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US Aquarium selects Q-Sys for new exhibit

The National Aquarium, Balitmore, US, has had its latest centerpiece exhibit, Blacktip Reef, which is a re-creation of an Indo-Pacififc reef ecosystem featuring backtip sharks, equipped with a Q-Sys Core 500i integrated system processor.

The new exhibit required a system to supplement the aquarium’s existing background music and paging system. For this aspect of the $12 million (€8.5 million) construction project, the facility hired California-based AV specialists Electrosonic, with systems integration handled by Nelson White Systems of Towson, MD.

Visitors view the Blacktip Reef exhibit from platforms on various levels above the 260,000-gallon habitat, as well as below the surface. The exhibit features a new 27ft curved viewing window that allows guests to step 4ft into the underwater reef. With numerous different zones, Electrosonic selected a comprehensive solution based on a QSC system.

The team deployed a Q-Sys Core 500i with a single I/O Frame to handle loudspeaker management, zoned playback of background music and sound effects. It also integrates with a new wireless microphone system for dive show presentations at the new Blacktip Reef attraction. In addition, the Core 500i is interconnected with the National Aquarium’s existing audio system and offers support for pre-recorded pages. A new QSC PS-800H eight-button wall-mounted paging station was also installed at the security desk for live announcements.

New QSC equipment installed at the Blacktip Reef exhibit in the Great Hall includes 59 AcousticDesign AD-Ci52ST 70V flush-mount, ceiling loudspeakers together with 16 AcousticDesign AD-S52T 70V surface-mount loudspeakers. The loudspeakers are powered by four CX204V four-channel 70V amplifiers fitted with optional DataPort output cards, enabling full integration with the Q-Sys Core’s monitoring and control capabilities. A further 16 AD-Ci52ST 70V ceiling loudspeakers, deliver sound in the entrance to the Blacktip Reef exhibit, where large bubble tubes are located. These are driven by a single eight-channel CX108V 70V amplifier also fitted with a DataPort card.

“We installed eight of the ceiling speakers next to each of these bubble tubes and zoned them. They run these bubble sounds through them; we’re using the media player within the Q-Sys Core to play the soundscapes,” commented Paul Stephens, CTS-D, system engineer at Nelson White Systems.

According to Stephens, the loudspeakers on each level around the attraction are zoned to provide a smooth transition between the exhibit audio and Blacktip Reef presentations, which include daily feedings of the animals by divers.

Wireless control of the system is enabled via the Q-Sys Control app. “The gentleman who runs the A/V department has the QSC app on his phone,” said Stephens. “And the presenters have a small iPod Touch that they use—they just walk up and hit a button for whatever presentation they want.”