Rock band Alt-J have become the first rock band to use L-Acoustics’ L-ISA immersive audio technology at the Forest Hills 360° soundscape stadium.
The event, which was the first of its kind, took place in New York City on June 15, in front of 12,000 fans. Alt-J’s FOH engineer Lance Reynolds has been using L-Acoustics’ sound reinforcement systems with the band since 2015. As a result, Reynolds visited L-Acoustics’ headquarters in California to further explore L-ISA as an option for Alt-J’s Big Apple performance.
In order to provide a groundbreaking experience for the thousands of fans, Reynolds created a mix of live and pre-recorded elements, including L-ISA, alongside Alt-J’s band members.
“In preparing the mixes for this show, I’m lucky that Alt-J has a lot of interesting sonic nuggets and a little bit of sound effects,” Reynolds stated. “These elements exist in our normal live show, but with L-ISA, it’s much more evident. There are a lot of things that I’ve been able to just draw out—pinpointing instruments and sounds in specific places. That’s really what this ‘360’ mix is; it’s an extension of what we already do, but a really big extension. Usually, I don’t want the audience to notice my mix, per se. Ideally, I want it to sound great while keeping the audience focused on the band. But using L-ISA for this show, I wanted the audience to notice the difference. My hope was that the fans would walk away saying, ‘wow—did you hear that?’ I wanted heads to turn and the audience to feel completely immersed in alt-J’s music.”
When the show came to a close, Reynolds commented on the benefits L-ISA brought to the show: “In prep on the day before the show, and even that morning, I still wasn’t quite prepared for what it was going to do and how it was going to feel. With the surrounds, there were moments when it absolutely filled the stadium and I just couldn’t believe how amazing it sounded. It covered the venue better than anything I’ve ever heard. I was walking front to back, left to right, across the main stadium floor, and it was the same mix for the entirety of it. It was hard to find a massive difference anywhere. The whole stadium was the immersion zone. It was mind-blowing.”
The giant L-ISA zone was created by Rat Sound, the band’s longtime production provider. KSE of Rat Sound Tom Worley flew in 16 Syva surround speakers and fixed them to the poles behind the handrails at the upper edge of the seating bowl. Worley expressed his satisfaction with the speakers, stating: “They’re loud, lightweight, and have the right dispersion. And even without using a sub with them they go low enough that it made sense.”