The National Cowgirl Museum recently updated the main gallery on the first floor and in doing so has a new sound system. The system is made up of
There are (10) miniature speakers (models to come) located through out the exhibit space.
& (5) Micro subs
(5) of the speakers are reproducing the voice of “Annie Oakley”. The rest of the speakers are reproducing a soundscape that accompanies black and white footage of the Wild West show captured at the end of the 1800s and early part of the 1900s. In a museum, sound is always a concern. Rarely are museums acoustically friendly to amplified sound. In the case of the new gallery, the air handler system has already pushed the noise floor up high enough where I am concerned that even with speakers that are aimed optimally and processed correctly, it’s still going to be difficult to find a balance between too loud and too soft. The noise floor is just too high. I noticed that today, if you’re standing at one of the Annie Oakley hologram exhibits and someone is talking, it’s difficult to hear the dialogue. If we set the dialogue to be loud enough to be heard over talking, it will likely seem too loud when no one is talking. If we set it when no one is talking it will likely be to quiet when someone is talking. Consequently, speaker placement and aim is all the more critical. Today I met with the designer to discuss moving the speakers down lower and more on the same plane as the visual element. AS IS, the audio is already coming from almost directly overhead which is a bit disconcerting when you are watching one of the Annie Oakley holograms speak. Also some of the speakers have mounting brackets that don’t allow for proper aim. I went to the museum this evening to swap out the 1.5 inch “L” mounts for 2 inch “L” mounts. Now the speakers are completely aim-able.
Each of the Annie Oakley speakers is in a different acoustic space. They’re all mounted to a wall but (2) are fairly clear of nearby objects, (2) are fairly close to glass display cases & (1) is mounted on the wall up against the ceiling. Logic would suggest that the one mounted next to (2) boundaries will have more inherent low / low mid content which it does.
The long term goal is to relocate the speakers to be lower on the walls. With a pending grand opening on Thursday, to make sure that all the speakers are aimed correctly to avoid spilling into other parts of the space. Also each speaker should be processed (EQ) to be flat so there is not a build up of low / low mid energy which is omni directional. The end result is that Annie Oakley’s voice sounds natural and the soundscape is a bit subdued in the vocal range to leave room for hearing the dialogue. photos and traces to follow.