10 of the world’s best concert hall.

This wonderful list was put together by Professor Trevor Cox(University of Salford) author of Sonic Wonderland: A Scientific Odyssey of Sound and other such wonderful books. In a world dominated by the visual, Sonic Wonderland encourages us to become better listeners and to open our ears to the glorious cacophony around us.

1.Culture and Congress Centre Concert Hall, Lucerne, Switzerland                                     

This is a modern auditorium – opened in 1998 and right next to Lucerne’s railway station – to rival the best classical halls.  The long reverberation time that enhances the orchestral sound can turn pop music and speech into a muddy cacophony. Most halls therefore have some way of changing the acoustics. In Lucerne, this is done via a giant reverberation chamber that wraps around the outside of the hall. For organ and choral music, the access doors are opened to mimic the acoustic characteristics of a cathedral.

2.Boston Symphony Hall, US

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Symphony Hall in Boston was where science became an essential part of concert hall design. The sublime acoustics of Symphony Hall – in the heart of the city and on one of its main thoroughfares, Massachusetts Avenue – is down to Wallace Clement Sabine. In the late 19th century, Sabine was the first person to carry out scientific measurements to understand how sound behaves in rooms. Completed in 1900, the auditorium is still considered to be one of the top venues for classical music in the world.

3.Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, UK

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The venue held its first performance in September 1996

4.Grosser Musikvereinssaal, Vienna, Austria

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  The Musikverein, on Vienna’s Ringstrasse, is often referred to as the best concert hall in the world. The auditorium is home to the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, with past famous conductors including Brahms, Bruckner and Mahler. When the Philharmonic plays a sweeping crescendo, it is as though the hall springs into life. At its quietest the music seems to be coming from the stage, but as notes get louder the whole orchestra appears to physically broaden, and you perceive a tsunami of sound that washes over you from all directions.

5.Berlin Philharmonie, Germany

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The Philharmonie, which opened in 1963 and is noted for its distinctive tent-like exterior, was developed in line with architect Hans Scharoun’s socialist views and, by a combination of skill and accident, revealed a new way forward for architectural acoustics: vineyard terracing. By breaking the audience into blocks, the intervening walls can be used to reflect more sound to the audience from the sides. Scharoun noted that “people always gather in circles when listening to music informally”, and this inspired the radical concept of music in the round. About a third of the audience is behind the orchestra. The rear seats have great views, but some find the orchestral balance odd.

6.Christchurch Town Hall Auditorium, New Zealand

Not long before designing the acoustics of this hall, Harold Marshall developed a theory that good auditoria need sound to be reflected from the walls and to reach the listener’s head from the side. The music in the two ears is then subtly different, as it takes longer for the sound to reach the ear furthest away.

His theory resulted in this revolutionary design, where vast, wooden panels form a giant tepee above the audience. The Town Hall is being repaired, following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, which caused widespread destruction in the city, and is then expected to form part of a new performing arts precinct that authorities are hoping to open in 2018. To see a similar design, visit the 2,000-plus capacity Michael Fowler Centre Auditorium in Wellington.

7.Philharmonie de Paris, France

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Within the new Philharmonie there is barely a straight line to be seen. The walls and balconies form sweeping curves, and from the ceiling hang clouds of panels looking like they have been cut out from giant planks of wood. But these curves are not just strokes of the architect’s pen to create visual beauty, every surface is carefully shaped to provide enhancing sound reflections into the audience. The Philharmonie is not a facsimile of an old venerated hall, but an auditorium of its time, one that could only be built now by exploiting modern acoustic engineering. As well as enjoying concerts, visitors can also explore musical heritage, as the venue features a museum that retraces the history of music from the 17th century to today through the popular instruments used to create it.

8.The Sibelius Hall, Lahti, Finland

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Another entrant in the modern category of concert halls, the Sibelius Hall was only completed in 2000 but its design and acoustic ethos have earned it many plaudits. On the harbour in Lahti, the former industrial heartland of the city, the hall is less than an hour’s train ride from Helsinki – and the journey is well worth it. Many auditoria have wooden walls around the stage, but the Sibelius Hall goes one step further by using timber throughout the construction. There is a common misconception that the wooden walls of auditoria vibrate like the body of a violin to create a beautiful sound: in reality, every note the orchestra makes needs nurturing so it can reverberate around the hall. Vibrating walls would just take sound away. The wood in a grand auditorium is either very thick or is just a thin veneer glued solidly onto concrete so the sounds reflect efficiently.

9.Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall, Japan

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This is our personal favorite for it’s architecture.

Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall appears to be a conventional, rectangular hall. Look up, however, and the ceiling forms a giant distorted pyramid covered in complex wooden grooves. The hall shape recalls the well-regarded Maltings Concert Hall in Snape, England. Auditoria of this shape are actually quite rare, but can have excellent acoustics. At the opening night in Tokyo, celebrated cellist Yo-Yo Ma commented: “This hall simply has some of the best acoustics in which I have ever had the privilege to play.”

10.Sala São Paulo, Brazil

Sala São Paulo.

 

 

THE REBIRTH OF ANALOG

This article on Analog Sound is written by our guest blogger Ahit Dasgupta, Proprietor at Sonderwerk, Mumbai.

Analog Sound’ is natural sound, just as we hear each other, sounds
from our surroundings etc. Analog sound is not processed by any binary
codes, unlike digital sound. Even in the digital domain, it is analog sound
which is processed digitally and then re-processed as analog, so that
sound can be registered by the human ear. Therefore, sound in its
original state is Analog Sound.
In the early days, sound was recorded on to a wax cylinder by cutting
grooves onto it by a steel needle. This needle was fitted on a diaphragm
which was mounted in the narrow end of a horn. The horn would act as
the microphone. Reproduction of sound from this device was the by
same needle tracking the grooves made by it which would reproduce the
sound through the horn. This device was called the Edison Phonograph.
Later on the cylinder was replaced by a shellac disc, which became
popularly known as the ‘Record’. Shellac disc reproducers came to be
known as a ‘gramophone’. These devices were acoustic, no electronics
involved whatsoever. Post the Second World War, many companies,
especially in Europe, involved themselves into intense research and
development, and improved the Record format in the way of recording,
manufacturing and reproduction. Adding electronics was the biggest
change that drastically improved this format. Since the early 1950s, the
gramophone started being replaced by turntables. The basic principle of
the turntable is similar to the gramophones, except that the turntable
contains electronic components. The turntable has gone through
extensive improvements over the last 4 decades. The gramophone
would turn records at 78 RPM (Revolutions Per Minute) only, whereas
the turntable had the option for four speeds – 16, 33, 45 and 78 (RPM).
Introduction of multiple speeds for record reproduction gave the
consumers a lot of choice for music, also through extensive laboratory
tests, it was concluded that High Fidelity reproduction is possible only if
the record was turning at 33 or 45 RPM. The 33 RPM disc came to be
known as the LP (Long Playing) and the 45 RPM disc, the EP
(Extended Play). In the early 1960s, 16 RPM discs were available in the
market, but they didn’t do too well. They were known as ‘Super Long
Play’.
Another very interesting method of recording sound was with a Wire
Recorder. This device involved a steel wire which passed over a head
that magnetically charged the wire with the audio information.
Reproduction of sound was the reverse process. This method obviously
didn’t produce high fidelity audio and was replaced by magnetic tape
which gave promising results. Tape was used as a professional recording
standard all over the world till the late 1990s until Digital Recorders took
over.
Both formats of Tape and Disc worked hand-in-hand as they were
somehow dependant on each other, especially during the manufacturing
process for Discs.
Over the years, the analog formats of tape and disc have been
suppressed by the introduction of the CD (compact disc) in 1979.
The development of the CD was the joint effort of Sony and Philips.
It is true that the dynamic range of the CD is superior to tape and disc,
but several loyal consumers have kept the analog formats alive.
Well, it has been said that analog formats sound more natural and true
than the CD.
Listening tests have been performed for several hours comparing an
album released originally on an LP to one also released on a CD. The
results were that the LP sounding more natural and pleasing to the ear.
There are several points to be considered while performing such a
comparison: the quality of the CD and LP reproducers, the quality of
hardware like amplifiers and loudspeakers. The difference is more
apparent on a higher, audiophile quality system, compared to a cheaper
system.
DJs (disc jockeys) performing in clubs remained loyal to the LP format.
They find that ‘scratching’ and ‘beat-matching’ have always been easier
to perform on an LP. Many audiophiles and audio enthusiasts still prefer
listening to LPs over CDs.
Many companies manufacturing audio products have restarted the
production of Turntables. The popular ones are Clearaudio, Pro-Ject,
Linn, Music-Hall, J.A. Michell and Thorens. LPs are being manufactured
once again on a high scale.
Some large and famous Music Companies are releasing new albums and
reissuing popular albums on LPs. LPs are resistant to the risk of piracy.
CD to CD or Tape to Tape transfer processes are far easier to perform;
even one can do these at home. But, transferring an LP onto another LP
is a difficult task. The whole process of cutting an LP involves very
expensive machines like Lathes and Stamping Plants.
There is a strong possibility that the LP will be one of the future
consumer audio formats.

Ahit Dasgupta is a mastering engineering based in Mumbai. He can be contacted at ahitdasgupta@gmail.com

4K Ultra- A new definition for HD

1080p is passé. 4K is the new buzz word!

So what is 4K Ultra High Definition? It’s four times 1080p, as simple as that!

Resolution formatsWhy should you care about 4k?

There are many reasons why 4k should make you think about your next television purchase, not immediately though! A 4k display means more nuance and details and the difference can be absolutely astonishing.

  • 4k can make your current HD(1080p) look much better than you already see it.
  • If you are investing on a television right now, why not future proof it? 4k is coming soon and it is here to stay!
  • Love Digital Photography?A 4K display with Ultra High Definition JPEG playback will show you 4 times the photo information. View it on a 4k display and you will never go back to your regular HD.
  • Before you ask, 4k Blue-Ray is coming! And it is magnificent!!
  • It isn’t just about the resolution! 4k is synonymous to faster frame rates, amazing contrast dynamics and more colors!
  • 4k handy-cams are coming soon. Sony is soon coming up with a 4k handy-cam (FDR-AX1E)which means all your personal recordings will also be on 4k, not just Hollywood!
  • Want to see Google Maps on 4k? Do I have to elaborate? :D
  • And for all the gamers :Who doesn’t want to play Call of Duty on a 4k display? Hook up your PC with a 4K graphic card to a Panasonic’s 65-inch WT600 4K TV and take off!

4k in India? Of course! Talk to us!

Did you say, 4k projectors? :)