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Yamaha AFC3 Brings Audiences and Actors Together at Riksteatret

Yamaha AFC3 Brings Audiences and Actors Together at Riksteatret

Norway - Established in 1949, Riksteatret is Norway’s national touring theatre. The organisation’s headquarters is in Oslo’s Nydalen district, where a Yamaha AFC3 system has recently been installed to help overcome the dry acoustic of its main performance space.

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 the Nydalen complex, 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. This resulted in a rather uncomfortable experience for both actors and audiences - the actors feeling disconnected from the audience, while audience members felt uncertain as to when to clap or laugh.

Ellen Horn, Riksteatret’s artistic director, wanted to improve the situation and, together with head of the 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," says Jo Wang, acoustic engineer at Panpot Acoustic Systems AS. "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."

Approved Yamaha AFC tuning partner Panpot has been installing active room acoustics systems since 2005 and, after a formal tender and evaluation process, the company was invited to install an AFC3 system in the Store Gull space.

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, Panpot installed three AFC3 processors, with five Yamaha XMV8140 and one XMV4140 power amplifiers. These drive 50 loudspeakers - 24 ceiling speakers and four flat panel 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," says Jo.

"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."

"AFC3 has turned the theatre into a intimate space, which is acoustically comfortable for both performers and audience," adds Roy Knudsen, Panpot engineer. "Everybody is really happy about the functionality and the natural sound of the system. As well as coping well with amplified sound, they have also used the system in a play which used only acoustic instruments and were thrilled about the definition, clarity and distribution of the instruments in the auditorium."

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," confirms Jo.

And it’s not only during performances that AFC3 has radically changed Store Gull for the better.

"An interesting psychoacoustic effect we have noticed is that when the audience is entering, they are talking and have a far more relaxed and natural ‘feeling’ amongst them than they did before. This of course has a very positive effect on the actors and staff," says Riksteatret head of the sound Lars Aardal. "It has become a space where actors and audience are always closely connected."

6th November 2014

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