Acoustical Q&A With The Experts

Acoustical Shells

086In 2014, we introduced our now incredibly successful product offering: Bravado™ Acoustical Shell System, a portable and lightweight acoustics system designed to blend and reflect sound energy towards audiences in performing arts venues. Even two years later, the functionality of an acoustical shell itself can be a complex concept, even to those briefly familiar with it. Staging Concepts spent many months on acoustical testing and designing of this lucrative product- from the LED lighting in the ceiling panels all the way to the movable cart for the towers. As the market expands with products boasting acoustical enhancement, we want to give you the most in-depth details about this exceptional product so you know everything there is to know. We sat down with our Acoustical Shell expert and Staging Concepts engineer, Marty Thiede, who has been a licensed Professional Engineer for 28 years.

Q: With regards to your experience designing and installing the acoustical shell, what do you believe are the main benefits?

A. As they say, it’s “all in the presentation”.  The acoustical shell provides an attractive background that highlights the performers to the audience.

o   It makes the performers feel “dressed up”, which encourages them to up their game.

o   The background and integrated lighting allows the audience to see and focus in on the performers, delighting parents and friends.

The acoustical shell enhances the listening experience of the audience.

o   Without an acoustical enclosure surrounding the performers a lot of the sound energy produced is lost in the fly loft and side stage areas, absorbed by stage curtains and drops.

o   The acoustical shell is made up of curved, reflective surfaces which are designed reflect the sound energy produced in multiple directions.  The end effect is that the reflected sound energy is blended and focused towards the audience, enhancing their listening experience.

The performers also benefit from the acoustical shell enclosure.  The integrated shell lighting allows adequate light to see their music and surrounding area, while the reflective attributes of the shell allow the musicians to hear their fellow performers and make adjustments.


Q: What Acoustical testing has been done on this product?
A: Staging Concepts has done formal acoustical performance testing in a ASTM certified lab on our standard acoustical shell panel construction.  The specific testing performed includes:

ASTM C 423-09, “Sound Absorption and Sound Absorption Coefficient by the Reverberation Room Method”

ASTM:E90(09), “Laboratory Measurement of Airborne Sound Transmission of Building Partitions”

staging-concepts-bravado-26-1500pxQ: How do you think the field is changing with the increase in modern technology such as LED lights and fly space rigging/storage?
A: We are definitely seeing an increase of acoustical shell opportunities where LED lighting is specified.  Although the initial cost of LED stage lighting is quite a bit higher than typical incandescent stage lighting fixtures, it provides many benefits:

o   LED’s have an extremely long life, virtually eliminating ongoing labor and lamp costs to replace burned out lights.  A light fixture with a burned out lamp in an acoustical shell ceiling is very obvious to the audience!

o   The LED fixture output (intensity and color) is adjusted via programming changes.  This makes it very easy to adjust the lighting design for various performances whereas standard stage lighting is less flexible and more expensive (labor costs, gels) to change. That being said, there are not as many LED light fixture choices suitable for acoustical shells, due to the heating.

Q: What does Staging Concept do differently to create a unique acoustical shell?
A: The Bravado Acoustical Shell system was designed to be a cost effective yet flexible system appropriate for multiple markets including College/University and School theatres and PAC’s.  The acoustic panels integral to Bravado are a balance between cost, weight, finish options and acoustic performance.  The Bravado panels maximize acoustic performance within the weight restrictions of the typical rigging systems found in the targeted markets.