The Soundsystem

The Miniatur Wunderland appeals to every sense; especially to hearing where we add credibility to the visitor’s experience by enhancing the background noise and sounds of the landscape.  The only drawback is that it is very complicated to transfer the original sound to our models. Completely different sounds are used in various places in the Wunderland.  For fire engines on tour we need a completely different system than say for the ‘Atze Schroeder’ stage.  In all, we developed three audio systems which we introduce to you in the following paragraphs.

System 1

For smaller moving objects with a relatively small action radius, we use a special kind of MP3 player. These players, especially developed in our workshops, are directly connected to the light control system and can play up to 99 different sounds. A small amplifier is integrated on the PC board that allows for two stereo loudspeakers. By using an SD memory card, it is even possible to change a sound very fast without having to disconnect the player from the layout. More and more small objects are now equipped with this kind of player allowing for a range of appropriate sounds.

Ein speziell von uns entwickelter MP3-Player
MP3-Player mit SD-Speicherkarte

System 2

Sometimes we not only need sound for an action but also a small video which displays via a small LCD display.  Here, we use modified MP4 players. The modification includes triggering the players that use our light control system. Using this, the miniature actions scenes provide good sounds and interesting pictures.

Speziell angepasste MP4-Player sorgen für guten Ton und ein interessantes Bild

System 3

Frequently we ask how we can fit small objects like the vehicles in the Car System and ships with sound.  There is absolutely no space in the vehicles because they are crammed full with batteries and micro-controllers.

We desperately needed another solution. The Knuffingen fire brigade engines did not pose a problem, since the fire engines were built to a Hamburg prototype. These switch on their horns only when approaching a crossing.  Here we used our MP3 players triggered by the Car System. The American fire engines posed a different problem. They have their horns on permanently and even play different melodies. Since the vehicles are moving all across the layout, we couldn’t use the static MP3 players. They cannot simulate moving sounds.

After long research at the manufacturers we found a computer-based solution which enabled us to trace the moving fire engines exactly. The system is based on sound adapters which normally are used in recording studios. These sound adapters offer up to 64 outlets of which each one can supply its own sound signal.

However, this system does not permit the exact vehicle tracing needed to control the volume depending on the vehicle’s relative position.  In addition, vehicle routes are not always identical – sometimes vehicles have to stop or detour, thus we not use a fixed program.

Help came to us in form of a small software developer team located in Berlin, Germany. The team programmed a tool that overcame the acoustic problems. This tool basically allows acoustically positioning an object anywhere in a room (like surround sound in a cinema) and changing this position in real time. With the data delivered by the Car System it is now possible to trace every vehicle exactly on the layout and equip it with virtually endless numbers of sounds.

Another advantage of this system is that we can distribute sounds all over the layout. However, we have refrained from this as we noted that our visitors became disturbed by sounds where the source could not be located visually or where the logical connection was missing.

Soundmatrix des USA-Abschnitts zur Steuerung der Samples für die fahrenden Fahrzeuge
Detailierte Darstellung des Samplers
Ausgangsmischpult für die Pegelanpassung der Samples.