Thursday, Jul. 13th 2017

Amphitheater Acoustics: Tips & Tricks

With all the distractions present in the outdoors, amphitheater acoustics deserve special consideration. Every outdoor venue is unique. However, these tips should get you started designing a great-sounding performance space!

 

Setting the Stage

Diagram of unextended amphitheater bandshell roof

Sound reflections with typical concave roof design

Contemporary amphitheaters often include bandshell structures, which help amplify sound and enhance the performances.

Many of these amphitheater structures have concave shapes so that the roof appears like a natural extension of the landscape. While beautiful, concave amphitheater roofs focus sound toward the center point of the circles they describes. For most amphitheaters, this point is on the stage, not in the audience.

Diagram of extended amphitheater bandshell roof

Sound reflections with flattened and extended roof

To improve the acoustics of your amphitheater’s stage, consider flattening the roof structure. Also, extending the roof beyond the front of the stage can further direct sound to the audience.

While these changes can improve the amphitheater acoustics, they will not provide the forward reflections needed for an optimal audience experience. To achieve these reflections, try adding convex sound-reflecting panels to the underside of the roof structure. In addition to reflecting sound out into the audience area, they would also help prevent unwanted direct reflections back onto the stage area.

 

Hearing the Show

The ancient Greeks and Romans lacked sound reinforcement technology. These days, however, professional sound reinforcement system design can ensure that everyone in attendance can hear the performance. 

You don’t need to rely entirely on technology, though. Follow the lead of the ancients and try these acoustical enhancements.

 

Amphitheater bandshell musical performance

 

A semicircular seating area brings the audience closer to the stage, and reduces sound energy lost by distance. Try designing the seating area with at least a 20º slope. Not only does this help people see the show, but it also reduces attenuation caused by the seated audience. 

In addition, don’t forget about mother nature! Design your site layout with the prevailing wind direction in mind.

 

If you would like to learn more, or if you have an amphitheater project that could use a professional AV system or acoustical consultant, contact us. We would love to help!

 

 


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