Outdoor concert (Photo: Tuala Hjarnø)

Taming the sound of open-air concerts

Thursday 01 Dec 16

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Finn T. Agerkvist
Head of Group, Associate professor
DTU Electrical Engineering
+4545 25 39 41
Highly advanced audio technology and research are needed to enhance the sound at big open-air music events. DTU will contribute to creating a better experience for audiences as well as neighbours.

Complaints from neighbours about the noise from the Friday Rock open-air concerts at the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen have inspired a large-scale major European sound management project aimed at concerts in urban areas. DTU, Brüel & Kjær and the Tivoli Gardens are some of the Danish project participants who will contribute to improving the way in which sound is managed.

“We want to create a better sound experience for audiences, while minimizing the inconvenience caused to neighbours,” explains Finn T. Agerkvist, head of DTU Electrical Engineering’s research group for Acoustic Technology.

“In the laboratory, we can already manage sound propagation highly accurately by means of a large number of speakers, so-called arrays. If you imagine speakers being positioned at either side of a concert crowd space, the individual speakers can both spread sound while eliminating the sound waves coming from the opposite speakers. You are, in effect, ‘fencing in’ and directing the sound towards the audience. In other words; the people who have chosen to join the party will get a great sound experience and any neighbours are spared the nuisance,” says Finn T. Agerkvist.

"We want to create a better sound experience for audiences, while minimizing the inconvenience caused to neighbours."
Associate Professor Finn Agerkvist, DTU Electrical Engineering

However, so far all the research has been conducted in DTU’s anechoic chamber.

“The big challenge will be moving into the urban landscape and ensuring that the technology and the methods are sufficiently robust to be able to handle, for example, strong winds from different directions which tend to make sound spread to areas where it is not wanted,” he continues.

The sound management system will therefore include a model for sound propagation to neighbouring areas, which will be updated continuously based on meteorological data.

Sound enhancement all round
The project aims to increase the sound level for audiences, while lowering it for everybody else, hopefully resulting in an aggregate improvement of 10 dB or more. At the moment, neighbours complain both about the sound level of the music and the noise created by the tivoli-goers who make up the audiences at these events. The audiences, on the other hand, are sorry that the sound is very subdued, which detracts from the music experience.

“Working with sound zones will make it possible to direct the sound towards selected groups and areas. Mastering this, we can make a huge difference both for audiences and neighbours, not only at the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen—but at open-air music events all over the world,” adds Finn T. Agerkvist. Together with the rest of his group at DTU, he is a leading figure within research into the analysis and management of sound fields.

The project is co-funded by the EU and comprises a total of 28 partners from six countries. The project kicks off in 2017. Concurrently with this, another part of the MONICA project will focus on the safety aspect, which is another challenge at large open-air music events.

Learn more

  • The European Commission has granted funding of DKK 112 million to MONICA: Management of Networked IoT Wearables—Very Large Scale Demonstration of Cultural Societal Applications, an international research project on sound.

  • The three-year project will run from 2017 to 2019.

  • Twenty-eight partners from Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Sweden have signed a so-called Grant Agreement.

  • In addition to noise problems, the project also looks at safety measures in connection with events.

  • The Danish partners in the project are: Brüel & Kjær Sound, DTU—Technical University of Denmark, IN-JET, Praesidio RING Advocacy, the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Væksthus Zealand, and the City of Copenhagen.

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