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Acoustic modelling of rooms and their sound installations has become a common part of our industry and possibly one of several reasons why installations have improved in sound quality.

Recently I have listened to two industry professionals giving strong views on the relevance of acoustic models.

The first indicated that acoustic modelling is capable of giving very accurate predictions. Sometimes the predictions are more accurate than real life measurements can replicate.

The second indicated that sound system designers rely on acoustic models to support their assertion that their engineered solution was the only suitable one. (Both views have been pr├ęcised here so apologies if I have changed the emphasis at all).

I think both views are relevant and not as contradictory as they might at first appear. Most experienced sound designers know intuitively how standard loudspeakers and their placement will work in a given environment. In these situations, acoustic modelling is useful to convince the client that the sound designer knows what he or she is doing.

Where acoustic modelling comes into its own is when the sound designer wants, or needs, to try something less conventional. The acoustic model can really show up the pros and cons and highlight potential problems. By playing with the model the sound designer can try different options in a way that he or she is never likely to experience in a real world installation. This way they may be able to produce a sound system design where loudspeakers are better integrated into their environment or where less conventional loudspeaker types are used to good effect.