09.Sep.2015 The Big House is “Loud”?
Some interesting info on “the big house”…many say it is not loud, despite the size.
As some who read this blog carefully might know, I’m a self-taught audio engineer. I don’t claim to be an expert, so let’s that get out of the way. A few things I know (or think I know…again, self-taught through books and experience/listening, so feel free to correct me if I’m wrong):
1. Bass waves travel further than treble waves.
2. Low frequencies move through barriers (e.g. why you hear bass emanating from a car, but not treble).
3. Treble waves reflect off surfaces. Engineers go through great measures to prevent this, and it’s why most studios have diffusion or padding on walls. Bass waves more through surfaces (think how you can hear bass but not treble through your neighbor’s walls).
4. I’d consider sub bass anything below 40hz. These frequencies are only audible on systems with sub woofers and tend to be powerful, boomy, etc. Bass frequency I’d say is 50 to 200hz, and treble 1khz and above (up to 2okhz, where we can no longer hear frequencies, but some claim we can “feel” them as “air”. These are somewhat subjective ranges but generally agreeable. Low midrange would make up the difference, 200hz to -1khz. We are fairly sensitive to low midrange, and it has properties of both bass and treble waves.
5. The ear is most sensitive in the high mid range, so 2khz to 6khz. Above and below that fades off quickly. This happens to be the frequency most voices fall into (evolution is genius, right?).
Given all this, I think the theory that “the big house” is quiet for its size makes a lot of sense.
1. It doesn’t have a lot of reflective surfaces for the treble waves to bounce off of.
2. The fans who are far away would be better off chanting in a low, deep voice, else their treble waves will get lost while moving through air. Simply, they are too far away to be heard, so tens of thousands of them (the ones far away) won’t have any effect unless they can chant in a very low, booming frequency. This likely rules out the women.
3. The Beavs will be hearing a lot of 1khz to 6khz frequencies — the speaking/screaming voices. These frequencies are weak and tail off quickly, as they simply do not travel well through medium like air (again, think of a car stereo where you hear bass and no treble if you’re outside it).
A better stadium design, if loudness is the goal, would probably be a small stadium with highly reflective surfaces and noise/frequencies in the 2kz to 6khz range (so, screaming fans, audio speakers with little low end, etc). Think about this: playing an electric guitar outside versus playing an electric guitar in a basement with concrete walls. Which is going to be more raucous? Obviously the basement — you have reflections from every direction bombarding your ear, whereas outdoors those will fade into the medium (air).
Now if we look at a photo of “the big house”, we see it is open, the fans on the outer ring are far away and their treble ridden screams will not be heard, and there are few reflective surfaces. I don’t see noise being a huge problem. Honestly, I have probably watched only a few Michigan games in my life, and I never had this in mind, so maybe I’m wrong and it’s excessively loud? But that would defy basic audio principles. I’m expecting moderate loudness and only the fans closer to the field to have an impact dB levels.