Where is the best place to sit in the concert hall?

3 July 2018, 15:46

Symphony Hall Birmingham
Symphony Hall Birmingham. Picture: CBSO

High quality sound can be one of the most important things for a music lover when heading to a live concert, musical or opera. Here's our guide.

Concert halls come in all shapes and sizes and, along with Boots Hearingcare, we've put together a guide to finding the best seats in the house.

The Shoebox Concert Hall

Where to sit for the best sound: off centre, two thirds of the way back

Many music lovers will shed a tear of happiness when thinking about the amazing sound you get in a place like the Musikverein in Vienna or the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. As the name suggests, shoebox concert halls are a simple rectangular space, but when it's done right it sounds incredible, giving an immediate and enveloping sound.

According to the audiophiles at WQXR, the best spot to sit and enjoy your Brahms is just a bit off-centre from the orchestra, two-thirds of the way back.

Symphony Hall in Birmingham is also modelled on the traditional shoebox shape. The hall, which opened in 1991, is acclaimed for its acoustics from every seat, but try out that magic two-thirds/off-centre spot for yourself.

Want to make sure you're hearing every note of that amazing concert? Book an appointment with Boots Hearingcare for a hearing check now.


The Fanned Concert Hall

Where to sit for the best sound: towards the front

Fanned Concert Halls feature a semi-circular bowl - places like The Barbican in London boast great sightlines, but for the best sound when listening to our wonderful Orhcestra in the City of London, the London Symphony Orchestra, head towards to front of the stalls.

Vineyard Style

Where to sit for the best sound: pretty much anywhere

Some of the most stylish modern concert halls are known as 'Vineyard Style' - LA's Walt Disney Concert Hall, Berlin's Philharmonie and the spectacular new Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg.

These places look amazing and at times wonderfully futuristic: seating surrounds the stage rising up in close rows like the sloping terraces of a vineyard. In a top-notch Vineyard Style hall, you won't find a bad seat for sound - the only question is how close to the orchestra do you want to be.


The Opera House

Where to sit for the best sound: the cheap seats up the very top

The stalls in somewhere like the Royal Opera House in London or The Metropolitan Opera in New York is where you'll get a great sound, and nice close view of the action.

However, Music Historian and Musicologist David Freiman reckons you'll actually find the best sound in the 'nosebleed' seats, high up at the top of the auditorium. He says, "opera houses don't use microphones and electronic amplification, so the theatre is designed like a megaphone. It focuses the best and most balanced sound to the top rear of the theatre. If you want the best sound and possess opera glasses, you can be happy in the cheap seats."

The majestic arena of the Royal Albert Hall

Where to sit for the best sound: in the stalls towards the sides

You will never forget a concert experience at the Royal Albert Hall - 5,000 seats, a huge organ and an incredible history in musical performances. British composer Michael Berkeley has spent lots of time in this mammoth Victorian building, walking around the hall during rehearsals and testing the acoustics at various spots. He says a spot in the stalls, directly opposite the stage is not the place to set up camp: "the music comes at you as though through a telescope held the wrong way round. It is simply too far away."

For the best audio experience, he recommends finding a seat in the stalls to the side: if the stage is six o'clock, place yourself in the stalls quite near the stage, at, four or eight o'clock. You also get an incredible vista of one of music's greatest buildings. See you there for the next Classic FM Live?

Boots Hearingcare have all your hearing needs covered - now it's just time to just sit back and enjoy the music.