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November 13, 2003

TECH NOTE

Sydney Morning Herald

Architects use computer software to construct three-dimensional models so their clients can see how a finished building will look. Now some of them are also creating computer models that simulate the acoustics so that clients can find out how it is likely to sound. As computers have grown more powerful and programs that once took a weekend to execute now take only hours on a laptop, the simulation process, known as auralisation, is being used to plan more commonplace locations.

One problem is the scarcity of appropriate recordings for tests. "The sound samples you are using have to be recorded in an anechoic chamber - a room with no echoes," according to Lily Wang, a professor of architectural engineering at the University of Nebraska.

Ronald Freiheit, director of design engineering at the Wenger Corporation, a maker of equipment for music education and performance in Minnesota, decided to fill the gap by creating an anechoic choral recording. Wenger arranged to collaborate with 3M in St Paul, where 3M has a large testing room lined with wedges of soft fibreglass to absorb sound. Freiheit also lined up the St Olaf Cantorei, a singing group at St Olaf College in Minnesota, to perform.

About 80 members of the choir and their conductor recorded a program in the chamber standing on a grid above the fibreglass packing while singing, among other works, a six-part mass and a motet by renaissance master Orlando Gibbons. The choral music, for example, will be helpful to architects and clients planning churches. "It's really necessary to simulate what a space will sound like," he says. "Otherwise it's like trying to describe a painting without actually showing it to anyone." More

Posted by acapnews at November 13, 2003 12:28 AM

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