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In an enclosed space, when a sound source stops emitting energy, it takes some time for the sound to become inaudible. This prolongation of the sound in the room caused by continued multiple reflections is called reverberation.

Reverberation time plays a crucial role in the quality of music and the ability to understand speech in a given space. When room surfaces are highly reflective, sound continues to reflect or reverberate. The effect of this condition is described as a live space with a long reverberation time. A high reverberation time will cause a build-up of the noise level in a space. The effects of reverberation time on a given space are crucial to musical conditions and understanding speech. It is difficult to choose an optimum reverberation time in a multi-function space, as different uses require different reverberation times. A reverberation time that is optimum for a music program could be disastrous to the intelligibility of the spoken word. Conversely, a reverberation time that is excellent for speech can cause music to sound dry and flat.

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