Bringing Museums to Life through Sound

Museums haven’t traditionally been places associated with noise. Yet listening, just as much as looking, can connect us to our past, present and future, as well as to unfamiliar places and times.

We constantly surround ourselves with sound. Sound presents alternative, bodily experienced and time-sensitive relations to objects and spaces, which a museum, gallery or exhibit can use to deepen engagements with its collections. With an exceptional size-to-output ratio and ability to cover wide horizontal and relatively narrow vertical patterns, K-array’s installed sound speakers are exceedingly suitable for these applications. Its slender and customizable physical characteristics render them perfect for any exhibit or other events the venue may host.

The Ranch Gallery, USA

For the Ranch in Montauk New York’, a high-profile art-exhibition space, finding the right audio and lighting systems was a top priority. When art curator Max Levai purchased the 24.7-acre property in 2020, his intention was to convert it into a unique art-exhibition space.

The result is a destination worthy of the Hamptons and the area’s reputation as a place for America’s pop-culture icons. Max’s vision for The Ranch was to be a top of the class modern art-exhibition space that will draw on today’s technology to enhance the audience’s appreciation of the art on display. To reach that ambition, Levai decided to work with K-array to design and install sophisticated audio and lighting.

The Challenge
Max Levai and his architect Greg Tietjen wanted a lighting system that would represent the incredible natural light of Montauk and a sound system that would enhance the gallery experience, without being visually obtrusive. It was clear the solution had to be dynamic to adapt to the changing demands of exhibitions and events throughout the seasons while enhancing the colours of the artwork combined with a sound solution that created an immersive feeling for visitors.

The only natural light available was from the skylight in the middle of the main room which meant the quality of light in the corridors had to be of the highest quality available with a precise colour temperature that would work with the various art on show without a strong glare. Max wanted a variety of spots and linear lights highlighting certain objects and filling the room with background light to give him as many options as possible.

Having assessed the challenging six metre high ceiling and low corridors, which can be difficult for acoustic engineers, K-array USA along with Global Audio Systems decided they would need to treat the corridors and hallways as separate sound solutions due to the contrasting dimensions and sound level requirements.

The Solution
The solution was a merging of light and sound utilising the product line of K-array’s new brand KSCAPE. The RAIL system combines audio and lighting into one visually low-profile design. Each individual RAIL unit measures 1.2 metres in length and is equipped with high quality LED lighting; most, but not all of the RAILs installed at The Ranch are also equipped with speakers for sound reinforcement.

In the main gallery of the West Barn, 30 RAIL fixtures are hung pendant-style from the ceiling. 24 of the 30 RAIL are equipped with sound reinforcement; those are arranged in two parallel rows of 12 that run along the long sides of the room to create a full stereo system. Two K-array Kommander-KA24 amplifiers power the RAIL system’s audio components. They offer DSP and 4 channels of distributed audio each. One amplifier channel can handle 12 of the RAILs in sync with each other and can power up to 5 RAIL at a time.

Each 1.2-meter section of RAIL is made with 360 high-quality Nichia LEDs that provide a CRI greater than 95, which is ideal for art, in particular. And, thanks to the customization of the RAIL, glare control is made easy using the asymmetric linear (lighting option) at the right height to make it comfortable on the eyes.

The Happy Customer
“The natural light in Montauk was our inspiration for the lighting system – it is really what makes this area so special and what we aspired to capture but, in a traditional barn, the goal was to achieve a solution that was versatile and could be tailored to the needs of the wide variety of artwork we will exhibit. K-array provided us with extreme latitude in adjusting the lights for the changing demands of the lighting conditions each unique body of work requires.”

Max Levai - Art Curator and Owner Of The Ranch

Gucci Garden Museum and Restaurant, Italy

The Challenge
The Gucci Garden in Florence houses the official museum that tells the story of the Italian fashion and leather goods manufacturer, from its early start in the city to the global biggest-selling Italian brand that it is today, through a permanent exhibition of iconic pieces, such as bags, clothes, and accessories. In addition to a series of contemporary art installations, the Gucci Garden also contains a library, a cafeteria, a small boutique and the Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura—a restaurant by a three-Michelin-star chef. With extreme attention given to creating delicate displays throughout the three-story space that honour Gucci craftsmanship, architect studio PLS Design required an inconspicuous audio system that didn’t interrupt the layout but provided enough SPL for pleasant background music to transport visitors through Gucci’s archives, advertising campaigns, artisans’ images and vintage objects. 

The Solution
Once they were introduced to K-array and saw the incredibly compact size of the Lyzard-KZ14, they knew they had found the perfect solution. Italian distributor Exhibo, with the help of K-array product specialist Daniele Mochi, were tasked with creating a system for each of the seven different zones on each floor based on the different SPL needs. At the entrance of the museum where the ticket office and store are located, a system of six of K-array’s 2” Tornado-KT2 point sources were cleverly mounted to the hanging lighting unit and combined with two Rumble-KU44 subs. 

Immediately next to it, six practically invisible Lyzard-KZ14 loudspeakers and two Rumble-KU44 subs were seamlessly integrated in the cafeteria. For the restaurant, a discreet system which consisted of four Lyzards were paired with two compact Rumble-KU44 subwoofers for even and pleasant background music. Throughout the three-level museum, similar systems are employed alternating between four Lyzard-KZ14 units for surface mount or four Tornado-KT2C point sources to flush the speakers within the ceiling depending on the integration needs of that particular zone. The setup is complete with two Rumble-KU44 subs.

The National Space Centre, UK

The Project
A new permanent space themed immersive experience at The National Space Centre. Visitors accidentally find themselves on a rescue mission to Mars. The team must work together to retrieve important research, survive disaster, and escape back to Earth.The experience combines immersive theatre, actors, realistic set design, projection mapping, spatial audio, real-time interactive content, motion seats and hands-on interactives with immersive storytelling.

The 300m2 experience plays out across four main zones with 10 additional themed spaces allowing four concurrent pulses of 20 person groups. 11 projectors, 47 screens, 45 speakers, 50 media servers and computers, and 15k mapped RGBW LED pixels are seamlessly blended into the intricate set work and woven together under a family friendly, exciting space themed narrative.

With a maximum throughput of 1,400 people a day, the summer holiday space explorers scored this new 20-minute immersive experience 10/10, the next step is to release the enhanced one hour schools mission in the Autumn of 2022. A flight is included in the general admission to the centre and is suitable for over 5’s, although some restrictions apply.

The attraction design and creation were led by the National Space Centre in-house immersive production studio NSC Creative, working collaboratively with a team of UK experts including ABC AV and Audiologic. NSC Creative provided overall project management and creative direction along with specialist immersive AV integration and all the story, content, and performance production.

The Solution 
Anna Shahin, Application Support Engineer at Audiologic, explains: “This was a very exciting project to work on with ABC AV and NSC Creative! The system required speakers to blend in with the futuristic aesthetic, making the K-array ecosystem an obvious choice. The Kobra KK52, KK102’s and Rumble KU210 subwoofers made for an immersive 7.2 surround sound system in the show stopping Tharis One spacecraft room, and the Vyver KV52’s and Rumble KU26 created a 5.1 experience in the Transporter. The KF26 Domino speakers throughout the rest of the system provided full range, crystal clear audio to attendees racing through the rescue mission."

The National Space Centre has a Q-SYS Core 510i running their other systems on site, and its available DSP headroom and open architecture platform made this the best choice to run Tetrastar Spaceport. Due to the expansive custom audio requirements, a media drive and multi-track player upgrade was added to the processor as part of the new system.

Dave Wooster, Director, 2BHeard Limited explains: “2B Heard assisted with initial room designs using K-framework 3D Modelling software, followed by proof-of-concept demonstrations as well as attending site to commission the simulator speakers system. The combination of K-arrays slim true line array systems coupled with their amazing performance led to a system that both visually and acoustically perfectly matched system to project.”

Andy Bates, CEO, ABC AV states: “Working with Simon, Anna, Diogo and the other engineers at Audiologic made perfect sense because they knew the entire product offerings across the K-array, Innosonix and Q-SYS ranges and they were able to balance the right mix of products and features required, while still fitting in the project budget. Also, the simple integration of control of the Q-SYS Core processors with the Medialon Show Controller made integrating it all together a relative breeze. I’m very proud of our involvement in this project and think it is an incredibly special immersive and educational space."

Paul Mowbray, Project Director, NSC Creative comments: “By selecting the best people in their fields we were able to put together an experienced team of specialists all working together towards the goal of suspending the visitors' belief and transporting them to Mars and back on a wild space mission.”

Andy Bates, CEO, ABC AV adds: “Tetrastar is like a mini science centre packaged into one exhibition. The complexity of the show control and AV system is next level to ensure every mission goes successfully even if the participants don’t always achieve their objectives! Every action triggers a response and feeds into a scoring system that gives a unique outcome and award at the end of each mission to encourage repeat visits.”

National Space Centre story credit - Audiologic