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Listening Acoustics

Author: N.H. Crowhurst

It might be thought that to enjoy listening best, we should go outdoors where there is no reverberation. But in most outdoor locations, there is so much other noise going on, and the sound we want to listen to gets lost so quickly in all directions that we will not be satisfied. However, some quiet country locations are ideal for listening to music, which accounts for the increase in popularity of summer outdoor music festivals.

Quiet country locations are ideal for music listening

Using a room to listen in, whether it be our living room or an auditorium, helps to keep in the sound we want to hear, and to keep out what we don't want to hear. Reverberation helps to build up the intensity of the sound we want to hear, but there is a limit to the useful amount of reverberation. If we have too much, the sound seems to go on and on and on. Each new sound is blurred by the reverberation of the sounds that preceded it.

This phenomenon is closely linked with masking: reverberation should build up the sound, but not so much that it masks the original sound or succeeding ones. Every size of room or auditorium has an optimum amount of reverberation and length of reverberation time for music or speech that will give the most enjoyment from listening.

Last Update: 2010-11-03