From Russia with Love: Architecture, Sonic Quality, and Czarist Grandeur Converge at Hermitage Amsterdam with Meyer Sound
This summer, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and the Dutch Royal Family unveiled the Hermitage Amsterdam, a multimillion-dollar museum complex designed to bring awareness to its world-famous parent in St Petersburg. Transformed from a 17th century nursing home, Hermitage Amsterdam fuses aesthetic elegance with modern audio technology to offer a heightened experience as visitors journey through the remarkable art collection of Russian heritage. Using Meyer Sound's compact loudspeakers, Duivendrecht-based audio provider Audio Electronics Mattijsen (AEM) has given life to a pristine aural environment while preserving the architectural integrity in Hermitage Amsterdam's main church hall, auditorium, and ambient Neva Restaurant.
"The Hermitage is an exceptionally dynamic and interactive gathering place," says Eric Mattijsen, CTO and system designer at AEM. "Every day you'll find public and corporate events, seminars, network meetings, and parties right in the middle of the most precious historical treasures. So, our objective was to come up with flexible yet uncompromising audio systems, aesthetically matching the architect's designs, and easy for museum personnel to use."
AEM has successfully demonstrated that pristine audio quality is possible even under the visibility constraints imposed by this monumental building. A selection of Meyer Sound's most compact loudspeaker systems is used, including 12 custom-painted four-inch-square MM-4XP loudspeakers mounted to the chandeliers in the church hall. These miniature MM-4XP loudspeakers are installed to reproduce live classical music and occasional presentations with utmost clarity, while remaining out of sight. An ultracompact UMS-1P subwoofer adds bass support. "The intelligibility of the MM-4XP comes in handy especially during special announcements, as the speakers are also connected to the emergency system," says Mattijsen.
At the upscale Neva Restaurant, where many customers are attracted to the luxurious atmosphere, flush-mounted MM-4XP and UPM-1P loudspeakers disappear into the décor as they provide subtle reinforcement for ambient soundtracks.
The museum's reverberant 300-seat auditorium uses the smallest cabinet of Meyer Sound's line array product line, the M1D line array loudspeaker. Four arrays of custom-painted M1D loudspeakers are deployed mostly during corporate presentations and lectures. Three 600-HP subwoofers offer directional low end in either left-right or cardioid configurations.
"The M1D has proven that it's a truly versatile compact array, capable of delivering speech intelligibility in difficult and highly reverberant spaces like this auditorium," says Jasper Ravesteijn, project sales engineer of AEM. "The mid and highs really cut through, steering its energy exactly where it's wanted. The performance of the 5" LF drivers is also nothing short of amazing, providing substantial body, and minimizing the number of subs needed."
The audio crew involved in the Hermitage Amsterdam project also included AEM Installation Engineer Peter van Ingen and Installation Project Manager Martijn van Vloten. AEM was a co-winner of the 2007 Installation Europe Awards.
The Hermitage Amsterdam's permanent exhibitions such as Russia and Amstelhof and Russia and the Hermitage: Encounters and temporary exhibit At the Russian Court feature a wide collection of paintings, photos, costumes, jewellery, and other treasures from the estates of the czars.