Every event planner has come up against this at some point: you've finally found the perfect venue for your next big night. The atmosphere is wonderful, the location is great, there's enough room for your whole audience and they have all the facilities you need. You've got the perfect green room and a good place to set out your stage. There's just one problem, though--the acoustics are terrible.
The good news is that you don't necessarily need to scrap your entire event thus far and start venue-hunting all over again just for this reason, even if you're hosting music and speakers. There are a few quick and easy tricks that will help you improve the acoustics of any space, and might just mean that the show can go on.
Remove or cover as many hard, flat surfaces as you can.
One of the most important principles of acoustics is 'reflections'. Reflections are caused by sound waves hitting large, hard surfaces--like walls--and bouncing off; this is why the Classical amphitheatres are all circular or oval! Large flat walls are the enemy of good acoustic setting, and big tables aren't much better. Concrete and glass are particularly bad--rooms with huge portrait windows never sound great--but wood is often not much better.
The good news is, you can overcome this problem. Remove huge, hard wooden tables if you can, and close all the blinds or curtains to deal with sound reflections on windows. Big flat walls can be draped in cloth, and you can also use cloths to cover any hard surfaces you can't simply have taken out of the room. Portable foam panels can be used to deal with hard-to-reach areas, or if you think the ceiling is a problem. Pick up some second-hand dampening baffles to set up in corners to help you to reduce reverberations.
Fill large empty spaces with furniture and decor.
While anything with a huge hard, flat surface can be a problem, other items of furniture--particularly shelving units, which have plenty of edges, and soft furnishings like armchairs and sofas that can be used along the edges of the room--can be a huge help. You want the sound to bounce off in as many different directions as possible, and for your space to be arranged in as asymmetrical a way as you can. Going back again to Classical amphitheatres--acoustics had to be amazing when microphones were too far-off even to dream of!--think how the seating was arranged in stepped tiers, with the stage down at the bottom; the actors' voices could bounce from hundreds of jagged surfaces.
Give very careful thought to where you place your amps--but don't just rely on tech.
Make sure that your sound system is being operated by someone who understands the limitations of the space, that everyone using a microphone has been shown how to speak or sing into them properly, and that your speakers and amplifiers are situated on either side of the front of the room so that they flank the audience in the middle. Don't think you can overcome poor acoustics simply by turning the volume up, however; decibels are only half the battle, so it's vital to get your reflections and reverberations right as well.Share
16 September 2016
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