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25 October 2002

The Sound of Sound

We listened to gospel music and a distinguished speaker last Friday at a local college indoor gym. It was a great show, but we all felt that the sound was not right. Dunn Middle School kids described it as: "too loud," "too much echo," "distorted," "could not understand what they were saying," "not clear," "hard," "fuzzy," "boomy," "echoey," "blended," and "annoying." I reckon the real problem was that it sounded like a gym. You know what I mean. Why do gymnasiums all sound that way? The problem isn't volume, but being intelligible. What would make it sound better?

The scene of the crime is the local community college Sports Pavilion in Santa Maria. It's a basketball-sized gym with wood floors and bleachers and mostly bare walls. The gospel choir and band have their own speakers on stands behind them. They also fed the sound through the black P.A. speakers on the ceiling. That's us in the foreground seated opposite a second set of ceiling P.A. speakers not quite visible to the right of the photo. There was great gospel music and good words, but why was it so hard to understand in the gym? What would make it better?


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Copyright © 2002 by Marc Kummel /