hands up at concert

Where's the best place to stand during a concert?

Front and center? Think again.

April 22, 2019

(KNOU) — Where's the best place to stand during a concert? Front row and center, right?

Not according to sound engineer Dave Swallow, who offered Lifehacker the following tips for where (and when) to stand at a concert:

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  1. Find a space just off-center in the venue. Standing equidistant from both speakers allows for more bass, which doesn’t always lend to picking up the best sound quality, he said. If you’re at a music festival like, say, Coachella, a good marker is anywhere in front of the soundboard where you might find the engineer at work—while this varies, usually, you’ll be at the center of the venue here. That said, if you enjoy a ton of bass at a concert, standing dead-center in the middle might be your best move.
  2. Don't stand too close to the stage. While standing at the very front might be the best for visual purposes (you’re there to see them perform live, after all), if you actually want to hear the show, you don’t want to be too close. “You need a little bit of distance for all the wavelengths together to make a coherent sound,” Swallow said. The closer you are, the more likely you are to hear one sound frequency more prominently than the other. You also might notice a lack of clarity from this vantage point. For obvious reasons, it's also bad for your ears.
  3. Don't stand near a wall or under a balcony. “If you are closer to a wall, you’re going to hear the sound twice, as it comes toward you and again as it hits the wall,” Swallow said. “Our brains understand that as distance.” A sound ricocheting off walls can sound imbalanced, and a balcony can curb your ability to hear speakers high up in the venue that carry higher frequencies of a performance, which might result in a muddy or unclear sound.
  4. Nighttime performances might provide better audio quality. “Sound flows through the air at different speeds," said Swallow. "In the day, what tends to happen is the sound curbs upward into the sky. At night, it’s far more uniform. You get far better clarity over a longer distance."

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