When it comes to audio and lighting, we tend to see them as two different worlds.
However, when combined together, sound and lighting can elevate an atmosphere in almost any application – and especially in art-gallery spaces.
For The Ranch in Montauk, New York’s newest high-profile art exhibition space, finding the right audio and lighting systems was a top priority.
When art curator Max Levai purchased the 24.7-acre property in Montauk in 2020, his intention was to convert it into a unique art exhibition space. The result is a destination worthy of the Hamptons and the area’s reputation as a place for America’s pop-culture icons.
Max’s vision for The Ranch was to be a top-of-its-class modern art exhibition space that would draw on today’s technology to enhance the audience’s appreciation of the art on display.
To reach that ambition, Levai worked with K-Array and New York-based integrator Global Audio Systems to design and install sophisticated audio and lighting for The Ranch’s 2,500-square-foot gallery space known as the West Barn.
The system design also included a PA system that can be dynamic and deployed for additional sound reinforcement.
Max Levai and his architect Greg Tietjen wanted a lighting system that would represent the incredible natural light of Montauk and a sound system that would enhance the gallery experience without being visually obtrusive.
It was clear that the solution had to be dynamic in order to adapt to the changing demands of exhibitions and events throughout the seasons, all while enhancing the colors of the artwork and crafting a sound solution that could create an immersive feeling for visitors.
The only natural light available was from the skylight in the middle of the main room, which meant the quality of light in the corridors had to be of the highest quality available with a precise color temperature that would work with the various art without a strong glare.
Max wanted a variety of spots and linear lights highlighting certain objects and filling the room with background light to give him as many options as possible.
After assessing the challenging six-meter-high ceiling and low corridors (which can be difficult for acoustic engineers), K-array USA along with Global Audio Systems decided they would need to treat the corridors and hallways as separate sound solutions due to the contrasting dimensions and sound level requirements.
Rusty Waite, President of K-Array, stated, "The main gallery space with its wood-cladded walls and ceilings offered us the opportunity to fill the space not only with downlight but also the option to light the space through the use of indirect uplighting. Adding discreet speakers into the same unobtrusive RAIL system enabled us to offer a truly immersive experience.”
The solution was a merging of light and sound utilizing the product line of K-array’s new brand KSCAPE. The RAIL system that launched in 2020 combines audio and lighting into one visually low-profile design. Each individual RAIL unit measures 1.2 meters in length and is equipped with high-quality LED lighting. In fact, most of the RAILs installed at The Ranch are also equipped with speakers for sound reinforcement.
In the main gallery of the West Barn, 30 RAIL fixtures are hung pendant-style from the ceiling. 24 of the 30 RAILs are equipped with sound reinforcement and are arranged in two parallel rows of 12 that run along the long sides of the room to create a full stereo system.
Two K-array Kommander-KA24 amplifiers power the RAIL system’s audio components. They offer DSP and four channels of distributed audio each. One amplifier channel can handle 12 of the RAILs in sync with each other and can power up to 5 RAILs at a time.
Each 1.2-meter section of RAIL is made with 360 high-quality Nichia LEDs that provide a CRI greater than 95, which is ideal for art in particular. And, thanks to the customization of the RAIL, glare control is made easy using the asymmetric linear (lighting option) at the right height to make it comfortable on the eyes.
For the corridors, the audio and lighting had to be hidden carefully in order to provide more space for the art in a more compact space. Each of those corridors are equipped with 12 RAIL fixtures that are flush mounted into the ceiling with a waveguide for the audio to pass through effortlessly.
To give Max and the team ultimate control of the lighting scenes, music and more, all the RAILs were fitted with DALI control and controlled via a LUTRON Athena platform powered by a QSN-2DALUNV-S DALI power module. For control, it was deemed that DALI being controlled by a Lutron commercial control system could independently dim control each module, the up and downlight separately, and spots.
The West Barn and the two hallways each have their own Lutron QSWS2-5BRLN-WH wall panel that can be used for local control. Each keypad has five different settings which allow for five different scenes—as well as an up and down arrow at the bottom for direct-dimming capabilities for the room that the keypad is located in.
The LUTRON lighting control is also integrated into a Control4 system that can be used to control the lighting and audio in the West Barn and the hallways. A TP-Link switch is built in the rack to distribute the Cat6 connections for the Control4 and Lutron integration. The Control4 system can also be used to recall preset lighting and audio scenes that Global Audio Systems programmed during the commissioning process. The brain for the Control4 system is an EA5 controller and the system is controlled via an iOS app.
With Control4, it allows Max and the team to turn on the lights and have the speakers start playing a certain Spotify playlist or anything like that at a set volume with the click of one button.
For Max and the team, this is the flexibility they were looking for to control everything manually or build presets for various scenes that can be altered and changed throughout the year. Audio inputs are distributed via a Triad Audio 8x8 audio matrix switch.
Over Wi-Fi, they have a Spotify driver which can be controlled by someone's phone by selecting the Control 4 system as their speaker source. Levai confirmed that the technology met his expectations for the space and that it enhances the viewer’s experience of the art.
Born out of the single-minded vision to create the most effective pro audio solution with light never before seen, RAIL is a 1.2-meter line of warm, homogeneous light with 3 full-range cone drivers built to provide a powerful blend of low and high frequencies spread evenly for a high quality continuous sound emission.
RAIL provides a selection of high-quality direct light distribution including Symmetrical, Asymmetrical, Mini Spot, and an Electrified Track with adjustable magnetic spotlights. RAIL can blend into projects as a track-only option with the possibility to host third-party spots. This is a unique solution for a variety of projects where both quality of sound and light are essential without compromising the time and budget.
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