Please don’t stop the music: Austin tests new sound mitigation system

JBN Sound Ceiling system is mounted above the listening audience and faces straight down (KXAN Photo/ Daniel Guerrero)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In the city dubbed the Live Music Capital of the World, you almost expect to hear music creeping out of every building as you stroll certain city streets. While some districts are known for their live music venues, some areas are seeing more complaints regarding noise violations.

In an effort to have music venues get along with their non-music venue neighbors, the city is hosting a company that builds sound mitigation systems. The city says the purpose of the demonstration is to test technological solutions for sound issues arising from music venues that are located close to residential properties.

“We never really had a problem with the sound system until the Westin went in,” said JD Dunn, owner of the Nook Amphitheater on E. 6th Street. “And ever since they went in they are calling the cops, cops will show up. We’ve gotten a few tickets since they’ve gone in.”

Dunn and his partner Stephen Condon have been looking for a solution to the problem, and attended the city demonstration on Tuesday.


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“It’s a directional system that hangs from the ceiling instead of at you in your face,” says Dunn. “We would love to have it, it sounded great for the demo – but again it’s pricey for a small business.”

Dunn estimates the system would cost about $50,000 for his venue.

The Swedish designed JBN Sound Ceiling system is mounted above the listening audience and faces straight down, off axis to neighboring uses. The system, which uses plane wave speaker technology, is reported to provide an enhanced high-quality listening experience, while yielding unprecedented containment of audio frequencies, including bass.

David Murray, a Sound Engineering Consultant with the City of Austin has been working to make the demonstration happen since January. “When you’re under it you’re awash in this incredible cascade of sound. But you walk 10 feet away and it just goes down.”

Murray hopes the speakers can be a solution for venues to stay open longer while keep neighbors happy. He’s heard from many venues interested in the product that wanted to see it in action.

The JBN system is being used at more than 4,000 venues around the world but this is the first time the technology is being tested in the U.S.

Want to see how it works? Technicians will be hosting demonstrations at Austin City Hall on Oct. 12 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Oct. 13 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The city does not issue sound permits when sound equipment is located within 100 feet of residential zones. A person can have amplified sound from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., up to 75 decibels without a permit in a residential area. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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