Our expert says:
I hate overly-loud movie soundtracks too! You're not alone - movie theatres regularly get this complaint. Hearing experts reckon enduring a movie with the soundtrack cranked up - especially if there are loud special effects - could be equivalent to a rock concert.
There's nothing specific in SA's noise regulations about movie theatres, but they are probably governed by workplace noise levels.I don't know if there's a recommended level; I could try to find out about this.
In the UK a recommended noise level for feature films is 82decibels, and an accepted "danger level" is 85db. Cinema ads average at 88db and can reach up to 95db. The good news about movies, though, is that they only go up to these dangerous high levels for very short bursts; it's prolonged exposure (hours) that's really risky.
People exposed to noise levels above 85db in the workplace (in many countries, including SA) must wear ear protection.
Always take some cotton wool with you to the movies to put in your ears if it's too loud - it protects your hearing and takes the edge off the sound without making it inaudible.
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