With the work of Wallace C. Sabine on the lecture hall of the Fogg Art Museum and concert hall of Boston Symphony Hall, a foundation for the field of architectural acoustics as a science was laid between 1895 and 1900. Prior to that, architects employed various notions in acoustic design. Previous studies by the authors have reviewed 18th and 19th century design guidelines that were based on the quantification of the perception threshold between direct sound and first order reflections, with these guidelines being followed in the design of several rooms with acoustical demands. This study reviews an alternate metric guideline, based on the directivity and propagation distance of the human voice, which was utilized in several halls also during the 18th and 19th centuries. The related acoustic experiments tested how far sound was perceivable towards the front, sides, and rear of a speaking person. These ratios were used in the acoustical design of at least five lecture halls, four theater halls, one opera hall, and one concert hall, constructed in Germany, England, and the USA. These historic designs, and comparisons to modern measures and guidelines, are reviewed.

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