60 Years of Music

The only film composer to have received the honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement, Ennio Morricone embarked on his 60 Years of Music world tour this year, with an L‑Acoustics audio system supplied by Italian rental company, Agorà.

Early in the tour, Morricone’s long-time recording and FOH engineer Fabio Venturi and Agorà Project Manager Giulio Rovelli heard about the L-Isa immersive sound system and visited the L-Isa headquarters in London for a presentation and to test the platform with Venturi’s own recorded material. ‘Our normal L‑Acoustics configuration works extremely well. But in places such as arenas, it’s difficult to achieve exactly what we want,’ he says.

‘Since the very first concert, we’ve been looking at ways to make the performance sound even more natural. When I listened to L-Isa, I felt that it offered a more natural and detailed sound. I discussed the system with the production team, and we decided we wanted to use it.’

The team opted to use a system designed by Scott Willsallen of Auditoria, working alongside Sherif El Barbari, Director of L-Isa Labs, and Fabio for both the Bologna and Milano dates.

At the 8,600-seat Unipol Arena in Bologna, an A/B comparison between a conventional stereo system, which featured 12 K2 per side, and an L‑Isa system featuring five rows of 12 Kara across the stage was conducted. The production team felt that the L-Isa setup delivered superior results in terms of localisation, clarity and mix detail. Within a few minutes, it was unanimously validated by Morricone and his team.

Fabio Venturi, FOH engineerThe following day in Milano, the L-Isa system was again deployed in the 12,700-seat Mediolanum Assago arena. There, the L‑Isa system comprised five arrays of 12 Kara across the stage, completed by two side extension to widen the imaging, with the central cluster also including two arrays of four KS28. For the 240° audience seating, two side hangs of eight K2 and five additional Kara for front fill.

‘The Agorà team had an opportunity to “rehearse” the L‑Isa rigging deployment for the first show in Bologna,’ explains L-Acoustics Applications Engineer Frederic Bailly, who was on-hand to lend support. ‘For the Milano show the next day, we ran into an unexpected challenge, as the fixed central scoreboard was not documented in the blueprints and we had to lower the PA system by one metre.’ With 112 condenser mics on stage for the orchestra and choir, Fabio worried about feedback, but this posed no problems as gain before feedback was in the range of 4-6dB. The complete PA was set-up an hour ahead of schedule and system calibration was completed by systems engineer Maxime Ménelec in 30 minutes. This meant that Fabio had plenty of time to tweak his L‑Isa mix and do the sound check, and rehearsal took place with the Maestro at 5pm without a glitch.

‘The system worked perfectly for both dates and was an overall positive experience,’ adds Floris Douwes, producer and MD of the tour’s production company GEA. ‘The L-Isa system guarantees an immersive sound for the entire audience, which is a tremendous improvement, and offers much more transparency of sound than with conventional stereo line-array systems.’

‘With L-Isa, everyone felt there was a natural sound coming from the orchestra,’ Douwes says. ‘The system is very simple to use and it adds more detail and space to your mix. I would really like to continue to use this set-up.

‘Artists and audiences alike are continuously looking for more profound live experiences and this technology meets this demand. I think this system is particularly exciting in arenas and large halls, as it enables the entire audience to enjoy an amazing sound experience, even those who are in seats that wouldn’t receive ideal sound with conventional systems. Audiences get to enjoy a sound that is far more natural and organic in terms of the position of the musicians and instruments on stage. This system brings the orchestra much closer to the audience, making the experience much more immersive and enjoyable.’

Morricone himself was pleased with the system: ‘The L-Isa multichannel system adds a sense of space to the sound. This has made it possible for Fabio and Agorà to reproduce my performance with a surprisingly realistic sound image of the orchestra. More than ever before, there was a clear feeling of being enveloped by the music.’

More: www.l-acoustics.com

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