Concert Halls - Acoustic controls

Concert Halls and Theatres

What do you need to do?

Acoustic controls

  • Installing sound absorbent materials can be a cost-effective solution to the problem of noise exposure in concert halls and orchestra pits
  • Properly installed, acoustic controls will reduce damage to workers' hearing and the orchestra or band will sound brighter
  • Small acoustic adjustments may add up to a significant reduction in noise exposure. For every three decibels you reduce the noise level, you reduce the exposure by half

Steps you can take to reduce noise exposure include:

Acoustic panelling: Avoid reverberant or unsuitably small spaces. Install specially designed acoustic panelling, wall-linings and floor coverings in frequently used rehearsal and performance spaces. Low and medium frequency acoustic absorption in pits or rehearsal rooms reduces exposures and improves clarity too.

Acoustic treatments: Install curtains, drapes and carpeting to achieve lower noise levels. Make sure, however, that the materials used do not create a fire hazard.

Acoustic ceiling: Make use of existing acoustic panels, e.g. adjustable roof panels which may not be apparent.

Acoustic screens: These may be small screens on stands or continuous absorbent screens. They can protect people from noisy sections in orchestras and bands and in amplified environments offer significant protection. Extreme care is needed in their positioning to avoid making things worse for other performers.

Remember to regard the steps as options on a menu, bearing in mind the hierarchy of control, and pick the most appropriate solutions to suit the particular problems of any one event.

Acoustics made simple

  • Hard reflective surfaces cause sound waves to bounce or reverberate, adding to the direct path of the sound waves. It is generally a good thing to reduce reverberant noise since this can affect the exposure of those some distance from the source.
  • Absorptive materials like wood, soft absorbent screens, acoustically absorbent foam, mineral fibre with foil and a decorative finish, and fabrics can be added to a building or placed strategically to reduce reverberant noise.
  • Venue managers and designers also need to consider the choice of materials in seating so that audiences hear the same sound whether the auditorium is full or not.

You'll find more detailed information in:

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