A beautiful reverb surrounded by vivid and explicit frescos.
(6 Votes, average 3.00)Loading...
This doesn’t appear very high on lists of tourist attractions in Oslo, but it deserves to be much better known. It was built in 1926 by the artist Emanuel Vigeland as a gallery. Luckily, for sound tourists the windows were later filled in when it was turned into the artist’s mausoleum. Every surface in the room is now concrete or stone, and this means the sound bounces and rings around the room for an extraordinary long time. Norwegian acoustician and composer Tor Halmrast describes it as the most reverberant place for its size that he had ever experienced. When I sang a few notes, the notes hung in the air for 10-15 seconds. I can see why musicians like to perform there, because the reverb is very rich and seems to gradually cascade down from the ceiling.
Here is a simple balloon burst I recorded:
An acoustic analysis of the balloon burst and the acoustics can be found here.
The room is more dimly lit than the photo above shows, but after a while once your eyes have adapted to the dark you start to pick out the frescos covering the walls and ceiling that depict conception, life and death in very explicitly. One of the most famous mural is above the door just above the urn holding the artist’s ashes. A plume of babies rise above a pair of skeletons reclining in the missionary position.
A disused listening station from the Cold War that has powerful echoes from the near-spherical radome and you can whisper into your own ears.
(5 Votes, average 3.40)Loading...
The abandoned spy station at Teufelsberg, Berlin is on top of Devil’s Mountain rising up from the Grünewald forest. This man-made hill was constructed from millions of cubic metres of rubble created by bombing raids and artillery bombardments during World War II. The remarkable acoustics is in the almost spherical radome on top of the highest derelict tower. These domes used to cover listening equipment used by the British and Americans to spy on the East. There are a number of different sounds effects you can play with in the dome. Climb on top of the concrete plinth and get into the middle of the sphere and the strong focus creates richocheting sounds when you clap your hands.
Alternatively, you can try whispering just off-centre, and see if you can find the right spot for whispering into one of your own ears. If you go to the side of the dome and a friend goes to the opposite side, you can use the walls as a whispering gallery. Whisper into the wall and your voice will skim the inside of the walls and your friend will hear your words apparently emerging from the graffitied walls. If instead of whispering quietly you make a loud bang near a wall, then you can hear the bang pass you several times as it does complete circuits of the dome walls. This sound example has three balloon bursts:
Being reverberant, the dome also attracts musicians to play music.
This mausoleum once held the World record for the room with the ‘longest echo’
(3 Votes, average 4.00)Loading...
During the World record attempt, it took 15s for the booming reverberation caused by slamming one of the grand doors shut, to die to silence. When I visited the first floor chapel it was certainly very reverberant. It’s like being in a large church or cathedral, impressive but there are more reverberant spaces in the World. The reverberation time at frequencies imporant for speech has been measured at about 9 seconds. A guided tour around the chapel is worth taking because you can then enjoy some of the tales about the colourful Duke and his descendents. The very reverberant space attracts musicians from around the world to perform and record.
A less well known acoustic phenomenon in the chapel is the whispering walls in the cylindrical alcoves. If you and a friend stand at opposite sides, you can whisper to each other by talking into the wall.
Experience a impression of the ancient acoustics of Stonehenge.
(10 Votes, average 3.20)Loading...
What was the acoustic like within Stonehenge thousands of years ago? It’s difficult to get an impression at the real Stonehenge because too many stones are missing or displaced. However, a trip to this complete replica in the USA gives an impression of the old site. The replica was built as a monument to those who died in World War 1. Although made from concrete rather than stone, the acoustic within the circle is similar to the original.
Rupert Till explores how a drum beat is changed by the stonecircle.
The effect of the stones can be heard by comparing these two recordings. The first is a recording of clapping away from the standing stones out in the open and the second a recording of clapping within the stone circle. The sound can be heard to ring and reverberate within the stone circle – it is surprising how long each clap rings for, considering there is no ceiling on the stone circle to stop the sound disappearing into the sky.
The Maryhill Stonehenge is part of the Maryhill Museum of Art three miles east of the museum just off Highway 14.
Sounds from Bruno Fazenda University of Salford and Rupert Till University of Huddersfield
What makes the echoing sound of these caves unusual, is the way the different chambers are connected together.
(7 Votes, average 3.43)Loading...
The Bell Caves have a unique sound. What makes the Bell Caves unusual and worth a visit is the acoustic effect created by the connections between the chambers. As the sound moves between the large chambers along the passageways, a very distinctive reverberance is heard, as sound sloshes about from one chamber to another.
The caves were quarries which were excavated at different times in history, but it is claimed some date back to the 4th century B.C. The walls are made of beige coloured limestone.
Legend has it that the funnel shape of this cavern allowed the whispers of prisioners be overheard.
(9 Votes, average 3.11)Loading...
This large limestone cave has a great sound legend attached to it. The story goes that the tyrant Dionysius (ca. 432–367 BC) used this place as a prison. The wedge shape of the cavern caused peoples’ conversations to be focussed and amplified at the roof of the cave, 22m above the floor. Supposedly this enabled guards to spy on prisoners by listening to the amplified sound through a small hidden opening at the top of the cave: even when the prisoners spoke in whispers.
“The tearing of a piece of paper makes a noise not unlike that occasioned by knocking a heavy stick against a stone” Conrad Malte-Brun, 1829.
Unfortunately, it’s no longer possible to hear the effect because of safety fears; in the past travellers were hosted up by rope and pulley to the opening. Consequently, a modern listener is just left to enjoy the reverberance at ground level, marvel at the legend and take in the cavern’s ear-like shape.
Gino Iannace and collaborators  have made measurements and test whether the spying myth is true. Rather disappointing, they found that any whispered conversations were unintelligible and lost in a blur of reverberation. The sound sample at the top of the page was reconstructed from their measurements. Even with carefully enunciated speech, it is hard to understand what is being said.
This video has good sound, but for some reason has been shot on its side.
There’s crazy acoustics in this mausoleum: a whispering gallery and also an echo chamber..
(27 Votes, average 4.59)Loading...
This vast 17th century mausoleum includes the second largest dome of its type in the World, but the acoustics are even more impressive. Getting to the whispering gallery underneath the dome involves climbing a hundred or so steep, crumbly steps. If you go early enough in the day when it’s not too busy, then you can test the whispering gallery. Sound hugs the inside of the dome so a whisper can be heard nearly 40m away on the other side of the gallery.
However, if you get to this place after the crowds have arrived then the soundscape isn’t so serene. Indeed downstairs, it’s more like a municipal swimming pool during a kids’ float session. They’ll be endless whooping and shouting as visitors test out the echo. The repeating echo in this building is unusual and well worth seeking out by sound tourists. Sound keeps bouncing around the dome, so that every 3 or 4 times seconds the sound whizzes past your ear. At quiet times, this repeating echo can be heard 7-10 times before it becomes inaudible.
In Vijayapura, you need to arrive early if you don’t want to be deafened by a cacophony of mass acoustic-induced hysteria.
The rich reverberant sound in the Baptistry of Pisa lasts an astonishingly long time, to the delight of all tourists, not just sound-ones.
(14 Votes, average 4.71)Loading...
Under the dome of the Baptistry in Pisa a stunning acoustic effect can be heard. Notes sung here last so long, it’s actually possible to accompany yourself: new notes will harmonize with old ones still reverberating around. The Baptistry Guards will often demonstrate this beautiful effect.
The key to the remarkable acoustic is that there’s very little soft material about to absorb the sound. Consequently, notes rattles around the space for a long time, some suggest for over 12 seconds, before the sound dies away and becomes inaudible.
Possibly the best and most famous concert hall for classical music.
(2 Votes, average 5.00)Loading...
If you were to take a straw poll among acoustic engineers to find the best concert hall in World, then the Musikverein would come pretty close to the top: it might even top the list. It’s one of four concert halls around the World that are commonly cited as sound exemplars, with extraordinary acoustics against which all new designs are compared. Like all good concert halls, the Musikverein provide sound reflections that enrich the orchestral sound. Without these reflections, the music would sound rather thin and distant.
Scientists have spent many decades trying to unlock the secrets of the hall, and perhaps the most important feature is its diminutive floor size. People are packed together in a way which wouldn’t be allowed in a new building because of modern fire regulations. This results in a very lively sound; the music reverberates and echoes for a long time, bouncing around the hall, creating sound that seems to envelope the listener. It’s ideally suited to the music of Brahms, Bruckner, and Mahler; these famous composers all had music premiered here.
Location and logistics
Website: Book a concert, or second best, go on a tour.
Startling distortions of footsteps and voices in this incredibly atmospheric foot tunnel.
(9 Votes, average 3.78)Loading...
Is it just me, or is it virtually impossible to resist the urge to shout and whoop when you’re in a tunnel? I’ve noticed that some tunnels work better than others, and this one under the Thames near Greenwich, London is remarkably effective. A study by artist Peter Cusack found this soundscape to be one of London’s favourite sounds . The sound qualities mentioned in the study included the amazingly long reverberance and echoes as well as the acoustic distortions to familiar sounds such as footsteps and voices.
The hard tiled surfaces allow the sound to rattle back and forth in the tunnel for a long time before dying away. What’s more, sound takes ages to go up and down the length of the tunnel, which leads to amazingly long echoes.
The south end of the tunnel is at Cutty Sark Gardens, Greenwich, London. The north end is at Island Gardens. It’s open 24 hours a day, but has a hundred steps at either end.