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Yamaha helps millions of Pompeii visitors to relieve the past

Nov, 2010

For the past 400 years the Roman city of Pompeii has been one of Italy’s top tourist attractions. Famously buried under volcanic ash for over 1500 years, since 1599 the remarkably-preserved city has been being excavated, revealing an extraordinary insight into the life of the Romans. Now, the city’s past has truly met the future, with a state-of-the-art Yamaha installation telling the story of one house’s inhabitants.

Pompeii was buried when the nearby Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79AD. However, the ash and subsequent layers of soil gave the buried city remarkable protection from the natural processes of decay and so, when it was rediscovered, it was literally as if time had stood still.

Today around 2.5 million tourists visit the city, a UNESCO World Heritage site, every year. Yamaha equipment has recently been installed in one dwelling, playing a key role in a multimedia experience which gives visitors the most lifelike experience of what life in Pompeii was like at the time of the eruption.

Commissioned by the Special Superintendency for the Archaeological Heritage of Naples and Pompeii, the installation is in the house of Iulius Polibius, an affluent citizen. Commentary delivered by holograms of Iulius and a pregnant woman (who may be his wife or daughter, historians aren’t sure), are complemented by a wide-ranging soundscape which features authentic sounds in different rooms. These include street noises, building work and running water in the atrium; the chink of tableware and food preparation in the kitchen and sounds of animals, birdsong, children playing and wind in the peristyle, a colonnaded outdoor porch.

Delivering the sounds to the visitors are 33 Yamaha NS-AW592 speakers, powered by three IPA8200 and two XM4180 amplifiers. Audio routing and control is by a DME64N digital mixing engine, with four MY8-ADDA96 interface cards, while 16 media players with SD card memory provide the material.

The system was designed by Fulvio Liuzzi, head of audio for the Italian Istituto Per La Diffusione Delle Scienze Naturali, working closely with Rosario Gaudino of installation company GR Elettronica. Having worked with both Rosario and Yamaha Italy on a number of previous projects, Fulvio was aware that the DME64N would be the ideal solution.

“There is no affordable substitute for the DSP-power of the DME64N,” says Wouter Verkuijl of Yamaha Italy. “The speakers were tested against two other leading brands and were chosen for their excellent audio quality. Also, however, it was most important that visually they didn’t detract from the historic interior of the house. As well as their superior sound, they blend unobtrusively into the background.”

An important factor of the installation was that it had to be very easy to use for the tour guides. The flexible programmability of the DME meant that guides only have to press a single button for the system to start the playback, after which the DME controls everything automatically.

“The WiFi control was extremely useful, which we implemented using custom user control panels for each room in DME Designer software,” says Rosario. “Before the multimedia system was opened to the public, we had to get approval from the commissionaire of the Italian Ministry of Culture. In every room we could instantly change the equalization, dynamics and volume of the sound from every single loudspeaker wirelessly. It made fine-tuning the system to everyone’s satisfaction very easy.

“Everyone is very happy with the system,” adds Fulvio. “For the 2.5 million visitors each year, it adds a whole new level of realism to the Pompeii experience.”


Products IPA8200 , XM4180 , DME64N

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