Auditorium Acoustics: 8 Factors to Consider

auditorium acoustics

Have you ever attended a lecture or a play in an auditorium and barely been able to make out what the speaker was saying? Chances are the problem was poor acoustics.

Next time you provide acoustical consulting for an auditorium, make sure to consider these 7 key factors:

1. Location

For new auditoriums, the building should be planned as far away as possible from any potential noise sources such as highways, train tracks or industrial areas.

2. Buffer Zones

Isolate the auditorium from the rest of the building and potential noise sources by creating buffer zones.

Hallways and lobbies should separate the main auditorium from restrooms, mechanical equipment, dressing rooms etc. Surrounding space should be used for storage or offices that will be empty while the auditorium is in use.

3. Doorways

All doors should be solid-core, with airtight seals to inhibit outside noise from slipping in.

4. Reverberation

To combat reverb in a large room:

  • Build with sound absorbing material and include sunken panels, undulations and other small irregularities in the walls
  • Sound reflecting materials should be used for the bulk of the building process (thick wood, thick gypsum, concrete)
  • Hang thick, fabric curtains along walls to minimize hard surfaces
  • All aisles should be carpeted to reduce foot-traffic noise
  • Always use fabric seating. Avoid metal and plastic.
  • Create a checkerboard pattern alternating between sound reflecting and sound absorbing materials along the ceiling.

5. Background Noise

Install sound absorbing duct liners and mufflers to reduce HVAC noise.

6. Balcony

Balconies should be included to reduce the distance between the farthest seats and the stage. The overhang should be of small depth and be fitted with sound absorbing material

7. Sound Systems

Speakers should be placed just above and in front of the proscenium opening or arch. The controls for these speakers should be positioned in a central location of the seating area rather than in a separate room in the back of the auditorium.

8. Orchestra Pits

If the auditorium has an orchestra pit, soundproof curtains should be installed that can be opened and closed as the conductor chooses to control the noise level.

General auditoriums play host to a wide range of performances and events which will have no chance of success if audiences aren’t able to hear them. Consider this list the next time you’re working on a general auditorium to create the ideal acoustics.

Have any other tips about auditorium acoustics? Leave them in the comments below!

 

Emily Silverman