Archive for August 17th, 2009

The Room Looks Great – But How Does It SOUND?

Monday, August 17th, 2009

My town has some beautiful venues for special events – the recently restored Union Station, our art museum, and the lovely Art Deco Centennial Hall at Fair Park, to name a few. One offers lovely vistas of the downtown area, the second puts you up close and personal with Monet and Van Gogh, while the third’s architecture takes you to back to the 1930s glamor of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Each is wonderful in its own way, and each lends its own special character to your event.

There’s just one eensy teensy little problem with these – and other, similar – venues: they were never acoustically designed as ballrooms, and they get very loud (as well as very echo-y), very fast.

This poses no problem to the hostess who imports a string quartet for the evening, and schedules no speeches by or for the honorees. Light music (harp or piano are also great) bounces off the stone walls and drifts around the venue, setting an elegant mood.

Unfortunately, loud music is amplified by the hard surfaces, which makes your guests have to shout to hear each other, which then further increases the overall decibel level to the pain threshold and beyond. Speeches become unintelligible jumbles of primary and reflected noise.

So – if you’re planning to have a band and/or speeches at your event – consider a good old-fashioned ballroom for your venue. Most were designed with a comfortable blend of surfaces creating an acoustically neutral environment. Rim shots from the drummer will be heard once, not infinitely. And the spoken word will be understood throughout the room.

What you don’t want is for your guests to say (or shout) to each other, “You know? As a ballroom, this place makes a great train station!”