The Experience Music Project in Seattle, Wash.
Seattle, Washington’s Experience Music Project opened in 2000 with a heavy emphasis on interactivity, allowing visitors to personally experience elements of popular music.
Now, four years later, EMP has turned to state-of-the-art audio technology as part of a renewed commitment to making its museum a one-of-a-kind experience for patrons. Via a new partnership arrangement with Sennheiser Electronic Corporation, EMP has moved to improve the quality of its interactive offerings and laid a foundation for possible future upgrades of its all-important in-house audio system.
Recognizing the museum’s standing as one of the world’s leading music museums, Sennheiser, as part of its sponsorship agreement, supported the museum with headphones, microphones and wireless equipment. The equipment, says EMP’s technology manager Brad Purkey, addresses a vital technological need of the museum: “Some of the headphones we had were no longer living up to expectations and just were not up to snuff. By going with Sennheiser headphones we now have very robust equipment that we’re confident will last a long time and will only enhance the visitor’s experience.”
At the same time, Sennheiser’s generous donation also helps free up
financial resources. “As a non-profit we’re always looking for support of this kind,” says Steven Sather, director of sponsorship. “Every dollar we save through donations like this means we’re able to put more money back into educational programs and other needs of the museum.”
The equipment Sennheiser donated to EMP provides a good fit for the type of interactive activities the museum provides. For instance, the Sennheiser HD280 headphones are deployed in music kiosks and exhibits in which headphones are required for interactivity.
Both handheld and wireless microphones, along with associated transmitting equipment, make up the biggest share of the equipment donation. The package included SKM535-G2 handheld mics, SK500-G2 bodypack wireless transmitters, ME4 lavalier microphones for the SK500-G2 and EM550-G2 dual-channel wireless receivers. These mics are used in production applications, such as live presentations and panel discussions, part of on-site events. The new equipment, says Brian Epps, the museum’s manager of tech services, has already proven its worth: “We’ve had just a couple of applications for the wireless products but, so far, I’ve been very impressed with the quality of the beltpacks and lavaliere mics in the applications we’ve tried,” he says. “Very little EQ is needed to make the mics sound natural. From a technological standpoint that’s a big plus that will help us as we stage more events that use panel discussions.”
Another element that the new Sennheiser equipment brings to the mix is durability. In an environment in which more than a half-million people pass through annually, sound equipment can easily get abused. “With any equipment we use in the museum we have to look at issues like lifecycle and how much abuse it will take,” Purkey says. “With a lot of young kids coming through here it has to be robust and sturdy.”
“We are thrilled to be part of expanding the capabilities of such a unique museum. Sennheiser and the EMP are a perfect match. As a company that is focused on new technology and music we very much respect EMP’s mission and believe that this partnership will be another step to introduce our brand to music enthusiasts,” says Stefanie Reichert, VP marketing at Sennheiser USA.
“While it won’t be intrusive, the Sennheiser name and message will be on display in the museum, and Sennheiser’s sponsorship will be noted in some of our marketing events and in our member newsletter that we publish,” says Prill. “But the biggest exposure they’ll get will come courtesy of the half-million people who come through the museum annually.”