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Acoustics research centre

Improving stage acoustics for musicians

Bill Davies (supervisor), Raphaelle Bermond (student)

PhD studentship, January 1998 - December, 2000

To date, there has been little evidence available on how musicians perceive diffuse reflections in the early sound field in comparison to specular reflections. This study shows how diffusers affect the perception of various attributes that are specific to musicians.This project aims to optimise stage acoustics to provide what musicians need to hear during a performance.

This is done using a 1:10 scale model of a concert hall and subsequent full-scale subjective tests with musicians. Two series of subjective tests were conducted among musicians, one in a small room and one in an auditorium, to investigate how diffuse reflections affect the playing of musicians. Subjects were asked to play the same tune in several room configurations. For the first series, two types of diffusers were tested as well as flat walls. For the auditorium, musicians had to play with a reflective shell and with a diffusive shell. For all configurations, subjects were asked to assess on rating scales mutual hearing, self hearing, articulation and sound quality.


  • Bermond, R. and Davies, W. J., "Effects of diffusion on early reflected energy on orchestra platforms," Proc. Institute of Acoustics 21(6), 153-162, (1999).
  • Bermond, R. and Davies, W. J., "Influence of diffuse reflections on the playing of musicians," 17th Int. Congress on Acoustics, Rome, 2-8 September 2001.