Monday 29 March 2021

Young person’s award for innovation: student's project solving acoustic problems in Covent Garden's orchestra pit receives award from Institute of Acoustics

London South Bank University acoustics research

Eric Ballestero, a PhD student from London South Bank University’s (LSBU) Acoustics department has been awarded the Young Person’s Award for Innovation in Acoustical Engineering 2021 by the Institute of Acoustics for a project exploring solutions to noise issues in the Royal Opera House's orchestra pit. Ballestero's research, which has the snappy title of Acoustic conditions in orchestra pits: are metadiffusers a potential solution?, was commissioned by the Royal Opera House to identify noise issues in the orchestra pit, provide a technical solution and create an acoustical improvement to work in the pit’s confined physical space.

The previous feasibility study to reduce sound levels in the pit showed that traditional noise control approaches were impractical and extremely expensive while having a minimal effect. A novel approach had to be developed capable of delivering the ambition of the project, and whilst trying to find the most efficient method of noise reduction in the orchestra pit, Eric Ballestero has created the world's first broadband metamaterial to diffuse sound, using ultra-thin diffuser designs. An innovation which solved the noise reduction/space requirements problem.

The LSBU research project is part of an international collaboration to test the prototype designs with the University of Le Mans in France and the University of Valencia in Spain. A short, six month follow-up music perception study is now underway, funded by the Royal Academy of Music. This will determine the number of panels that need to be installed to create the optimal acoustic balance. 

Further information from the LSBU website.

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