Adler Planetarium

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An Immersive Audio Experience

What do you most remember about your last trip to the Adler’s Grainger Sky Theater? Was it the huge domed screen that stretched above and around you? Maybe one of the stunning astronomy visualizations projected on that dome? What about the sound? Planetariums provide a one-of-a-kind immersive experience that encompasses both the visual, and the auditory. 

When the Grainger Sky Theater was renovated in 2011, special care was taken to create the best of both worlds, so to speak. In addition to the country’s highest resolution digital planetarium, a custom 15.2 surround system from Meyer Sound was installed behind the dome. Even though you can’t see them, when you’re seated in the theater, there are speakers in front of you, behind you, to your left, your right, and even above you. Those speakers pass an incredible variety of sounds through the perforated aluminum dome, and down into your ears. I’ll try to keep the “geek speak” to a minimum, but let’s just say that we can simultaneously push over 70 individual channels of audio to any spot(s) on the dome. And we can make it really loud. Want to put yourself in the middle of the rainforest, surrounded by 50 different animals and ambient noise? No problem. Want to hear 70 different instruments from your favorite orchestral performance with the percussion behind you, strings on your sides, woodwinds in front of you, and the bassoons and French Horns brought up just a touch higher than the other instruments? We can handle it.

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Coupled with our unique display system, this audio flexibility allows us to stage some incredible musical experiences under the dome. In the last year, we’ve hosted three live musical performances in the Grainger Sky Theater; and this Friday, September 27, we’ll have our fourth. Last summer, the Adler’s newest exhibit, The Universe: A Walk Through Space and Time opened to the public. Walking through the exhibit, you’ll hear music composed by local musician Benn Jordan. Earlier this year, we again collaborated with Benn on the score to our newest planetarium show, Cosmic Wonder. And on Friday, Benn will be performing two shows in the Grainger Sky Theater under his occasional pseudonym, The Flashbulb. Each show will consist of a live musical performance of Cosmic Wonder, followed by a solo set featuring Benn’s innovative Treefield visualization system, and the Adler’s high-contrast, 8K full dome display.

The 7:30 pm show is sold out, but there are plenty of tickets available for the 9:30 pm show. So what are you waiting for? Online ticket sales continue until noon on Friday, and if there are any unsold tickets, they’ll be available at the door. Reserve your seats now for what promises to be an incredible night of music, astronomy, and art.

Written by Mike Smail, associate manager of theaters at the Adler Planetarium.

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