The beautiful city of Porto, located in the north of Portugal, is rich in history; with the coastal region changing hands several times over the centuries. This period was perhaps the most transformative for the city with the thriving wine trade, driving urban and administrative development. The fascinating evolution of the city's baroque and neoclassical architecture is directly linked to the success of the wine trade. To enhance the history of the region and the industry, a “cultural quarter” called World of Wine (WOW), with a total investment of over 100 million euros.
This complex is made up of a set of museums, restaurants and bars where you can take an immersive journey through the region's port industry heritage. The scale of the infrastructure is impressive - it's a space full of new and exciting things to do, explore and learn. The space management team decided they wanted to install a superior, comprehensive audio system to guide people through the various exhibits and provide the immersive soundscapes that help make the venue unique. the columns Genelec were the natural choice, offering their signature combination of studio audio quality, flexibility and reliability - the result of decades of precision engineering.
"The project is exceptionally vast, with over 400 Genelec speakers."
The project is exceptionally vast, with more than 400 Genelec speakers used in every space. The brief was simple: build an interactive experience that attracts, entertains and educates visitors on various topics in Portugal's cultural history. Genelec's local distributor Garrett Audiovisuais - specialists in providing complete AV systems - secured the contract and specified an extensive list of Genelec equipment, and the Digital Gem was responsible for creating most of the museum's experiences, from inception to overall project management, including storytelling, multimedia production, installation, execution and maintenance of AV systems. Gema Digital specializes in the development of pioneering immersive and interactive experiences for events, brand activations and museums, with a portfolio that combines more than 2,000 projects in 14 different countries. This portfolio of projects is as broad as it is rich, including virtual reality, augmented reality, holograms, interactive installations, multitouch applications, video mapping and 4D rooms. At WOW, sound played a key role in creating a highly engaging visitor experience.
As Francisco Brandão, from Gema Digital says: “There was an apparent need to use the sound system to reflect and convey certain emotions and settings throughout the experiences. In each space, completely different environments are presented, and it was necessary for the sound design to reflect this change in dynamics.” Also in this line, Francisco Brandão highlights the importance of sound as an immersive component and its direct effect on the environment of a room. As you walk through the World of Wine (WOW), specifically designed sounds envelop visitors from every angle, with the perfect clarity and definition that is associated with the Genelec name.
One of the wonderful things about WOW is the diversity of experiences on offer. The space includes seven different museum experiences, and several restaurants, bars and shops where visitors can buy some of the products they have just discovered. Gema Digital conceived and developed four museum experiences: “The Wine Experience”, “Planet Cork”, “Porto Region Across the Ages” and “The Chocolate Story”, all different in shape and size, which forced Genelec to provide a wide range of models tailored to each space, both from an acoustic and aesthetic point of view.
Nine different models were used throughout the project, including all variations of the 4000 series, depending on the scale of the room. Genelec speakers were chosen primarily for exhibitions where their detail and high intelligibility can stand out. For example, the 7.1 surround sound systems located in the “Porto Region Across the Ages” and “The Wine Experience” auditoriums are exclusively made up of Genelec speakers.
“Studio sound quality, flexibility and reliability made Genelec the natural choice.”
Raul Fernandes, Sales Director at Garrett Audiovisuais, talks about the decision process: “When we were consulted by Gema Digital about this project, they made it clear that they needed a type of speaker that would adapt to different types of rooms and applications, but to be very discreet. Genelec’s pristine sound signature is ubiquitous across all its models, but there are subtle differences in the choices for each environment.” He continues: “That is why we suggest a combination of models from the Architectural and 4000 series, as they can be adjusted very easily to the acoustics of the space, bypassing the difficulties usually present in older buildings or with materials that create a lot of reverberation - which It is especially useful in such a large installation.”
In addition to sound performance, it was important that the speakers blended in perfectly with their surroundings. Therefore, the models AIC25 from Genelec ceiling mounted fixtures predominate in this installation; chosen for their subtlety and versatility, Gema Digital installed 192 units throughout the complex. Amplification for each AIC25 is provided via a RAM2 remote amplifier module, which also allowed technicians to fine-tune the frequency response of the speakers and get the AIC25s to blend into the environment, in every sense of the word.
In other applications, larger models required more discreet and creative placement. Francisco Brandão explains that “in the Civil War section of 'Porto Region Across the Ages', we decided to hide the Genelec wall-mounted active subwoofer 5041A in the scenography, more specifically in the chimney”. He continues: “Similarly, in the jungle of 'The Chocolate Story' we made the creative decision to place the columns behind the wall of vegetation to give the impression that there are animals hiding there, simulating a vibrant jungle environment and conveying a feeling 360° immersion.”
WOW is the perfect example of how museums and other attractions alike can adopt AV technology to enhance the interactivity and immersive element of their exhibits – bringing both educational and cultural experiences to life.
Quantity and models used