Yamaha releases the 4th generation AFC4 Active Field Control System


Yamaha will be releasing a newly upgraded version of their innovative Active Field Control (AFC) acoustic conditioning system, the AFC4. A combination of architectural acoustics and electroacoustic signal processing,

AFC systems allow users to manipulate and enhance the sonic architecture of an acoustic space in order to accommodate a wider range of applications.

The new AFC4 sees significant upgrades in performance, sound quality, and flexibility, further expanding the range of performance applications to include opera, musical theatre, or broad-scale entertainment productions.

With such a prolific history of over 130 years of manufacturing a vast range of musical instruments, creating state-of-the-art audio technologies, and designing performance halls and theatres, the craftsmen, designers, and engineers of Yamaha have developed a truly unique musical sensibility that informs their dedication to producing the best possible listening, recording, and performance experiences for their customer base.

Yamaha’s first Active Field Control system debuted in 1985 in response to a growing number of facilities adopting a more multi-purpose approach in order to broaden the scope of performance or public address applications they could accommodate.

The basic premise of AFC is to create a scalable reverberation system using optimally placed microphones and speakers to produce an acoustical feedback loop that produced a much more natural, organic sound and feel than the more commonly used digital reverb room simulations that were popular at the time.

As a result, AFC would prove to be a more cost-effective and flexible alternative to renovations or mechanical modifications in performance arts venues, houses of worship, theatres and concert halls—while still maintaining the natural sonic characteristics of the space.

The most recent version of the system, the AFC3 incorporated powerful DSP to add system versatility and improved performance while requiring just a few core devices to comprise a full system.

As a result, vastly different performance environments can be changed with the push of a button without compromising the sonic experience for every person in the venue.

With the new 4th generation AFC4, a significant upgrade in sound quality and DSP power make it possible to greatly enhance or even create the sonic architecture of an acoustic environment (for example in the case of an outdoor or roofless venue) and deliver an organic, immersive experience for every audience member or performer in an extended range of performance applications including opera, musical theatre and broad-scale entertainment productions.

The AFC4 sees a marked improvement in sound quality and versatility with significant expansion of DSP power and connectivity.

The processor’s sampling rate, fixed FIR taps, FIR presets, and configurable FIR tap settings have all been upgraded significantly. The new system is also equipped with an FIR EQ in favour of the AFC3’s parametric EQ.

Combined with greater connectivity options— 32 mic inputs and 96 output channels— this considerable upgrade of DSP power will give users a much wider range of flexibility and control over the acoustic architecture of their space making it possible to realize a much broader range of sonic “experiences”, from subtle and nuanced to more dramatic and extreme.

“As a manufacturer of such a vast library of musical instruments and innovative professional audio products, and actually having designed performance halls and theatres, I believe Yamaha has a very unique insight into the nature and behavior of sound and acoustics in particular”, said Yoshi Tsugawa, Senior General Manager of the Yamaha Audio Business Division.

He added, “With the AFC we’ve been making it possible to create very natural, immersive experiences for audience members and performers that is at once substantial yet familiar, while also assuring Yamaha’s dedication to quality and support for users who want to get the absolute best sonic experience from their acoustic environments. We are constantly exploring new avenues to implement this technology and look forward to the exciting possibilities the future holds for the AFC4.”

Along with showcasing the features of AFC4 before its release in December, Yamaha will be previewing an exciting glimpse of its future at InfoComm 2019.