• Narrow the Focus for Your Sound System: What ESCO can do for you

    July 16, 2018
  • By: Phil Hodson, Director of Project Engineering

    When it comes to a new sound system there are as many designs as there are designers.  It comes as no surprise that each and every listener has an opinion on what a system should sound like.  After all, we each listen and know what we like.  The difficult part is to narrow the focus to what the system needs to provide and how to provide it.  This can be as simple as voice communications to a large complex performance system with complete fidelity—All while staying within a budget.

    This narrowing of focus starts with a discussion on what the purpose of the sound system and venue will be.  From there, we could call on experience or experimentation to select the loudspeakers.  This can be sufficient but with today’s selection of loudspeakers there are too many variables. Fortunately, there is a more scientific approach: Calling on EASE or Enhanced Acoustic Simulator for Engineers. This is a software package that aids an experienced designer in determining the most effective loudspeaker and placement of that loudspeaker.

    How it Works

    To begin, the space is measured both physically and acoustically.  The most effective way to measure physically is directly from the architectural design plans.  Without access to those we can just use a measuring device on everything in a space. Needless to say, this takes longer.  Not only are the dimensions critical but knowing what the surface materials are is key to an accurate model.  If the space exists, we make acoustic measurements so that the aural signature of the area can be confirmed in the completed computer model.  If the space is not built, we rely on just the planned surface materials as indicated in the design documents.  With this information gathered and entered into the program a fairly accurate estimate of the space can be derived.

    The image above is a worship space that has been recreated in the EASE program.  Close inspection will reveal four of the loudspeakers in their proposed locations. The type, aiming direction and locations are all variable and this can be used by an experienced designer to get it correct for the installation to be accomplished in one effort.

    With the loudspeakers positioned where we think they need to go we then ask the software to “paint” how specific frequencies will be presented to the listener.  For example, shown below is the output of an estimate of that space for 1000 Hz. as it covers the listening area.   This takes into account the interaction of the room as well as the adjacent loudspeakers and how they even interact with each other.  This can be done for any frequency. For brevity we will only show this 1KHz simulation.

    The chart to the right is the scale on how loud the system is expected to be at maximum volume at that specific frequency in that specific location.  If the level is within ±3 dB as it is in the majority of this space it is generally acceptable. If we see an issue it is a simple matter of changing location, angle or loudspeaker type within the software to attempt better coverage.  There are several simulations that we can do for a space which suggests such things as intelligibility, arrival times, how it will sound in just one seat, what happens if we change a wall material and many others. Being in the virtual world it is so much easier to do the “what if” and have a very good approximation of what will happen in the physical world.

    If you have been considering a new sound system or just wish to do “what if”, please connect with us below to see what we can do for you!

    Phil Hodson is currently the Director of Project Engineering with ESCO Communications having been with the company for over 26 years. He has 40 years in the communications field from touring to designing. He is also one of the few NICET Level III certified people in Low Voltage Communications in Indiana.

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