LSBU student's Royal Opera House sound engineering project wins young person's award for innovation

24 March 2021

Eric Ballestero, a PhD student from London South Bank University's (LSBU) Acoustics department has been awarded the Young Person's Award for Innovation in Acoustical Engineering 2021 by the Institute of Acoustics.

Eric's research, 'Acoustic conditions in orchestra pits: are metadiffusers a potential solution?' was commissioned by the Royal Opera House (ROH) to:

  • · identify noise issues in the ROH orchestra pit and provide a technical solution;
  • · create an acoustical improvement to work in the pit's confined physical space.

In the process of trying to find the most efficient method of noise reduction in the orchestra pit, Eric Ballestero has created the world's first broadband metamaterial to diffuse sound, using ultra-thin diffuser designs. This innovation was necessary as there was very limited space available in the pit.

The previous feasibility study to reduce sound levels in the pit showed that traditional noise control approaches were impractical and extremely expensive while having a minimal effect. A novel approach had to be developed capable of delivering the ambition of the project.

Stephen Dance, Professor of Acoustics, School of Built Environment and Architecture, at LSBU, said: "Eric Ballestero's Young Person's award for Innovation in Acoustical Engineering is testament to the hard work and creativity produced by students in LSBU's Acoustics department.

"This world-first research project has achieved results that will help to protect the hearing of musicians performing in the ROH orchestra pit. It will also go a long way towards protecting the hearing of future generations of musicians performing in venues around the world."