Direct or Reflected? Acoustics Question

Posted by: Timski

Direct or Reflected? Acoustics Question - 02/02/13 10:28 PM

New to the forum and I have a question for the acoustics experts. The church I play in is a medium sized room with high ceilings and unfortunately is acoustically dead, due largely to carpeting and upholstery. We have a new Sauter Delta coming and will be experimenting with placement soon. My preference has always been direct sound but one of our organ consultants is adamant about using inderect or reflected sound whereas the other adamantly advises direct. I know every room is unique and all, but wonder if there is a consensus around here? This is more about placing the speakers for the organ than the piano but still relevant as the piano and organ will be in close proximity.

One of the other problems we have faced in this space is a time lag in sound accross the room. I have played and sung in many rooms both larger and smaller that were better, and some that were worse, but this one seems to be the least functional to play and sing in I've encountered in 30 years.

Any information and recommendations will be helpful. I have to get approvals for modifications to the sanctuary so I have to get some evidence and/or data to back up my recommendations. I have already asked to partially remove the carpet for hardwood which would help, but will likely only get that approved for the chancel area.
Posted by: Steven Y. A.

Re: Direct or Reflected? Acoustics Question - 02/03/13 01:14 AM

In room acoustics you want some reverberations ( cause by reflections) to archive certain desired delay.

Think about out side, instrument won't sound good out side. That's the "direct" sound you get.

In medium to large sized rooms for music usually there's less reverberation than desired. Can be achieved by using sound reflectors. Given your church is pretty much fixed, using "new York" mode seems more practical to me than " Berlin " model.

I am an architect with basic knowledge of room acoustic design. Not expert.
Posted by: Steven Y. A.

Re: Direct or Reflected? Acoustics Question - 02/03/13 01:17 AM

With reverberation you still hear the direct sound first, followed by the reflected sound (the travel distance is longer) .

It's not like there's an obstacle in front of you only hearing the reflected sound.
Posted by: peterws

Re: Direct or Reflected? Acoustics Question - 02/03/13 10:48 AM

I would have to disagree in part concerning outside acoustics. Generally they are pretty consistantly good for those listening, if not for the musicians, in my opinion. The musician always drwas the short straw when it comes to listening to his own music wherever he plays!
Posted by: Rich Galassini

Re: Direct or Reflected? Acoustics Question - 02/03/13 10:57 AM

Originally Posted By: Timski
My preference has always been direct sound but one of our organ consultants is adamant about using inderect or reflected sound whereas the other adamantly advises direct.


When installing a digital organ, reflective sound (placing speakers so they are not directly facing the congregation) is a popular choice and can give the digital organ a more "real pipe sound". This is because by its nature, a pipe is not directional in its sound output.

In general, this is not something that benefits a pianos sound because its nature is directional.

You face the open lid of a piano towards the audience. You cannot face a pipe towards the audience.

Take it from a guy that lives in both arenas.
Posted by: Timski

Re: Direct or Reflected? Acoustics Question - 02/03/13 05:23 PM

Thanks for the replies. My feeling is that there is so much absorption in the room that for singing anyway, it's like singing into a black hole where you get no audio feedback. I am capable of handling this but it is a problem for other singers and ensemble work. I plan to set up the piano with it opening directly to the congregation and experimenting from there.

Rich, that was the same explanation given by the consultant recommending indirect, he also recommended it for the piano fwiw. I somewhat agree in principal. I grew up playing organ, pipe and electrical including very large pipe organs both in Canada and Germany. While there are great aspects to these organs, there are some practical challenges too. I played for a choir in a very large church where I had to play almost 2 seconds ahead of the choir for the delay in sound. While it can be done, it is challenging and with the current group of singers at this church it doesn't work well.

That being said, I am not sure what would work best in this room to provide the right balance of sound and immediacy. Any built in delay could be problematic and the experts are advocating polar opposites. I guess the best solution is to try both with temporary installations and see what works best.
Posted by: Chris Storch

Re: Direct or Reflected? Acoustics Question - 02/03/13 05:32 PM

Timski,

I suggest you find an acoustical consultant to help you. If the church is going to put time, effort, and money into renovations or modifications of the sanctuary, it'd be money well-spent to hire someone with expert knowledge to assist you.

You could try this one... I've never heard of them, but they're close by you.
http://www.bkl.ca/bkl-projects/houses-of-worship-acoustical-experience/

Alternately, you can try the Greenbusch Group in Seattle. Ask for Julie Wiebusch.
http://www.greenbusch.com/index.html

Chris S.
Posted by: Steven Y. A.

Re: Direct or Reflected? Acoustics Question - 02/03/13 05:41 PM

theres also architectural opportunities lies within sound reflectors.
with some innovative design the reflector can be a part of church, and can be disassembled easily for multi-functional use smile

Steven