Mutant Vehicle Sound Policy

The Issue of Sound on Mutant Vehicles

A mutant vehicle in the shape of a trumpet at Burning Man 2022.

A Mutant Vehicle Sound Policy We Can All Understand and Live With


Face it; nobody comes to Burning Man for the peace ‘n quiet. Nobody!
We all have earplugs at the tippy-top of our packing lists because we know that BRC is a noisy place… and for many of us that is a key component of the attraction. That said, there’s also the expectation that some activities and some locations will be less noisy than others. As a community, we know that there needs to be a place for large-scale Mutant Vehicle sound & big dance clubs. However, there must also be a place for yoga classes, guided meditation workshops, karaoke, and piano bars.

For many years the Department of Mutant Vehicles has had a sound policy that was difficult to understand; it described various levels of sound amplification based on amplifier wattage and referred to system loudness in decibels (a unit of measurement of sound pressure that uses a logarithmic scale and isn’t widely understood). The policy was not well written; compliance was poor, it wasn’t well enforced and speaking frankly, we’ve had some bad behave-ers that spoiled it for everybody else.

The goal for the Department of Mutant Vehicle’s 2023 Sound Policy is to have a well-defined and easy-to-understand set of guidelines that work equally well for Mutant Vehicle owners and the greater BRC community.

As a community, we need to work together to keep sound at desirable levels. This means that everyone involved is personally responsible for how they affect everyone else’s experience.

New Sound Policy as of 2023

TL;DR version

  • DO play music while parked in your camp in compliance with Black Rock City’s Sound Policy
  • DO play music as loud as you want while in-motion on the open playa.
  • DO Play as loud and as long as you want within the DMZ. 
  • Do NOT play amplified music while driving in the city streets between 2:00am and 10:00am. 
  • Always be considerate of camps, art installations and their activities, especially near the Esplanade. Turn down your sound if other activities are already in progress.
  • Limit your stationary time (with music on) at art installations to 3 hours.
  • Respect the Temple Burn.

The Policy

  1. City Street Quiet Hours:
    1. Yep, you read that right; Mutant Vehicles are not permitted to use amplified sound while driving through the streets of Black Rock City between the hours of 2:00 am and 10:00 am. This is perhaps the most significant change from past sound policies.
    2. During QuietHours, if an MV has left its designated camp area and is en route to another location or parked within the city streets, the sound system must be off (“Off” is defined as; inaudible from outside the vehicle) until the MV returns to its camp or has entered the open playa and is at least 100 yards/meters from Esplanade. The QuietHours apply to all circular & radial streets, keyholes, plazas, and center camp.
    3. Acoustic music (un-amplified human voices, acoustic musical instruments, etc.) on moving MV’s is permitted during QuietHours.
    4. Between 10 am and 2 am, amplified sound is permitted within the city streets, but you should always be mindful of where you are located, how loud your sound is, and how it may be affecting others around you.
  2. A Mutant Vehicle may use amplified sound while parked within its placed MV camp or placed theme camp:
    1. MVs make great sound stages, karaoke bars, and discotheques. As long as you are within the boundaries of a Mutant Vehicle camp or Theme Camp area that was assigned to you by the Placement team or within a placed camp that has invited you to park in their camp, you may use your MV’s sound system as if it were a stationary installation in your camp. As with all stationary sound, you will be expected to comply with Black Rock City’s 2023 sound policy.
  3. You can play music (yes, even loud music) almost everywhere on the open playa. Some limitations apply:
    1. Mutant Vehicles may use amplified sound at any time of the day or night, without restriction on sound levels, in nearly all areas of the inner playa (the space within bound by the Esplanade and Temple) and outer playa (the space beyond the Temple, 2:00, and 10:00).
        1. MVs may play amplified sound for no longer than 3 hours while parked in any one location. When parked at or near an art installation, you must ask the artist for consent prior to playing amplified sound.
        2. MV operators & owners must be aware of the general nature of an art installation (e.g. if it’s meant to be a quiet, introspective project) and of any programming that may be taking place at the artwork before they approach, park, and/or play their own music at the installation.
        3. MVs must be respectful when passing and/or parking near The Temple, The Man, and at/near all art installations on the open playa.
        4. MVs must be respectful when using amplified sound within 100 yards of Esplanade and within 100 yards of the 2:00 and 10:00 radial streets unless agreed upon in partnership with camps facing those streets.
  4. As LOUD and as long* as you want! (*up to 12 hours):
      1. The Department of Mutant Vehicles has established a Deep-Playa Music Zone (“DMZ”) where Mutant Vehicles using large sound systems can park and party in the deep playa for extended periods of time. The zone is 5,340 feet from The Man between the 10:30 and 11:15 clock positions. The DMZ allows for a stay of up to 12 hours, and it provides sanitary stations and Emergency Medical Services. At just over 22 acres (960,698 sqft!) in area, the DMZ is large enough to support multiple large mutant vehicles simultaneously. Furthermore, there are NO volume or sound pressure limits in the DMZ (note, however that speakers must be oriented to point away from the city).
        Go for it!
  5. Policy Violations: 
      1. A single violation of any of the above policies could result in the immediate revocation of the Mutant Vehicle’s current DMV license and the MV will need to return to its camp location and remain parked there for the duration of the Burning Man event. A subsequent infraction could result in the Mutant Vehicle being ejected from Black Rock City. Violations may affect future MV registration.
  6. NO Mutant Vehicle sound at Temple Burn:
    1. Mutant Vehicles must turn off their sound systems upon arrival at the Temple burn perimeter.  Any use of amplified sound at the Temple burn could result in the forfeiture of DMV licensing at future Burning Man events. Don’t do it!
  7. Enforcement:
    1. The Mutant Vehicle Sound Policy will be enforced by members of the DMV Council, members of the Placement Department, and the Black Rock Rangers. Members of each of these teams are authorized to issue warnings, revoke vehicle licenses, and/or request that a vehicle be ejected from the event site. Ejections will be processed by the Black Rock Rangers.

If you have any questions about the Mutant Vehicle Sound Policy, please email