Acoustics and the Movie Theater

Written by on 9 June, 2018

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 Movie Theater and Acoustics

Movie Theater – After carefully reviewing the many options available in cinema seating, you’ll face the need of determining the most appropriate setup for your theatre. There are several options in room arrangements, but they aren’t all appropriate for the cinema experience. While you’re in the process of choosing your seating, take time to consider the various configurations (Harvard style, town meeting, fish bowl, octagon, auditorium, U-shape, etc.) and the benefits of certain seating arrangements over some of the others. Working through this process may help you better understand the physics and acoustical properties of the movie theater.


 Movie Theater and Acoustics – The Transmission of Sound

If you’ve been to a movie or sport stadium recently, then you’re probably pretty familiar with the experience of sitting in the back and clearly hearing what is happening at the very front of the room. You may have also had the experience of being in relatively small room in your own home and still struggling to hear what is being said. How does that work and why does it matter to you? The answer to this question has to do with acoustics. This is the study of the specific area of physics having to do with sound. It is the properties and qualities of a room that influence the transmission of sound.


 Movie Theater and Acoustics – The Configuration of Seating

As you think about the configuration of your cinema seating, you’ll want to take several things into consideration. These include the way your sound is generated, how the sound waves will be propagating, whether or not the seating will absorb certain types of sound, and the effects of the floors, walls, and ceiling on the sound. You’ll also need to think about how the sound itself will react in that space. When the theatre was built, the architects may have hired scientists such as acousticians to determine the best design to successfully transmit the sound to all of the seats. It’ll be your job to be sure that your selection of seats doesn’t disrupt that transmission.

Acoustics and the Movie Theater - Radio 1 - Plexus - Plexus Radio - Acoustics - Movie - Theater

Sound Absorption and Reflection

Did you know that some materials will absorb sound while other materials reflect sound? You might think that this makes your task in choosing theatre seats easy. Clearly, you’ll want the materials that don’t absorb sound, right? However, you also want to be sure that you don’t have sounds bouncing around and becoming distorted in the room. With this in mind, you’ll want to work closely with a provider of seats that understands the challenge of striking the right balance between absorbed, reflected, and amplified for comfortable enjoyment of the presentation.

Oops! Seating Mistakes

There are have been some humorous seating situations that patrons have discussed on Internet forums. For example, one person brought up an experience where there were seats in a movie theatre positioned in such a way that there was no view of the screen! Sport arenas, opera houses, and concert halls often have some seats with a view that is partially obstructed. In some cases, tickets for those seats are sold for discounted prices. As you establish the cinema seating for your theatre, it’s probably best to be sure there are no seats that fall into this category.

Acoustics and the Movie Theater - Radio 1 - Plexus - Plexus Radio - Acoustics - Movie - Theater

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