipment to save money and hauling efforts.  Traditional bandas are naturally loud, so only the singers need microphones.

Northerners are often quick to complain about the noise in Mexico because loud music is played in a completely different sonic environment there — enclosed and soundproofed, so when you leave a venue  you usually can’t hear a thing and neither can the neighbors.

Here, you often have small venues which play loud enough for 5,000 or 10,000 people, which is why it bothers the neighbors so much.    

Michelle Wilson