The University of Minnesota recently moved its Bell Museum, which first opened in 1872, into a brand new building that is expected to accommodate as many as 105,000 annual visitors-triple the number who visited the old building. The new facility hosts exhibits that combine science, art, and the environment with a unique Minnesota perspective, including a digital planetarium, high-tech exhibits, and the Bell Museum’s world-renowned wildlife dioramas. Outdoor learning experiences include a green roof and observation deck with sustainable landscaping featuring native plants, a geology exploration area, a solar station, and other highlights. A spacious lobby welcomes visitors and doubles as an attractive event space for weddings, banquets, and more.
With its contemporary architecture, the lobby presents asymmetrical surfaces and a lot of glass, as well as granite floors, which add up to a host of issues for a sound system. “It was an acoustically challenging room,” confirms AV Systems Specialist Troy Werth of Parsons Technologies, the Minneapolis systems integrator that installed the sound system in the Bell Museum lobby. “Because of the types of events they do here, the room requires good intelligibility of the spoken word. These acoustical conditions do not lend themselves well to that. It posed a challenge for any type of sound-reinforcement system. That’s why the audio consultants, Elert & Associates, specified Renkus-Heinz IC16-8-RN loudspeakers for this room.”
Part of Renkus-Heinz ICONYX Gen5 series, the IC16-8-RN digitally steerable line array enables up to four steerable beams to be individually shaped and aimed, with beam control effective down to 400 Hz. The array utilises three four-inch coaxial transducers and five four-inch low/mid-frequency transducers, progressively spaced to extend the length and LF beam-control frequency, along with eight amplifier and DSP channels. This combination of technologies enables placing sound very specifically to cover even the most problematic spaces.
Minneapolis manufacturer representative Thor Marketing Network, working in cooperation with Elert & Associates, assisted in specifying the Renkus-Heinz ICONYX system. “In this environment, we had some serious challenges,” observes Thor Marketing Network owner David Thormordsgaard. “One of them was to minimise interference in other rooms that are in proximity to the lobby space. Sound could travel down the hallway, which would interfere with meeting rooms and such. The beauty of Renkus-Heinz ICONYX digitally steerable line arrays is the ability to steer the sound down to the audience and not energise the walls and adjoining spaces. ICONYX is a good choice for difficult applications like this.”
Renkus-Heinz’ ICONYX Gen5 technology performed every bit as well as the design teams predicted. “My first impression of the speakers was how well beam-steering technology worked to place the sound where we intended it and not on the walls or the ceiling,” recalls Werth. “It proved to be the perfect solution for this room.”