Barbirolli Room

Tucked away over a thirteenth-century gateway and at the top of two steep flights of stairs lies an old music room. Part of the Norwich School music facilities, the Barbirolli Room is located opposite Norwich Cathedral in the historic Cathedral Close area of the city.

The space is surprisingly imposing, with thick stone walls, leaded perpendicular windows and a high ceiling. It can be used for rehearsals, performances and recordings. Due to the construction and proportions of the building, it comes as no surprise that there have been problems with acoustics.

In order to address these issues, Adrian James Acoustics was called upon to offer practical suggestions, particularly with regard to reverberation times. It was also important that changes could be carried out on a very limited budget and with minimum impact on the historic building fabric.

We carried out measurements and recommended a series of improvements.

Wall and ceiling panels were generously donated to the school by Ecophon, a leader in the design and manufacture of acoustic products. Two of the wall panels were overprinted in order to enhance the design and tie in with the musical theme.

In addition to the main music room, there is a small space which is used to house recording equipment. This has also benefitted from some panelling treatment, although there are further recommendations which are yet to be put in place.

Recently one of AJA’s senior acoustics consultants Mat Tuora joined director Adrian James to assess the improvements which have been installed. Tests were carried out using one of our NTi XL2 real-time analysers and a brand new (and very expensive) dodecahedron speaker.

A final “real world” test was carried out with marketing manager Andrew Cane improvising a few bars of music on the viola. The improved acoustic now offers a more favourable sound, in particular for string players.