The C.K. McClatchy High School, the oldest high school in the City of Sacramento, recently launched the a $23 million initiative designed to attract students interested in arts, with improvements that include a renovation of the school’s art deco auditorium, originally built in 1937. A key element of the renovation was the installation of a Yamaha Active Field Control (AFC3) system as part of the new AV system.
AFC is an acoustic conditioning system that allows adjustments to room acoustics through manipulation of reflections and reverberations using a system of dedicated microphones, loudspeakers, and digital processing. The room can be made to sound like a large concert hall, an intimate jazz venue, or any number of other acoustic environments.
A critical component of an AFC3 system are the microphones. Yamaha has a very small set of microphone models certified for use in their AFC3 system, including the Audix SCX1 studio condenser and the Audix M1280B miniaturized condenser. For the McClatchy project, both Yamaha systems design engineer Joe Rimstidt and the consultant, Brian Smith of Acoustic Engineering Consultants, specified the SCX1.
“The SCX1 is a great value, given its wide dynamic range and a low noise floor,” says Rimstidt. “Audix also offered both polar patterns we needed and the character of the sound between patterns was very consistent.”
Gary Roda, CTS, audiovisual sales engineer for Quality Sound in Stockton, CA, was the lead on the AFC project. The McClatchy auditorium was the first AFC project for Quality Sound; it was also the first AFC system in Northern California.
This AFC3 system employs eight Audix SCX1 mics – two matched pairs (SCX1CMP) of cardioids at the proscenium, and four SCX1 omnis (SCX1O) about 30 feet offstage.
Another critical component of the system, the loudspeakers, presented a few installation challenges. Sixty-eight Yamaha loudspeakers were installed, including 24 IF2205 units flown on battens over the stage, a dozen IF2108 early reflection units mounted on sidewalls, and 32 VXC8W flush-mount units installed in the ceiling over 30 feet above the sloped floor.
In contrast to the complexity of the installation, Quality Sound made sure the AFC3 system was easy to use.
“Although the AFC3 system can be used to create any type of acoustical environment you might wish, we reduced the complexity by setting up simple access to a half dozen preset scenarios through a Crestron touch screen,” Roda notes. “These provide a wide variety of useful settings while keeping things manageable for the student operators.”
The results have been well received, he adds: “The response from the users has been very positive; they are amazed at the ability of the AFC3 system to instantly transport the listener to another acoustic space entirely. The well-engineered acoustical treatment of the space designed by AEC really allows the AFC3 system to shine. Overall, this was a very successful project for all concerned.”