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Bad Reverberation and Speech

When the Fogg Art Museum of Boston was designed, its architect chose for the conference auditorium a volume that had similar dimensions in the three directions; to top it all, it also featured a cupola. As absorptive materials were a bit too scarce for comfort, this made for an impressive diffuse field with some focusing too.

The acoustic result was so catastrophic that the trustees decided on affixing a commemorative plate at its entrance explaining why this auditorium had been christened with the name of its architect.

Propagation between a Confessional and a Crypt

A confessional was built on the side and at the end of a crypt. Soon the priest in charge was puzzled to be told that most of the proceedings were fully understandable! It turned out that should one stand at a point symmetric to the confessional, there was a low enough background noise level and strong enough focusing to enable prying ears to understand every word.

Absorptive Turned Reflective

In order to be able to use a small room initially intended for storage as an extra classroom, a school had an absorptive treatment made of perforated plasterboard with mineral wool applied on the ceiling.

A few years later the new director decided a refurbishment was in order and a painter duly sprayed the ceiling. As the ceiling material got clogged with paint, it lost all its absorptive properties.

Lesson Learned: Painting an absorptive material will usually result in the loss of its properties due to the closure of the porosities.

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