Raleigh, NC (December 24, 2012)—Raleigh’s Museum of Natural Sciences recently completed work on its new 80,000-square-foot Nature Research Center (NRC), featuring a Renkus-Heinz Iconyx Series steerable column array system in the SECU Daily Planet multimedia space.
Designed to facilitate both pre-recorded and live content, the Daily Planet's three-story visual display runs continually, projecting a variety of presentations, with a small stage at ground level for occasional live presentations. The entire Daily Planet exhibit resides in a massive, dome-shaped room with two balcony levels extending seven feet into its center. The three-level design allows visitors to choose from three vantage points as they take in any of the presentations that run throughout the day.
Rising to the challenge to build a system that would accommodate the space’s ellipsoidal shape were AV integrators Electrosonic, in partnership with Milford, CT-based SH Acoustics, who created a system centered around Renkus-Heinz's Iconyx series steerable column arrays.
"Unlike similar spaces, the Daily Planet needed to accommodate a variety of different formats, including lectures and live performances," explained Steve Haas, Founder and President of SH Acoustics. "The room's unique design and its numerous reflective elements created some unique challenges right from the beginning. We knew we couldn't simply apply tons of sound-absorptive materials because deadening the room too much wouldn't work well for lectures."
The Iconyx steerable beam technology would allow designers to direct the output and avoid unwanted reflections, while at the same time address the acoustic requirements at all three levels.
"We decided very early that we wanted to create three different audio experiences on each of the three levels," explained Haas. "In addition, each level needed to be surround sound, and most importantly, needed to ensure minimal interaction between adjacent levels and the rest of the room.”
The complete Renkus-Heinz loudspeaker complement includes eight Iconyx IC8-R-II steerable arrays for mains, augmented by ten SG61-2R powered two-way systems for surround, with three PN112SUB 12-inch powered subwoofers providing powerful low-end reinforcement.
"The first and second levels each include left, center, and right, as well as four surrounds,” Haas explained. “On the third level, the dome is much tighter, so we opted for just left and right with two surrounds. For low frequencies, we placed all three subwoofers on the second level. There simply wasn't enough room for discreet subs on each level, so we configured each one as the point sources for the adjacent levels, and delayed the LF signal appropriately from the first level, second level and third level. It actually worked quite well."
Once installed, Haas and his team were able to use the Iconyx system's beam steering capabilities to dial in the output at the ground floor and both balconies.
"We needed to make sure that we had a very tight pattern-at least vertically so that the experiences at each level did not interact with each other in any appreciable way." Haas explains. "We were able to get the second and third levels sounding fantastic with little difficulty. The first level was a bit more challenging, but the Iconyx beam steering, combined, with the careful addition of diffusion materials, made all the difference."
After the system was configured, Haas worked with the museum production staff to save a number of unique output presets that could be retrieved to accommodate different program types.
"There are several different modes, including a presentation mode and a media mode," says Haas. "We even gave the producers the opportunity to have a secondary beam from some of the upper arrays in case they wanted a spot effect or some other secondary sound source."