Melbourne's Head of Audio, Rob Care discusses Sound Behavior

It doesn't matter whether you are listening to music in a bedroom, lounge room, recording studio, live venue or outdoor festival, one of the most important things to be considered is the way sound is behaving in any given space.

pRACTICE_rOOM_MG_5145_Adjust.jpg It is the sound engineer's primary focus to incorporate the best sound mix possible to distrubute to the audience, but this cannot be acheived solely by assuming that every location has the same sound response. Let's explore some of these. 

Depending on the size of the room and also thye shape and it's acosutic properties, this will have an impact on the actual sound behavior. For example, a location that has a polished concrete floor, with lots of windows and mirrored sections, is going to have a lot of reflective sound eneregy that will most likely cause excess 'reverberation' or 'bounce.' The opposite of this would be a location that has multiple heavy carpeted areas, with lots of thick drapes over the windows without any windows or glassed areas. This type of environment would contain lots of absorbtion and soacking up of sound, and would not offer very much reflection of natural reverberation (insert angry vocalist here). 

A similar thought process would also need to occur when looking at an empty room, and a room that is full of patrons. Each person in the room would also act as an absorber, based on their body mass and clothing that they are wearing. The sound behavior would also change largely from when the room is empty, to when the venue is packed to the rafters. 

The actual size and space of the room plays a factor on the sound behavior also. A long and narrow room is going to have a different sound response to that of a space that has quite a large open area. Nearly all rooms and locations contain parallel surfaces. These are also not ideal for optimum sound behavior, as the sound energy can possibly egt trapped and built up betwene any two parellen surfaces. This is called a flutter echo (stand in the middle of your bedroom and clap loudly). 

In the recording studio environment, flutter echo is eliminated by either constructing the room with dimesions that eliminate parallel walls, or by using frequency absorbers (acoustic treatment) to help capture the excess of sound energy. 

The ideal location for sound playback would have a combination of reflective characteristics, as well as some controlled and absorbative qualities, to provide an equal and even dispersion of sound for the audience. 

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