Four score and seven years ago (1926), movies had just begun integrating sound along with the visuals, as Warner Brothers released Don Juan – syncing a 33 1/2 rpm audio disc to the video as part of the new Vitaphone system. The era of talkies had arrived, as did a new era of fake accents.
While we still have those fake accents from the days of yore (and Johnny Depp as Don Juan), we have new technologies to bring us our entertainment – high-definition video on big screens with 10.2 digital surround sound, playing in home theaters that rival the best public theatrical venues.
While we have seen (and heard) the technological evolution of movies to what they are today, we have also seen (and heard) the evolution of acoustics – and the one area I’m going to discuss today is one of the fastest evolving acoustic disciplines – Diffusion.
Diffuser design has come far from the early days of scattering sound by changing the angle of your wall, or the shape of the room to negate, dilute, or diffuse unwanted or undesirable acoustic waves. Today, acoustic diffusers are mathematical and scientific wonders, designed to be elements that are inserted into your listening environment to create an acoustic space that is open and airy.
During this evolution of diffusion we have seen the rise of many shapes; The Pyramid, the Barrel, the Binary Arrays, Flat Panel, 1D and 2D QRDs, and more… a veritable cornucopia of geometric shapes and mathematically produced profiles, which are scientifically sound, but fundamentally, inorganic.
The notes on the instruments we play, are based on math and physics, but the music we play ebbs and flows from the pounding of drums to the smooth bass lines, from the intimate vocals to screaming, and from the heavy metal acts to classical symphonies (with or without a heavy metal act). Diffusers have followed suit, changing their shape along with the changing industry – making advances as new discoveries are made.
Diffusers have become important acoustic treatments in listening rooms, recording rooms, sound stages, and theaters – embrace the diffusers! Embrace the future Don Juan’s and their terrible accents… ok… just diffusers… fine.