The acoustics of a concert hall


Concert hall acoustics is a subfield of room acoustics that focuses on the design of rooms for live music concerts that are typically unamplified. Concert halls, with seating capacities ranging from 300 to 2500, are typically used for classical music events (mostly symphonic compositions).

Some topics will be presented here that have previously been covered in our essay on room acoustics, therefore it is recommended that you read that first.

Shape of a basic room

There are only a few shapes that can be used as a starting point for the construction of a music hall, with shoebox (rectangular), fan-shaped, and grapevine being the most common.

Shoebox design

A shoebox is basically a rectangular room with a few balconies. As a result, the basic design is straightforward, but if not handled carefully, this type of space might suffer from flutter echoes (explained in our article about room acoustics). Musikverein in Vienna is a well-known example of a shoebox concert venue. The numerous structures in this specific room, such as the lateral statuary, are usually acknowledged to introduce scattering that helps prevent the problem of flutter echoes.

Fan-shaped design

Fan-shaped rooms are the most prevalent, as they can seat a huge number of guests while maintaining a front-row view of the performers. They are not susceptible to flutter echoes, though, due to the non-parallel walls. Furthermore, the width of the compartment in the back seats allows for considerable sound space. The Chaktomuk Conference Hall in Cambodia is an example of a fan-shaped space, however it is not a music hall.

In a vineyard setting

Vineyard music halls get their name from the fact that the seating divisions resemble vineyard slopes. This style of room has a number of benefits: 1) It is appealing to the eye. 2) The uneven pattern reduces acoustic problems like flutter echoes and focussing (explained in our article about room acoustics). The negative is that the design is quite sophisticated and costly. The DR Concert Hall in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Berlin Philharmonic’s Concert Hall in Berlin, Germany, and the Philharmonie de Paris in Amsterdam (kidding – in Paris! ), France are all examples of notable vineyard concert halls.

Reflectors suspended from the ceiling

A concert hall’s main goal is to convey sound as evenly as possible to diverse portions of the audience. The actual ceiling of the space is unlikely to be able to do this. As a result, it’s usual to hang sound reflectors from the ceiling at angles that direct the sound to different parts of the audience.

Reflector coverage and billiard balls are two tools that ODEON provides to help you visualise the effect of hung reflectors and fine-tune your design.