Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre in Whitehorse improves acoustics

The Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre says $180,000 in renovations will make the acoustics better for live performances.

$180K in renovations will mean better sound quality

Patrick Matheson says visitors might not immediately see the result of $180,000 renovations. But they'll hear the difference. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

The Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre in Whitehorse is making some renovations to fix acoustic problems in its main hall.

The building opened in 2012 but operations manager Patrick Matheson says its high ceilings and smooth walls caused a problem.

"The effect was too much echo, too much reverb," he says. "People had a really hard time understanding each other."

New acoustic panels have been installed in the main room called the longhouse. The room is often used for drum dancing and hosted last year's Akada Festival in Whitehorse.

The room is also rented for conferences, weddings and concerts such as the city's annual Chinese New Year celebration.

"It’s always been a challenge in the last two years when we had live music with a lot of amplitude: lots of drums and singing. It was a challenging room to mix in, it was a challenging room for the artist and the audience," Matheson says.

An acoustic engineer studied the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre to determine how waves bounce around the rooms. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

New acoustic panels 

The Kwanlin Dun Cultural Society recently hired an acoustic engineer who recommended installing the audio panels. 

These rectangular panels cover the entire wall of the long house and help diffuse the sound waves.

"The panels have grooves and holes, which allow certain frequencies to be absorbed and certain frequencies to be reflected back. And behind the panels is four to five inches of acoustic insulation to assure we are deadening and the frequencies we don't need," says Matheson.

Renovations have cost about $180,000 so far. The centre will install similar panels in a multipurpose room which is used for smaller events. 

Matheson says it's already making a big difference.

"The acoustical upgrades and these renovations will allow us and our local producers and presenters to have live music in this room."

The cultural centre is hosting a Chinese New Years' concert on Feb. 14 and Yellowknife-based artist Leela Gilday on Feb. 27.


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