Los Angeles, CA (February 25, 2022)—Bon Iver returned to the concert stage for the first time since the pandemic began, putting on a pair of shows at Los Angeles’ new 6,000-seat YouTube Theater at Hollywood Park. While the concerts were notable for the band performing its eponymous sophomore album in full, it also marked the first official deployment anywhere of L-Acoustics’ 3D audio processing engine, the L-ISA Processor II.
FOH engineer Xandy Whitesel was game to go first, stating, “My goal with this band is always to enhance the music and connect with the audience, not distract them with the sound. When it comes to immersive audio, there’s a fine line between glitz and gold, but the intimacy that L-ISA can bring to even a big venue like the YouTube Theater is amazing. I equate it to what it must have been like going from listening to mono recordings in the ’50s to first hearing stereo in the ’60s. Suddenly there’s a whole new world out there, and it’s much more sonically interesting and engaging.”
Turning the venue’s fixed stereo loudspeaker system into a 7.1 L-ISA Immersive Hyperreal spatial audio design meant using the venue’s own 57 L-Acoustics K2 and 30 Kara II enclosures that make up the LCR main arrays and out-fill hangs. For Bon Iver’s shows, local Certified Provider 3G Productions brought in 11 more K2, plus 24 extra Kara II for the panoramic system’s Extension arrays. The switchover time to lower, reconfigure, and re-fly the system to match the L-ISA design required five hours from start to finish.
For the shows, five Scene arrays spread out and flown over the width of the stage, all featured 10 K2 over four Kara II down-fills, paired with far left and right Extension arrays, both composed of a dozen Kara II. A total of nine K2 over six Kara II per side served as out-fill hangs, while six Kara II per side functioned as over-balcony out-fills. A pair of arrays of eight KS28 subwoofers each were hung behind the center array in a cardioid configuration, with a further 12 KS28 positioned on the floor across the full arc of the stage. A dozen Kiva II spread out across the stage lip delivered spatial front-fill for the first several rows of seating. LA12X amplified controllers fully powered the entire system, which was driven by an L-ISA Processor II and three P1 digital audio processors, all on redundant Milan-AVB networking.
For Whitesel, the effort was worth it, he said, as the platform allowed him to “more easily make my mix sound huge and beautiful, and I can use spatial panning in ways that I’d previously feel guilty for. That can radically change how one mixes because normally we make so many choices and compromises based on building a clean and big-sounding ‘mono-ish’ left-right mix. With L-ISA, the mix from my FOH position translates consistently to almost the entire venue—not just to a narrow strip of audience standing in the middle of the room. I heard someone describe these YouTube Theater shows as a ‘visceral, communal explosion of emotion,’ which perfectly sums up the ideal Bon Iver concert experience that L-ISA helps create.”