Dear Ace: Am I the only one who thinks that the acoustics at the new Downtown Pavilion are a disaster? I went to an event there recently and the music was so distorted that it was painful to listen to. In their haste to finish the project, did they forget to hire an acoustical engineer?—Sore Ears
Dear Ears: First of all, you are not the only one who thinks that the Pavilion acoustics are abysmal. On your side, you have about one quarter of the callers to C-VILLE’s Rant line and probably half of the sleep-deprived residents living on Graves Street in Belmont.
The good news is this: A solution is rolling down the pipeline. The estimated time of arrival? With luck, before the Widespread Panic show at the end of the month.
You see, Ears, a fabric structure, which is what the men with the big brains call the Pavilion, is notoriously challenging for acoustic engineers. The problem with the Pavilion is that it is a “bright structure.” Bright structures, in acoustic lingo, are chock full of reflective surfaces. Like the mirror-lined ceiling in the Acemobile, which reflects his handsome visage, the Pavilion’s roof and the concrete create serious reverberations. Pavilion sound consultants say the problem with the outdoor venue is a matter of physics. So if you fix the physics by hanging sound-dampening materials from the ceiling, you can also fix the acoustics.
As Pavilion General Manager Kirby Hutto put it, “The expectation…is that you have to tweak the structure to maximize the sound quality. The sound problems are not something that caught us by surprise, and we consider it a part of the process of finishing up the Pavilion.” Hutto mentioned that the baffled sound material would not actually change the appearance of the Pavilion, which may disappoint the other quarter of the callers to the Rant line, to which Ace must say, Get a life! (You think Little Feat and Widespread Panic are going to play Kokopelli’s or some prettier looking place like that?)
But there is some fine-sounding news for homeowners living near the Pavilion. The new sound-absorbing ceiling will limit the sonic waves emitting from the amphitheater, meaning: Goodbye, jam-band hippie fest noise at unwanted hours. Now, what can we do about that patchouli-stink jet stream?