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Merging Technologies brings audio realism to IWM Great War gallery

The soundscape is powered by an Ovation server responding to cues from a Medialon show controller

The new first world war gallery at the Imperial War Museum (IWM), London, which aims to give visitors a realistic representation of what life was like in the trenches during the Great War, features a soundscape powered by a Merging Technologies Ovation media server.

Sound designer Ramon De Marco, of Idee und Klang, required a “proven playback system” which would respond to cues from a Medialon show controller and interface with 7th Sense and Dataton video servers. “We were lucky to see a demonstration of Ovation some time ago, and it seemed to tick the boxes,” explains De Marco. “We know Merging well since we are both from Switzerland, and my partner was one of the first to buy a Horus converter.

“I have now had a chance to look a little deeper into the product, and I think it is the perfect product for this type of project. It is great not to be limited by the technology, and we are particularly excited to hear that there are plans for a 3D panner, which will be perfect for what we need.”

Several challenges presented themselves to Idee und Klang early in the project, the most notable being an extremely restricted space for the install and the lack of authentic, 100-year-old sound effects. The site was also in constant use for construction work during the day, so De Marco and his team had to work overnight.

“Understandably, any public project has budget constraints and this was no exception,” concludes a statement from Merging. “More ambitious plans for interactivity had to be shelved and focus turned to ensuring that sufficient audio quality with reliability was paramount in a system that will be working constantly during the museum opening hours.

“The Ovation Native pack was consistent with the budget and was able to easily interface with the rest of the components specified by the systems integrator.”

The refurbished IWM London opened on 19 July. Pictured is the Duke of Cambridge and the prime minister, David Cameron, at the opening.