Guide to Museum Audio Tour Equipment & Which to Choose

We’ve seen mobile app technology make major changes across every facet of our personal and professional lives. Museum audio tour equipment is no different. 

Rented audio devices have become outdated, particularly in the post-2020 world where museums want to cater to visitors’ expectations for touch-free experiences.

Even before the pandemic, museums were rapidly replacing old audio tour equipment with mobile tour guides that can be easily consumed on visitors’ own devices. 

Mobile apps are not only more sanitary, but they also provide a consistent, high-quality experience for consuming multimedia content. 

In this guide to museum audio tour equipment, we dive into the three main options for creating self-serve tours, from modern to traditional.

Option 1: Museum audio tours on visitors’ mobile devices

The first option is now the most popular choice, regardless of a museum’s size or operating budget. In recent years, it has become increasingly affordable to launch your mobile application because of the advent of no-code technology.

What’s more, mobile technology is known to positively impact the visitor experience. Visitors enjoy using their own devices to explore. 

Pros and cons

  • Pros: With a modern app-building platform, you can launch an audio tour app without coding in-house or hiring a development agency. Create multimedia and multilanguage experiences and allow visitors to use their own devices and continue to engage with your content after their visit. You can also use your app to sell memberships or add-on experiences. 
  • Cons: Apps do require wifi, but the vast majority of museums have consistent wifi access. If your museum is remote, or if you’re looking for audio equipment for a park, you can encourage visitors to download the tours to their devices before they head out hiking. 

Software and hardware requirements

To launch an audio tour app, you don’t need any special hardware. You can test the app with your mobile phone. Your mobile app could be a native app present in the app stores, or it could function as a mobile website with no downloading required.

You’ll want to create handouts and signage with the URL and/or QR code for finding your app. This will increase usage from your on-site visitors.

As for software, choose an app builder specific to museum audio tours. This will make it faster for your team to customize than if you used a generic app builder.

Keep in mind that visitors won’t always have their Air Pods and earbuds in their backpacks, so you might want to consider renting, providing, or selling headphones (the way that airlines do).

Example solution: STQRY Apps 

With STQRY Apps, you can launch a location-based audio guide app. The hardest part will be sourcing the content: the audio tracks, images, and text descriptions to bring your museum assets to life. 

Adding your content to your app is easily done, and our team is here to help you. User data isn’t stored, so you don’t have to worry about cybersecurity vulnerabilities.

STQRY Apps is our product designed for launching native mobile apps, while STQRY Guide is a little more affordable, as you can offer a mobile website or host your content in our app instead.

Option 2: Museum audio tours on your mobile device

The second option is frequently used in combination with Option 1. If you have elderly or very young visitors who don’t have their own mobile devices, then you might want to consider using the same mobile strategy—but with on-site devices. 

You could have a small fleet of mobile phones and tablets available for rent or free use.

Pros and cons

  • Pros: You get the best of both worlds: rentable devices running modern, multimedia content. This option is more affordable than traditional audio equipment because it’s easy to source late-model phones and tablets.
  • Cons: If you only use this option and don’t also launch content for use on visitors’ own devices, some visitors might be frustrated, particularly if they’re germ-conscious. 

Software and hardware requirements

85% of Americans own a smartphone, so you won’t need to purchase very many devices. You also don’t need the newest iPhones or a data plan for these devices. All you need are late-model phones and tablets. If your museum is a 501c3, you might be able to get a donation from a local wireless retailer. Or, purchase refurbished devices at a low cost. 

Make sure you choose a software provider that will help you offer a consistent experience so that people using your devices will enjoy the same content as people using their own devices. 

Example solution: STQRY Fleet

With STQRY Fleet, you can offer audio tours with on-site tablets and mobile phones.

The platform works with:

  • iOS devices
  • Android devices
  • Devices with an up-to-date web browser

Option 3: Traditional museum audio tour equipment

The third option is to use traditional audio tour equipment. These devices don’t require internet access, but they tend to be a little clunky. And of course, someone needs to be sanitizing them in between uses. 

Pros and cons

  • Pros: Older visitors will be accustomed to renting and using traditional devices, and might expect or prefer it. These devices don’t require wifi. 
  • Cons: It’s very expensive to purchase enough devices for all of the visitors who want to consume your content at their own pace. Because these sorts of devices are outdated, their software might be as well—making it challenging to deploy new content across your entire fleet.

Software and hardware requirements

There are a lot of different options when it comes to traditional museum audio tour equipment. You could purchase a fleet of hand-held, audio-only devices. Or, you could opt for hand-held multimedia devices that can play video files and display images as well. 

The devices you purchase will come with their own software and operating systems. Make sure to test these to validate the user experience before moving forward.

Example solution: Orpheo

Orpheo provides a variety of audio tour equipment designed for museums, including hand-held audio devices, tour guide systems for groups, and multimedia guide devices that don’t require wifi. 

Considering that 85% of Americans own smartphones and you likely have wifi on site, these products aren’t necessary for most museums.

You can provide a modern, high-quality audio experience using mobile devices and tablets. 

The final word? Use an app-building platform that puts your content center stage.

Looking for modern audio tour equipment? The answer is in the palm of your hand. Learn how to launch a beautiful mobile tour app with STQRY.