Crowd Noise

As you may have noticed from my home page photo, I’m very interested in crowd noise at sporting events. This is a side project of mine that has developed since 2007. Crowd noise, especially at football games, is often discussed in the mainstream media as a factor in the outcomes of games. However, there is very little quantitative scientific data on actual noise levels in stadiums during games. Additionally, the measurements that are available are usually recorded at a single location, which doesn’t give an accurate picture of sound level map over the entire field of play. My research aims to fill in these gaps and associate real numbers with the crowd noise effect. Here I’m getting a little help from the NIttany Lion while making some sound measurements.


In 2009 I gathered a group of students and faculty from the Graduate Program in Acoustics at Penn State and made simultaneous measurements around the field over the course of an entire PSU football game. The students then compiled all the data into a great video that shows the sound pressure levels at different points in the stadium in relation to which team was in possession of the ball. See the video of the first half of the PSU-Iowa game below.


We also have made several high-fidelity recordings of crowd noise.  Here are a few of my favorite examples. This will give you a feel for what it’s like to be on the sidelines during a game.





The results of these measurements have been published in many places across the web. See my Media section for more links. Here are some professional papers I have written on the subject:

  1. Andrew Barnard, Scott Porter, Jason Bostron, Ryan terMeulen, Stephen Hambric, “Evaluation of crowd noise levels during college football games,” Noise Control Eng. J., 59(6), 667-680, (2011).
  2. Andrew Barnard, Philip Gillett, Kamal Idrisi, Stephen Hambric, Marty Johnson, “Noise levels during college football games and associated effects on players and fans,” Proc. of 2008 ASME NCAD Conference, NCAD2008-73012, Dearborn, MI, (2008).
  3. Andrew Barnard, Stephen Hambric, Steve Porter, “Evaluation of crowd noise in Beaver Stadium during a 2009 Penn State football game,” Proc. of Noise-Con2010, Baltimore, MD, (2010).
  4. Andrew Barnard, Stephen Hambric, Steve Porter, “Evaluation of crowd noise in Beaver Stadium during a 2009 Penn State football game,” Acoustical Society of America Lay Paper,, (2010).


Below are a few pictures of our stadium noise measurements over the years.

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