Finger Lakes Community College (FLCC) in Canandaigua, NY has a very active music program with classes ranging from classic and modern, to jazz ensemble and chamber wind ensemble, topped off by audio recording and sound reinforcement and live recording programs.
Theater consultant, Seth Waltz at AVL Designs, Inc. in Penfield, New York, known throughout the upper New York area as the Yamaha AFC (Active Field Control) aficionado, was brought in to capture the pure acoustics of the newly created performing arts venue at the college.
Along with designer Geoff Nichols, who assisted with the Yamaha AFC and professional audio design, and Stan Jordan, charged with stage rigging and lighting (provided by BMI Supply of Queensbury, New York, the 400+ seat space, was designed by JMZ Architects and Plannners, P.C. of Glens Falls, New York, and engineered by M/E Engineering, P.C. of Rochester, New York. In addition to the AFC system, A/V contractor, Platinum Sound & Communications of Victor, New York, under the direction of company vice president Alan Clayton, installed the entirely new audio and video system.
“FLCC’s new auditorium was designed for a very active music department, community and concert use, and theatrical productions,” said Waltz. “Originally conceived as a recital hall, the venue grew in scope to become a full-fledged performing arts facility.” A bit different from many community colleges, it has a distinguished recording arts program with staff including engineers with some very impressive resumes. “The staff was part of the reason Yamaha AFC was implemented, as they understood the capabilities of such as system.”
Early discussions took place to use the AFC system for its overall reverberation capability, as well as being used as a stage shell system. The FLCC faculty visited a project site where AVL had previously installed an AFC system, and were very excited about having it installed in their new auditorium. “AFC allows us as designers to design for a reverberation time that is appropriate for theatrical use, lectures, and other lower RT60 needs,” notes Waltz. “When chamber music, choral, orchestral, and other concerts are held, the AFC accommodates the required RT60 and tonal balance for those uses in a very transparent manner.”
Active Field Control is a reverberation enhancement system that adjusts and enhances the acoustic characteristics of a facility while preserving the natural characteristics. The system can be used to add spaciousness to under balcony or stage areas so all audience members and performers can enjoy the same sense of connection to the music and a greater shared experience. AFC systems can also be used to add early reflections or as crowd enhancements systems.
The AFC at FLCC also implements an early reflection voice lift system, which allows many public-speaking uses to be accomplished with no sound reinforcement required. It also supplies increased early reflection content when used in a musical setting with the reverberation side of the system.
“This particular Yamaha AFC system is a dual system with both a Reverb enhancement system and an Early Reflection system and a bit of combining of signals for the speakers on the stage for the performers—an excellent example of what can be done with AFC2,” said Joe Rimstidt, Systems Design Engineer for Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems, Inc. The system configuration consists of one Yamaha AD8HR mic pre (eight microphones were used, four for the REV system and four for the ER system), five AFC2 processors; five XM4080, four XM4180 and four PC6501N Yamaha amps; 22 S8AFC speakers; 16 Yamaha IF2205 speakers and eight IS1112 subwoofers.
AVL also designed sound reinforcement, AV presentation systems, stage rigging, theatrical lighting, and a Crestron control system. Sound system components consist of Danley SH64i/SH95i main speakers, Danley TH112i sub woofers, DB Tech FM15 stage monitors, Ashly NE series processors, Lab Gruppen C series amplifiers, Sennheiser EM 300 wireless system, assorted mics: AKG C414; Beyer M88TG; Audix i5, D2, D4, SCX1-hc, F90; AT AT897; Shure SM58. The intercom system is by Theatre Projects.
“We’re a small company, and this is the first time we attempted a project of this scope,” said Alan M. Clayton, vice president, Platinum Sound & Communications. “Some unforeseen problems in the construction process made this a very challenging project for everyone involved, which made us extremely pleased to be working with AVL. Our Project Lead, Pat Whitbeck, was constantly challenged with changing field conditions. With AVL’s patience and collaboration, Pat was able to rise to the occasion and produce a quality installation.”
Clayton said this was the fourth or fifth Yamaha AFC system that the company installed. “All of the systems have been easy to install and sound fantastic. Yamaha is always great to deal with; it’s obvious they take pride in their work. Everything is so well thought out. Looking back on all of the challenges we faced, the install of Yamaha AFC system was the easiest part of the project and stands out as a major success.”
Lighting system components include ETC Sensor Dimming, ETC S 4 Fixtures, Sea changer CMYK, ETC Ion Lighting Console, and ETC Vivid LED Fixtures. Stage rigging consists of motorized Vortek and JR Clancy J Guide counterweight systems. Platinum Sound & Communications also installed Crestron DM Control and distribution and a Christie Digital DHD800 HD DLP Projector and Digital L2K1000 for video projection.
“Upon final set up and demonstration, the music staff was very pleased with the result,” added Waltz.