Museum Tools History
Museum Tools originated the concept of focused sound 20 years ago. Since then, many companies have produced similar products, but we believe no one has equaled our quality, design or service. All reflected speakers work on the same principle, are affected by the quality of the recording and the noise levels in the room, and will succeed or fail depending on the balance of these two factors. That said, however, we believe that the Secret Sound® speaker’s track record and customer satisfaction speaks for itself.
Museum Tools is now an MSE Audio company, along with Induction Dynamics, Phase Technology, Rockustics, SolidDrive, and SoundTube. Museum Tools products can be purchased through MSE Audio’s global network of commercial dealers.
Secret Sound® Speakers
Secret Sound® is a museum-quality parabolic speaker which projects a focused beam of sound onto any exhibit without distracting audio spillover. It was designed by museum professionals to be easily installed, ceiling mounted at any height, and maintenance free, and has been in use by major institutions around the world since 1986.
The speaker housing combines reduced size and elegant design with high-tech materials and performance. Only slightly larger than a baseball, the molded-composite housing provides a strong, clean sound ideally suited for all audio presentations. The composite construction combines strength and durability with improved damping. Secret Sound® is available with a choice of three parabolas: clear, black or white. All units are in stock and can be shipped within 24 hours of our receipt of your order. Secret Sound® speakers will work with any amplified sound source, including laser disc players, CD, and computers.
The Secret Sound® speakers have been designed to be extremely versatile. They can deliver focused sound to a wide variety of interpretive situations, and they offer many mounting options. Secret Sound® speakers are most often mounted from the ceiling using a rigid metal conduit. Mounting height can be from 8 to 20+ feet off the floor. The speakers can also be mounted flush into a dropped ceiling, or be completely hidden above a loose-weave fabric panel.
Other installation options include aiming the Secret Sound® speakers at an angle to create dramatic audio affects. Several can be aimed to converge at a single spot, or they can be mounted horizontally, creating an invisible “audio threshold” into an exhibit space. Horizontal beams of focused sound can also be used to create “zones” of sound for listeners of different heights, including specialized sound effects for children.
The principles of reflected sound can be demonstrated in an interactive way using Secret Sound® speakers mounted so they can be aimed by the users themselves. Any exhibit will be enriched by the pin-point audio experience of Secret Sound®.
Secret Sound® speakers have an impedance of four ohms, and a frequency response of 200hz to 18Khz, but operate most effectively with a sharp roll-off below 500 Hz. This bandwidth provides the best balance between the focused sound and planthe ambient noise of the room. In noisier rooms, a broader bandwidth can be used without noticeable spillover. Conversely, a very quiet space with hard surfaces will require a higher bandwidth in order to reduce the perception of sound beyond the beam of reflected sound. In either situation, however, the sound experienced beneath the Secret Sound® will be sharp, clear and understandable no matter what else is happening in the room.
Secret Sound® speakers weight less than ten pounds, and can be assembled without tools. They ship up to four per carton with a dimensional weight of 56 pounds.
What is the best height to mount the Secret Sound® speakers?
Most Secret Sound® speakers are mounted from 8-10 feet above the floor, but they perform well up to 20 feet or higher. There will be a slight increase in the coverage of the beam of sound the further the speaker gets from the listener.
How many people can listen to each speaker at a time?
Under ideal conditions (noisy room, master recording with sharp roll-off below 500 Hz) the “spot” of sound at the floor will accommodate about 2 listeners. Two chairs placed side by side will both be within the beam of sound from one Secret Sound® speaker. Wider coverage may occur in situations where the room is very quiet and the recording has lots of low frequency (bass) and volume fluctuation. Additional coverage can also be achieved by mounting the speakers horizontally so they wash over listeners on a bench, in a row of seats, or standing in a line. This requires an absorbent surface at the end of the beam to stop the beam from extending on into other areas. (These beams can project 80 – 200 feet, and bounce off walls and other hard surfaces, causing interesting but sometimes unwanted effects.)
Are these speakers amplified?
No, you will need an amplified sound source for these speakers to work. They require only a small amount of power, however, and large amps can damage the speakers. About 6-8 watts of power is adequate for the Secret Sound® speakers.
What kind of player will I need?
Secret Sound® speakers will play using any sound source, including CD player, digital recorders, DVD layers and computers.
Is this speaker stereo?
No. We decided when we created the Secret Sound® speaker 20 years ago that it needed to be durable, elegant and versatile: museum quality. We felt then and still do that there is inadequate separation to make focused stereo anything other than a novelty, and the loss of versatility was not worth it. A stereo speaker has two sound sources converging on the listener in a “sweet spot” of stereo. This sweet spot must be a fixed distance from the listener, meaning that the speaker can only be mounted at one height off the floor. Also, the fixed spot of stereo can be too high for children or listeners in wheelchairs.
How soon after ordering can I receive my speakers?
We ship within 48 hours of receipt of your order.