Quality sound in the farthest corner of the concert hall — how is this possible?

Imagine that you are standing in the middle of the bustling crowd and great to hear the story behind ten meters away from you people — and all this without using the phone. Or, imagine another situation where you sit in the farthest corner of the concert hall and hear the same quality sound as the people in the front row. Researchers from the universities of Sussex and Bristol propose to bring these pictures into reality by using acoustic lenses, which direct the sound in certain places as well as sniper scopes beams of light.

The researchers have demonstrated a similar device from a dynamic composite material. It’s called “Vari-sound”, and is an analog of an optical lens with a variable focal length, but it works with sound waves. Also they used a collimator, which is able to transfer the sound from the speakers in the form of a narrow directional beam. As an example, acoustic collimator can realize the scenario of “man in the crowd”, transmitting his voice directly toward the source.

In the future acoustic metamaterials can change the way of transmitting sound at concerts and in theatres, ensuring that each will get a unique sound for which he paid. We develop technology that can provide better sound than headphones.

Laetitia Chisari, an employee of the University of Sussex

Researchers see other scenarios of use of such devices. The technology can be used even in such electronics, such as voice assistants Amazon Echo speaker would perceive only commands emanating from certain areas of the house like the sofa or kitchen. Also with the help of it you can teach the technique to separate one sound from another, preventing false alarms security systems.


Of course, such technologies already exist, but the transition from complex electronics to composite materials can significantly reduce costs. The researchers explained that the acoustic lenses can be made of plastic, paper, wood or rubber — the sound is formed by the internal geometry. They will be compatible with the existing speakers and microphones, that is, the owners of cinemas and concert halls is nothing new not have to buy.