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SFX In Different Area's


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Hi Guys

I've been asked to design sound for a museum.

That are putting together a world war 1 display with sfx in different area's of the display.

There are going to be 5 different area's. that want sfx but all different and to be triggered as public pass through the area's


Was think on the lines of 1 pc with effects on. infra-red beams when broken will activate sfx for that area.


Am trying to sortout what pc card would do the job.

Needs 5 inputs/ 5 outputs.


Has anyone had experience with this sort of thing ?




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There's 1001 considerably cheaper audio file playback devices (from proper interactive display hardwear down to domestic MP3 players and some soldering) that will do this job much better than using a PC surely?


Depends on how much you value your time and and actually professional hardware which can do contact closure to playback is quite expensive. Homebrew is dangerous because when it breaks in 6 months time you find the 'domestic mp3 player' you bodged has been replaced with the next version which is entirely different and needs and entirely different bodge.


The standard solution to this problem would be a MIDI Solutions F8 box:




Which provides 8 channels of contact closure to MIDI conversion. You then trigger the playback software via MIDI. So you'd probably want to buy a USB sound device which combines enough outputs to feed all your zones with MIDI IO.

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Milford Instruments do all sorts of kit that could be useful for a setup like this.

Consider whether they all need to come from a central source, or whether splitting each sound and trigger into a separate unit might make things easier.

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There's a little museum near me that has sound triggered when you enter a number of rooms (5 or 6). Each room has its own system which consists of a PIR detector, the sort used in intruder alarms, attached to a black box which contains the sound playback and the speaker. So a neat two part solution which means each room stands alone.


Sound playback time must be over 2 minutes as a couple of the room have voice talking about things like their childhood.


A PC and multi-output card is the wrong solution for this problem.


If I have time later I'll dig out an email address and contact the curator.

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This is pretty much exactly what I'm doing for The Narnia Experience. Several sound effects triggered by either infrared beams or button pushes by the actors. I agree with those above by saying a PC isn't the best solution...... but I'm using one! That's more because my sound design is quite complicated and bits of the venue need to fade out as other bits start (to decrease pollution in a very reverberant space - there's only one small audience group in the venue at any one time). I also need to be able to lock out areas of the venue when other bits are running (so the beam break triggers don't set off effects whilst the other part of the performance is running).


Multiplay on a PC with 2 M Audio Delta 66 cards installed, then using UHID Nano controllers bought from Ultimarc as the triggers.


Is this an installation or is it something temporary? If it's temporary then my modular control system (I do a few events like this, so it makes sense to have something modular and quick to assemble) works across 3 pin XLR, providing ground, +24v and a trigger line. Pulling the trigger line down to deck pulls in a relay that triggers the UHID, or indeed any other device I decide to build in. Over the years my system has grown to include mains triggers, latches, logic, wireless keyfobs, infrared beams, switches, timers and contactors. It's all dead simple relay logic, but it can build a pretty powerful control system.


Those little sounders Tim linked to may not quite be loud enough for what you need in hindsight. They're fine for spot sound effects like the cracking fireplace, but I've discovered that if you've got a group of people in a venue who are talking or not listening, they're not loud enought o attract their attention and make them shut up. Instead I'm using JBL control 23's and a Cloud amplifier.


When is your project happening? As part of our literature and community stuff we're producing blogs and videos. I'll be making a video blog post at some point about the control system so once it's made, I'll post a link.

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The "home bodge" was mentioned simply to emphasise how low-tech this could be in comparison to the OP's apparent desire to over-engineer this in to a PC solution. There's dozens and dozens of "industry" audio-playback devices which are designed to have an audio file (or files) loaded in to them and which have a simple trigger input to play - it's such a common gadget even maplin sell them!


There's ones that play back a single 4sec voice recording, right up to ones with built in logic and audio processing so that multiple different audio clips can be indexed and accessed dependent on triggers. Every one I've ever seen has been tiny, simple and designed for EXACTLY what the op is proposing. Conversly a PC solution will require expensive and highly unusual hardwear, will be prone to 100% failure (it will either ALL work or it won't, separate systems will confine any fault to a single zone) and will require more active maintenance than you'd at first think. Stripping all the spare programming out of a PC such that it can shutdown/reboot from a power failure and return to show mode, over-ride all the inbuilt desires to ask for user confirmation of any tiny changes or its endless desire to connect to the internet to "update" all by itself, multiple times every month is a major headache in itself.

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For a hardware solution, take a look at this;


Cool Components


It's a trigger module that takes a micro SD card with 18 trigger pins. Name your files 001 to 018 and then pull the trigger pin down to ground - it'll play the corresponding audio file. You need to do a wee bit of interfacing on the audio output. It has a DC offset on the ground as it's designed for connection to a little loudspeaker or headphones - connecting it to a line input will probably damage it. A couple of capacitors and a few resistors should give you a line out. Other than that it looks ideal.

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