Haunted House Audio - How's it done? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 2 Old 03-17-2018, 12:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Haunted House Audio - How's it done?

There's a very similar thread like this from 2015, and it helped quite a bit! But I need to go more in-depth, and hopefully ya'll can help out Basically, what I want to replicate is an audio system like you would find at a haunted attraction, like something Universal Studios or Knotts would produce. I know they use multiple amps and longs runs of speakers (likely 70v?), but I just need some guidance as far as how it's done.

Spoiler has the history of our craft and what I'm about to take on.

Spoiler!


We haven't hashed out the details on everything yet, but in my initial idea is there will likely be 6 zones of audio. The main one will be an all-encompassing soundtrack that can be heard throughout - almost an ambient bed layer. This will be played over 4 large PA speakers hung over the entire haunt (which will be housed in a 3200 sq ft indoor space).

The remaining zones will be scene specific, including a kid-friendly walk near the main event, and the number of speakers will vary depending on layout. But I'm guessing something in the 5-10 speaker quantity per zone.

So my ideal setup is a media player that can read a USB/microSD and play a track on repeat. That player will need pre-outs (nothing more than stereo is necessary as I'm not doing surround effects), and then I'll need an amp that can drive the number of speakers for each zone.

My initial findings have led me to a Technical Pro UREC7 (media player) and then a Pyle PT8000CH amp to drive each zone. I know what they say about Pyle (and that amp in particular - I don't know who they're foolin' with 8000 watts)....but that's basically all I've come up with at this point after a couple nights of research. I was also looking at the Lyx Pro SPA series of PA speakers. They can read a USB/microSD card and play a track on repeat, plus they can be daisy-chained together via xlr. My only concern there is that each speaker needs its own source of power, which isn't out of the question entirely. Essentially, everything is on the table right now.

There are other effects I'd like to tackle as well, like a bass shaker-enabled walkway/platform or related scene, but that requires its own set of processing and amplification. I can do it with a cheap AVR and the SA230 bundle from Parts Express, but again, if there's a streamlined method to get it all into an AV rack like they do at the pro haunts, I'd love to incorporate that. Budget wise, I would comfortably say around $5k to do it all.

TL/DR: $5k to build a 3200sq ft, 5-zone haunted house audio system. GO!

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post #2 of 2 Old 11-25-2019, 12:15 AM - Thread Starter
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So I know this is a stupidly late bump, but I figured all of this out!

Long story short, we missed the 2018 haunt season entirely, found new sponsorships, and built a spook house for 2019! I spent roughly $2,000 on audio, which included speakers (Dayton/JBL/Pyle), amps (Dayton/Pyle), music licensing and interconnects (Monoprice). I documented stuff POORLY, which is my one biggest regrets, but every day was a frantic rush to build a 3,000 sq ft haunt in 4 weeks.



Here's really the only portion that should be on AVS; the haunt audio distribution "hub."


Close-up of the brains of the whole thing


I licensed music from Kevin MacLeod and Chris Thomas for the haunt, creating mini soundtracks for each room of the haunt. Those were then saved as MP3s and loaded onto thumb drives. I bought 10x MP3 decoder modules (which can be semi-reliably sourced from Banggood for cheap, or pay 3x per unit on Amazon - I ended up having to do both) that read the song files from the drives and sent out a stereo signal. These modules are USB powered, and I moutned a 10-port power supply to the white panel that everything was strapped to.

The stereo signal was carried to the edge of the panel and then split into dual mono RCA since I didn't have panning sound effects. These mono RCA signals were fed to either BUS, AUX or individual zones on the amps. Some rooms had just 2 speakers, some used up to 5 or 6 speakers. I also had trigged sound/light/prop effects using PicoBoos from FrightProps, but again, none of this was documented

Also in play was a Dayton SA230 amp that powered 4x Dayton Bass Shakers that were bolted to the underside of a bridge that patrons would have to cross in one scene. These caused the bridge to vibrate and groan (though the bridge itself ended up being incredibly over-engineered and very little tactile force was felt). LFE sound effects purchased from FrightProps were mixed into a 4-minute long track of generic groans. I can upload it if anyone wants to have a run on their own bass shakers - it makes my own Aura shakers feel like they're going to burst out from under the sofa!

Amazingly, the only amp that ran too hot was the SA230, and we put a fan on top of it the next night and had no issues going forward.

4x outdoor speakers (a combination of used Yamaha and Pyle outdoor speakers from eBay) pumped ambient music to the exterior for those waiting in line, 16x Dayton speakers were used inside for various rooms. These comprised of 22x B452's, with 4x B652's used solely for a kid-friendly soundtrack used during more tame shows. Some cheap Dual sats provided audio for a startle scare, while a JBL 306p andd 308p (bought used on eBay) were used for triggered sound effects that needed to be extra loud.

It was perhaps a prop controller issue that caused the 306p to be oddly quiet even at maxed-out volume, so it got replaced after opening with an extra B652 and used the controller's onboard amp to power it. The JBL speakers were not fed audio signals from the MP3 decoder panel, but rather from the FrightProps controllers used in those scenes. Audio is loaded onto a SD card and then played upon being triggered (in these cases motion detectors).

I had shot for the moon when I first started designing this system, but I was also a little blind to the concept of distributed audio. I tried to get into 70v commercial systems, but the way I ended up running everything just made more sense to me, and more importantly came in WAY under budget (which was actually closer to $3,000 - had to very quickly ditch the $5k budget after getting new sponsors).

Mr. Pibb > Dr. Pepper > Everything Else
7.1.4 - Marantz SR6011 - LG 77" C8 - JBL 520/530/580/590 - PSA S3000i + S3600i
Oppo 203 - PS4 - Xbox One S - Roku Ultra - Apple TV 4K
385 UHD and counting...
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