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Innovations: L-Acoustics L-ISA Studio Immersive Audio Software

Guillaume Le Nost, executive director of Creative Technologies at L-Acoustics, recounts the creation of L-ISA Studio Immersive Audio Software.

Guillaume Le Nost
Guillaume le Nost working at L-Acoustics Auditorium, in Marcoussis, France

Since the introduction of the line array, live concerts have become increasingly sophisticated with ultra high-resolution video and lighting technologies, yet professional audio reinforcement continues to use stereo — a technology more than 50 years old. Not satisfied with this approach to sound in live entertainment, L-Acoustics introduced L-ISA Immersive Hyperreal Sound technology in 2016. This provided a new way to design, process, mix, and experience multi-channel sound for live performances. Since 2016, we have seen numerous benefits of L-ISA technology for large scale tours and 360° experiential events, as well as permanent installations in art galleries, houses of worship, performing arts centers and more.

Meanwhile, other pro audio manufacturers have also developed immersive audio solutions, and we have seen significantly increased interest in this topic in the professional sound community.

Today, professional audio professionals are largely convinced that immersive audio is the future; our challenge now is to educate the wider community of creators and to facilitate the creation of immersive content, right from the inception of a project. When the “spatial audio” dimension is taken into account during the creative process, the results are significantly better than when it only comes as an afterthought, so our main question became: How can we facilitate access to this immersive audio technology? How could sound designers, music producers or sound engineers create with L-ISA, even if they are not in a venue with an L-ISA processor and an immersive sound system?

In a world where a given audio creation can take multiple shapes — whether it be a stereo album on a streaming service, an art installation in a digital gallery, a live show, a livestream or even an NFT, we wanted to offer a unique workflow that benefits from the L-ISA Object-based mixing approach. We wanted to help facilitate a seamless transition from a “nomad” situation to a “studio” situation to a “live” situation. Our L-ISA Processor is a great piece of hardware for live performances, but can be hard to integrate into the other two categories. What if we could develop a “virtual” L-ISA Processor that could run on a desktop computer, that people could access anywhere and even use with a simple pair of headphones? This idea emerged in 2018, long before COVID hit the world, and our R&D teams worked passionately to make this vision a reality.

Innovations: Celestion SpeakerMix Pro

We rewrote our audio engine from the ground-up, created a new binaural renderer with headtracking and integrated innovative scale simulation algorithms. Today, L-Acoustics provides a unique workflow where a sound engineer or sound designer can prep a mix on a laptop using the L-ISA Controller and render the audio via the L-ISA Processor Desktop — both part of the new L-ISA Studio software suite. Once in the venue, the user can open the very same L-ISA Controller session, connect to the hardware renderer (the L-ISA Processor) and drive a speaker setup. Out of the performance space, any tweaks and edits can be continued on the laptop. This opens doors to more efficient workflows and a lot of saved time.

The vision of a pure software solution — which is now realized as L-ISA Studio — was also driven by our wish to facilitate a broader and deeper understanding of immersive audio, while accelerating the adoption of new spatial mixing concepts.

After our recent release of L-ISA Studio, creators are using our immersive audio tools beyond “pre-production” scenarios, using it to mix content for binaural streaming or to mix content in 7.1.4 for a Dolby Atmos song on streaming platforms. One of the most exciting instances of this is by Grammy-winning creator Latroit, who used L-ISA Studio to remix his latest track, “Dance My Tears Away.” Having revealed the song to fans in June, he’ll follow up with a binaural version of the song on YouTube, and plans for a Dolby Atmos version of the song are already underway.

At L-Acoustics, our excitement to see and experience the immersive content that will spring from the creative imagination of artists is matched only by our passion to continue supporting the wider adoption of immersive audio creation.