L-Acoustics' L-ISA system was recently deployed by Delta Live for the annual BBC Proms 2018 at the Royal Albert Hall, with the company's Stephen Hughes praising the "fantastic listening experience" it delivered.
The Proms consists of an eight-week summer season of concerts, with Cadogan Hall hosting chamber music, and Proms in the Park events held across the UK on The Last Night of the Proms.
The Proms has been associated with Delta Live for over 20 years, previously known as Sound By Design, now incorporated into the Delta group.
L-ISA was used previously at the Royal Albert Hall for Angus and Julia Stone in early summer and the BRITS. However, this is the first time Delta has deployed the sound system, with Hughes having worked on every Prom season since 2004. “This is an acoustically tricky venue, and we have refined the design of the systems we put in here over the years, most recently upgrading to an L-Acoustics K2 system to do as much as we could to overcome the room’s reflections,” said Hughes. “That worked well but, with L-ISA, the thing I noticed was that we were not fighting the room anymore. That’s a first.”
“It’s a fantastic listening experience,” Hughes added. “In fact, I don’t want to go back to using a stereo system, especially in a circular room like this; L-ISA is the right way to go.”
Delta’s L-ISA configuration comprises five arrays of 15 L-Acoustics Kara each, positioned equidistantly across the stage, along with four KS28 subwoofers flown centrally. This configuration places 60 per cent of the audience. A conventional mono fill system covers the remainder of the venue. “That’s excellent for this venue, particularly bearing in mind that we had restrictions on the positions of the rigging points,” states Hughes. An X12 was placed either side of the stage, with four X8 positioned across the stage lip as front fill for the first few rows of the audience.
A Digico SD5 sat at front of house and the shows were mixed using the console’s native L-ISA Desk Link interface, which connects directly with the L-ISA Controller and outputs to the L-ISA Processor.
“The L-ISA Desk Link on the SD5 has been absolutely amazing,” said Hughes. “L-ISA is very adaptable; the 96 inputs it gives you means that you’re not thinking too much about pairing things to Groups. The benefit you get from being able to apportion different sections of the ensemble to different hangs gives a different perspective. It also means less clutter.”
He continued: “We went to WOMAD to watch them before they came here, they were using a conventional stereo system and it was very apparent that it was hard to get vocal definition, which was fighting in each loudspeaker hang. At the RAH, it’s always been hard to lift anyone giving a small amount of dynamic input over the cacophony of a room spontaneously erupting in applause. Using L-ISA, we managed to put the vocal dead centre and build the ensemble around it. This meant that when the keyboardist talked very quietly into his microphone, even with over 5,000 people clapping and screaming, we heard every word. That’s extraordinary for a PA.”
Managing director at Delta Live, Paul Keating, said: “L-ISA is a completely different workflow for engineers and listening experience for the audiences, once you’ve heard L-ISA you don’t want to go back to working with a stereo system. This is definitely where the pro sound industry is heading, which is very exciting.”
You can read a full report on the audio performance at this year's Proms in the upcoming October issue of PSNEurope.