Rules and Regulations

A License Must be Obtained

Licences for Music
Licences from PPL (Phonographic Performance Ltd) at, PRS (Performing Rights Society) at, MCPS (Mechanical Copyright Protection Society) and others are required prior to playing any pre recorded or live music to the public – this includes music from sources such as MP3 (iPod) players, radio, tape, video, jukebox, TV, disc, record, live bands, discotheques, computers, online (internet) or any other device or source

Licences for Wireless Microphones, Radiomics and In Ear Monitoring (IEM)
A valid licence from Ofcom – PMSE (formally JFMG and Arqiva) at (020 7981 3803) is required prior to using wireless microphones in the UK unless you are using de-regulated licence free legacy VHF frequencies between 173.800 and 175.000 MHz or the de-regulated licence free UHF band between 863.000 and 865.000 MHz in Ch 70 – click here to register and apply for a wireless microphone licence

Unlike many we state wattage as RMS ratings (true wattage) – if we mean PPMO, music power, US watts or peak watts we say so. Remember American peak PPMO music power watts can be stated as up to 4 times higher than RMS – often causing confusion

British Standards (BS)

There are a number of regulations that relate specifically to the design, installation and commissioning of public address sound systems and MEVAC voice alarm & voice evacuation systems in the UK

BS6259 (1997) Code of practice for the design, planning, installation, testing and maintenance of sound systems

BS7443 (1991) Specification for sound systems for emergency purposes
This standard has been withdrawn and superseded

BS7827 (1996) Code of practice for designing, specifying, maintaining and operating emergency sound system at sports venues

BS5839 Part 4 (1988) Fire detection and alarm systems for buildings. Specification for control and indicating equipment
This standard has been withdrawn and superseded

BS5839 Part 8 (1998) Fire detection and alarm systems for buildings. Code of practice for the design, installation and
servicing of voice alarm systems

BS5839 This is a British Standard document dating from the 1980s which originally related to fire and intruder alarm systems only. It set out the functions and facilities to be provided by the various sounders and contacts and control circuits, power units, and indicators, etc. Later BS5839 was expanded by including “PART 8” in an attempt to enable it to include the broad requirements of emergency PA systems. Part 8, however is limited in that it is not a specification but a “Code of Practice” and is therefore open to interpretation and importantly does not directly cover aspects of PA system performance such as audibility or intelligibility. A BS5839 system will always require a reserve power system (usually batteries) and a method of monitoring the integrity of the loudspeaker system

In due course it was seen that there was a need for a new British standard dedicated purely to emergency PA systems. So BS7443 was drawn up and introduced in 1991. BS7443 covers many extra specifications that need to be met when designing sound systems for emergency purposes, in particular the matter of intelligibility. When installed, the system is measured carefully and its performance must meet a minimum speech transmission index value, referred to as the RASTI index. Because of these very much more stringent requirements, a BS7443 system is likely to be dramatically more costly than a BS5839 based system. Naturally, a BS5839 system could be designed to include various aspects of a BS7443 system to enable it to meet the requirements of a particular site

More recently BS7443 has been re-issued in the form of BS EN60849

BS5839 Part 9 (2003) Fire detection and alarm systems for buildings. Code of practice for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of emergency voice communication systems

BS8300 (2002) is the new code of practice for the design of new buildings and their approaches to meet the needs of disabled people. The standard states that ‘a hearing enhancement system, using induction loop, infrared or radio transmission, should be installed in rooms and spaces used for meetings, lectures, classes, performances, spectator sports or films, and used at service and reception counters where the background noise level is high or where glazed screens are used

Induction loops shall reach BS EN60118-4 (formally BS6083 Part 4 1981), BS7594 and the requirements of the RNID

BS EN60529:1991 specification for degree of Ingress Protection provided by equipment and enclosures (IP ratings)

Ingress Protection – IP Ratings

For loudspeakers and other PA sound system equipment that are installed outside, it is important that the unit has the right degree of protection against the weather conditions that it will encounter in service. The IP (Ingress Protection) System provides a means of classifying the degree of protection to particles (dust), fluid (water) and impact afforded by electrical equipment and their enclosures. The system is recognised in most European countries and is set out in European Standard BS EN 60529:1991 specification for degree of Ingress Protection provided by equipment and enclosures (IP ratings)

A two or three digit number is used represent the resistance of an electrical item (or its enclosure) to environmental effects:

  • The first digit represents protection against ingress of solid objects
  • The second digit represents protection against ingress of liquids
  • The third (optional) digit represents protection against mechanical impact damage

The larger the value of each digit, the greater the protection from that effect. For example, a product rated as IP57 would be better protected against environmental factors than another similar product that was only rated as IP43 or to put it another way an item rated at IP67 would be totally protected against dust ingress and withstand immersion in water up to a depth of 1m for at least 30 minutes

1st Digit ingress of solid objects

  • X – no data available
  • 0 – No protection
  • 1 – Protected against solids objects over 50mm
  • 2 – Protected against solids objects over 12mm
  • 3 – Protected against solids objects over 2.5mm
  • 4 – Protected against solids objects over 1mm
  • 5 – Protected against dust
  • 6 – Totally protected against dust

2nd Digit ingress of liquids

  • X – no data available
  • 0 – No protection
  • 1 – Protected against vertically falling drops of water
  • 2 – Protected against direct sprays up to 15° from the vertical
  • 3 – Protected against direct sprays up to 60° from the vertical
  • 4 – Protected against sprays from all directions
  • 5 – Protected against low pressure jets of water from all directions
  • 6 – Protected against strong jets of water
  • 7 – Protected against the effects of temporary immersion between 15cm and 1m for at least 30 minutes
  • 8 – Protected against long periods of immersion under pressure

3rd Digit impact damage (no longer used)

  • X – no data available
  • 0 – No protection
  • 1 – Protected against 0.225 joule impact (150g @ 15cm)
  • 2 – Protected against 0.375 joule impact (250g @ 15cm)
  • 3 – Protected against 0.5 joule impact (250g @ 20cm)
  • 4 –
  • 5 – Protected against 2.0 joule impact (500g @ 40cm)
  • 6 –
  • 7 – Protected against 6.0 joule impact (1.5kg @ 40cm)
  • 8 –
  • 9 – Protected against 20 joule impact (5kg @ 40cm)

PAT (Testing)

Sound Services offer a local PAT testing service in the NE Hampshire, Surrey, Berkshire borders area – we are able to test and certify individual items or test, register and certify all of your portable electrical appliances – please email your requirements for a quotation

There are many common myths about portable appliance testing (PAT) – find out the key facts about the inspection and testing of portable electrical equipment by visiting HSE (Health and Safety Executive) website PAT (testing) page

Relative Noise Levels in Decibels

Noise is a subjective topic and will be assessed differently by different individuals. In audio engineering, however, noise is a definable, measurable entity. In practice, ambient noise would be measured with the aid of a sound level meter

The decibel (dB) is the unit used and is a ratio of relative sound levels following a logarithmic scale. An increase in the number of dB’s results in a multiplication of sound intensity. An increase of 3dB doubles the intensity, therefore 87d8 might appear to be `just over’ 84dB. In fact it is twice the intensity

The sound system must be louder than the ambient noise to enable announcements to be heard

120dB = Threshold of pain. Jet taking off @ 60m
115dB = Pneumatic drill, Express train passing through station
110dB = Impossible to converse. Disco (on dance floor)
105dB = Live orchestra    100dB = Inside tube station
95dB = Machine shop, print shop
90dB = Difficult to converse. Ventilation equipment room, club
85dB = Busy supermarket
80dB = Loud voice needed to talk. Traffic noise, church choir
75dB = Noisy office
70dB = Speech @ 30cm, typing pool, theatre, department store
65dB = Speech @ 1 m
60dB = Typical office, normal talking, near motorway
55dB = Background noise, hotel lobby, restaurant
50dB = Light traffic @ 30m, quiet office
45dB = Tearing paper @ 1 m
40dB = Average residential area, quiet house
35dB = Soft music
30dB = Countryside
25dB = Library
0dB = Threshold of hearing. Minimum audible sound