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Hands On: Yamaha AFC System

Seth Waltz, principal of AVL Designs in Rochester, N.Y., consults on acoustics, audio, theatrical lighting, AV, stage rigging, and controls for performing arts facilities. He weighed in on the Yamaha AFC System.

MY PICK: Yamaha Acoustics Field Control system

Seth Waltz

Seth Waltz

PRICING: Quoted on a per-project basis; the most recent system we worked on was $110,000 installed.

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT IT: The AFC system allows truly variable acoustics for multipurpose auditoriums. The system creates convincing natural acoustical character with reverb times up to two times the base condition of the space, with the ability to add early reflections, reverberation, and lateral energy to the seating area. Speakers are virtually invisible hidden in the ceiling clouds fully recessed.

WHAT I WOULD CHANGE: The AFC system is a package that includes AFC AD8HR microphone preamps, AFC 2 processors, Yamaha AFC Speakers, and Yamaha XM 4080 amplifiers.

The speakers are currently the only drawback on some projects. They do not have an all-in-one ceiling retrofit speaker, so the install has to be done from above the ceiling. In some renovations this is difficult.

WHERE I USED IT: Glens Fall High School, Glens Falls, N.Y.

MY RESULTS: The existing space had a reverb time that to some degree satisfied the local professional orchestras that use the space for concerts, but was too live for contemporary music, speech, and theatrical use. There were dead seats in the center of the main floor, due to the lack of physical acoustical diffusion. We corrected the room to a lower RT60 as the base condition using inexpensive absorption, and we used the AFC to provide higher reverberation times, lateral energy, and varying frequency curves for various styles of acoustic music–choral, orchestra, jazz ensemble, etc.

The AFC is a preset system, with no user controls to deal with other than selecting a style of music on a Crestron remote touch panel, which recalls the appropriate AFC setting stored in memory. We provided target curves to Yamaha for commissioning. The sound is enveloping, detailed, and warm. Even the underbalcony has a good reverberant field, but appropriately balanced to the room.

This is our third AFC project. It's a tool we like to use to make multipurpose spaces truly multipurpose.

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