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Dante and Yamaha Create Immersive Live Performance Experiences

Dante and Yamaha Create Immersive Live Performance Experiences

Kani is a city located in the south-central Gifu Prefecture in Japan. With a population of around 100,000, Kani is known for its many golf courses in the eastern part of the city, which together occupy almost 10% of the city’s land area. At the heart of the city is the Kani City Cultural Creation Center. Built to serve as a city focal point, the Kani City Cultural Creation Center does not see itself as an arts center, but as a “human home” filled with people’s memories and promotes socially inclusive theater management that fosters connection. The venue was built to showcase civic activities, including large-scale performances featuring local talent, community-building workshops, and supporting performing artists and community arts workers.

The main theatre of the Kani City Cultural Creation Centre is designed primarily for live theatre performances with an acoustic reflection pattern that has a short reverberation time of about 1.6 seconds. In early 2024, the venue hosted an event where contemporary dance was performed to orchestral accompaniment. The performance featured dancers on stage while the orchestra sat in an orchestra pit at the front of the stage, which was raised from the floor to stage level at various points during the performance. The event challenged the venue staff to find a way to enhance the audience experience, as the theatre’s acoustic reflectors and additional curtain decorations used during the performance would significantly absorb sound and would not provide a rich, reverberant, and immersive atmosphere. Acoustic and audio engineers saw this as an opportunity to enhance the audio experience for the audience, so they turned to Yamaha to utilize its Active Field Control (AFC) immersive audio system, which would transmit the sound over a Dante network.

“The AFC system is based on the premise that all signals, from the AFC engine and digital mixer to the processor, are exchanged via Dante,” says Hayato Ikeda, sound engineer at Kani City Cultural Creation Center. “This theater has fixed audio equipment that is fully Dante compatible, from the Yamaha digital mixer to the power amplifiers, so we were able to make the decision to try AFC.”

Yamaha AFC Enhance transforms theater acoustics with advanced reverb control

The detailed, dimensional capabilities of Yamaha’s AFC Enhance regenerative electronic reverberation control were used in the theater to create acoustic spaces in which acoustic images were positioned and controlled by AFC Image. For AFC Enhance, two rows of four microphones were suspended from the ceiling to collect the natural sound in the theater, and Ikeda used this sound to process and create a consistent resonance throughout the room, regardless of the position of the orchestra pit. For AFC Image, 37 microphones were positioned in the orchestra pit, and seven boundary microphones were mounted on the stage for the dancers. The microphones in the orchestra pit were aimed primarily at the string instruments and enhanced parts of the performance where the sound of the string instruments has difficulty reaching the audience when the orchestra pit is lowered. The microphone inputs were fed into a Yamaha QL5 digital mixer for equalization, then sent to the AFC engine for spatial processing, then amplified by 37 NEXO loudspeakers installed throughout the theater.

The spatial sound experience during the performance was transformative and sounded very natural—so natural that when Ikeda turned off AFC Enhance during rehearsals, it felt “weird.” There were also no complaints from the musicians and maestro, who were very strict about the sound quality, which was a validation in itself.

“We made full use of Dante during the show, sending data from all 52 microphones through Dante-enabled Yamaha digital mixers and an AFC engine to the amplifiers,” says Ikeda. “This performance would have been virtually impossible without Dante.”