The Effects of Cloud Cover on Outdoor Acoustics

NerfLad

Silver Member
My band frequents a cute little seafood restaurant here in Jacksonville Beach at which we play in their outdoor bar area. Being Florida, it's usually blue skies and insanely hot at the beginning of the gig (we play 5pm - 9pm). With the tropical storm blowing in Southwest of us, it turned out to be overcast yesterday evening (of course it was still hot!).

I found that this had a considerable effect on the acoustics. Normally I don't like playing outside because the low frequencies escape so quickly and you just typically get stuck with the kind of harsh (amateur) "live" sound that I'm not really a fan of (we never play mic'd). However the cloud cover seemed to reign in the dissipation of the sound ever so slightly, not only thickening everything up, but somehow also making it easier to be aware of our balance and dynamics!

It may just be that my ears are getting better (for instance, at full volume, about 90-ish dB, I heard my singer's little bottle of throat-spray fall off of his amp and onto the ground) or even a placebo effect because the gig went well, but for some reason I noticed a considerable difference between when we've played there on a clear night and on a cloudy one. Perhaps the cloud cover effectively turns the outside space into a giant room, and we happen to find the acoustic result pleasing?

Any input or similar/dissenting experiences?

-Eric
 
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Fuo

Platinum Member
I couldn't see it being JUST the clouds, they're way up there (unless you're talking really low clouds or fog)... Maybe its just the humidity? But hmm, maybe not... isn't it ALWAYS crazy humid in FL? Yea, I dunno...
 

Naigewron

Platinum Member
My hopythesis:

I'm guessing pressure and humidity had the greatest effect here. The clouds are miles above the ground; it would be like there being a difference in sound whether or not you had a mountain several miles away from the stage. However, wind and rain means low air pressure and I'm guessing there's a huge change in air humidity as well. Those factors could easily have a drastic effect on sound waves between the source and the listener.
 

NerfLad

Silver Member
That would make more sense considering sound is a pressure wave. Interesting to think about. Has anyone noticed this on an outside gig though?
 

Garvin

Pioneer Member
That would make more sense considering sound is a pressure wave. Interesting to think about. Has anyone noticed this on an outside gig though?
I have big time. Took a band from the 4-corners area of the US down to Costa Rica. Huge difference in sound. Almost like we had some kind of low-frequency sub with us. I loved it.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
My bandleader/sound engineer said just yesterday that humidity most definitely affects soundwaves.
 

larryz

Platinum Member
You really don't know clouds at all, do you?

100 points if you get my reference (without Googling it). I know you're but a young lad but you should know this classic regardless. :)
 

NerfLad

Silver Member
Sorry, I don't :(

The message you have entered is too short. Please lengthen your message to at least 20 characters.
 

evolving_machine

Silver Member
You may notice that if you turn on the air conditioner in a room, the humidity and temperature will drop. When you play music in the room under both conditions you will notice a difference.

This should verify how humidity and temperature play a role in sound. I suspect that the pressure in the room will also change.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
My hopythesis:

I'm guessing pressure and humidity had the greatest effect here. The clouds are miles above the ground; it would be like there being a difference in sound whether or not you had a mountain several miles away from the stage. However, wind and rain means low air pressure and I'm guessing there's a huge change in air humidity as well. Those factors could easily have a drastic effect on sound waves between the source and the listener.
That's exactly it, pressure and humidity. The clouds are too far away to make any difference. Sounds will travel faster in denser air.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
You really don't know clouds at all, do you?

100 points if you get my reference (without Googling it). I know you're but a young lad but you should know this classic regardless. :)
Ive looked at love from both sides now.
 

larryz

Platinum Member
Joni Joni Joni! Though I prefer Judy Collins' version. There will be many clouds over Florida and southern US today. Be safe everyone.
 

Garvin

Pioneer Member
Wasn't there an article or rumor somewhere about some band filling the drum booth with helium or something. I recall a thread about that years ago. I believe the consensus was that it was BS, and utterly pointless. But humidity definitely matters.
 

NerfLad

Silver Member
What would that even matter? Is helium more adhesive to other molecules (therefore more easily retaining the humidity) than nitrogen/oxygen/air/farts/whatever else we breath on a daily basis?
 
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