Skip Ribbon Commands Skip to main content
​​
The Opus
Your primary source for Marantz news and more.
​​​

Acoustics Lessons from the World's Greatest Music Venues

Acoustics Lessons from the World's Greatest Music Venues

Designing the ideal home audio system is equal portions science and art. You’ll be best served by paying as much attention to technical specifications as you do to factors contingent on aesthetic appeal, like speaker placement. Unless you plan to renovate your living room entirely, proper placement will affect acoustics and sound dispersal more than anything else.

With this in mind, consider some of the world's most renowned music venues and how their acoustics function. You can learn a lot about what (and what not) to do with your new Marantz HiFi audio tools.

Learning from the Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House is recognized as an architectural wonder and signpost of Australia's culture But opinions regarding the acoustics of its primary venue, the Concert Hall, vary wildly. Many who criticize the Hall cite its high ceiling and overall enormous size as contributors to sonic difficulties. Opera House management started updating the entire building in 2016, and extensive changes to the Hall are scheduled for 2019-2021. These include lowering the stage, replacing the old acoustic reflectors and altering the walls.

As an audiophile, your main takeaway from this example should be that high ceilings (like those in a loft apartment) create problematic natural acoustics that have to be addressed through speaker placement, such as the 60-degree-angle rule for stereo speakers. Even more ideally, you should choose a room with a lower ceiling and a rectangular shape, so sound is better contained.

Mozart's legacy alive and well at the Musikverein
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died in 1791, slightly more than 20 years before the Musikverein in Vienna would open. But through this venue, his legacy endures. The Great Hall of the Musikverein is widely considered one of the world's greatest acoustic environments. The late acoustics expert Leo Beranek surveyed composers, musicians, conductors and other experts to find that Musikverein ranks as the best concert hall on the planet — followed by Symphony Hall in Boston and Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires.

The key to the Great Hall's sterling sound is its "shoebox hall" design: A rectangular shape with flat or slightly inclined floors, elevated orchestra and stage height that matches the line of sight from the rear row of orchestra seating. There are also numerous reflective surfaces, off which rising sound bounces from the front row to the balcony. While it's not always possible to set up reflectors in your house, place speakers one meter or more away from the wall to keep notes from being absorbed by substrates like drywall.

The enduring appeal of the Royal Albert Hall
The Royal Albert Hall in London is an interesting case: Writing in the Guardian, renowned cellist Julian Lloyd Webber noted that composers don't like the wide-stage venue acoustics, but audiences seem more than content with them. Webber attributes this to a clarity of sound that even novice listeners easily appreciate, despite the alleged design issues of the Hall. As such, it has hosted iconic and varied performances in its nearly 150 years of existence, ranging from the Royal Choral Society to Bob Dylan and Nine Inch Nails. The lesson here is that there are exceptions to every rule.

For home audio, technology like the Marantz ND8006 complete music solution deliver world-class audio worthy of a concert hall, in the privacy of your listening environment.