Acoustics for Outdoor Music Venues
All-weather acoustic panels deliver great-sounding concerts and limit residential noise concerns
By Charles Splain
Are you ready to get back to seeing live music? This summer is going to be full of concerts and festivals, many of them at outdoor venues. Fresh air, actual socializing, and your favorite tunes are waiting for you as the weather warms up.
A lot of thought and engineering goes into making the sound experience at concert venues enjoyable. Most outdoor locations have at least a roof and a back wall and maybe even side walls or wing walls. These weather-proof surfaces are typically reflective of sound, creating excessive noise levels and making for a poor quality show.
Outdoor venues can have reverberation times (the time required for the sound to fade away) of up to 4 seconds — excessive for any music venue. An ideal reverberation time for a music venue is 2 seconds or less.
Why does this matter? When you have poor sound quality, the only solution is to turn up the volume so that all the attendees can hear the music. While this may blast away the people close to the source noise, it allows the fans out in the grass to hear the music.
Many outdoor venues were originally built in areas that did not have any residential or commercial buildings nearby. Over time these wide-open spaces were overtaken by real estate development. Noise complaints from nearby residents became an ongoing problem, even resulting in lawsuits.
So what is the solution? Treating the space with custom acoustic panels decreases the reverberation times, improving the venue’s sound quality. When you improve the sound quality, you can lower the volume or decibels coming out of the sound system, and the fans can hear and understand the music much better. When the decibels are lowered, the sound doesn't travel as far or with as much energy, and often the neighbors’ noise complaints go away.
MBI Weather Resistant Exterior Acoustical Panels are acoustic solutions intended for outdoor applications such as amphitheaters, pavilions, amusement facilities, noise enclosures, and transportation noise barriers. They are specifically designed to withstand the elements and acoustically treat the space with sound absorption properties.
One such space where these specialized acoustical panels were installed is the DTE Energy Music Theatre, formerly known as Pine Knob Amphitheater outside of Detroit, MI. As the surrounding neighborhood developed, nearby residents began lodging noise complaints. In order to resolve legal disputes, the facility needed a solution to remediate the facility’s concert noise. After some mediocre (and expensive) success with terraforming to redirect the sound toward the sky, the amphitheater’s general manager reached out to MBI Products to inquire about a better solution.
The acoustical sound experts at MBI developed Weather Resistant Acoustical Panels in response to this venue’s noise problem. The sound-absorbing materials were installed in the amphitheater’s metal ceiling and on the concrete walls. As a result, reverberation times decreased, and concert music quality increased. The noise complaints and legal disputes from nearby residents ceased. DTE Energy Music Theatre now ranks among the top amphitheaters in the world.
Made with durable Cypress exterior acoustic fabric, MBI Weather Resistant Exterior Acoustical Panels withstand the elements and the effects of extreme temperature changes. These highly effective acoustical products are Class "A,” lightweight, cost-efficient, and easy to install.
To learn more about exterior acoustics, download a catalog, or view the product resources library, visit MBI Products’ Weather Resistant Exterior Panels page.
About the Author
Charles Splain, Vice President of Sales
Live music is Chuck’s personal passion. “If there is a concert somewhere, I plan on going to it.” –Chuck
One of the original three members of the MBI team, Vice President of Sales Chuck Splain has seen it all!
With thirty years’ tenure, Chuck handles a medley of business-related duties involving the sales team, new client development, acoustic design, and new product development. He has derived great pleasure from watching the operation grow and never tires of the stories about how MBI products have changed customers’ lives.