Gloves off as Canto-pop fans disregard plan to reduce sound levels

AN attempt to muffle applause from a concert at Hong Kong Stadium by issuing the audience with white gloves failed yesterday.

But measures to keep amplified noise levels down were more successful, winning the approval of residents and the acceptance of most fans.

Organisers had implemented tight controls on the noise levels of performers and had handed out the gloves hoping fans would wear them while clapping, or wave them instead of screaming.

However, the move failed with only half the crowd estimated to have worn them.

Broadwood Road residents, though happy with the controls on music levels, said more needed to be done about crowd noise.

They said they would push for changes in the law after screams and clapping from the 38,000 pop fans sent decibel levels rocketing.

'By law there's nothing we can do,' said one local. 'Legal decibel limits only apply to amplified volume so there are no controls for noise made by people themselves.

'I'm happy with the control of music volume during the event but you can't just let people go crazy like that just a few hundred metres away from homes and a hospital.' Fans cheered and sang along as stars such as Andy Lau and Faye Wong strutted their stuff. This was despite pleas from the MCs to use alternative forms of appreciation such as waving or clapping with the gloves.

Noise metres set up by the Environmental Protection Department on the arena's pitch recorded levels of 96 decibels when the crowd applauded or cheered. The legal limit for amplified noise is 70 decibels.

Another resident said she was considering asking legislators on the Environmental Affairs Panel to put forward a motion aimed at reducing unamplified noise.

But organisers claimed the event was a success, saying that amplified volume was kept within legal limits without ruining it for the crowd.

Chief executive for stadium managers Wembley Alan Murray, and RTHK's Director of Broadcasting Cheung Man-yee, said the event, titled 'Health for You', showed the new sound set-up was suitable for Canto-pop style concerts and hoped it would pave the way for more shows of that type.

Sound directors RTHK used a compressor limiter to suppress volume levels to a pre-set level, and used the stadium's house public address system to channel the sound throughout the arena.

But some fans questioned the new system.

Nineteen-year-old fan Milly Wong Mei-lei said: 'It's quite disappointing we can't hear, but what choice have we got? I'd prefer to have a quiet concert than no concert at all.' Urban Council chairman Ronald Leung Ding-bong admitted audience noise was difficult to control, but said results from the new sound system were encouraging.

He said he hoped it would make the arena more suitable for a wider mix of sporting and entertainment events.