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Inventor makes science rock

Thursday 22 Nov 2012 5:45 p.m.

By Tony Field

A Christchurch scientist has been honoured for his work improving sound quality in concert halls.

Mark Poletti's system has been installed in almost 100 venues around the world and used with everything from classical music to rock music.

Mr Poletti loves live music and has spent years trying to make sure it sounds as good as possible.

“What these systems do effectively is change the acoustics of a concert hall rather than just amplifying somebody on stage,” he says.

You need different acoustics in a venue depending on whether you have an orchestra or a rock band, and it's all to do with reverb - the way sound reflects off the surfaces in an enclosed space, and dies away.

“You want low amounts of reverb in a concert hall if you have got a rock band in there, but on the other hand if you have a symphony orchestra in there they don't have big PA systems.”

His system allows venues to more easily tweak the sound for different types of performers.

Government-owned Industrial Research Limited has licenced the system to an American company and it is now used in almost 100 venues in the US, Europe and South America. And it's being installed in Auckland's ASB Theatre.

“Around about middle of next year you will have the full system and this will be a state-of-the-art theatre,” says Mr Poletti.

He is now researching ways to tweak home cinema sound.

“We need to build a prototype system and if it does work then it could be a bit of a game-changer,” he says.

Mr Poletti’s work is proof that science does rock.

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