Characteristics of Performance and Recording Spaces

  • John M. Eargle


While popular and rock music is usually recorded (some would say created) in studios, most classical recording takes place in actual performance spaces—concert halls, ballrooms, or houses of worship. To the extent that a classical recording attempts to convey a sense of space or ambience appropriate to the music, it will be useful to analyze performance spaces in terms of direct, early, and reverberant fields. The direct field is of course the sound reaching the listener along a straight line from the source on stage. The early field generally describes the ensemble of early reflections from the front and sides of the space to the listener. The time interval usually discussed here is the first 100 msec after the initial onset of sound. The reverberant field has been discussed earlier; it is the statistical ensemble of many reflections that arrive uniformly at the listener from all directions. The trade-offs inherent in concert hall design will be discussed, as will some numerical methods for rating concert hall performance. The modern recording studio is generally much smaller than dedicated performance space—although some studios (most notably EMI’s Abbey Road Studio 1) are quite large. In these spaces there is no performer-listener relationship as such, and the acoustical design of the space is done along different lines.


Acoustical Power Reverberation Time Direct Sound Concert Hall Lateral Reflection 
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© Chapman & Hall, New York, NY 1996

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  • John M. Eargle

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