The acoustics

Silence and concentration

The essential prerequisite for good acoustics is silence, and this element is achieved through Musikinsel’s two qualities- its location on the island and its solid historical building.  Specifically, the rehearsal rooms in this complex face either the park in the eastern part of the island or the Rhine and its unattainable, uninhabited German bank. Likewise, the tranquillity of the site is also the reason why the buildings (which stood unoccupied for twelve years) have often been used by film makers.

The necessity of protection and preservation of the historical buildings on the music island and the elevated costs did not allow an acoustic insulation of the rooms. Consequently, various measures have been taken in order to minimise the transfer of noise. For instance, the sound of footsteps is absorbed by carpets in the long corridors. Similarly, the fireproof glass doors also reduce the noise transferred in the building. For fire safety reasons, new doors with a soundproofing effect have been set up all throughout the Musikinsel.

Optimal coordination

For correct insulation, four measures for sound absorption have been taken in the rehearsal rooms:

  • Acoustic elements: not only installed on the walls, but also as mobile panels (with 2 or 3 elements)
  • Carpets: in the rehearsal rooms with parquet floors
  •  Curtains
  • Fabric covers for the heaters

These four textile materials are coordinated taking into account the nature of the room as to provide optimal reverberation times. Furthermore, musicians can adapt the acoustics with the mobile panels to suit their requirements.

Permanently installed panels

The absorbent cushions measure 130 x 60 cm. These are mounted mainly on the end walls of the rehearsal rooms. A total of 500 acoustic cushions have been installed.

Mobile panels

(In order to create) mobile panels, two or three acoustic cushions are mounted, one above the other, on a wooden wall with wheels. The turned wall can therefore be used as a sound-amplifying reflector – e.g. for a group of instruments in an orchestra.

The acoustician

Dr Eckhard Kahle is one of the world’s most renowned acousticians. He studied physics in Bonn, Cambridge and Paris, and obtained a doctorate in acoustics. As a solo viola player, he played in the European Community Youth Orchestra, where he worked together with outstanding artists such as Claudio Abbado, Zubin Mehta and Leonard Bernstein. Kahle was an assistant of the legendary Russell Johnson, who was responsible for the acoustics at the Culture and Convention Centre in Lucerne (KKL). For around 10 years, Kahle has been running his own consultancy and planning company Kahle Acoustics (