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Introduction to Acoustics of Sound-Reinforced Performance Spaces

Charles E. Dowd Jr., P.E., AVS

Course Outline

This two hour online course describes the typical background noise levels for performance spaces and how this background noise level is achieved through sound isolation and mechanical noise control.  Room acoustics for classical performance spaces are discussed where passive means are used to reinforce the sound source.  Next, the room acoustics for performance spaces that utilize sound systems are discussed.  Finally, the course concludes with rooms where the acoustics can be adjusted and also with a description of how computer modeling tools can be used.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

Learning Objective

At the conclusion of this course, the student will:

Intended Audience

This course is intended for architects and others that may be involved in the construction industry or anyone that has an interest in understanding the acoustical environment that supports a performance space.

Benefit to Attendees

Attendee of this course will be able to converse more intelligently with owners, engineers, and acoustical consultants on the design of performance spaces. This knowledge will also alert the attendee to potential room layout problems or mechanical noise issues early in the design process.

Course Introduction

Acoustical design has been used to support the reinforcement of speech and music in performance spaces since Greek and Roman times.  Many performance spaces today rely on sound systems instead of passive acoustics and this scenario brings a different set of parameters into play.  The passive reinforcement approach is more documented in the literature and many people mistakenly think that the same techniques apply to performance spaces that use sound systems.  This course will begin by examining the low background noise aspect of acoustical design that applies equally to both types of reinforcement.  The course will then conclude with the aspects of room surface design where the passive and electronic reinforced performance spaces are in sharp contrast. 

Course Content

The course content is in the following PDF file:

Introduction to Acoustics of Sound-Reinforced Performance Spaces

Please click on the above underlined hypertext to view, download or print the document for your study. Because of the large file size, we recommend that you first save the file to your computer by right clicking the mouse and choosing "Save Target As ...", and then open the file in Adobe Acrobat Reader.


Course Summary

The proper design of a performance space requires careful attention to the key acoustical issues.  We have seen how the performance space must have a quiet air handling system and it must be separated from sources of noise. A low level of background noise allows the audience to be immersed in the program free from any distractions.  We have also learned that the reflections that provide natural reinforcement in classical spaces must be reduced in performance spaces that have sound reinforcement systems.

Related Links

For additional information related to this subject, please visit the following websites or web pages:

Training Classes and Industry Links- Synergetic Audio Concepts (Syn-Aud-Con)
General Information-
Materials for Vibration and Noise Control- Kinetics


Once you finish studying the above course content, you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.

Take a Quiz

DISCLAIMER: The materials contained in the online course are not intended as a representation or warranty on the part of PDH Center or any other person/organization named herein. The materials are for general information only. They are not a substitute for competent professional advice. Application of this information to a specific project should be reviewed by a registered architect and/or professional engineer/surveyor. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein does so at their own risk and assumes any and all resulting liability arising therefrom.