It’s a documented fact that bagpipes are loud, and it has even been discussed on this very site. In many cases the sound is not overbearingly loud, even indoors (with the right conditions), but there’s no mistaking there’s a piper nearby. Turns out, though, there are some things that are louder than bagpipes.
Example A: Drunk people. Several years ago, I played at a bar on St. Patrick’s Day with a few friends. There were five of us, and we were standing in a circle with our chanters nearly touching. I was playing the pipes myself, with four other pipers within five feet of me, and I couldn’t hear bagpipes. It’s probably one of the loudest situations I’ve ever been in, and it was just screaming people.
Example B: Teenagers. Tonight I played for Fryeburg Academy’s Winter Carnival Dance. The dance took place in the school’s new fieldhouse, which is a massive structure, and I led the processional as the queen’s court was introduced. The screaming and applause of a few hundred teenagers were so loud that the sound of the pipes was drowned out for all but the very closest people. I could barely hear the pipes myself, and I was playing them.
Interestingly enough my colleague who was announcing the court said she could hear me as if I were standing right behind her. She was halfway across the room, on the other side of the mob of dance goers, so it must be some trick of the acoustics in the building.