Sound Policy

Burning Flipside Sound Policy

  • Policy for Amplified Sound at Burning Flipside – Revised 2010
  • Category: Safety
  • Origination Date: 05/13/10
  • Reviewed by Safety AF, Sound Lead, and Ranger Lead:
  • Reviewed by Combustion Chamber:
  • Approved by LLC:


Amplified sound is an integral part of Burning Flipside. Artistic expression through the medium of sound is highly encouraged and appreciated by the Burning Flipside community and organization, provided it does not threaten the event as a whole. Unfortunately, the cumulative and far-reaching effects of sound can potentially endanger Burning Flipside’s continued presence at any particular location and presents a potential legal liability to the members of AAR, LLC. This sound policy is designed to protect the artistic freedom enjoyed by participants, prevent potential legal issues for the LLC, and promote the sustainability of Flipside as a whole.


Sound Marshals
Flipside volunteers who are trained to understand sound propagation and who are entrusted to monitor amplified sound levels, ensure participants are not violating the sound policy, educate participants about why certain sound maximums are necessary at any given time, and enforce the sound policy as necessary. These individual are sound experts and are the first stop for sound related questions.
Chief Sound Marshal
Flipside volunteer responsible for educating the community about why the rules set forth in the sound policy are important, making sure that pre-event sound testing occurs to set initial maximum sound levels, organizing the volunteer Sound Marshals, designating and filling sound marshal shifts during the event, and performing any other actions necessary to carry out the sound policy.
Austin Artistic Reconstruction, Limited Liability Corporation, the entity responsible for the legal liability for Burning Flipside and champions for its sustainability.
Sound Pressure Limit (SPL)
Numerical level developed from onsite testing. A specific SPL will be in effect for the entire event; it is ultimately determined by AAR, LLC, and is subject to change at any time.
Sound Sponsor
The official registrant of a sound system and the individual ultimately responsible for its use. The official Sound Sponsor may pre-select four representatives authorized to act in his/her stead. The sound sponsor or one of his/her representatives must be readily available any time the sound system for which he/she is responsible is in use. He/she is responsible for ensuring that any community member using the equipment is doing so within the guidelines set forth and agreed upon in the Burning Flipside Sound Policy.
Sound Release Form
Signed form required of every Sound Sponsor prior to entering the event. Failure to sign this release form will result in the sound source being barred from the event. Signing the release acknowledges that the Sound Sponsor has read the sound policy, understands the terms and conditions of sound use, and agrees to comply fully with the sound policy.
Sound Permit
Paper “license” issued to Sound Sponsors authorizing the use of amplified sound. Obtaining a sound permit requires the following: a sound system is inspected by a sound marshal who approves its placement and orientation; the Sound Sponsor is informed of the system and/or device’s maximum SPL and he/she knows how to measure it; a marker is placed at 50 feet from the face of the main output source and cannot be removed for the duration of the event; the Sound Sponsor reads the current sound policy and agrees to comply with it fully by signing the Sound Release Form; the valid Sound Permit is displayed conspicuously and in proximity to the sound system at all times of operation during the entirety of the event. The Sound Permit is revocable by AAR LLC at any time. All sound permits become null and void during any emergency enforcement procedures.
Burning Flipside’s conflict mediators who facilitate the resolution of community disputes. Rangers are empowered to act in the place of a sound marshal should one be unavailable. They also work in conjunction with sound marshal(s) to enforce the sound policy as necessary, or resolve issues due to external (outside Pyropolis) sound complaint(s) or internal (within Pyropolis) sound complaint(s).


No Pyropolis citizen may operate an amplified sound system within the event boundaries of Burning Flipside without permission from AAR, LLC. All amplified sound must strictly adhere to the rules and regulations set forth in the Burning Flipside Sound Policy. Every amplified sound system must be declared at the gate and a Sound Sponsor must sign the Sound Release Form indicating that he/she will be responsible for ensuring that the sound system is operated in accordance with the Burning Flipside Sound Policy. Every Sound Sponsor must obtain a Sound Permit from a Sound Marshal and display it conspicuously near the sound system for the duration of the event. A specific sound pressure limit will be set prior to each year’s event and is subject to change at any time at the request of AAR, LLC. Failure to comply with the Burning Flipside Sound Policy or failure to comply with explicit directives from Sound Marshals, Rangers, or the members of AAR LLC will result in disciplinary action as outlined in the procedure section of the Burning Flipside Sound Policy. SPL levels are designed to protect the event from external complaints. However, this level may not be appropriate at the event during certain hours of the day or in certain locations/situations. In the spirit of community, lower SPLs can and may need to be negotiated due to internal conflicts within the Burning Flipside community. These internal negotiations are expected to be fair and reasonable with utmost respect given to artistic expression while also taking into account the needs of the greater community.


  • Prior to the event, sound camp representatives contact the Chief Sound Marshal to discuss proposed sound, camp specifications, and any questions/concerns regarding amplified sound at Flipside.
  • Camps or individuals planning to bring amplified sound to Burning Flipside designate a Sound Sponsor for their amplified sound system.
  • The Sound Sponsor designates up to four additional people to act in his or her stead at the event. These should be individuals that the Sound Sponsor trusts since it is the Sound Sponsor who is ultimately responsible for how the sound system is operated.
  • Upon arrival at the gate, the Sound Sponsor completes and signs the Sound Release, including the names of any additional representatives in the provided blanks. Each Burning Flipside participant signs a general Sound Release.
  • After being placed by the zone greeters, the Sound Sponsor and, if possible, his/her representatives meet with a Sound Marshal.
  • The Sound Marshal inspects the sound system and collaborates with the Sound Sponsor regarding the placement and orientation of the sound system.
  • The Sound Marshal ensures that the Sound Sponsor and, if possible, his/her representatives know how to monitor their own sound with a decibel meter.
  • If all parameters have been met, the Sound Marshal issues a Sound Permit.
  • The Sound Permit is displayed conspicuously near the sound system.
  • Turn on the sound system!
  • Sound Marshals roam the event and are available by radio. If no Sound Marshal is available, Rangers are authorized and empowered to operate in a Sound Marshal’s place.
  • Questions regarding the Burning Flipside Sound Policy or its enforcement are directed to the Sound Marshals on site. Sound Marshals are not only able to help adjust sound levels, but also provide technical advice for maintaining compliance.
  • The Sound Sponsor or one of his/her representatives is readily available at all times when the sound system is in use.
  • If there is a sound issue and a Sound Sponsor or one of his/her representatives is not able to be found within 20 minutes, an on-duty Sound Marshal, Pyropolis Ranger, or member of AAR LLC is authorized to lower sound levels or turn the sound source off as deemed necessary.
  • DJs/musicians are encouraged to have a second person present to monitor and dynamically adjust sound levels during their performance to comply with the levels for which they are authorized.
  • All sound systems operate at or under their assigned SPL limit at all times.
  • Sound Marshals resolve minor SPL infractions by locating the on-duty Sound Sponsor and requesting appropriate changes be made.
  • If told to do so by a Sound Marshal, Ranger, or a member of the AAR LLC, a Sound Sponsor or his/her representative will comply with directives to turn down the sound.
  • Sound Policy infractions are recorded in the Sound Log and reviewed at each shift change by the Sound Marshals, Rangers, and AAR LLC.
  • In the event of a formal noise complaint from an external source (outside of Pyropolis), Sound Marshals and Rangers are dispatched to immediately drop the overall SPL. This could mean anything from a slight drop in sound level to a complete silence of systems.


  • If a sound producing entity is found to be in violation of the Sound Policy, Sound Marshal(s), Ranger(s), and/or member(s) of AAR LLC address the problem.
  • Entities operating amplified sound without a valid permit are subject to the disabling and seizing of all equipment until the conclusion of the event.
  • Entities violating the Sound Policy will receive a verbal warning and will turn their levels down to the levels set by the Sound Marshal, Ranger, and/or member of AAR LLC.
  • All infractions are logged in the Sound Log and reviewed at shift change by the Sound Marshals, Rangers, and members of AAR LLC.
  • A second violation may result in a second verbal warning or the shutting down of the sound system for 24 hours, at the discretion of the Sound Marshal(s), Ranger(s), or member of AAR LLC.
  • A third violation, and/or gross negligence regarding the Sound Policy will result in the violating sound source being shut down for the remainder of the event.
  • If this occurs, the violating sound source will need to be removed from the event. If the Sound Sponsor is unwilling or unable to remove the sound source, the LLC will remove the sound source to a secure location for the remainder of the event with assistance from the Chief Sound Marshal, on-duty Sound Marshal, or Ranger, as required. Only an LLC member is authorized to remove a sound source.
  • The Sound Sponsor is responsible for any accidental damage or theft that may occur if a sound source is impounded.


  • In the event that there is a formal complaint lodged by a local resident or a county official, event-wide sound will be dampened within 10 minutes.
  • To maximize response speed, the Flipside Rangers will assist the Sound Marshals and the AAR LLC in communicating the situation to all sound producing entities.
  • Should this occur, all sound-emitting entities are required to immediately adjust their sound output as determined by the Sound Marshal(s), Ranger(s), or member(s) of AAR LLC.
  • Acceptable sound levels during emergency sound abatement will be much lower than during the event, and may be as extreme as silence in bass frequency ranges (“cut subs”), or possibly all frequencies (“cut sound”).
  • When emergency sound abatement procedures are concluded, SPLs will likely need to be adjusted lower to prevent such an event from happening again.


  • DJs and other noise creating artists are an essential part of our community.
  • Many sound artists spend countless hours preparing for their limited time on stage. Please respect their art whether you appreciate it or not.
  • Bring ear plugs. There are no quiet places at Flipside.
  • If you are having sound related problems, please talk to your neighbors and attempt to resolve the issue amicably. If necessary, involve a Ranger in the process.
  • If you have a problem with sound levels, do not go directly to the DJ to attempt to resolve the issue. They probably cannot hear you, but more importantly, they are performing. You wouldn’t interrupt an actor in the middle of a play; don’t interrupt a DJ in the middle of his/her set. Instead, locate the on-duty Sound Sponsor to discuss you concerns.
  • Discuss and listen. Express your concerns. Be respectful