Atmosphere is one of the loudest elements in a room, but it has nothing to do with the volume level of music or conversation. It’s a perceptual experience accumulating from complementary factors in the aesthetic. Even the most chic architectural and interior design can fall flat if other sensory factors are neglected. Too often, the most underestimated element of venue design is the sound and acoustics, yet these are the invisible make-or-break aspects of perceived comfort.
Expectations today are for a multi-sensory experience, complete with music. Walking into a venue that visually appealing but lacking the sound to reinforce the image can be startling to the sense. This deafening silence is off-putting. To bring the atmosphere to an enticing level anywhere, don’t forget the music!
Out with the Old. In with the New.
Technology continues to improve at a rapid pace, so why are you struggling with your sound system? A mess of wires and smart phones plugged into an old receiver and haphazardly placed loudspeakers is not the experience operators or customers want to encounter. Make music playback as easy to use and beautifully designed as the technology we all carry in our pockets. That will reinforce your brand with the right cues, both sonically and visually.
Light & Sound are Both Waves!
Sound moves through space in a way very similar to light, in the form of waves. Except sound waves travel more slowly, which means that in addition to the many factors that affect the movement of waves through a room, sound has the added variable of timing. Delayed sound is perceived as an echo, and that experience can be exacerbated by environmental factors that reflect sound and increase the reverberation of that echo.
That said, good sound is actually quite similar to good lighting, in that it’s best when evenly distributed. Similarly to how an intense spotlight is not very comfortable, a direct and loud beam of audio shooting from a single speaker is not ideal. In both cases, it’s a better idea to have many sources to ensure even delivery of light or sound. That’s where the issue of timing becomes critical, in that it must be accounted for in a sound design in order to prevent delays that could muddle speech or music.
A properly designed audio playback system accounts for the many environmental factors that affect propagation of sound. Here again, light and sound behave similarly, in that they bounce off certain wall finishes and surfaces, potentially causing unpleasant reflections or reverberating echoes. Factors such as ceiling height must also be considered, along with potential for shadows or bright spots. In all these cases, uniformity is key, and careful analysis must be performed to ensure the evenness of sound delivered by several loudspeakers.
Sound Quality Measurement Terminology
Take A Tip From The Pros and Learn the Lingo!
Beamy: Generally relates to the high-end frequencies. The sense that the sound is focused like a flashlight beam rather than being delivered over a wide area.
Boomy: The low end seems overstated. There is a sense that it is not tight and solid, but rather seems flabby and soft.
Boxy: Generally a restrained sound similar to cupping your hands around your mouth when you talk, which creates a muddiness. You feel like you are listening to a loudspeaker in a box rather than something which reproduces music well.
Clean: The loudspeaker sounds accurate, not colored or muddy.
Colored: You feel that the loudspeaker has its own sound, like you’re listening to the loudspeakers interpretation of what the music should sound like rather than the true sound of the music.
Definition: When listening to many instruments, the ability of the speaker to let each instrument have its own clear, clean sound rather than being muddy.
Efficient: An efficient loudspeaker will sound louder than one that is less efficient at the same amplifier loudness setting.
Fidelity: The degree of accuracy with which sound is reproduced.
Muddy: The sound lacks clear, clean definition. Sounds like somebody stirred the sound up in a big pot. No distinct definition.
Musical: Refers to the voicing of the speaker. It sounds good and reproduces the music in a way that is pleasant to hear.
Open: The sense that the sound is bigger than the size of the loudspeaker.
Transparent: No coloration, you don’t feel like the mechanical speaker is in the way of the sound. You lose the loudspeaker and are only aware of the sound it’s reproducing.