Genelec Smart IP speakers cast spell in Danish Witch Museum

Ribe is not only Denmark’s oldest town, but home to Maren Spliid, the country’s most famous witch. What better place for a museum that celebrates the witch – who they were, why they were so feared, and the myths and superstitions that surrounded them? 

In order to create the best possible visitor experience, the company behind the HEX! museum turned to the technology experts at the famed Moesgaard Museum led by Johan Ahrenfeldt, who recommended the use of Genelec’s Smart IP technology.

“We wanted to create a complex soundscape for the various stories being told in each of the nine exhibition rooms,” explains Ahrenfeldt.

However the building itself posed a few challenges for the installation team, given its age. While this adds to the atmosphere, it’s not ideal for AV. Many of the rooms are small with low ceilings, and the plan was to keep the technology as unobtrusive as possible.

Genelec’s Smart IP loudspeakers were deemed a fitting solution. “Smart IP technology provides power, audio and control all over a single network cable, and is a godsend to those of us who work in architecturally sensitive environments – HEX! is a case in point,” he continues.

The sound system also had to be clear at low levels. “Our aim was to provide linear and detailed sound reproduction that allows visitors to lose themselves in the experience without feeling overwhelmed.” 

The sound design was created by the composer Søren Bendixen of Audiotect, who specialises in creating soundscapes for exhibitions. 

The design was prepared in the studio but mixed on-site. The on-site use of the Spat Revolution software engine in the mixing process made it possible to map the sound designs and adapt and benefit from the specific speaker placement in the exhibition rooms, independently of standard audio formats. 

In total, Ahrenfeldt deployed thirty-six 4420 Smart IP loudspeakers across the exhibition rooms supplemented by six 4020 and four 4010 installation loudspeakers and a compact 7050 active subwoofer. 

“Each of the nine rooms is set up as a separate zone,” explains Ahrenfeldt. “The zones are managed and controlled via the Smart IP Manager software, which has proved both easy and efficient. We’re using QLab software and a Dante-compatible RME Digiface interface to control the 47 discrete channels and feed them to the Dante network. 

The playback by QLab is triggered by the main show control. “As the rooms are all adjacent to each other with open doors, the audio separation between the zones is very poor. We needed to turn this obstacle into an opportunity. By considering the overall sound design as a composition of nine separate yet interconnected designs, the result is an auditive experience that both facilitates the mood in each individual room as well as providing a more holistic listening experience throughout the museum as a whole.” 

Ahrenfeldt believes that the best audio in this type of visitor attraction is the audio that registers almost subliminally. “The last thing you want is for the soundtrack to start playing and people’s attention being instantly drawn to the source. Ideally, we don’t want people to even notice that there are loudspeakers in the room at all.” 

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