Acoustics are to a sound designer what playing space is to a director: both context and canvas for their artistic work on a show. Just as physical parameters constrain staging, not to mention scenic and lighting design, the acoustic properties of a room shape a sound designer’s choices, both creative and practical.
But unlike theatre floor plans or lighting rigs, the aural properties of a space are difficult to specify and accurately describe on paper. Acoustics, or how sound responds to a particular space, can be determined by science but are often best judged by subjective emotion. A designer may flag certain challenges and limitations indicated by a theatre’s layout, though the overall feeling inspired by sound moving through space can only be experienced fully in the room.