Audio and Architecture Integrate Seamlessly In Award-Winning James A. Michener Art Museum With HARMAN’s JBL Professional Loudspeakers and BSS Audio Components


DOYLESTOWN, Pennsylvania — The James A. Michener Art Museum recently completed the construction of the Putnam Pavilion, a 2,700-square-foot addition to the existing structure that is used for art exhibits, corporate and special events. The Putnam Pavilion is visually striking, with three 23-foot-high structural glass walls, but in order to maintain the architectural integrity of the space, Philadelphia acoustical and A/V design consulting firm Metropolitan Acoustics deployed HARMAN’s JBL AC28/95 compact loudspeakers, BSS Audio Soundweb London BLU-100 signal processor and BLU-BIB Break-In Box to overcome some unusual sonic and logistical challenges. The Putnam Pavilion was the recipient of the prestigious 2012 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Philadelphia Gold Merit Award.

Saben Shawhan, Senior Consultant at Metropolitan Acoustics explained how the architecture played a major role in specifying the audio system. “Wherever you have large expanses of glass, you know you’re going to have to deal with the potential for excessive reverberation, and the glass walls of the Putnam Pavilion are the largest structural glass panels in North America. To give the room a cleaner appearance the ceiling has a series of narrow tracks that are painted black. These tracks house the lighting as well as the sprinkler heads, smoke detectors and rigging points for portable equipment – and the architects also wanted the speakers to be hidden in these tracks.”

Shawhan found the solution in JBL’s AC28/95 compact loudspeakers, the BSS Audio Soundweb London BLU-100 12 x 8 signal processor and a BSS BLU-BIB. “We used 16 of the JBL AC28/95s, which gave us significant output to cover the room. The speakers provide a higher degree of control in the mid-range frequencies than available from any other speaker in this size and price range, and the speaker’s 90 x 50-degree waveguide gave us the control over the high frequencies to keep them from bouncing off the glass.”

The system also needed to be used for small musical groups and presentations as well as background music, so Shawhan needed speakers that would fit in the limited space, deliver clear, articulate sound and provide good coverage throughout the space while maintaining a high degree of control.

Because of the varying uses of the facility, audio processing was a major consideration as well. “We expanded the capabilities of the AC28/95 with the Soundweb London BLU-100 and used a little more processing power than what would be required in less acoustically challenging spaces. For this installation we needed more than just a simple mixer. We never know where people are going to set up in the room, so we divided the system into six zones that can be operated independently. A user can turn each zone down or off as needed, and this helps with feedback control,” added Shawhan.

“The Putnam Pavilion is a high-end space and expectations were high for sound quality. Because Soundweb London is a comprehensive processing system, it gives us the zone management capabilities we needed for the Putnam Pavilion installation, and enables the speakers to achieve the best possible sound in an acoustically challenging space,” stated Shawhan.

HARMAN ( designs, manufactures and markets a wide range of audio and infotainment solutions for the automotive, consumer and professional markets — supported by 15 leading brands, including AKG®, Harman Kardon®, Infinity®, JBL®, Lexicon® and Mark Levinson®. The Company is admired by audiophiles across multiple generations and supports leading professional entertainers and the venues where they perform. More than 25 million automobiles on the road today are equipped with HARMAN audio and infotainment systems. HARMAN has a workforce of about 13,400 people across the Americas, Europe and Asia, and reported sales of $4.4 billion for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2012.