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Lewis Sound And Video Brings Surround Sound To Milwaukee Museum

MILWAUKEE, WI—“Our guiding light was cutting edge,” said Henry Lewis of Lewis Sound and Video of the AV systems at Discovery World in Milwaukee, WI. “We and the other contractors were told to use the very latest and the very best technology, to the point where we redesigned our systems more than once to take advantage of new developments.”

A museum, a school, a conference center, and a technology showcase, Discovery World is one of the most interesting and impressive facilities built in the Midwest in recent years. Among other things, it includes two high-definition digital theaters using 18,000-lumen Christie CP2000X projectors, 21- to 27-foot-wide screens, and Crestron C2N-DAP8 surround sound processors.

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Milwaukee’s Discovery World features two high-definition digital theaters using 18,000-lumen Christie CP2000X projectors and 21- to 27-foot-wide screens.

Lewis said he did extensive computer modeling in designing the sound systems for the theaters using EASE software. “Because of the intimate nature of the theater spaces, loudspeaker placement was critical. The seating goes very close to the back wall and to the side walls, so we had to very carefully place the surround loudspeakers so they weren’t too hot to somebody sitting right in the back row, but they reached out into the middle of the space.”

When it came time to choose a surround sound processor for the project, Lewis said he chose Crestron for two reasons. “First, I’m very comfortable with that system. It’s a very solid piece from a strong manufacturer.” The sound systems typically run seven hours a day, six days a week. Lewis needed a processor that would hold up to that type of use for years on end.

The other reason was that the Crestron processor could be programmed to sense the type of signal coming into its digital input and output a different mix of levels for each. “The difference between a Dolby source and a DTS is small, but significant,” Lewis explained. “Our goal at Discovery World was to give the audience the audio the producer intended, and to do so the sound always has to be shaped to the conditions and materials in each room. We might make the rear speakers a little hotter with DTS, for example, or perhaps lower the level a bit for the center channel with Dolby.”

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In the Innovation Theater, the Crestron touchpanel serves as a preview monitor for the various video sources.

The biggest value of this feature at Discovery World was in setting up pre-show background music. “We definitely want a different setup for CD-based music than for DVD or Blu-ray video,” Lewis noted. “The music is stereo, but we want a sound on par with surround. With the Crestron, we were able to take the sound to all of the speakers, emphasizing the front left and right but also bringing in the rear speakers to add warmth.” The nice thing about the C2N-DAP8 processor is that it’s automatic. “It detects the type of source and deals with it. It made the setup and control on the audio side very easy.”

Lewis also used Crestron controls in each of the theaters, with a 15-inch touchpanel in each control room. “These systems are complex and encompassing, controlling source selection, source management—play, pause, and stop—and volume controls.” In one space, the Innovation Theater, Lewis included a digital mixing console, but in the other the operator can adjust the mix using the touchpanel to control a digital signal processor. In the Innovation Theater, the touchpanel serves as a preview monitor for the various video sources as well. “At the end of the day,” Lewis said, “we’ve been very comfortable with the capability and the stability of the Crestron products. I have Crestron systems out there that are 10-15 years old yet are still working perfectly. We’ve had a long and agreeable relationship with Crestron.”

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