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October 25, 2016

The World’s 10 Best Concert Halls

musikverein concert hallMost mixers have at least one convolution reverb in their arsenal that has a variety of concert hall impulses. Ah, but the question is, do you have the right ones? Why not have the best of the best (if you can get them). Here’s a list of the world’s 10 best concert halls (inspired by an article in Business Insider) as judged by the godfather of acousticians, the recently passed Dr. Leo Beranek.

#1: Musikverein, Vienna, Austria (pictured on the left)

This is a relatively small hall at only 1,744 seats. According to Beranek in his Concert Halls and Opera Houses book, “the superior acoustics of the hall are due to its rectangular shape, its relatively small size, its high ceiling with resulting long reverberation time, the irregular interior surfaces, and the plaster interior.”

#2: Symphony Hall, Boston, USA

Another small one at 2,625 seats, famed acoustician and Harvard professor Wallace Clement Sabine helped plan the hall, while introducing his new technique to measure and increase reverberation time.

#3: Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, Netherlands

 Yet another small one at 1,974 seats (see a trend here?).

#4: Konzerthaus Berlin, Germany

Just 1,600 seats, this concert hall opened in 1821, but was severely damaged during WW2. It reopened as a concert hall again 1984.

#5: Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall, Japan

Another small one at 1,662 seats, but different from the rest in that it’s relatively new, opening in 1997. Who says we can’t make them as good anymore?

#6: Stadtcasino Basel, Switzerland

Just 1,600 seats, again showing that bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better.

 #7: Symphony Hall, Birmingham, England

Another relatively new hall, opening in 1991. It’s somewhat larger than the others at 2,262 seats.

#8: Culture and Congress Centre (KKL), Lucerne, Switzerland

Another new one, opening in 1998 and having 1,840 seats.

#9: St. David’s Hall, Cardiff, Wales

This hall opened in 1992 and seats 2,000.

#10: Meyerson Center, Dallas, USA

Another relatively new hall, it first opened in 1989 and holds 2,062.

When we think of the finest concert halls, we automatically think of something large with a long decay time. If this top 10 list indicates anything, that supposition is far from the case, as smaller halls are consistently considered to sound better. Maybe that will play into our reverb settings in the future. Goodbye large hall?

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