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MMD > Archives > November 2007 > 2007.11.10 > 01Prev  Next

Room Acoustics for Mechanical Music
By John A. Tuttle

[ Tom Hutchinson wrote in 071106 MMDigest:

> Has there ever been any information published addressing acoustical
> requirements for a building specifically designed for mechanical
> music instruments, such as large pipe organs and band organs?

Hi All,  Having helped a number of customers over the years, the best
advice is 'lots of small angular changes on the walls and ceiling'.
Like Robbie said, you need to absorb the sound.  But, more accurately,
you need to 'swallow it' or 'lose it' in small spaces that won't
reflect it anywhere.

In the effort to remain 'stylish', most of my customers have opted for
thick drapes and carpets, but 3K-4K of space is quite large, and any
instrument will have a tendency to 'echo' off of the other 'flat'
instruments in the room as well as the walls, floor, and ceiling.

This past weekend, I had the rare opportunity to attend the 'premier'
playing of the Lowe's Jersey 'Wonder Morton' Theatre organ.  While
the sounds were massive beyond belief, the ornate walls and ceiling
'sucked' the sound up like a sponge.  Even though the theater was
basically empty (most of the chairs are still missing), there was no
perceptible echo from anywhere in the massive building.  However, it's
really difficult to find any sizable (over a few square feet) of flat
space in the entire place.  And, all of the ornate features on the
walls and ceiling are made out of plaster.

I'm also reminded of every recording studio that I've ever been in,
and all of them very large sound absorbing materials of one sort or
another.  What would be the best is more likely determined by your
budget than what's most effective.  In my opinion, the most effective
method is highly irregular shapes of every type and size.  In other
words, give every frequency a place to 'hide' or 'get lost'.

(Since I'm not an acoustics engineer, the words I've used in this
posting are, hopefully, ones that everybody can understand.  If I've
said something that isn't clear, let me know and I'll try to clear it
up as best as I can.)

John A Tuttle
Brick, New Jersey, USA

(Message sent Sat 10 Nov 2007, 17:06:21 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Acoustics, Mechanical, Music, Room

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