A mathematical model of an audience as an equivalent fluid is constructed with the help of the porous medium theory. The equivalent fluid parameters, such as the wave impedance, the speed of sound and the reflection coefficient from the audience/air boundary, are calculated both for a constant and a variable concentration of an audience. The model is verified by a Boundary Element Method simulation, scale measurements and live concert measurements. A new live measurement method is developed to evaluate the low frequency sound pressure level distribution without disturbing the ongoing event.
The study reaches the conclusion that at low frequencies an audience forms a medium with the impedance significantly different from the impedance of the air, which leads to the reflection of sound waves from the boundaries back into the audience and increase of the sound pressure level as well as interference effects.
Possible applications of the findings are mainly sound system design and event planning.
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