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Subjective Acoustic Experience in Concert Auditoria

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A preliminary survey of methods of assessing concert hall acoustics revealed problems in establishing the number of separate subjective acoustic experiences, the terms to use in describing these, and their physical objective correlates. The present study consists of a field experiment designed to answer some of the questions raised by this survey.

A questionnaire consisting of a set of 16 bipolar rating-scales (e. g. live – dead) was issued to subjects at concerts in different auditoria in and around London. Analysis of the interscale correlations produced between 4 and 6 factors, or independent sets of ratings, the number depending on the particular concert hall, the type of music, and on whether musical content and manner of performance were kept constant or varied. The nature of the factors was also found to vary in a way which could be related to the type of music being played.

These results show that the subjective assessment of acoustics is made on more than one dimension. Although there are general overall similarities, the dimensions appear to vary with the type of music and hall.

Mean factor scores were then obtained for different positions in different concert halls, and these were compared in an attempt to examine the physical correlates of these experiences. Qualities of “Definition” and “Enjoyment” were not easy to relate to the physical characteristics of the different concert halls. However, “Reverberance” was found to be related to R. T., “Evenness” to distance from and alignment with the orchestra, “Intimacy” to proximity to the orchestra, a short initial time delay gap, and a high narrow hall cross-section, and “Brilliance” to a long R. T. at high frequencies. The study included a period during which the assisted resonance system in the Royal Festival Hall was being progressively installed. The physical changes in the reverberation characteristics correlated in a significant manner with the subjective acoustic experience.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 1971

More about this publication?
  • Acta Acustica united with Acustica, published together with the European Acoustics Association (EAA), is an international, peer-reviewed journal on acoustics. It publishes original articles on all subjects in the field of acoustics, such as general linear acoustics, nonlinear acoustics, macrosonics, flow acoustics, atmospheric sound, underwater sound, ultrasonics, physical acoustics, structural acoustics, noise control, active control, environmental noise, building acoustics, room acoustics, acoustic materials, acoustic signal processing, computational and numerical acoustics, hearing, audiology and psychoacoustics, speech, musical acoustics, electroacoustics, auditory quality of systems. It reports on original scientific research in acoustics and on engineering applications. The journal considers scientific papers, technical and applied papers, book reviews, short communications, doctoral thesis abstracts, etc. In irregular intervals also special issues and review articles are published.
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