Memorial Lecture at 123rd: Leo Beranek / Aspects Of Concert Hall Acoustics

Heyser Memorial Lecture
AES 123rd Convention
Javits Center - New York City

Saturday, October 6, 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm


Aspects Of Concert Hall Acoustics
by Leo Beranek


Leo Beranek received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Cornell College (Iowa) and his Doctor of Science from Harvard University. During World War II he headed the Electro-Acoustic Laboratory at Harvard. He served as associate professor of communications engineering at MIT from 1947 to 1958 and technical director of its Acoustics Laboratory. From 1952 to 1971 he was president of Bolt Beranek and Newman, one of the world’s largest acoustical consulting firms. A lifelong interest in music led him to specialize in concert hall and opera house acoustics. Following trips to over 100 of the world’s leading halls and interviews of over a hundred conductors and music critics, he wrote three books on concert and opera halls, the most recent completely revised edition is Concert Halls and Opera Houses: Music, Acoustics, and Architecture (Springer-Verlag 2004). Recently Beranek has been acoustical consultant for four concert halls, one opera house, and two drama theaters in Tokyo and has been consultant on many other concert halls, including the Tanglewood Music Shed in Western Massachusetts, the Aula Magna in Caracas, and the Meyerhoff Hall in Baltimore. He has received numerous awards, including Gold Medals from the Acoustical Society of America and the Audio Engineering Society, Honorary Membership in the American Institute of Architects, the U.S. President’s National Medal of Science in 2003, and the Per Brüel Gold Medal of the A.S.M.E in 2004.

“Aspects Of Concert Hall Acoustics”

Listening to music performances in approximately 200 venues, consulting with architects on a number of them and assembling measured acoustical data on a hundred of them, have given the speaker a broad base for understanding the relative importance of the various acoustical parameters that either are being measured or are proposed for the evaluation of acoustics of spaces for music. The acoustical parameters treated are: Apparent Source Width (ASW), Listener Envelopment (LEV), Lateral Fraction (LF), Interaural Cross-Correlation Coefficient (IACC), Reverberation Time (RT30), Early Decay Time (EDT), Initial-Time-Delay Gap (ITDG), Strength (G) (and various substrengths including early and late relative levels, and early and late lateral relative levels), Perceived Bass, Texture, Just Noticeable Differences, and Instrumentation. The extents to which these parameters are being met in halls of different architectural designs are presented. Finally, the relation of these parameters to living-room listening venues will be touched on.

The presentation was followed by a reception hosted by the AES Technical Council.

Download PDF file of the presentation.

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