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Hex Gets Genelecs

The new Hex! Museum of Witch Hunt provides sound to visitors via a sizable installation of Genelec Smart IP loudspeakers.

Hex! Museum of Witch Hunt (interior), with Genelec 4420 Smart IP loudspeaker visible
Hex Museum of Witch Hunt (interior), with Genelec 4420 Smart IP loudspeaker visible.

Ribe, Denmark (September 17, 2020)—The new Hex Museum of Witch Hunt may be dedicated to the history of “abolishing” witches, but one thing it didn’t have to search for was a way to create a soundscape for the various stories being told in each of its nine exhibition rooms. Following a recommendation from Johan Ahrenfeldt, head of the Moesgaard Museum Exhibition Design Studio, the new facility opened with a Smart IP loudspeaker solution from Genelec.

As Denmark’s oldest town and home to Maren Spliid, the country’s most famous witch, the setting is ideal for a museum that aims to tell the stories of witches – 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, Hex turned Ahrenfeldt, who in turn had recently used Genelec’s Smart IP technology on one of his own exhibitions, so he suggested it might work for Hex as well.

“The building itself posed a few challenges as it’s an old listed building in the center of Ribe,” said Ahrenfeldt. “While this definitely adds to the atmosphere, it’s not ideal for audio-visual installations. Many of the rooms are quite small with low ceilings, so it was important that the technology remained as unobtrusive as possible, whilst nevertheless delivering a high-quality experience. Genelec’s Smart IP loudspeakers were therefore an obvious choice…. We know that Genelec is a guarantee of superlative audio quality, even at low levels, which was a requirement in this instance due to the intimacy of the environment and the proximity of the loudspeakers to the audience. Our aim was to provide linear and detailed sound reproduction that allows visitors to lose themselves in the experience without feeling overwhelmed.”

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The sound design was created by the composer Søren Bendixen of Audiotect, who specializes in creating soundscapes for exhibitions. The design was prepared in the studio but mixed on-site in an iterative process. The onsite 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. Ahrenfeldt utilized a total of 36 4420 Smart IP loudspeakers across the exhibition rooms, supplemented by a half-dozen 4020 and four 4010 installation loudspeakers, as well as 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. Genelec’s Smart IP loudspeakers help us achieve that thanks to the minimal cabling infrastructure, which reduces cost and makes for quicker, tidier and more flexible installation. Also, Smart IP’s harmonious design enables them to blend into any environment, with the useful ability to dim the on/off LED indicator on the front of the loudspeaker. Sonically, their superb definition and crystalline intelligibility enable us to create audio designs that offer a truly immersive experience and bring the exhibition to life.”

Genelec •

Hex Museum of Witch Hunt •