This is a summer of great big changes at The Englert. Last month, we unveiled our plans to upgrade to a brand new sound system, and this week, we began the first phase of this summer’s installations, starting with acoustic sound treatment of the theater’s balcony.
What is the goal of this acoustic treatment? How will it contribute to the patron experience? What kind of impact will it have on the theater? Alex Body, the technician behind this week’s installation, breaks down all these questions to describe how this recent change in the space will improve the future of The Englert.
Q: What did the acoustic treatment entail, and what kind of changes were made to the space?
We installed 21 acoustic absorption panels of various sizes, manufactured by a company called ATS Acoustics, in the loft area above the balcony.These panels are designed to absorb sound waves that would otherwise be reflected from the walls back toward the audience in this part of the balcony.
They look like big picture frames that are wrapped in fabric. We tried to get them evenly spaced around the area of the building we wanted to treat, while not interfering with other systems in the building like lights, HVAC vents, etc.
Q: How were you able to preserve the historic integrity of the space while making these new installations?
We tried to select fabrics to wrap these panels in that match the color and aesthetics of The Englert. This kind of treatment would not be found at The Englert when it was first established. In those days, there was no sound amplification used at all for shows, so theaters were designed to reflect sound throughout the audience area to help the audience hear music and understand dialogue.
Now that The Englert is primarily hosting concerts with amplified sound, those reflections are less desirable and can end up making the sound of a show less clear than it could be. So just like many other projects that have happened at The Englert, this was a bit of a balancing act between keeping the historic theater vibe and better supporting the programming that The Englert has been hosting for the last decade-plus.
Q: What kind of a difference can audience members anticipate in their show-going experience with this update?
Audience members will experience clearer sound, especially in the balcony, and especially at events that aren’t full to capacity. Another thing which the audience won’t experience directly, but will still benefit from, is that there will be less sound reflected back to the stage as a result of this project.
This kind of reflection can be disorienting to performers, especially during sound check when the room is empty before the audience arrives. Hopefully this will mean the performers have to worry less about being able to hear themselves and each other and can enjoy putting on a great show.
Want to experience this new update for yourself? Explore our upcoming events, and become a part of the Englert community!