One of the world’s most celebrated composers and conductors, Ennio Morricone has written over 500 film and television scores, over a career that spans seven decades. The only film composer ever to have received the honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement, the Maestro embarked on his 60 Years of Music world tour this year, supplied by Italian rental company, Agorà.
Early in the tour, Morricone’s long time recording and FOH engineer Fabio Venturi and Agora project manager Giulio Rovelli heard about the new L-ISA immersive sound system and visited the L-ISA headquarters in London for a presentation and to test the mixing platform with Fabio’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, and since the very first concert, we’ve been looking at ways to make the performance sound even more natural,” he explains. “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 decided to use the system, designed by Scott Willsallen of Auditoria Pty, 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 far superior results in terms of localization, clarity and mix details. Within a few minutes, it was unanimously validated by the Maestro and his team.
The 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-fills were used.
Frederic Bailly, applications engineer at L-Acoustics was on-hand to lend support. “The Agorà team had an opportunity to ‘rehearse’ the L‑ISA rigging deployment for the first show in Bologna,” he explains. “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 to 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,” says Floris Douwes, producer and managing director 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,” confirms Fabio. “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 setup.”
“Artists and audiences alike are continuously looking for more profound live experiences and this technology meets this demand,” concludes Floris. “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!”
Ennio Morricone himself was pleased with the system, stating: “The L-ISA multi-channel 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.”