Inspiring Sensory Experiences Through Acoustic Design

  |  April 1, 2022

Music, in particular live music, is one of life’s greatest joys and there are countless elements that factor into a great performance, from front of house to back of house and everywhere in between. Being part of a team that designs stunning performing arts spaces that stand the test of time is an incredible honor and privilege for our firm. We never cease to revel in the excitement that surrounds the opening of a live music venue, whether it is a historic concert hall that hosts world-renowned and classically trained performers, an outdoor amphitheater that comes to life when a band plays to its legions of adoring fans, or a hidden gem within a school campus where a new generation of performers takes the stage in front of a proud audience of family, friends, and educators.

Anyone with a deep appreciation of music can name their favorite venues and the reasons that set them apart from the rest. In many cases it can be argued that the venue contributes to the overall experience as much as the performance itself. A great live music venue should foster sonic and visual intimacy between the performers and audience, and acoustic design is an essential part of the overall experience of a patron or an artist. The audience should enjoy the experience as much as the musicians who should love to play a particular venue and want to come back.

Poor acoustics can feel unfriendly at best and hostile at worst to a highly sensitive person. The sound will be muddy, the vocals indistinct, and the bass overwhelming. Alternatively, in a space with optimal acoustics the sound will be warm, even, and controlled with the music heard the way the artist intended. A 2016 study published in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America even found that superior acoustics within concert halls leads to a heightened emotional response from the audience. The findings of multiple listening tests within varying concert halls provide an understanding of the importance of acoustic design and its impact on the psychophysiological responses to music.

Our priority with every design is to inspire sensory experiences. The audience should hear the music at the utmost quality, they should see the visually stunning designs we use to create the necessary acoustic treatments, and they should feel the sound resonating within themselves. There are a multitude of ways the Jaffe Holden team can achieve the highest standard of acoustic design for a project and overcome any potential design challenges, no matter the size or programmatic elements of a space. Our expertise and involvement from the early stages of the design process are a worthwhile investment that will ultimately lead to happy patrons who make a venue their go-to location for a night out, and musicians who remember the superior sound of a space that will always be a stop on their tours for years to come.

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