ICE Design Australia
Acoustic Directions now undertakes courtroom projects as part of it’s sister company, ICE Design Australia. Please go to www.icedesign.net.au for more information.
High Court of Australia Canberra
In 1994, Acoustic Directions undertook the design of new loudspeaker systems for Courtrooms 1, 2 and 3 of the High Court. The combination of the heritage and aesthetic requirements, the wide coverage areas and the unusual room acoustics presented strong challenges. Collaborative design of the loudspeakers was undertaken with architect Penleigh Boyd, their designs being sufficiently innovative to be accepted for publication in the Audio Engineering Society journal.
Another difficulty was that the building itself precluded the installation of any additional loudspeaker cables. To overcome this, we incorporated considerable passive electrical filtering in the multi-driver loudspeakers. This was a great example of our design skills at a component level facilitating the conceptual design at a system level. Acoustic Directions may be unique among electro-acoustic consultants in its ability to design systems both at this component level and system levels.
Since our work with the High Court in Canberra, we have designed systems for the High Court in three other Australian capital cities; each system using an innovative beam-steered array to achieve high speech fidelity and high acoustic gain free of feedback.
Commonwealth Law Courts Adelaide
Acoustic Directions undertook the electro-acoustic design and commissioning of the sound systems for each of the twenty two court rooms. These systems have achieved a level of speech intelligibility, gain before feedback and acoustic comfort that has not previously been delivered in the Asia Pacific region, nor possibly the world. The sound quality in these courts has become a benchmark for court systems in Australia, New Zealand and now the USA.
New Zealand Supreme Court
ICE Design was appointed to undertake the courtroom acoustic design for both these projects, providing advice to the architects on room-acoustic finishes and loudspeakers. A particular acoustic challenge was the proposed domed shaped structure of the NZ Supreme Court, as the egg-like curved surfaces would produce strange sound amplification effects when anybody spoke. Using a large amount of acoustic absorption would have rendered the space too “dead” and would not have provided a sense of space or grandeur for New Zealand’s highest court.
A clever solution was found through the collaboration between ICE Design and the architects, Warren and Mahoney. To demonstrate the potential problem to the architects, the acousticians modified a lighting software package and used a virtual laser beam that simulated a sound wave produced at a range of talker positions. Its traces clearly showed how the reflection paths of the beam focused at many listening locations.
Seeing this, the architects returned with a structural solution. They created spiral-wrapped bands of diamond shaped and angled timber panels that look similar to the NZ Kauri cone. The lowest band is reflective and flat to provide some natural reflections for speech; the mid-band is diffusive, with angled panels and some low frequency absorption, while the uppermost band provides acoustic absorption to control reverberation times in the room. The skylight consists of a series of glass blades angled for acoustic diffusion, arranged in a floral motif.
ICE Design also designed and commissioned a sound system for the courtroom, which uses eight bespoke beam-steered line-array loudspeakers.
The result is not only an extraordinary result in terms of architectural design, but also a very well sounding room with speech being clearly audible, extremely natural sound and high intelligibility for all listeners.
Queen Square Law Courts
ICE Design is providing the acoustic and electro-acoustic design for more than 35 court rooms, including ceremonial courts for the Federal and Supreme Courts. The sound in all these rooms provides a level of speech intelligibility, gain before feedback and acoustic comfort that has not previously been delivered in the Asia Pacific region, possibly the world. The sound quality in these courts has become a benchmark for court systems in Australia, New Zealand and now the USA.
Acoustic Directions has designed loudspeaker systems for numerous other courts, including the 22 courts in the Commonwealth Law Courts Adelaide, the New Zealand Court of Appeal, Perth Federal Court Courtroom 4, Northern Territory Supreme Court Courtroom 6, and Sir Samuel Way Court Adelaide. Each of these courtrooms uses systems similar to those in the Commonwealth Law Courts Adelaide.