SPYSCAPE, New York City

LA_SPYSCAPE creditScottFrances_1lowres.jpg
(Scott Frances)

SPYSCAPE is a $50 million experiential and highly interactive espionage museum in Manhattan that shows the many facets of the spy-vs-spy game through exhibits allowing guests to test their own spy abilities whilst learning about the history of the spy trades. In order to reinforce the storytelling elements and encourage visitors to remain fully engaged, the museum design team determined that sound design, in tandem with visual components, would be an essential part of the overall creative approach.

The technical installation includes L-Acoustics L-ISA Immersive Hyperreal Sound technology deployed across two main rooms of the 60,000-square-foot Midtown venue. The museum’s L-ISA complement comprises over 50 L-Acoustics speakers of various models into two multi-channel setups—in 19.1 and 38.1—that completely immerse large groups of visitors at a time, enhancing storytelling and maximizing engagement.

Upon entering SPYSCAPE, guests enter a large elevator able to accommodate up to 60 visitors and view an immersive, 270-degree sound-and-video “Briefing” on their mission as a spy. L-ISA Hyperreal Immersive Sound in 19.1 provides full surround including overheads to complement and follow moving visuals. A narrator speaks, the voice cosseted by three-dimensional atmospheric pads and music beds, accented with computer sounds and textures to underscore the plotline.


The film and music sound design were created by Territory Studios using a mixture of static placement and dynamic movement within the L-ISA Controller 3D mixing palette to accompany the film’s three-sided screen layout. 

The mix was synced via both Logic Pro X and Avid ProTools to accommodate over 300 discrete audio tracks. A DiGiGrid MGB was used to transport 64 channels of MADI as sources into a Pyramix system.

The L-ISA VST Source Control Plug-in was used on 64 tracks within the Pyramix automation workflow to control the L-ISA Processor.   By sending MIDI clock from Logic to both the L-ISA Controller and Pyramix, snapshots in the controller session were available to keep Pyramix in sync.

SPYSCAPE’s second L-ISA room envelops visitors on an even larger scale. The Surveillance 360 Room is the show piece of the museum: a large, cylindrical space, approximately 50 feet diameter and 26 feet in height. Here, 38 speakers and a pair of subwoofers create a 38.1 system. The system comprises three rings of ten 5XT speakers each. Eight more 5XT are deployed in a smaller ring on the ceiling. Two SB18 subs placed in the centre of the ceiling provide low frequency coverage throughout the room. All elements are powered by ten LA4X amplified controllers.

L-ISA’s ability to let the audio team precisely position each speaker and then apply object-based mixing over 300 channels of audio across this complex soundscape creates a high level of engagement and immersion.

The team designed the system working closely with L-ISA Labs and Adjaye Associates, to ensure both concepts for audio and architecture worked in unison. They found being able to compose music, create sound design, and then mix, spatialize and use dynamic object movement through the L-ISA system in 3D was an immense advantage.

More at spyscape.com

SPYSCAPE Museum Creative Director: Ross Phillips

Manufacturer: L-Acoustics

Sound Design Team: Audio Director Nick Ryan; Technical Sound Designer and Immersive Mixing Engineer Davey Williamsen

Video Design: Territory Studio

Integrator: Atlas AV

L-Acoustics Certified Provider: Firehouse Productions

Architects: Adjaye Associates


L-ISA Controller, L-ISA Processors in L-ISA Immersive Hyperreal Sound configurations

19.1 L-ISA configuration: X12, 5XT, SB18 sub, LA4X amplified controllers

38.1 L-ISA configuration: 5XT, SB18 subs, LA4X amplified controllers

Suggested Articles:

As one of the world’s busiest opera companies, Opera Australia presents more than 600 performances every year, more than half a million people see their work…

The collaboration between WHITEvoid and the Hakkasan Group resulted in the awe-inspiring kinetic installation THE HAKKASAN GRID.

Vote for Live Design's second annual Excellence in Installation Awards, honoring permanent visual and sound installation work.