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Dr Andy Moorhouse on piano ...

BBC radio docs on sound:

- presented by Prof Trevor Cox

Concert Hall Acoustics: Art and Science

Wall of Walls

The boundaries of concert halls are used to control the acoustic. The walls can be made hard to reflect sound back into the room, soft to absorb sound or rough to disperse the reflected sound in different directions.

Sound waves at walls

Reflector: Sound reflects off a hard wall like a snooker ball bouncing off the cushion. Flat, large hard surfaces are a common surface in concert halls

Absorber. If a surface is soft the sound is absorbed. Absorption is usually avoided in concert halls because it removes valuable sound energy. The audience and seating are the most absorbing areas in most halls.

Diffuser. A rough surface, a diffuser, disperses sound in all directions. Diffusers have many uses.  For example they can remove detrimental echoes caused by surfaces such as the rear wall behind the audience.

This exhibit contains some examples of surface treatments. Which of the following are absorbers, reflectors or diffusers?


  1. Example
  2. Example
  3. example
  4. example
  5. example
  6. example
  7. example
  8. example


  1. Number theoretical diffuser
  2. Number theoretical absorber
  3. Fabric wrapped absorber
  4. Hybrid Absorber/diffuser
  5. Diffuser
  6. Diffuser
  7. Wood, in concert halls usually hard and reflecting
  8. Curtain, usually absorbing

Back to concert hall exhibition homepage

(c) Bridget Shield, Trevor Cox 1999/2000. The material maybe re-used provided a link to the website is provided and a clear acknowledgement to the curators given.