Which U.S. Arena has the best acoustics for Rock shows?

This is an entirely subjective question, but the answer is any arena in which Nickelback is not playing. In truth, none of the typical multipurpose arenas shared by circuses, hockey teams, monster-truck shows, and basketball squads is ideal from an acoustic standpoint. They tend to be boomy, reflective environments with cave-like architecture and expanses of hard surface area that can turn rock-liveeven the most delicate strains of death metal to aural mush. Though some more modern arenas— and even some old standbys—have made significant strides by allowing for the temporary installation of absorptive materials such as curtains, the sound quality you experience (or don’t) at any given concert is largely a function of the skill of a band’s sound crew along with the sophistication of the equipment it employs.

Speaker placement, for instance, is especially critical and may be determined with “prediction software,” which analyzes data gathered with lasers to dictate the ideal setup. “A big piece of modern sound-system strategy is control of the sound into very, very highly directional beams,” says Bob McCarthy, director of system optimization for Meyer Sound, a maker of concert sound gear. “Believe it or not, in an arena it can be a game of 1 or 2 degrees—that’s how precise these systems are.” Concertgoers themselves also help—people reflect less sound than do empty seats—so packed houses generally sound better than sparsely attended shows. And they’re certainly more fun.