Acoustic Properties – Task

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What is sound?

Sound refers to vibrations that can be picked up by the human ear.

What is absorption?

Sound absorption refers to how sound is received in the space around us. This will depend on the shape of the building, room, etc. The sound my end up being absorbed, reflected or transmitted.

What is reflection?

Similar to absorption this is to do with the space that you are in. Reflection is when the vibrations that we can hear, bounce off spaces, objects or materials. This can end up creating echo’s in certain circumstances.

What is insulation?

Insulation is when the vibrations or sound that you can hear around you are prevented from being lost.

What is isolation?

Isolation is when sounds that are transmitted from ‘outside’ space is cut off. This may refer to cutting off all the sound outside your room from entering. This may also refer to blocking out all non headphone sounds whilst wearing them.

What is reverb?

Reverb is an effect that can be applied to sound that let’s you hear sound in a different way than you normally would. For instance it may make the sound sound like it had originated from in a tunnel or a similar space. So it will often sound echoey.

What is delay?

Sound delay is when the original sound recording is altered and played back after a period of time. The sound will be delayed and may play back several of times or play back into the recording to create the effect of repeating.

What do we mean by ‘dead’ and ‘live’ acoustics?

Dead rooms are rooms that make no or next to no echoes and/or reverberation. There are room called anechoic chamber’s which are built specifically so that their cannot be any echoes at all.

Live sound on the other hand are the exact opposite of that as they are rooms that produce lots of echo and reverberation. The sound bounces around the room frequently.

What problems might we face when working with sound in a venue?

  • Space/shape, the room might be not too disimilar to a church and may be acoustically dead.
  • There may be sound coming from all directions, for instance a gig, when the performers are on one side of the room and the audience is on the other.
  • There might be quite a lot of sound coming from things like central heating, boilers, and electrical devices.
  • There may be amplifiers in the room.
  • You may not have access to to the recording space that you want. i.e you may have to record a performance from a position that you don’t want to.
  • Traffic outside.

What methods could we use to alter the sound of a venue?

  • Make sure you are using professional quality recorders and record as close to the source of the sound as possible.
  • If there is sound coming from all directions then you can try and block out the sound that is coming from the other directions using certain objects or human shields.
  •  Make sure that all sound producing objects/materials are switched off or secluded as best as possible from the source of the sound that you want to record.
  • Make sure that you are recording on the correct sound levels and the microphone is pointing away from it. Also you can wear earphones for personal protection, but that effect how the sound is when you listen back to it.
  • You can use things such as boom mics so that you can position them to pick up sound from a certain direction.
  • Make sure that all windows are closed and iff possible boarded up with things like pillows to isolate the sound.

What are the acoustic characteristics of a large church or cathedral?

Large churches are definitely live rooms as the sound travels round the space and echoes. I recorded someone talking on the stage of a church using a Tascam. Annoyingly I didn’t record this from a very close distance. So it is harder to make out what they are saying.

Choose 3 locations that you could find yourself recording in (e.g. The Box / Film Class Room / Work Skills / Corridor in The Allen), comment about how the sound may travel around this location.

  • Radio recording room/studio – Acoustic screen will very likely be in use to stop sound coming from other directions. The sound that is produced will probably sound very natural as the microphone will be very close to their mouth, depending on how many presenters are speaking. Their will only be a small space for the sound to travel.
  • Hallway – the sound and vibrations that are produced in a hallway will echo and will probably be delayed. If two people spoke to each other from across from each side of the room one after the other then the echo of the first person’s voice would probably still be travelling across as the second person started to speak. However besides from the sounds that are produced in the hallway, not much sound would come in from outside of the hallway because of the it’s surface.
  • Bedroom – This will depend on the size and shape of the bedroom but for instance, the sound in my old bedroom was not great because the room was a strange shape. The ceiling was diagonal and got lower the further you walked towards the back (right side) of the room. The door was fairly weak and so sound could travel through/under it easily. Their were two large windows in my room, so I could here sound from outside, even if the windows were shut, for instance lawnmowers and planes. And the floor was creaky.
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