Jean-Louis Gassee talks about the new Palo Alto Apple Store’s acoustic problems:
‘Now you know the real reason for Browett’s firing’, a friend said, half-seriously. ‘How can you spend North of $15M on such a strategically placed, symbolic store, complete with Italian stone hand-picked by Jobs himself…and give no consideration to the acoustics? It’s bad for customers, it’s bad for the staff, it’s bad for business, and it’s bad for the brand. Apple appears to be more concerned with style than with substance!’
The sound problem stems from a combination of the elongated “Great Hall”, parallel walls, and reflective building materials. The visually striking glass roof becomes a veritable parabolic sound mirror. There isn’t a square inch of sound-absorbing material in the entire place.
As someone who studied sound engineering to an extent in my younger years, and even when recording podcasts, I’m surprised nobody saw the likely problems with the shape of store earlier (the ceiling being curved is the biggest issue).