Even the most tonally-challenged among us can usually recognize when a theater, stadium, or auditorium has poor acoustics – voices on stage don’t carry, the volume is uneven throughout the space, or the echo off the walls drowns out any subsequent sounds. We can all probably recall an instance when a potentially enjoyable event was rendered unbearable due to the poor acoustics of the venue.
The way sound is dispersed in a room or outdoor venue is mostly determined by what obstacles the sound waves encounter as they pass through the air. The characteristics of this material are what causes the sound to be either absorbed or deflected and the degree to which this occurs. Material may be used to scatter sounds in different directions, absorb lower or higher frequencies, or minimize echoes in a stadium or auditorium. When trying to amplify a sound to cover a large area or to soundproof a room and absorb sound waves, there’s material available to meet nearly every specific requirement and space dimension.
However, much of the material used to control acoustics is unpleasing to the eye and may detract from the overall appearance of the space. Architects and designers often use perforated metals to cover the specialized acoustical surface in order to retain and enhance the aesthetic quality of the venue. Perforated metal is simply metal with holes punched through in a specific pattern and shape, such as round, diamond-shaped, or rectangular designs.
Perforated metal is utilized to preserve the acoustic properties of the underlying surface while providing a sleek, modern look to improve the surrounding environment. When the perforation is done successfully and correctly, the perforations in the metal allow sound waves to pass virtually unimpeded through the metal layer and react acoustically to the original surface rather than the metal.
This use of perforated metals has been embraced by modern architects when designing performance venues, university buildings, office spaces, and other noise-sensitive enclosures. Perforated metal can allow the acoustic flexibility of specialized material while not detracting from the overall visual experience.