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The Directivity and Auditory Impressionsof Singers

by A. H. Marshall * and J. MeYer


* University of Auckland, New Zealand
Information from the Physikalisch-TechnischeBundesanstalt,Braunschweig
Dedicated to Prof. Dr.-Ing. L. Cremer on the occasion of his 80th birthday
Su m m a r y
The directivity of the professional singers voice was measured in anechoic conditions for a
was
male (Baritone) ind two iemales (Soprano and Alto). In each case the range of notes sung
in
intervals
given
20o
at
Resllts_are
vocal
styles.
and
two
vowels
and'comprised 3
t;;.
to.irontut and vertical planes down to 40o depressionbelow the singers,mouth. Particular atten'singer's formant' and con-clusionsare drawn regarding the important direciio" ir giu"n to the
for reflecting surfaces.
tions
tn ttre second fart of the paper experiments are described which explore the auditory impression ofsingers in vocal ensemblesand as soloists by exposingthe singersto qynthetic sound fields
in tremi-aiectroic conditions. The singer's auditory impression is dominated by reverberation
rather than the early reflections which are so important to instrumentalists. An adverse combination of discrete iarly reflections and reverberation occurs when the reflection delay approximates to 40 ms.
Richtcharakteristik und Gehiirseindruck beim Sdnger
Zusammenfassung
geIn einem reflexionsarmen Raum wurde die Richtcharakteristik von professionalenSiingem
messen,und zwar bei einer Miinnerstimme (Bariton) und zwei Frauenstimmen (Sopran *9 {t):
Der untersuchte Tonumfang reichte jeweiis iiber zwei Oktaven, alle TOne wurden mit drei
Vokalen und zwei verschie&nen Stimmtechniken gesungen.Die Ergebnisse werden mit einer
eunOsung von 20o in der horizontalen sowie zwei vertikalen Ebenen bis zu einem Neigungswinkel v6n 40o unter dem Mund des Siingers angegeben.BesondereAufmerksamkeit ist dabei
dem sog. ,,siingerformanten" gewidmet, und es werden Riickschliisse auf die fiir Reflexionsfl iichen wichtigen Abstrahlrichtungen gezogen.
Im zweiten-Teil der Arbeit wird tibir einige Experimente berichtet, die der Untersuchung des
Gehiirseindrucks von Chorsingern und Gesangssolistengelten; dabei wurden die raumakustir.tr.n S"aingungen fiir die Siin-gerin einem Halbfreifeldraum durch ein synthetischesSchallfeld
simuliert. Dir Gehtirseindruck-der Siinger wird mehr durch Nachhall geprbgt als durch die
ersten Reflexionen, wlhrend diese bei Instrumentalspielern vorrangige Bedeutung besitzen. Ein
ungiinstiger Bereich fiir die erste Reflexion (bei Schallfeldern mit Nachhall) liegt bei Verziigerungszeitenum 40 ms.
Directiviti et impressionsauditives des chanteurs
S o mm a i r e
On mesure dans des conditions anchoiques la directivit6 de la voix de chanteurs professionnels: un homme (baryton), et deux femmes (soprano et alto). Chacun chante des notes reparties
sur deux octaves, en pronongant 3 voyelles selon deux styles de voix diffrents. Les rsultats sont
donn6s tous les 20' dins les plans horizontaux et verticaux, en descendantjusqu'A {O " en dessous
de la bouche du chanteur. Le <formant des chanteurs)a reguune attention particuli0re, et l'on tire
des conclusionsconcernant les directions importantes pour installer des surfacesr6flchissantes.
La deuxiCme partie de I'expos dcrit des expriencesqui explorent I'impression auditive d'un
chanteur, au sein d'un ensemblevocal, ou en tant que soliste, en exposantle chanteur d un champ
sonore synthtique dans des conditions semi-anchoiques.L'impression auditive du chanteur est
davantage domine par la rverbration que par les rflexions lat6rales, si importntes pour.les
instrumJntistes. Une combinaison dfavorable des rflexions initiales et de la rverbration a lieu
pour un retard des rEflexions d'environ 40 ms,

l. Introduction
'70s a considerable research effort
Since the mid
has been directed toward the acoustical conditions

preferred by musicians when performing; particularly with regard to ensemble playing Il -4]. Results
in the cited works with direct application in stage,
hall, and studio design, give ranges of preferred

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A.H MARSHALL and J MEYER:DIRECIIVtt AND AUDITORY IMPRESSIONS

reflection level and delay, the frequency dependence


of instrument directivity, and identify the frequency
region of particular importance for on-stage communication between musicians. Amongst other
results it is clear that reverberation does not contribute significantly to easeof ensemblefor instrumentalists but that appropriate early reflections are
essential.
The present work is intended to provide similar
information for the singer'senvironment,or at least
to addressthe questionsof singing comfort and ease
of ensemble.
It is a common experience amongst singers that
rooms differ markedly in the support they provide.
In some there is a stimulating feedbackwhich links
singer, listener and space and promotes artistic
communication. In others control of the voice and
the achievementof ensembleis much more difficult
though of course, as the following experience illustrates, the professional singer can still sing even in
such extreme environments as anechoic conditions.
For amateur choirs "difficult" rooms may affect
performance acutely.
The objective in designing stagesand rooms is to
provide an acoustical environment for the singers in
which the complexity of tone and timbre, musical
structure, expressivenuances,ensembleand the like
are achieved effortlessly in the act of artistic communication between performer and listener. Singers
usually refer to such acousticalconditions as'room
resonance'.
'Room resonance'
can be usefully considered as
modal effects, 'early' reflections from individual
surfaces, and reverberation. It is assumed in this
paper that the rooms concerned are too large for
pronounced modal behaviour in the frequency
range of the singers. Reverberation comprises the
statistical decay of sound energy level in the space
as a whole. The early individual reflections depend
upon the location of surfaces relative to the singer
and the directivity of the voice when singing.
We start therefore with a set of measurementsof
the directivity of the human voice comprising three
vocal ranges, two styles of voice production and
three different vowels. The second part of the paper
addressesthe questions of singing comfort and ease
of ensemble for soloists, a quartette and a small
choir in a variety of synthetic acoustical environments.

131

are the resultsof Dunn and Farnsworth (1939) measured with a microphone at a distance of only
60 cm. These show, in the horizontal plane a steady
level reduction from front to back which is more
marked at higher frequencies. In the vertical plane
rather weaker secondary maxima occur which just
exceed the level in the forward direction. Niese
(1956) obtained similar results (deviations up to
2 dB) with running speech using a microphone
distance of 2 m. It appeared that with some test
persons the level in the forward direction was about
I dB below the maxima. Finally it is worth noting
that Trendelenburg (1929) showed that the .reduction to the back of the head is greater than is found
in the shadowing of a point source by a spherical
surface. He ascribed this to the projecting effect of
the mouth and showed also differences with altered
mouth shapes. It follows that one cannot assume
that speechdirectivity data are applicable without
further question to the sung radiation patterns.

3. The directivity ofsingers


The measurementson singers were carried out in
an anechoic room in the horizontal and two vertical
planes.The singer stood sufficiently high to permit
the radiation pattern to be measured down to 40o
below the horizontal plane at head height. Measurements generally were made at 20o intervals but in
part at l0o intervals in the horizontal plane. The
range of sung notes was Baritone (G2 to Ga), Alto
(G3 to G5), Soprano (Ca to C6). The programme
included test syllableswith three vowels sung in two
vocal styles- "full voice" and the so called "Randstimme" (or half voice). Evaluation was made after
octavefiltering.
3.L Basic results

Figs. I and 2 show the polar diagrams for the 7


flequency bands and in two planes. These results
were derived from the "full voice" measurement on
the Baritone and values are averaged over the three
vowels and all pitches within each octave band.
Reference level, 0 dB is the level in the horizontal
plane in front of the singer. It should be noted that
the singer inclined his head forward approximately
l0o to achievea relaxedposture.
In the horizontal plane it is immediately clear
2. Review of the literature
that the maximum level occurs at 0o only above
4kHz. At lower frequencies the maxima shift to the
The directional characteristics of the human sides. Up to 500 Hz the effect is relatively small and
voice in the literature [5-8] refer almost exclusively is comparablewith the profile indicated by Niese. It
to measurements on speech. Most frequently cited is worth noting that in the 1000Hz band the level

132

A.H mRSHALL and

MEYEk HttCTIIW AND AUDITORY MPRES

Fig. l. Directivity of a singer in the horizontal plane.

Fig. 2. Directivity of a singer in the vertical plane.

ONS

remains above the reference level at 0o back to


I l5o. The greatest increment of about 3 dB occurs
at 2000H2 and at about 40o. To the rear. as expected, the shading effect of the head is clear and
increasingwith frequency.
In the vertical plane the polar diagrams show a
sharp maximum at high frequencies,and directed
downwards at 20 o as their most conspicousfeature.
The maximum value is about 4 dB in the 2000Hz
octave. This maximum though weaker remains apparent at the low frequencies (in comparison with
the resultsin the horizontal plane where as we saw
the high frequency maxima are directed outwards
at about 45" and virtually disappear below
l000Hz). Other note-worthy features are the secondary maximum above and to the rear at 1000Hz
and 2000Hz and the sharp reduction in level below
the horizontal plane at the back. The intermediate
vertical plane (not shown in this figure) gives a
smooth transition in level between the maxima just
described in the horizontal and vertical planes
without any other noticeablesecondarymaxima.
The principal directional properties of the sung
voice are summarized in Table I which shows the
direction of maximum radiation, the range from
this maximum to the minimum value measuredand
the angular extent of the 3 dB-down region in the
horizontal and vertical planes.
Fig. 3 gives the 3 dB- and l0 dB-down regions
graphically. Note in the horizontal the doubling of
the 3 dB region below 1000Hz and the gap at
2000Hz due to the downward direction of the
maximum at this frequency and above.The narrowness of the 4000 Hz 3 dB radiation pattern (+ 35")
is particularly significant since this is the region of
the so-called "singer's formant", which gives the
trained voice its carrying power and brilliance
[9, l0]. At 8000Hz the pattern again broadens but
one should note that the radiation in this band comprisesthe high frequency partials of the sung vowels
rather than the consonantswhich dominate measurements on speech in this octave. Niese's measurements,for example,'onspeechconsonantsgive a
much narrower pattern (+ 30').
The pronounceddownward inclined maximum in
the vertical plane indicates the great importance of
floor reflections to singers. There is also a markedly
smaller vertical dispersion than horizontal which
suggeststhat reflectors to the sides of a singer are
likely to be rd6re useful than thoseoverhead.
Fig. 4 gives a-colnpariion of the intensity in the
three most important d{rections, referred to the
radiation to the front 6f the singer (0"). Overhead,
the level'drops about I dB/Octave with increasing
frequency.To the side the level is lower at low fre-

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VITY AND AUDITORY IMPRESS10NS

133

TableI.
valuesof the singer'sdirectivity.
Characteristical
Centre
frequency
of the octave
band [Hz]

Direction of the
maximum

125
250
500
1000
2000
4000

+45 (front)
+40 (frOnt)
20 (side)
-40
cFront)
-20
(frOnt)
-20
(frOnt)

8000

-20

AZ*"

3 dB-down region

dB

horizontal

+ 45
- 45
- 80
+ 80
+ 9 0
-90
+ H 5
H 5

60
20
+359
- 35
80
and
70
- 50
+ 50
31.5

6.0
7.5
9.5
11
20.5
23.5

(frOnt)

vertical

(-40 ) +120
+110
(-40 )

(-40 ) + 75

(-40 ) +60
-32 - 8
-35 +35
-35

+25

quencies but reaches + 2 dB at 1000Hz - about


5 dB higher than the level overhead.Apart from the
pronounced peak at 1000Hz, the sideways level
remains constant at about 3 dB below the frontal
level until the high frequency drop-off above about
2000 Hz. By comparison the level to the rear falls
steadily at about 2.5 dB/Octave. The peak at
1000Hz may be ascribed to the diffraction around
the singer'shead.

0 3dB

0 10 dB

Fig.3. Principal radiation directions of a singer in the


different octave bands.

WS

3.2. Influence ofvoice production technique


Fig.4 also indicates the effect of dynamics on
directivity. Results for forte (full voice) and piano
(half voice) singing are plotted. Overhead and
behind the singer the curves are closetogether.Projection to the side is markedly weaker with piano
singing in the frequencies above 1000Hz, the difference being about 3 dB in the important region for
vocal timbre. That means that to the side of the
singer an exaggerated dynamic can be expected
with significant loss oftone colour in piano passages.
Apart from this, size and location of the principal
radiation regions change insignificantly during
transition between "full voice" and "half voice". the variation being only in the order of 5 o.

\oerrino

125

?50

500
1000 2000
+
FreQuency

1000Hz 8000

Fig.4. Sound pressure level in three directions referred to


the front as a function of vocal technique:
a<
forte,
piano.
O-t

3 . 2l.. C o m p a r i s o n o f m a l e v o i c e s
and female voices
Analysis of results for the female voices showed
substantive agreement in the radiation patterns with
those obtained for the Baritone differences being
smallest in the 8000Hz region. The only significant
deviation was in the 2000 Hz octave where for the
female voices the sharp maximum downwards to
the front (Fig. 2) almost disappears and the 3 dB
region is spread to approximately 30o upwards. An
additional secondary maximum occurs for female
voices at 60o upwards in both the 2kHz and 4kHz

134

A.H.M

SHALL and J.MEYER:DIRECII

octaves. An interesting deviation occurred in the


1000Hz octave to the side where the female voices
showed similar tendency to the "half voice" of the
Baritone. It is quite possible however that these
differences are due as much to the quality of voice
production as to voice type, since the female test
persons were far less experienced than the Baritone
and found singing in anechoic conditions much
more difficult.
3.3. Effect of dffirent vowels
A similar comparison was made for the three
vowels o, a, e. Differences were most marked to the
side of the singer as indicated in Fig. 5. Up to
500 Hz the radiation of all three vowels is identical,
from 500 to 2000 Hz there is a sharp deviation with
a subsequentreduction in difference above 4000 Hz.
Fig. 6 presentsthe polar diagrammes for these three
vowels in the 2000 Hz octave band. Note that the
40o sidewaysmaxima evident with "o" and "a" are
missing with "e" in the horizontal plane. In the
vertical plane, o and a radiate strongly forward and
down with "e" again much weaker.
In this context it is noted that Slavik and Tichy [8]
found differences in the directivity, particularly to
the side, for different vowels. A possible explanation for this phenomenon could be phase cancellation acrossthe openings similar to that known in the
radiation from airflow acrosspipe openingsI l].

AND AUDITORY IMPRESSIONS

ACUSTICA
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An influence of pitch on directivity is discernible


only at the highest notes in each of the individual
vocal ranges. Above the singer these tones were
2 "' 4 dB less attenuated than the other tones and
this further strengthened the upwards secondary
maxima. The effect was strongest in the top Soprano c in which the upward secondary maxima were
8 dB stronger than the middle- and low-frequency
tones.
To the rear of the singer some sound components
are less attenuated - by as much as 4 "' 5 dB between 500 to 1000Hz with "o" and "a" and from
500 to 2000 Hz with "e". At high frequencies there
is no difference between them. Sideways however
the components at 4000 Hz in "a" and "e" suffer
3 "' 5 dB greater attenuation than the other sounds.
The consequence is that the "singer's formant" is
less prominent to the side of a singer for these
vowels.
3.4. Summary of conclusions

We can summarize the results of this section as


follows:
l) Noticeable differences in vocal timbre will follow
if the singer turns more than 40" from the normal
position. Beyond 80o the problem will become
acute. Reflectors should be designed to minimize
this effect.
2) The floor reflection is a particularly important
component of the radiation pattern to the listeners.The area 2 "'5 m in front of the singer is
the most significant region. Carpet on this region
of floor is to be avoided.
/
3) Stage design should exploit the side reflections
rather than overhead reflections, particularly
with surfaces within an angle of 60o to the view
direction.
4) To avoid occlusion of one row of choristers by
another a steep step between rows is necessary.

The rake should be I : I (45o) minimum.


5) Microphone placement right and left of the
125
250
500
1000
2000
4000H20000
Frequency
singer gives richer high harmonics than overhead
Fig.5,Sound pressure level to the side referred to the front but also leads to weaker low frequencies.

15

For three vowels.

4. The singer's acoustical environment

We describenow the experimentsaimed at


termining preferred acoustical environments
singers.
4.1.Procedure
Fig. 6. Directivity in the 2000 Hz octave band for 3 vowels.

The singersperformed in hemi-anechoicconditions it being recognizedthat virtually all stages

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W AND AUDITORY IMPRESS10NS

135

m
c

AA m

Fig.7. Plan of the hemi-anechoicroom showing the


arrangementof the vocal quartette,the microphonesand
the loudspeakers:
S = sidereflections,
R = rearreflections,
C = ceilingreflections,
Rev,Rev' : reverberation.

have.a reflective floor. Side, overhead and rear reflections corresponding to a variety of stage sizes
were simulated with a digital delayline, feeding
back directly to the singers via cardioid microphones at 0.5 m from each singer's mouth, and
loudspeakers at a distance of about 3 m, see Fig. 7.
Levels were calculated according to spherical divergencewith some correction for vocal directivity.
Reverberation was generated on the two incoherent feeds from an EMT Goldfoil reverberation
plate and radiated to the ensemble from three loudspeakers arranged to simulate the reverberance of
the auditorium, see Fig. 8 a for schematic synthetic
sound fields and Fig. 8 b for simulated stage sizes.
Table II gives the delay applied through the delayline plus the delay causedby the 3 m dimension between the singing group and the respective loudspeakers.
The music chosen consisted of unaccompanied
chorales and choruses from the J. S. Bach "St Matthew Passion" and "Elijah" by Mendelssohn. Excerpts approximately 30 s long were sung for each
trial and then the musicians were asked to rate the
conditions on 7-point scales for "ease of singing"
and "ease of ensemble", before the next presentation. Fourteen presentations wer made in random
order in each series.

Fig. 8. a) Temporal structure of the test sound fields.


b) Schematicof the simulated stageplans.Simulation code:
lst letter: ceiling and rear reflections,
2nd letter: side reflections.
Table II.
Delay of reflections and reverberation.
Code

AKG delay
line

X
A
B
C
D25ms
E
F
G50
Reverberation

no reflection
6.25ms
12.5 ms
18.75
ms
3 1 . 2m
5s
37.5 ms
75

Total dday

16.25 ms
22.5 ms
28.75 ms
35
ms
41.25 ins
47.5 ms
60
85

mate
Appro
surfa
distance

2.75m
3.82m
4.89m
5.95m
7.01m
8.07m
10.2 m

(13.6o

136

A.H.MARSHALL alFld J.MEYER:DIRECII

IY AND AUDITORY IMPRESSIONS

ACUSTICA
158(1985)

l, 1.5 and 3s, The onset time of the reverberated


signal was varied through 60, 85 and ll0 ms and for
asymmetrical stage simulations (i.e. side "walls" at
a different distance from simulated rear and overhead "surfaces") preference for wide or deep stages
was explored,seeFig. 8 b.

7. Results
7.1. Correlation between"ease of singing"
and "ease of ensemble"
For all groups there is a high correlation between
Fig.9. Photographof the vocal quartettein the anechoic
the judgements of ease of singin! and ease of enroom.
semble. Correlation coefficients lie between 0.82
and 0.90 for all trials. Fig. l0 showsthe dependence
The greatest number of experiments were perof the correlation coefficients on the four reverberaformed by the quartette, with the choir of 14 voices
tion times presented for the quartette. The correlaand the soloists each available on only one occasion.
tion was even higher for the choir (0.92). From this
To maximize dependenceon the "reflected" sound
we concludethat essentiallyonly one judgement was
singers faced away from each other on the hemibeing made.
anechoicspace.SeeFig. 9.
The only exception was a combination of a long
reverberation time and unfavoured reflection delays.
In this situation, "ease of ensemble" seemed to be
5. General observations
little worsethan "easeof singing".
7.2.Early reflections(for the ensembles)
Although it was quickly appatent that the principal conclusion to be drawn from the experiments
concerned the importance of reverberation to
singers, approximately half the presntations to the
subjects comprised only early reflections without
reverberance. The results are very straight forward
and will be presented flrrst.
Fig. I I summarisesthese results. It is a cumulative plot of normalised preferenceagainst the relative energy of early reflections which as noted above

It had b'een observed in the field that singers,


both solo and choral, are sensitiveto the reverberant
conditions. The first question was, then, whether it
would be possible to sing in ensemble in anechoic
conditions at all. To start with, the quartette stood
back to back in the large anechoic room at PTB. To
everyone'ssurprise singing in ensembleunder such
conditions was quite possible though observers
noted some difficulties in intonation. Of the four
subsequent occasions on which the quartette sang,
in the hemi-anechoicroom, the first was used to test
the consistency of judgements. Consistent judgements were found to be possible. The results reported here however, are derived from the last three
sessionsonly. The choir results were less clear. Not
only were the singers relatively inexpert (i.e. unpracticed) at making the experimental judgements
but some, notably the upper parts, proved quite
unable to respond consistentlyat all. The raw choir
results were thus rather smeared. A procedure to
purge the unreliable judgementswas adopted and is
described in the Appendix. Finally, the results from
only 7 of the 14 choir singerswere included.

6. Experimental variables

012s3
Reverberoiionlime +

Fig. 10. Correlation coefficient between "easeof ensemble"

In addition to reflection delay and level, reverbera- and "ease of singing" for different reverberation times
tion time was varied in the presentations through 0, presented.

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137

AND AUDmRY IMPRESS10NS

Both for long delays (and corresponding low


reflection levels),and for short delayswith relatively more energetic early reflections the improvement
in preference for the fields including reverberation
is significant and about the same. This improvement disappearsquite sharply at about 40 ms delay
relative to the direct. The effect is so strong and
independent of group size (choir or quartette) or
whether the presentations were symmetrical or

EnsemblP

(-o)

-12

-6
-t0
-8
RelotivE
e n e r gl Y
e v l+

-1

-? dB 0

approximate to spherical divergence relative to the


strongest reflections (situation code AA: 0 dB). This
referencelevel is about 16 dB lower than the sound
power level of the singer.
It is clear that there is a simple dependenceof
preferenceon the level ofthe early reflections.

Fig. I l. Normalised preference (ensemble)for the quartette


for reverberation-lree simulated refl ections.

0.4
'

m _ '

Code:A A

7.3. Reverberationfor ensembles

GG

EE

36
CC
DE
E000 68

0B

AC

CA

AA

The most striking result is the generalpreference


for the sound fields with reverberation for both the
ensembles.Fig. 12 is a typical plot of resultsfor the
quartette and shows that with the exception of
situation EE (delay about 40 ms) the fields with
reverberationare strongly preferred. Similar results
were obtained with the choir. Fig. 13 shows the
sharpnessof the interaction between the early reflections and the reverberant field by plotting the
difference in preference between the reverberated
and dry reflections. All the presentations to the
choir and quartette involving reverberationsettings
of 1.5s and 85 ms delay are included. Some of the
fields presented were "symmetrical" while others
were "asymmetrical" as shown in Fig. 8 b.

CodelX X

7 . 3 . 1E
. ffect of sound fields consisting
of early reflections and
reverberation for the ensembles

E[

Fig. 12. Normalised preference for the quartette for sound


fields with (dark areas) and without (ight areas) reverberation component.

In the sound fields presented without early reflections but with reverberation the reverberation time
seems to have no systematic effect on preference in
the range of the 3 reverberationtimes presented(1,
1.5 and 3s respectively) to the quartette and the
choir.

(-o)

-'12

-10
-8
-6
n e l o l i v E n e r gLye v e+l

-1

-? dB

Fig. 13. Difference in normalised preferencebetweensound


fields with and without reverberation component as a
function of relative reflection level.
Reverberationtime 1.5s. onsetdelav 85 ms.
. quartette, sym. Iields,
r choir, sym. fields,
o quartette, asym. fields,
o choir, asym. l-relds.

A. H. MARSHALLand J.MEYER:DIRECTMTY AND AUDITORYIMPRESSIONS ffiHli:i

-0,1
(-o I

-6
-0
-10
Level+
RelotiveEnerqy

-L

_0)

12

10

-4

d0

betweensound Fig. 15. Normalisedpreferenceas a function of relative


Fig. 14.Differencein normalisedpreference
time l-5 s.
fields with and without reverberationcomponent.Rever- reflectionlevel.Reverberation
ms,
60
onset
delay
o
ms.
85
delay
onset
s,
1.0
berationtime
o onsetdelay 85 ms,
o lst series,
onsetdelay I l0 ms.
r
2nd
series.
o

asymmetrical that we were convinced it is a real


effect. However we addressed this question further
by varying the reverberation time and by varying
the onset delay for the reverberated signal.

completely dominates the singer's perception of the


performance environment, irrespective of the presence of reflections.

7 . 3 . 3O
. nset delay time
We investigated the possibility that the reduction
in preference for the reverberant flreld at 40 ms
Two series were conducted with the quartette
could have been an artifact. The reverberation
using I s reverberation time instead of the l'5 s signal started in the experimental set-up at a disadopted as standard with onset delay 85 ms. Mask- crete time - virtually like a reflection at 85 ms
ing of the early reflections by reverberation is delay. Accordingly wc ran a series in which the
reduced. Early energetic reflections integrate with
variable was the onset delay time for the reverberathe reverberation so that preference for the rever- tion. The set-up did not permit us to include the
berated sound is negligible. Only for delay greater
unreverberated field for comparison as would have
than about 40 ms is the reverberated field strongly given us directly comparable results with those
preferred again. See Fig. 14. This result gives a clue
already shown. However Fig. 15 shows that a
as to what is happening in Fig. 13. The pronounced signilicant dip in preference does occur with each of
dip occurs at the point where dependence solely on the onset delays at the 40 ms region with a reducthe reverberated signal takes place becausethe early tion at smaller onset delays than about 70 ms. That
reflections energy is as low that it is negligible. A means, that the 40 ms effect is very important for
further variation with the quartette used 3.0 s re- the design of single reflectors, if the other reflecting
verberation time. The reverberant signal at 3 s so areashave distancesof more than about l2 m.
obviously dominated the singing experience that
only tests with the reverberation were run. Apart
7.4. Soloists
from a slight improvement in preference for the
At the conclusion of the measuring programme
earliest and most energetic discrete reflections
paper we asked
preference for all test fields was uniform within the described in the first section of this
series @ncerntest
at
undertake
the singers each to
experimentalaccuracy.
described
to
those
comparable
"ease
of
singing"
From this series we conclude that the shorter the ing
gives
initial
the
16
Fig.
quartette
choir.
and
the
for
reverberation time, the more important the earliest
gives
the
l7
Fig.
while
responses
plot
of
their
about
after
reflections are for ensemble. However
in
the
energy
reflection
plotted
against
preferences
reverberation
statistical
35 ms of reflection delay the

7 . 3 . 2R
. everberation time variation

ACUSTICA
V
1 58(1985)

6 B

D E

E D

X X

Fig. 16. Soloists: Normalised preference (ease of singing)


for sound fietds with (dark areas) and without (light areas)
reverberation component. Reverberation time 1.5s, onset
delay 85 ms.
o Baritone.

8 6

C A

A C

l C o d e

139

A.H MARSHALL and J.MEYER:DIRECWTY AND AUDITORY IMPRESS10NS

10
6
8

Relotive Ene
gy tevel

Fig. 18. String quartette:Differencesin normalisedpreferencebetweensound fields with and without reverberationcomponent.
to "easeof ensemble",
o Response
to "tonequality".
o resporBe

7.5.Instrumentalists

For comparison with the foregoing work on


singers we invited a string quartette to play in the
same experimental set-up. Within the obvious
limitations concerning instrument directivity we
found confirmation that the early reflections are
important for ease of ensemble while recritically
(--)
-12 -r0
-8
-6
-1
-? d8 0
+
verberation is not. On the other hand the aesthetic
nelotive
Energy
l-evel
Fig. 17. Soloists: Differencesin normalisedpreference experience of the instrumentalists was clearly not
com- highly correlated with ensemble conditions as was
betweensoundfields with and without reverberation
ponent.Reverberation
time 1.5s,onsetdelay85 ms.
the casewith singers. Responsesto a question about
o average,
ease of achieving tonal quality showed a considerr femalesingers,
able dependence on the reverberant conditions.
o Baritone.
Theseresultsare plotted in Fig. 18.
8. Conclusions
presentation. Since there were only 3 subjects the
Baritone is plotted separately from the two female
singers,together with the average.
The striking features are the both extreme
variation in the plots and unanimity between voices.
The strongly negative response to "AC" and "BG"
was coupled to comment from the singers that
having the reverberation arriving from a distinctly
different direction from the early sound (overhead
and back) was disturbing and one should not make
too much of what is obviously an artifact. As before
there is a clear preference for reverberation which is
complicated by early energetic reflections, especially if the side reflections arrive earlier than the
overheadreflection.

In addition to measuring the directivity of the


sung voice over 3 vocal ranges, for 3 different
vowels and in two vocal styles we have conducted
experiments with vocal ensemblesto establish preferred acoustical conditions on stage. These experiments show that "ease of ensemble" for singers is
inseparable from questions of singing comfort and
that both are controlled by the reverberant condi
tions. Energetic early reflections do contribute positively if they are early enough but at about 40 ms
delay reduce preference well below that of a reflectionJess reverberant field. This result is in direct
contrast with conditions preferred for instrumental
ensemblein which the early reflections are essential.

A.H.MARSHALL and J.MEYER DIREC

140

VIIY AND AUDmRY IMPRES

ONS

confidence would prevent that occurring in practice


but if there is no consistentchange in the assessThe authors are most grateful to all the singers ments reliable rank ordering of the results can be
who participated in the work reported in this paper,
achieved.
particularly to Professor Claus Ocker and Dr.-Ing.
For every test subject we determined the differDetlev Mencke. The project was supported by a
encefor each sound field. Usually the rangewas less
grant from the PTB for Professor Marshall's visit
than three preference steps but occasionally there
and by the Researchand Study leave programme of were as many as five steps difference in the assessthe University of Auckland (NZ).
ment. Fig. 19 shows 3 examples.Singer (l) judges
the repetition rather better. Singer (2) judges the
first programme about the same yet again better on
Appendix
the repetition. (Perhapsit took the first three before
he got used to it.) Singer (3) has such a broad
:
Evaluationof chamber-choirresponses
distribution of results that his responsesshould be
During the analysisof choir membersresponsesit
became apparent that their individual reliability purged.
To test reliability we counted the number of
varied considerably. (Each singer indicated vocal
testsin which nearly the same result or at
repeated
part and approximate position on the form.) Since
consistent difference occurred, i.e. we
least
a
was
every presentation was repeated at least once it
possibleto test the individuals reliability and purge summed up the number of tests in that group of
inconsistentresults by comparing the two responses. three bars containing the highest number of tests.
Ideally of course each subject should have made These bars are hatched in Fig. 19. With 14 presentaan identical responseto the repeated field when it tions in each of 2 series we had 28 possible for a
reappeared in the series.Subjective factors such as perfect score. Results ranged from 14 to 26. We
familiarity, fatigue, improving listening skills and accepted results of 21 or more. ln practical terms
that meant that for at least 75o/oof judgements the
difference must be no more than * I step. Only 7 of
the choir of 14 achieved this result and it is their
responsesthat are included in the paper.
Acknowl edgements

(Received
February21th,1985.)
References

Progromm
I e

Proqromme
2

3 2 0 1 2 3
D i f i e r e n c e i n t he es u il nl ds iv

duol

Fig. 19. Reliability of repeated tests: number of repeated


testshaving the same difference in the individual results.

e8.
ue56l,

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