The new Blue Planet in Kastrup, Denmark, is Europe’s second largest aquarium, and it has won accolades not only for its variety of marine life, but also for its striking whirlpool-inspired architecture and imaginative application of audio technology.
To support an immersive undersea experience, more than 400 tracks of custom-recorded audio are mixed, timed, and processed through a Meyer Sound D-Mitri digital audio platform. The audio is then distributed to 57 self-powered Meyer Sound loudspeakers installed throughout the exhibit areas.
“In most aquariums the underwater experience remains apart and behind glass,” says Arne Kvorning of exhibit designers Kvorning Design and Kommunikation. “At The Blue Planet, the underwater experience comes out and surrounds the audience, due in large part to the sound and lighting design.”
Anders Jørgensenof Kastrup-based AV consulting and integration firm Stouenborg served as both sound designer and project manager for the installation. Working in close collaboration with Kvorning Design and Kommunikation, Jørgensen seamlessly integrated a variety of unique soundscapes with corresponding lighting and visual effects in each exhibit area.
The D-Mitri system was at the heart of the concept, managing all audio functions and show control commands for Coolux Pandoras Box Server systems and a MA Lighting GrandMA2 light desk.
“With D-Mitri, I could work with an almost unlimited number of audio tracks, instead of being confined to stereo or 5.1 surround,” says Jørgensen. “I could load all of the tracks I created in the studio into D-Mitri and do the final mix in the aquarium, fine-tuning the intricate mixes in the rooms where they would be heard. This capability, when combined with Meyer Sound’s SpaceMap®; multichannel panning software, gave me the perfect tool.”
The audio system includes the UPJ-1P VariO loudspeakers and USW-1P subwoofers. It also features various Meyer Sound low-voltage loudspeaker models that allow DC power and audio signal to be delivered over a single cable, reducing installation costs. They include the MM-4XP self-powered loudspeakers, UP-4XP 48 V loudspeakers, and MM-10 subwoofers.
“The sound design in the exhibit areas works in harmony with the subdued lighting inside the tank, and in the cathedral-like space in front of the window,” says Jesper Horsted, COO of The Blue Planet. “Stouenborg has created an intimate underwater experience—this in spite of a large room often filled with visitors.”
Located five miles outside Copenhagen, The Blue Planet (Den Blå Planet) houses 53 aquarium tanks that contain more than 20,000 fish and other aquatic life. The Danish architectural firm 3XN designed the building, with acoustical design provided by Gade & Mortensen Akustik A/S.