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Dante and Yamaha Provide Immersive Live Performance Experience at Kani City Cultural Creation Center

Kani is a city located in the south-central Gifu Prefecture of Japan. With a population of approximately 100,000 residents, Kani is known for the multitude of golf courses in the eastern part of the city, which collectively cover almost 10% of the city’s land. At the heart of the city lies the Kani City Cultural Creation Center. Built to serve as the city’s civic focal point, the Kani City Cultural Creation Center doesn’t think of itself as an arts center but as a “human home” filled with people’s memories and promotes socially inclusive theater management that fosters connections. The venue was built to present civic activities, including large-scale performances that involve local talent, community-building workshops, and nurturing performing artists and community arts workers.

The main theatre of the Kani City Cultural Creation Center is designed primarily for live theatrical 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 in which contemporary dance was performed to an orchestral accompaniment. The performance involved dancers on stage while the orchestra was seated in an orchestra pit at the front of the stage that was raised from the pit floor to stage level at different times in the performance. The event challenged the venue staff to find a way to enhance the experience for the audience as the theater’s acoustic reflectors and additional curtain decorations used in the performance would significantly absorb the sound and not provide a rich, reverberant and immersive atmosphere. The acoustic and audio engineers saw this as an opportunity to elevate the audio experience for the audience, so they reached out to Yamaha to use its renowned Active Field Control (AFC) Immersive Audio System that would transfer audio over a Dante network.

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

The detailed, dimensional regenerative electronic reverberation control capabilities of Yamaha’s AFC Enhance 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 hung from the ceiling to collect the natural sound in the theater, and Ikeda used that sound to process and create a consistent resonance throughout the room regardless of the orchestra pit position. For AFC Image, 37 microphones were set up in the orchestra pit, and seven boundary microphones were mounted on stage for the dancers. The microphones in the pit were mainly targeted at string instruments and reinforced the parts of the performance where the sound of string instruments has difficulty reaching the audience when the orchestra pit is lowered. The microphone inputs were passed to a Yamaha QL5 digital mixer for EQ before being sent to the AFC engine for spatial processing before being amplified through 37 NEXO speakers installed throughout the theatre.

The effect of the spatial audio experience delivered during the performance was transformative and sounded very natural — so natural that when Ikeda turned off AFC Enhance during practices, it felt “strange.” There were also no complaints from the musicians and the maestro, who were very strict about sound quality, which was an endorsement of its own.

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