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Originally published September 11, 2013 at 9:53 PM | Page modified September 12, 2013 at 8:35 PM

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Hawks fans ready for record roar

Guinness World Records will have a representative at Sunday’s Seahawks-San Francisco game to see (hear, actually) if fans can set a “loudest crowd roar” record.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Here is a little tip in case things get too loud Sunday night at CenturyLink Field during the Seahawks-San Francisco 49ers game, when the 12th Man is trying to set a Guinness World Record for “loudest crowd roar at a sports stadium.”

Use your fingers to push in your tragus. That’s the flap on the outside of your ear.

Presto! You’ve reduced the noise level going into your eardrums by about 30 decibels, which actually is five decibels more than if you used foam ear plugs, says Dr. Jay Rubinstein, director of the University of Washington’s Virginia Merrill Bloedel Hearing Research Center.

This warning out of the way, let’s get to the point: Can fans at CenturyLink get louder than soccer fans did two years ago in Istanbul?

Setting a Guinness World Record is great for conversation purposes. It’s also all about marketing.

Not for the Seahawks organization, which is keeping a distance from all the hype.

“It’s really a fan-driven opportunity. We’re focused on the game itself,” says Suzanne Lavender, director of corporate communications for the team.

But it’s marketing certainly for Volume 12, the group that advertises itself as the go-to site for the passionate “12th Man” fan base for the team.

They are the ones promoting the attempt at setting the record, announced in July.

Back then, Joe Tafoya, 35, a former Seahawks defensive end who’s now working in marketing, became involved with Volume 12; he now has part-ownership.

“Volume 12 is about the noise,” says Tafoya. “I sent in an application [to Guinness] without thinking that much about it.”

A week and a half later, Guinness World Records was on board.

It also has an interest in marketing, selling 2 million copies a year of its latest compilations of records, and promoting its records as great advertising tools.

And so, on Sunday, Phil Robertson, who has the title of “adjudicator” for Guinness, will have flown in at Volume 12’s expense to witness the record attempt.

The record-breaking attempt at CenturyLink is great marketing for NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” which in last Sunday’s broadcast was already anticipating how loud the noise would be. (Kickoff for the sold-out game is 5:30 p.m.)

Of course, there are rules that have to be followed in setting a Guinness crowd-roar record.

For example, the sound level has to be measured by a “Class 1 precision measuring noise level meter, certified and calibrated.”

And the meters have to be placed 1.5 to 1.6 meters above the ground (about 5 feet). For Volume 12, that meant hiring Bill Stewart, a sound engineer and partner at SSA Acoustics in Seattle.

He’s bringing two such devices, each about the size of a laptop, and each worth about $20,000. Out of the device comes a short metal tube that has a tiny and really, really expensive microphone.

Stewart can’t wait until Sunday.

“You know, acoustical engineers, we don’t have a lot of excitement in our lives,” he says. “We do airports, schools, public facilities, private facilities and compare them to code compliance.

“When you sit and look at drawings all day and then go and put out monitors, you don’t talk to anybody through the whole thing.”

Stewart says he’ll use two measuring devices because even a separation of a few feet can make a four- or five- decibel difference.

And, says Stewart, he expects a crowd roar to last maybe 30 seconds, although the peak noise will last perhaps seven seconds.

With two meters, he’ll basically be monitoring the entire game. He’ll know right away if a record has been set.

What the Seahawks fans will try and beat is the current record of 131.76 dbA (that’s a decibel measurement adjusted for what humans can hear) achieved at Turk Telekom Arena in Istanbul by some 52,000 soccer fans on March 18, 2011.

It doesn’t matter how long a record roar lasts.

Although Guinness allows the use of drums, plastic noisemakers and vuvuzelas (the loud plastic horns that became familiar to those watching the last soccer World Cup) no such devices are allowed in NFL games.

“We’re going to be organic,” says Tafoya, meaning he wants the crowd to just start yelling and screaming when it usually does.

The one thing that he is urging fans on social media is to go loud, loud, loud on the 49ers’ first possession.

Says Tafoya about setting the record right off the bat, “I think we have a pretty good shot.”

Better pump it up, 12th Man.

In Kansas City, a Chiefs fan group called “Terrorhead Returns” already is writing about its plan to apply to Guinness and beat any noise record made at CenturyLink.

Erik Lacitis: 206-464-2237 or elacitis@seattletimes.com

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