Who we are and what we do.
The sound of the final chord of a symphonic movement reverberating through a concert hall is a thrilling and memorable moment for musicians and audiences.
Some say it’s magic.
Knowing how to achieve that magic combination of artistry and science is the province of the words’ finest acousticians. In its first decade, Akustiks earned the recognition and respect of its clients and performing arts collaborators, who look to the firm to provide leadership in defining excellence in architectural and audio acoustics for the next generation of great performance and recital halls, theatres, and museums.
The firm’s approach combines decades of professional, academic, backstage and touring experience with a sensitive combination of clarity and candor. The entire Akustiks team is dedicated to creating performance spaces worldwide that are wonderfully tuned instruments for listening to orchestral, operatic, and theatrical performances that both dazzle and delight.
Our ultimate goal is to cut through the mystique, but preserve the magic.
Paul Scarbrough, Principal
Paul Scarbrough is an acoustical design professional with over 30 years of experience. Most recently he led the Akustiks team in designing the acoustics for the new Concert Hall at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in Saint Paul. This 1,100-seat hall serves as the principal performance venue for the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and has been widely praised for its rich, resonant acoustics. He also led the design of the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, a hall that has been called “one of the best auditoriums built in a century.” In the fall of 2014, he helped inaugurate the 1,800-seat H-E-B Hall at the Tobin Center in San Antonio, while in 2007 he completed work on Mixon Hall, a 250-seat jewel-box recital hall at the Cleveland Institute of Music.
Paul is currently leading the redesign of David Geffen Hall (neé Avery Fisher Hall) at Lincoln Center. He is also directing the renovation of famed Cincinnati Music Hall, home to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Cincinnati Pops, the May Festival and Cincinnati Opera, and leading the design for the Culture Shed, an innovative multifaceted arts center at the Hudson Yards development in New York City. Since 2008 he has served as the resident acoustician for the Park Avenue Armory where his work includes both advising on the restoration of this 19th Century New York City landmark and consulting on its cutting edge performing arts programs.
Prior to forming Akustiks in 2001, Paul was a principal at Jaffe Holden Scarbrough Acoustics. During his 17 years with JHS, he was the principal designer for the renovations to Severance Hall for the Cleveland Orchestra, the Concert Hall at the Kennedy Center and the New Amsterdam and New Victory theatres on Broadway. His other project credits include the Oklahoma City Civic Center Music Hall and the Whitaker Center for Arts and Sciences in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Paul has developed effective working partnerships with a broad array of architects and theater planners. His formal training in architecture allows him to appreciate a diverse range of architectural styles and to engage in the design process in a constructive and collaborative fashion. He is deeply interested in the process of making great architecture and believes that the very best projects result from a seamless integration of architecture and acoustics.
Paul has focused attention on several specialized areas within acoustics, including extensive studies to better understand how musicians hear on stage. His work resulted in advances that were incorporated into the designs for Severance Hall in 2000 and a new stage for the Indianapolis Symphony at the Hilbert Circle Theater in 2002. He is also a specialist in the acoustical accommodations for pipe organs.
Paul studied architecture at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He served on the faculties of the 1999, 2010 and 2014 Summer Institutes of the Acoustical Society of America and has been a guest critic and lecturer at Yale University. He holds memberships in the Acoustical Society of America and Britain’s Institute of Acoustics. When not on the road traveling to assignments, he works as a train conductor at the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat and is an avid bicyclist.
C. Russell Todd, Principal
Russell Todd as one of the managing partners of Akustiks, is an insightful hands-on consultant with over 25 years of experience advising clients on acoustics. Known for his collaborative style, he works directly with clients and design partners to develop and drive solutions for Akustiks’ major projects, including the recently opened Tobin Performing Arts Center in San Antonio TX, Theater for A New Audience, Brooklyn NY, the Country Music Hall of Fame’s CMA Theater and Event Hall, Nashville TN, the DiMenna Center for Classical Music and Signature Theatre, both in New York City. He is currently collaborating with his partners on the design of David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center, formerly Avery Fisher Hall.
He is respected as a collaborator by a diverse range of high profile design firms who depend upon a high level of expertise from their acoustical consulting partners to guarantee the success of world-class concert hall, entertainment, museum and theater facilities. Recent examples of his work and collaboration include the Wharf Concert Venue, Washington DC, Acadiana Center for the Arts in Lafayette LA, and the Smith Center for Performing Arts in Las Vegas NV, the acclaimed Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville TN, the Kings Theater, Brooklyn New York, Saenger Theater in New Orleans LA, the Peabody Opera House in St. Louis MO and the Capitol Theater in Salt Lake City UT.
In the college and university world, Russ is Akustiks’ lead partner for two recently opened music school facilities: a new recital hall, teaching studios and practice suites for Bard College Conservatory of Music in Annandale-on- Hudson NY and a new 900-seat concert hall for Belmont University in Nashville TN. He is currently leading the design for the Mannes College of Music at The New School at Arnold Hall in Manhattan.
Russ is Akustiks’ designated team leader for the firm’s numerous museum projects and for its ongoing work in exhibit hall acoustical design. Museum expansion projects include the Cleveland Museum of Art and Country Music Hall of Fame Expansion, other new facilities include the National Museum of the United States Army in Fort Belvoir VA, the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico VA, the National Infantry Museum in Columbus GA, the Old US Mint Jazz Theatre in New Orleans LA, and the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle WA. Current renovation projects include the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum and National Zoo Bird House.
Prior to forming Akustiks in 2001, he was a project manager for the Experience Music Project in Seattle WA, the Schuster Performing Arts Center in Dayton OH, and the Hollywood Bowl Renovation in Los Angeles CA while a senior consultant with Jaffe Holden Scarbrough Acoustics.
Russ holds a Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta GA. He has recently lectured at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy NY, Harvard University Graduate School of Design in Cambridge MA and the Yale School of Drama in New Haven, CT. Russ serves on the Board of the Music Intelligence Project Foundation and enjoys old house restoration, sailing, and guitar.
Christopher Blair, Principal/Chief Scientist/Tuning Conductor
As Chief Scientist and Principal Consultant, he collaborates on all the firm’s major projects, focusing in particular on room acoustic design. Chris’ contributions can be heard in the widely praised Schermerhorn Symphony Center for the Nashville Symphony, the Rosch Recital Hall at SUNY-Fredonia, Mixon Hall at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and in renovations to the Eastman Theatre and the new Hatch Recital Hall for the Eastman School of Music, among others.
Chris initiated Akustiks’ service to clients in Central and South America, and has been a key player in the rapid expansion of our presence in the region. Recent projects include the acclaimed Centro Cultural Julio Mario Santo Domingo in Bogota, Colombia and the innovative Teatro Bicentenario in Leὀn, Mexico. He is currently leading the acoustic design of a multi-venue performing arts complex for the University of Guadalajara, as well as working with Akustiks’ Brazilian affiliate on several projects in that country, including a major new concert hall in the state of Minas Gerais.
Blair’s important international projects prior to the formation of Akustiks include his contributions to Singapore’s Esplanade Performing Arts Centre, Lucerne’s Cultural and Congress Centre, the City of Culture in Galicia, Spain, and Brazil’s famous Sala São Paulo, for which he was Lead Design Acoustician and Project Manager.
Chris’ extensive consulting history, in addition to architectural acoustics, has included factory noise mitigation, community noise and product noise regulation, outdoor sound propagation, consumer product sound quality, quieting high speed motor yachts, analyzing vibrational causes of failure, designing home theater systems, and even development of a portable high intensity sound chamber to simulate the acoustic environment of a Saturn V rocket launch.
Akustiks’ consulting practice benefits from the warm relationships Chris often establishes with conductors and orchestral musicians. He has held Music Directorships of amateur, collegiate, and professional symphony orchestras as well as an opera company, and has guest conducted orchestras in the USA, Asia, South America, and Eastern Europe. More recent conducting activity has been focused on working with orchestras and their music directors to fine-tune their performance venues and the way the musicians play in them.
Chris earned dual Bachelors degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Music from the University of Vermont and Masters degrees in Orchestral Conducting from the New England Conservatory, and in Acoustics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has been a member of the faculties of M.I.T., UMASS/Lowell, Brown University, and Yale University, and currently serves on the Strategic Planning Committee of the New Haven Symphony and the Board of Directors of the Conductors Guild.
Anthony Nittoli, Principal
Anthony Nittoli is one of the most accomplished electro-acoustic designers in the United States. In a career spanning over 30 years, he has worked on the design and installation of sound reinforcement, video and technical communication systems for a wide variety of performing arts and entertainment facilities. Some of Anthony’s recently opened projects include the Country Music Hall of Fame Event Hall and CMA Theater in Nashville Tennessee, Boettcher Concert Hall in Denver Colorado, Theatre for a New Audience in Brooklyn New York, and Saenger Theater in New Orleans Louisiana.
Anthony brings broad “real world” experience to bear on his design projects. In addition to his design and installation background, he has extensive experience as both a recording engineer and in live concert mixing working with a variety of artists. Having such hands-on experience gives Anthony an operator’s perspective, which he uses to design systems that are both functional and easy to maintain, meeting in-house production needs as well as the complex requirements of touring productions.
Since joining Akustiks to lead the firm’s electro-acoustic design efforts, Anthony has designed systems for the Kodak Hall and Hatch Recital Hall at Eastman School of Music in Rochester NY; Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville TN, The New Victory Theater in New York City, Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, also in New York City, The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St Paul MN, Auditorio Telmex in Guadalajara, Mexico and the Teatro Municipal and Auditorio Iberapuera in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Prior to joining Akustiks to lead the firm’s electro-acoustic design projects, Anthony was a Senior Consultant at Jaffe Holden Acoustics. During his years with JHA, he was responsible for the design of audio systems for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Hall Expansion Project in Detroit MI, the Schuster Performing Arts Center in Dayton OH, the Marion Oliver McCaw Hall at the Seattle Center in Washington State, the Memphis-Cook Convention Center and Harlem’s famed Apollo Theater in New York City.
As an independent consultant, Anthony completed high profile design-build projects in New York City and new Rehearsal Studios and Duke Theatre for the New 42nd Street on Broadway.
Before starting his consulting career, Anthony was the Installations Division Manager for Pro-Mix New York, one of metropolitan New York’s leading sound system contractors. During his tenure at Pro-Mix he directed the installation of systems for several major venues including the New Amsterdam Theatre, New Victory Theatre and Ford Performing Arts Center on 42nd Street in New York City, the Academy of Music in Philadelphia and the Opera House at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Anthony combines great technical skill with a sensitivity to architectural aesthetics allowing him to create system designs that meet the rigorous demands of recording engineers and live sound operators while blending seamlessly into the aesthetic fabric of a performing space.
Sam Brandt, Senior Consultant
Sam Brandt is a senior consultant for Akustiks where he works closely with Anthony Nittoli and Jordan Lytle on audio video systems design for concert halls, performing arts centers and drama theaters. His current projects include the Tobin Center for the Arts in San Antonio Texas, the Theatre For A New Audience in Brooklyn New York and Centro Internacional de Convenciones de Bogotá in Bogotá Colombia. Sam brings hands-on work experience to his system designs. Prior to becoming an audio video systems design consultant, Sam worked in the field of live entertainment holding positions with the special events department at Universal Studios Florida, scenic engineering and construction at United Theatrical Services in New York and recording, broadcast and systems engineering at Interlochen Arts Camp, Interlochen Center for the Arts in Interlochen Michigan.
Some of Sam’s completed projects include the Smith Center in Las Vegas Nevada, the U.S. Mint Jazz Theatre in New Orleans Louisiana, Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center in Florence South Carolina, the Acadiana Center for the Arts in Lafayette Louisiana and the Teatro Mayor in Bogotá Colombia.
Sam brings hands-on work experience to his system designs. Prior to becoming an audio video systems design consultant, Sam worked in the field of live entertainment holding positions with the special events department at Universal Studios Florida, scenic engineering and construction at United Theatrical Services in New York and recording, broadcast and systems engineering at Interlochen Arts Camp, Interlochen Center for the Arts in Interlochen Michigan. As a staff member at Interlochen Arts Camp, Sam worked on a variety of events and programs ranging from recording recitals and live broadcast of large orchestral presentations to operating sound reinforcement systems for large poplar music events. In addition
Sam also maintained and upgraded several campus audio systems.
The partnership with Anthony continues an association that began at Jaffe Holden Scarbrough Acoustics. During his years with JHA, Sam served lead roles on The University of Mississippi’s Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Hobby Center for the Performing Arts in Houston, the renovation of Radio City Music Hall and Harlem’s Apollo Theater in New York City, the Conference Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Salt Lake City, the Marion Oliver McCaw Hall at Seattle Center, Orchestra Hall in Detroit, The Max M. Fisher Music Center, The Cannon Center and Memphis Cook Convention Center in Memphis.
Sam is a technical direction graduate of The University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
“I wanted someone to develop totally invisible speakers, and Sam was patient with our many architectural demands.”
~ Antra Roze, Diamond and Schmitt Architects, Inc
Jordan Lytle, Senior Consultant
He has already contributed to the design of Brooklyn Academy of Music’s new Fisher Building in Brooklyn, New York; Country Music Hall of Fame CMA Theater in Nashville, Tennessee; and The Gaillard Performing Arts Center in Charleston, South Carolina. His interest in and aptitude for audio video led to considerable experience while still in college. At Ithaca, he worked on over 20 productions as mixer, engineer, or electrician, and served as sound designer for Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and Stephen Schwartz’s Children of Eden. Additionally, he served as an assistant sound designer to Don Tindall for productions of Once On This Island and Rent at the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, NY.
Aside from designing, Jordan has experience in live theatre mixing and engineering of large-scale musicals, concerts, and plays along with religious productions and conferences. He also provides recording services for local choirs and groups in the New York City area.
Jordan hails from Wichita, KS where he first got his start in this industry by repairing his family’s broken television at the age of 9. Since then he has spent most of his life taking apart any and everything he’s ever owned to discover how it works. He also started providing sound for his local church children’s choir during the 5th grade. This interest steered him towards a career in the technical arts.
Jordan sometimes performs as a drummer with music groups, builds custom computers, and spends his evenings exploring the madness that is NYC. He is excited to bring a fresh outlook to Akustiks’ electro-acoustic design work while learning as much as possible about all aspects of acoustic design from his gifted colleagues.
E.K. Ellington Scott, Consultant
E.K. Ellington Scott is the newest member of the architectural acoustics design team and has already contributed to the acoustical computer modeling and analysis of the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum, Brooklyn Museum and David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center (formerly known as Avery Fisher Hall). Ellington joined Akustiks in May 2015 after graduating from Oberlin College & Conservatory and serving as an intern with Akustiks in the winter of 2014. He holds a double degree: a B.A. in Physics and a B.M. in Jazz Studies with a concentration in performance. Throughout his undergraduate career, Ellington played in the Oberlin Jazz Ensemble, small jazz combos and participated in various performances. He also had the privilege of studying with percussionists Billy Hart, Jamey Haddad, and Paul Samuels.
As a participant in the National Science Foundation Research for Undergraduates Program, he conducted musical acoustics research alongside Acoustical Society of America fellow Dr. James Cottingham. His research investigated the transient modes of snare drum head vibration and how they are manipulated using different drumming techniques. He also holds membership in the Acoustical Society of America. Ellington is a native of Staunton, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley. In his free time, Ellington performs in the Greater NYC Area and enjoys a relaxing game of chess. He also endeavors to visit every jazz club in New York City!
Michael Umile, Consultant
Michael Umile is the newest addition to the Electro-Acoustic Department. Prior to joining, Michael worked as a Consultant at Acoustic Distinctions since 2010 where he designed theater as well as building wide audio video systems on multiple projects including University of Wyoming, SUNY Potsdam, SUNY Oswego, National Dance Institute, and multiple corporate facilities in Manhattan. Michael has also given AIA accredited lunch and learns in the fields of Acoustics and Building Information Modeling to architects interested in learning more about the tools we use.
Originally from Connecticut, Michael has spent the last 12 years in New York getting his undergrad from SUNY Purchase in Studio Production where he was head of studios and equipment rentals for the Engineering department and then his Master’s from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Architectural Acoustics where he focused on auditory and visual coherence by building a binaural and stereoscopic dummy head for recording and testing purposes. When not in the office, Michael enjoys working as a stagehand for local performance venues and rental houses where he keeps his knowledge of audio, video, and lighting fresh in his mind.
Jose has been working in the fields of acoustics and noise control for more than 30 years, and in the last 15, has participated in some of the most prestigious theatre design in South America and abroad. As Principal Consultant of Acústica & Sônica, a practice located in São Paulo, Brasil, with more than 45 years of experience in acoustics, he has been involved in the design of Sala São Paulo, Auditório Ibirapuera, Teatro Municipal de São Paulo, Teatro Bradesco, and other major projects.
Jose currently is involved in very high profile projects in final construction throughout South America, including Praça das Artes (Brasil) a complex housing a music conservatory, school of music and rehearsal rooms; the renovation of Teatro Castro Alves (Brasil); Gran Teatro Nacional (Lima, Peru) and Puerto de La Música (Rosário, Argentina).
He has intensively collaborated with Akustiks’ principals in noise and vibration control, acoustical modeling and specifications on several Akustiks’ projects since the company’s foundation in 2001. These include signature work such as the Cleveland Museum of Art, Schermerhorn Symphony Hall, Teatro de San Luis Potosi, and Siam Opera House, among others.
During 1999/2000, Jose collaborated with JHS Acoustics developing the preliminary and basic design of noise control and sound isolation for the complex with more than 140.000 m2 (opera house, auditoria, library, etc) called Cidade das Artes de Galicia designed by Peter Eisenman. In 2007, with Akustiks’ team, he once again joined Peter Eisenman’s team as one of the five finalists in an international competition for the renovation of Jean Bouin Stadium in Paris.
Jose is a graduate of the Architecture School of Faculdade de Belas Artes (Brasil) He has lectured at some of most prestigious architecture schools in Brasil including FAU/USP, Mackenzie, Belas Artes, Universidade de Vitória, Universidade Federal da Bahia among others. He holds memberships in the Acoustical Society of America and the Association of British Theatre Technicians. Jose presented several papers in congress of the Institute of Noise Control Engineering, Acoustical Society of America and Institute of Acoustics and is a Corresponding Member of TC 2.6 (Noise and Vibration) from ASHRAE.