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Audinate Dante A Key In Crafting Immersive Soundscape At Australia National Museum

Dante network with hundreds of AV endpoints allows for unique inputs and custom-tailored outputs in presenting sound to enhance the imagery at ACMI in Melbourne.
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One of the spaces at ACMI in Melbourne supported with unique audio delivered via Dante networking.

ACMI, Australia’s national museum of screen culture located in Melbourne that celebrates the nation’s history in the medium, recently underwent a renovation that overhauled the venue’s centerpiece exhibition design that includes the application of Audinate Dante digital audio networking.

By employing interactive AV, the exhibition, titled “The Story of the Moving Image,” advances through time, from shadow play to the films that shaped Australia’s cinematic landscape. The exhibition includes Games Lab Presented by Big Ant Studios, where AAA titles sit alongside a curated selection of locally made indie games and a section dedicated to the power of citizen journalism.

While the museum is largely focused on the “image” component of its name, the need for well-placed audio throughout the space is critical, requiring hundreds of audio feeds across the gallery space. To make that much sound work, the ACMI design team relied utilized Dante.

“Traditionally, the space has been known to be a bit cacophonous,” says Greg Turner, a consultant working with ACMI. “Because of that, we knew from the start it was going to be critical that we had tight control over all of our audio signals. With the redesign we’ve installed hundreds of displays in the space, so how do we make sure we’re managing hundreds of audio signals as well? The obvious answer from the start was Dante.”

Michael Cartmel, integrator at Lumicom Pty and lead installer on the project, adds, “ACMI has created a soundscape that requires both localized sound as well as sound that exists as a background across the entire gallery space. When you consider all the endpoints in this system, it would be horrendous to try and do this without Dante. You’d have an impossible number of speaker cables and you’d be hard pressed to pinpoint what cable was for what speaker.”

Each endpoint in the system is connected to the network and sent to a virtual matrix switch. The system then relies on a Dante-native QSC Q-SYS Core 510i to provide both DSP and control of the system through its Q-SYS software platform.

Endpoints on the system are typically loudspeakers – the museum uses Yamaha loudspeakers and Dante-native amplifiers across the space – however, often an input is added by way of a microphone or a localized piece of video. In those cases, where Dante isn’t natively integrated into an endpoint, the museum uses Dante AVIO adapters.

Available for analog input or output, Dante AVIO Adapters allow users to connect nearly any piece of gear with an audio signal to a Dante-connected system — delivering the interoperability, performance, and scalability that only networking can bring.

“The video game consoles, for example, aren’t Dante native,” Cartmel says. “But it’s no problem. We put AVIO adapters on them and quickly added audio on the network. It’s perfect.”

Cartmel notes that a similar approach is used in areas where individuals can craft their own soundscapes using inputs such as microphones, instruments and music software. The system takes the input generated by the user and makes it Dante-native immediately with the AVIO adapters.

The museum is able to bring all these unique endpoints together in a streamlined system featuring customized sound in every location. This provides an immersive experience tailored to where an individual is in the museu or what exhibit they might be interacting with.

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“Despite the architectural challenges presented by ACMI’s centerpiece exhibition The Story of the Moving Image, Dante has allowed us the flexibility to adapt our immersive soundscapes to suit the space,” concludes ACMI Renewal Project Manager Evan Davies. “It has allowed us the freedom to move sound anywhere throughout the exhibition, tweaking on the fly and letting us blend the soundscapes with the 100 or so other sound sources also present in the system.”

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