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Acoustical Problems In Theatrical Spaces: Acoustic Systems That Can Help

2350 words - 9 pages

Audible Architecture
An exploration of the sound problems in theatrical spaces and how active acoustic systems can help.
The architectural properties of a space are the most important contributor to its’ acoustical qualities.
However, not every space is crafted perfectly in regards to acoustics, especially in the case of multipurpose
performance spaces. This paper will look at the sound technologies available today and how
they can be used to mediate and solve acoustical problems due to imperfections within the
architecture. It will discuss different difficulties and problems in the planning and designing phase of
the theatre spaces themselves, and possible digital solutions.
The acoustic design of performance spaces involves the specification of the room geometry and
boundary properties, and any additional acoustic elements such as reflectors or diffusers. The goal is to
usefully direct sound to produce a desired subjective experience, which, fortunately, can usually be
quantified by measurable acoustic parameters. The design must take into account the reverberant
properties of the room, the control of sound absorption, sound diffusion, and interference from
background noise. Active acoustic systems provide an alternative approach to controlling subjective
experience. They use microphones, electronic processors, and loudspeakers to create reflections and
reverberation in addition to those produces by the naturally‐occurring sound field.

The acoustic properties can be changed instantly, and the enhanced acoustic properties of the
auditorium can typically be varied over a wider range than can be produced by variable passive
techniques. [3] The design of active acoustics follows that of passive approaches, but rather than the
physical arrangement of the room surfaces, it requires the arrangement of microphones to detect
relevant sound and the choice of processors to produce the desired set of acoustic parameters.
Active systems allow many of the physical limitations associated with passive acoustics to be
overcome. Sound can be distributed from the room surfaces with reduced delays and larger amplitudes
than passive reflections. Active systems can be instantly altered to a number of pre‐configured settings
implemented in the software. [3]
It should be noted that while the best solution is sometimes to supplement the natural acoustical
deficiency of a space through electronic means, not until recently has digital technology been able to
provide cost‐effective, electronically stable systems that musicians and audiences are willing to accept.
[7] Using an active acoustic system can result in significantly less renovation to an existing building, or a
new building with significantly less cubic volume made of lower weight materials. [2]
One of the first, and main, problems in the acoustic design of a theatre space is the reverberation time.
Optimum reverberation times vary greatly for a wide range...

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