Augmented Reality in Concert Halls

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This is Robert Estrin from LivingPianos.com. Today’s subject is augmented reality in concert halls. It sounds futuristic and a little bit scary! What are we talking about here?

Designing a concert hall is very difficult.

If you build a concert hall that has beautiful acoustics for an orchestra, will it have the right acoustics for solo piano? If you bring in a jazz ensemble, will it have the right acoustics for that? What about rock bands with amplifiers and digital reverb? It is impossible to have one concert hall that will serve all of those purposes. With depleting budgets for classical music, having a hall dedicated to just classical music is rare. But the fact is, the acoustics in a hall designed for an orchestra might not be right for other performances.

There are new technologies that can customize acoustics in concert halls.

For example, the symphony hall in Indianapolis, Hilbert Circle Theater, has technology where the hall itself is acoustically somewhat dead. But they have built into the hall a microphone and speaker system that creates the ambiance artificially. You might think this sounds like a terrible idea until you actually hear it. They do an absolutely splendid job of creating beautiful acoustics electronically!

You can have a hall where the ideal acoustics can be dialed in for whatever ensemble is performing there.

For example, if you have a group that is playing amplified music, there is nothing worse than having a hall with rich reverberation that creates a wash of sound, making everything muddy. Worse yet, if there is a speaking engagement in the acoustically live hall, it can be impossible to understand speech. Just imagine being able to dial in the reverb at your will. For example, you could have a dry sound for speaking, and a reverberant hall for classical music ensembles.

There are new types of reverbs that use impulses of samples from actual halls.

These convolution reverbs allow you to take the acoustics of Carnegie Hall, for example, and create that space acoustically on recordings or possibly even live. You can make a small hall sound like a medium or large hall. You can dial in whatever hall you want! This isn’t the future, it is happening right now.

Many halls now utilize digital technologies in order to create ideal sound in spaces with acoustic compromises.

Even with the best intentions and all of the best scientific data available, some concert halls are built, but once completed, it becomes apparent that they didn’t get the acoustics quite right. To remedy this they would have to rip everything out and put in new panels with different reflecting patterns and baffles to get the hall’s acoustics dialed in. Some halls actually have mechanical panels that can be moved to alter the acoustics of the hall. Segerstrom Hall in Orange County has this sort of technology. That’s a great situation! It is also very expensive. Once a hall has digital acoustics installed, it is just the beginning. You can experiment with an unlimited number of acoustic possibilities all at the push of a button!

Augmented reality in concert halls, what a fascinating subject! I hope you’ve enjoyed this. Once again, this is Robert Estrin of LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Store

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