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Miller Auditorium gets upgraded sound system

Sept. 21, 2007

KALAMAZOO--Just weeks before the debut of its first Broadway musical of the season, Western Michigan University's Miller Auditorium unveiled a new acoustic enhancement system, custom designed specifically for the auditorium by Yamaha.

Shortly after the first of the year, acoustic engineers from Yamaha visited WMU and began to analyze, design and install the components for this state-of-the-art system known as Yamaha Active Field Control. Final installation took place in July, and for several weeks afterward, the company had engineers on campus fine-tuning the system to Miller Auditorium's performance space, ensuring the most precise acoustic quality possible.

When Dr. Robert Spradling, director of bands at WMU, arrived in the auditorium for a dress rehearsal this summer, he immediately noticed the effects of the new system.

"A single flute player was already on stage warming up and I was struck immediately. There was a resonance in the auditorium that I had never heard before," he says. "This system does not amplify what the ensemble is doing but rather clarifies it by overcoming some of the natural acoustical handicaps of the building."

The Yamaha system doesn't change the acoustic structure of the hall. Instead, it enhances and optimizes the building's inherent acoustic properties. The program runs a sophisticated, complex analysis of the hall and adjusts the sound an audience hears to compensate for conditions that cause dead spots, echoes, unwanted reverberations and other impurities.

"This new acoustical enhancement is especially suited to musical programs," says Elaine Williams, director of Miller Auditorium, "where listeners will hear a brighter, more alive sound."

Audience members aren't the only ones to reap the benefits of the new system. Musicians and other performers appreciate it because it helps deliver nuances of sound to them while they're performing, allowing them -- even on stage -- to hear exactly what the original composer intended them to hear.

The new Yamaha AFC system in Miller Auditorium was funded in part by the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation.

Media contact: Tracey Lawie (269) 387-2309, tracey.lawie@wmich.edu

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