Auditorium Acoustics Design: Then and Now

Auditoriums and theatres are used for a wide variety of purposes ranging from concerts to lectures to theatrical performances, meaning the acoustical requirements for auditorium design have proven tricky over the years. Many believe that spending an excessive amount of money on new speakers or microphones will improve poor audio quality, but due to the reverberation of such a large space, the real issue lies within the fundamentals of auditorium acoustics design.

History of Acoustical Design

Acoustic design began as far back as Ancient Greece — the origin of performance and auditoriums. Before the advances of microphones hanging from the ceiling or fingernail-sized microphones hidden in performers’ wigs, builders had to learn how to design their amphitheatres to allow sound from a performance to be heard all the way in the back. This was achieved through “stepped” seating arrangements that are still used for theatres and auditoriums today, with the first row at the same level as the stage, the next row a little higher, and so on and so forth.

Why was this design successful? The way that sound waves bounce off of these “step” designs minimize low-frequency sounds. Background noises such as wind blowing or birds chirping were lessened, and the sound coming from the stage was more easily heard.

Acoustic Design in Theatres Today

This leads us to the successful acoustical designs of modern day. How has sound design developed without relying on sound amplification technology? It’s simple: materials and design that can get rid of unwanted sound and magnify those sounds that the theatre is designed for.

Sound waves either bounce off a material or are absorbed by it, so there needs to be a happy medium between the layout and construction of the auditorium. Absorption will reduce noise and prevent reverberation, leaving room for the breakup and dispersion of the rest of the sound waves.

If an existing theatre or auditorium has the proper design for optimal sound, integrating sound-reduction materials is the next step.

Flat Sound Panel Technology

Fabric panels are an excellent solution to this problem. They produce high clarity and clear sound across the entire vocal range, eliminating all potential ear strain the audience may be suffering when listening to a program. Flat panels also provide 180 degree dispersion, filling the room with sound as opposed to the narrow beam of noise provided by a speaker. No more dead zones or a loss of frequency; every audience member will hear the audio no matter where they sit.

Flat fabric panels are also a good solution for those concerned with energy use. Rather than relying on electricity for sound systems, a fabric panel provides even sound to a venue in a way that conventional speakers and other systems cannot.

Acoustical problems are common, and if your auditorium or theatre is in need of a sound upgrade, Netwell can help. We have been diagnosing and improving sound quality for clients for 25 years. Our team of experts will analyze your sound needs and provide the ideal product to improve sound quality in your auditorium. Contact us today and let’s get started!

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