The things you can do with acoustics and computers these days. This story on Meyer Sound comes from The New Yorker.
In a small in-house theatre, the Meyers showed how Constellation works. Its principal purpose is to enable flexibility, so that halls can adapt to the needs of different kinds of event. Cinema needs a dry, echo-free environment, so that words can be understood. Chamber music benefits from crisp sound with resonant warmth. Orchestras are at home in halls with a longer reverberation time—more than two seconds, at the Musikverein. And choruses thrive on the booming acoustic of a cathedral. Constellation replicates this range of reverb times, which vary with the size of the space. One can choose from among different settings: cinema or lecture hall (0.4 seconds); chamber (one second); theatre (1.4 seconds); concert hall (two seconds); and “sacred space” (2.8 seconds). Thus, the system can give bloom to a somewhat dry acoustic, as at Zellerbach Hall, in Berkeley, and it can supply a cleaner sound for amplified jazz and pop, as at Svetlanov Hall, in Moscow.
“We couldn’t do this until we had a really high-powered computer,” John told me. “It’s calculating twenty thousand echoes a second, and that information has to stay in the memory for four or five seconds—a huge amount of data. Only a few years ago could we pull off the sacred-space setting, which is the most complex of all.”