Too Loud~! A Little Theater Theory – Architecture

Mix In Theater Theory

At first, sound seemed like it should be a simple subject. And in the old days, before stereo or before 5.1 sound, maybe it was. But things changed. And one of the biggest changes has been stadium seating, with the tall ceiling and a lot more space to fill.

In practice, it means that for your theater owner to fill this stadium seating challenge with quality sound, there needs to be a lot of amplifier and speaker power. As we learned in the previous article, that power needs to be balanced so that it can deliver more amplification power at low and high frequencies, so they can keep up with middle frequencies as they get stronger.

It is just the way the human hearing system responds. When the audio is turned down, it turns down evenly electronically. But to our ears it does not sound even. Our system favors the center, meaning that the high and low frequencies are perceived to have gone down a lot more.

We have talked before about another way that this gets more complicated. The speakers are behind the screen, but they are not at the bottom pointing up. They are more near the top pointing to the top.

Now, by instinct we think that a room this size will be reflective and have a lot of echo sounds. But that is not the case. In fact, the room reflections are very controlled. Which means that people in the front hear things differently than the people in the rear. And you might expect that the rear would be louder because of this, but it isn’t the case.

In fact, sound can be like water from a hose. You can see the water disburse and the force diminish (get less) as the distance increases.

Don’t argue with a client who says it is too loud. Just suggest that you have found a different area to be more comfortable for sound. If they say that they don’t like to sit too far up front, suggest that the new digital projector pictures are a big improvement on old film pictures – less jumpy, and maybe that is a solution.

But stick with the story – the very true story – that the auditorium is designed and tuned to be most efficient and effective – and to a standard that begins at the mixing stage with the director – when the dial is set at 7, and we don’t want to ruin the sound for the majority to solve a misunderstanding for one or two people.

Part Eight: Too Loud~! Danger


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