Meet the man searching for perfect sound

Story highlights

  • Rob Harris designed the acoustics for some of the world's most famous concert halls
  • The best sound comes from halls that are narrow and deep, he says

London (CNN)For 35 years, acoustic designer Rob Harris has been on a mission.

He has been striving to create a concert hall that has perfect sound.
    Harris is the sound design master behind some of the most famous concert halls in the world, including Royal Opera House London, Glyndebourne Opera House, City Recital Hall Sydney, and Copenhagen and Oslo's Opera Houses.
    But achieving aural, as well as visual, excellence is no easy feat.
    "There are quite a few halls which look beautiful but they sound a little disappointing," he told CNN.
    Based in Winchester, some 60 miles from London, he knows the capital's concert hall's intimately. "The Albert Hall was built as a spectacle house, not really as a concert hall, so there are just too many people in the Albert Hall; people are too far away and [the sound] is not loud enough," he said.
    "The Coliseum is an example of a hall which isn't perfect acoustically but it's such a beautiful room that it's all part of the experience.
    "The Barbican is actually a very wide hall but not very deep. What we want is halls that are actually quite narrow and deeper," he explained.
    Harris applied this principle when he worked for Arup to design the acoustics for London's Kings Place Concert Hall, which features a rectangular main hall.
    "This hall follows a very successful precedent, it's a bit like a double cube -- one cube in front of the other," said Harris.
    "What we've discovered is that as well as the direct sounds coming from me to you, the sound bounces off the floor, the walls and the ceiling, and for music it's really important we get these reflections into the ears quite soon, from the sides. And this rectangular form was very good for providing those reflections towards the ears of the audience."
    Hear Harris's outstanding acoustics in the video above.