Yamaha AFC3 Delivers New Acoustics To The 'Old Lady'
The ongoing, rapid development of digital audio technology for recorded music has had a direct effect on raising expectations of the quality of live sound. Yamaha’s AFC3 uses Digital Signal Processing (DSP) to enhance the acoustics of a space - both in the auditorium and on stage - by regenerating the acoustic energy, which precisely tailors the acoustics to both the venue and individual performances.
Nicknamed ‘The Old Lady’, the 102-year old Parkgebouw in Rijssen, Netherlands is well-established as a venue for drama and amplified live music. But the venue’s management - headed by managing director Jolanda Agteresch - was keen for the 420-seat venue to become truly multi-purpose, hosting classical music performances and, in particular, local choirs who have always rehearsed and performed in other venues, such as the town’s churches.
Jolanda contacted Ferdinand Gerritsen Mulkes of Netherlands-based system integrator Innovation Audio, asking if it was possible to provide variable acoustics at Parkgebouw, which would suit all kinds of performances. Aware of Yamaha AFC3’s ability to deliver exceptional results, Ferdinand contacted Yamaha Music Europe’s engineering team to ask what was possible. After initial acoustic measurements and analysis, Yamaha installed a temporary demonstration system, allowing the choirs and Parkgebouw management to experience an acoustic enhancement system in their own theatre. They were so impressed that a major project to install a permanent system was quickly agreed.
“The main challenge was ensuring the acoustic enhancement matched the very special look and feel of Parkgebouw, as well as its original acoustics,” says Jo. “We tuned some ‘big’ presets with reverberation times of more than two seconds to support the large Rijssens Mannenkoor male choir, which is very popular. But the system really comes to life with the presets that are carefully tuned to benefit the venue. If you enter with the system on, you won’t realise it until it’s turned off again - something that is, of course, never done during a performance!”
The permanent AFC3 system was launched on 22nd April to an audience of invited guests, who had made the installation possible thanks to their donations. Introduced by Jo, his presentation described AFC3’s benefits and how it works, including a unique ‘exception to the rule’ of switching the system off and on again to demonstrate how the audience, artists and their acoustic interaction benefit from it. Performances were then given by several choirs, orchestras and soloists who regularly play in the ‘Old Lady’
Parkgebouw is now used for many more classical-type music performances and Jolanda Agteresch is very happy with the result.
“We can now programme choirs and classical music, which is something we have wanted to do for many years,” she says. “Local choirs will now perform here at least 20 times per year and even philharmonic orchestras can now perform in the Old Lady!”
She continues, “The reaction from audiences and artists has been fantastic. The enhanced acoustics mean artists are much more relaxed and they play more dynamically.”
The AFC3 system has also triggered a ‘snowball effect’, with classical music programmers starting to fill Parkgebouw yearly programme with exciting performances, attracting more visitors and even more shows.
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