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Yamaha AFC3 system improves Norwegian theatre atmosphere

Paddy Baker 6 November 2014
Yamaha AFC3 system improves Norwegian theatre atmosphere

A Yamaha AFC3 system has recently been installed to help overcome the dry acoustic of the main performance space at Riksteatret in Oslo’s Nydalen district.

Established in 1949, Riksteatret is Norway’s national touring theatre and an offshoot of the Norwegian government’s Ministry of Culture. Riksteatret stages shows in 70 venues around Norway, its mission being to ensure that nobody has to travel for more than an hour to one of its productions. Productions are developed and previewed in two venues at its Nydalen headquarters, the 300-seat Store Gull (Large Gold) and 120-seat Lille Gull (Little Gold).

Formerly a television studio, Store Gull had a very dry acoustic response, the reverb time being as little as 0.56s. Ellen Horn, Riksteatret’s artistic director, wanted to improve the situation and, together with head of sound Lars Aardal, looked at various solutions.

“They saw two alternatives – either rebuilding or an electroacoustic system. The latter was by far the cheapest and the least disruptive,” said Jo Wang, acoustic engineer at Panpot Acoustic Systems. “They visited the Gäddviken Rehearsal Hall, the rehearsal facility for Stockholm’s Royal Opera, where a Yamaha AFC3 system was installed last year. Having heard it in use, they were convinced that AFC3 was the answer.”

AFC3 works by processing the audio captured by carefully positioned ambient microphones and ‘recycling’ it through loudspeakers, which has the effect of increasing the audible reverb times, making an acoustically dry space sound more natural. A key advantage offered by AFC3 is that different settings can be saved as presets, meaning that a previously challenging space can now offer a huge range of instantly recallable acoustic possibilities.

Working in close collaboration with Yamaha’s Takayuki Watanabe and Ron Bakker, approved tuning partner Panpot installed three AFC3 processors, with five Yamaha XMV8140 and one XMV4140 power amplifiers. These drive 50 loudspeakers – 24 ceiling speakers and four flatpanel speakers at the mixing desk position for reverb, plus 18 wall units and four subs for early reflection, reverb and 7:1 surround.

The system was programmed with seven presets, which accommodate a range of different performances, both acoustic and amplified.

“In room acoustics we often talk about the importance of the ‘acoustic connection’ between artist and audience. The stage and audience area must be in the same acoustic environment for a good live experience,” said Wang.

“The AFC3 system has transformed Store Gull. It makes the acoustics feel incredibly natural, even with the PA in use. It has created both early and reverberant energy in both the stage and audience areas, uniting the venue into one acoustic sphere. Riksteatret is very pleased with the result. Actors, musicians and technicians are all very happy.”

As well as improving the acoustics of the space itself, the AFC3 system’s adjustable parameters allow the Riksteatret team to simulate how performances will sound in the other venues around Norway that the productions play in.
“They really appreciate the adjustable acoustics,” confirmed Wang.

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