Room Acoustics

A truly excellent hall is the product of the balance between two primary impressions: the sound must be rich and clear at the same time. These two concepts are in opposition, as richness envelopes the audience with reverberant sound energy which can prevent clarity. However, the concert hall must transmit the sound produced by the musicians on stage to the audience in the most faithful manner possible. Furthermore, a modern concert hall must be able to compete with digital media which gives maximum clarity, transparency, and quality. Through careful balance, it is possible to create a world class concert hall whose sound environment is rich, full and layered while simultaneously crystal clear as is the case in the Vienna Musikverein, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, and Berlin Philharmonie.

Technically, we accomplish this by balancing the early reflections, which provide clarity, with late energy, which gives the impression of reverberant richness. Appropriate reverberation time is primarily tuned by adjusting interior finishes and using massive construction. Manipulating early reflections is more architecturally involved and requires changes to the room geometry.

Computer Modeling

Our proprietary computer simulation allows for significant flexibility in architectural design, especially for complex room shapes. This software is used to tailor the distribution of the early reflections needed for perceived clarity and can be conveniently run for the many design iterations necessary over the course of a project. This simulation technique has been applied with great success to many projects on the international stage.

Scale Model Testing

An acoustic test with a 1/10th scale model is used for most high profile concert halls. Miniature speakers and dummy head microphones are used to take measurements at various points throughout the nitrogen filled hall model. By using an actual sound source, we can—by audition—account for effects such as diffraction that a computer simulation cannot capture. Although the construction of a 1/10th scale model built to acoustic-testing specifications is expensive, it remains the only reliable method to detect detrimental echoes before construction.

Sound Isolation and Noise Control

Effort spent on room acoustics are wasted if they cannot be heard over background noise. Sound isolation must be resolved alongside the architectural and structural teams. Careful coordination with the mechanical engineering team will prevent building systems such as pumps, fans, and HVAC systems from interfering with performances.

Acoustical Involvement by Project Phase

The quality of sound is determined by the characteristics, grade, location and shape of the rooms, and budgetary allocations for facility are discussed during the Programming and Conceptual Design Phase. Participation of the acoustical specialist in the project from the earliest stage of the plan assures the highest quality of sound. Nagata Acoustics provides the best service based on and supported by our technical expertise and successful past record in meeting our clients’ specific needs.

With our computer simulation techniques and scale model experiments, we provide necessary acoustical services to the project from the programming stage through to the completion of the facility while considering architectural design, structure and other services.

1. Programming Phase

Client, architect and Nagata Acoustics develop a mutual vocabulary as to define project goals.

  • Studies on acoustical goal
  • Data presentation
  • Noise and vibration survey of site
  • Intensive workshop sessions

2. Schematic Design Phase

With architect and client, shape and size of hall are finalized. During this process, Nagata Acoustics provides analyses of the acoustical ramifications of the various options, and analyses the effects on sound system incorporation and theater design aspects of the hall.

  • Room shape study with computer simulations
  • Acoustical check of planning and room arrangement
  • Calculation of acoustical parameters

3. Design Development Phase

Once the objectives and the hall’s basic shape are decided, Nagata Acoustics works side-by-side with the architect and theater consultant to obtain the desired objectives. Details of wall design, seating placement, and selection of construction materials are some of the many areas requiring input from the acoustician.

  • Acoustical check of building materials and structures
  • Noise control and specifications for HVAC system
  • Experiments using a scale model

4. Construction Phase

Nagata Acoustics works with the architect, engineer and theater consultant in drafting and finalizing construction documents, and supervising implementation of acoustical design and noise controls. During construction, our staff participate in periodic on-site inspections and acoustical measurement, guide installation of the sound system, and provide advice on interior design and materials.

  • Finalize construction documents
  • On-site inspection
  • Acoustical check with measurements

5. Fine-tuning and Measurements

No project is considered completed until it is tested in real-use situations and the acoustics are fine-tuned. In addition to using instrument measurement, Nagata Acoustics listens to critiques from the client and performers and adjusts the acoustics to maximize perceived satisfaction as well as meet statistical goals. The client is provided with a report of all acoustical data collected.

  • Acoustical measurements and data analysis
  • Testing of real-use situations
  • Acoustical adjustments

6. User Orientation

Nagata Acoustics provides orientation for client’s optimal use of the facility.

  • User orientation sessions