What looked like a makeshift shelter outside Austin City Hall Tuesday, with metal buttresses forming a climbable hut, turned out to be a temporary dance floor. Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” blared from flat speakers in the ceiling.
People milled around. A few danced. But many walked away from the center of the dance floor, looking slightly mystified. The thumping music they had heard just moments before was now, a couple dozen steps away, much harder to hear.
“This is one of the solutions we’ve been looking for all of our bars that need to operate and have ambient music until they have patrons go home, yet they have residential towers in very close proximity,” said David Murray, sound engineering consultant with the city.
Recently, the City of Austin invited an Australian company, JBN Sound Solutions, to come and demonstrate their noise-cancelling technology outside city hall through Thursday. The hope is that local music venues might consider investing in such a system – a system that uses plane speaker technology in place of traditional, cone-shaped speakers, to keep noise from inside a club or bar from reaching nearby residents.
The difference is more directional and self-contained sound. The hope is that this could equate to fewer noise complaints made by residents living near music venues.
“It’s a directional speaker system for nightclubs, hotels, outdoor beer gardens,” said Bryan Said with JBN said. “Where you want to create a high impact of sound, particularly a bass sound that everyone wants to hear and feel, but the minute you step away from the system outside of the perimeter it drops off very quickly.”