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How Do I Create an Audio Exhibit?

Something we often take for granted in the world of interpretation is the process and equipment required when creating an audio exhibit. It’s obvious to us because we do it all the time, but when you think about it most people wouldn’t know where to start if suddenly tasked with creating an Audio Exhibit… this post aims to take a simple look behind the curtain and lay out exactly what is required when creating an audio exhibit…

How do I create an Audio Exhibit?

This is something many people ask, be it for museum, heritage or retail purposes. Working in the field of audio visual interpretation and design can make complicated things seem simple, it’s clear to us how you go about creating an audio exhibit, but for most people who visit a museum little thought goes into the equipment behind the scenes.

In reality, it’s actually quite simple, each of the examples pictured to the right have the same 3 elements in common. They use a;

  1. Player
  2. Trigger
  3. Output

These 3 things combined are behind almost every basic audio exhibit you’ve ever seen…

Edinburgh Zoo

6 Button Audio Exhibit with Speaker Output

Tildonk Experience Centre

4 Button Audio Exhibit with Headphone Output

Het Noordbrabants Museum

Audio Exhibit that autoplays content upon lift up of headphone

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1. Player

This is the heart of an audio exhibit, essentially it’s what contains and plays your audio files. There are a number of solutions you can utilise here however a Solid State player will be the most reliable. You’ll also need to decide what you intend to Output to and also what will Trigger your player (more on those two things next). 

At blackbox-av we have developed our own range of solid state audio players, the SoundClip. The SoundClip plays audio from an SD card, is easily programmed and can be activated (triggered) in various ways depending on the model. You’ll find the SoundClip in installations all over the world.

Pictured is the SoundClip-2. This can be programmed to either continuously loop content, activate content via up to 2 button inputs (in different ways, such as single track per button, next/previous mode to move through multiple tracks and so on). There are other SoundClips in the range which allow up to 16 button inputs…

2. Trigger

Your audio can be activated via AV trigger devices. If you have a purely looping exhibit then you won’t require a trigger. However if you have an exhibit that you want to be activated via human interaction, then you have a few options.

Buttons are always a great choice – pressing a button to activate content is something everybody understands, you can also use multiple buttons to allow visitors choice of what they want to hear. There are however more unique options available, for example a pressure pad that when stepped on can act as a ‘trigger’ and start the Audio Player, or a PIR sensor which detects human movement and triggers the Audio player.

All triggers are essentially the same thing, they send a message to the Audio Player that it’s time to start playing content, it’s just the way this message is sent that changes depending upon your chosen trigger. Pictured is our small PIR and a standard black 16mm push button, however we have plenty more options available on our store, all of which are compatible with our range of SoundClip Audio Players. 

3. Output

This is how visitors listen to your audio. Your basic options here consist of speakers or headphones/handsets. Headphones are most popular because they ensure audio bleed is kept to a minimum, although speakers are often used to share audio with groups or used with atmospheric sounds.

Our range of headphones/handsets are used all over the world thanks to their great quality sound and tried and tested ruggedness, making them ideal for use in public spaces. Read more about our Armour Cable Headphones here.

What’s even better is our range of AutoPlay headphones (the HDH version is pictured) can double as a Trigger as well when used alongside our Audio Players – this means when they’re lifted off their unique magnetic holders, audio can begin to play and when returned the audio will stop.

That’s pretty much it!

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