News / Calgary

Improving Jack Singer concert hall acoustics through chair design

The renovation will add more than just a cushion for your tushy

The old, used up chairs (left) and the new, acoustically balanced chairs (right).

Courtesy Arts Commons

The old, used up chairs (left) and the new, acoustically balanced chairs (right).

There’s more than just your butt on the line with the new chairs being installed at the Jack Singer Concert Hall.

The 2,057 new seats currently being installed at the hall will not only be more comfy, but they’ll also improve the hall’s already finely tuned acoustics.

These seats are specially designed to also enhance the acoustics of the hall.

“The way we did this was in the construction of the seats,” explained director of facilities, Wes Jenkins. “Our previous seats absorbed a certain frequency of sound, and by changing the angle, fabric and structure of the chair, we were able to improve on the already fantastic acoustics of the hall.”

The original seats were 32 years old. The foam was disintegrating and the metal was breaking down.

The first task when replacing seats is not changing the acoustics of the hall. After all, this is where the Calgary Philharmonic and so many other live performances take place.

Jenkins brought in an acoustical consulting company called Talaske to review the hall and take baseline measurements in 2015. They combined that with information from the City of Calgary, BKL Acoustics and their own in-house expertise. Then they built 16 chairs and sent them off for testing and comparison against 16 chairs from their previous stock.

The new fabrics and construction techniques were sent to an acoustical testing lab in Quebec, before finally being approved by Talaske.

The new chairs will not only maintain, but will now enhance the sound in the Jack Singer.

“As an audience member you’re going to notice a big difference, and not just in the look of the seat, which is hugely improved,” said Jenkins.

The new seats also now have sculpted armrests, firm cushions and supportive back rests. Also new for the hall: cup holders.

Other upgrades to the hall include refurbishment of the floor, and new high efficiency LED lights.

These upgrades are on track to be completed by the end of August.

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