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L-Acoustics goes sonic at JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort

L-ISA’s hyperreal sound technology enveloped conference attendees with sound

Leading full production services provider LMG recently deployed immersive L-ISA Hyperreal Sound technology from L-Acoustics for a high-profile, four-day corporate event in mid-November at Palm Desert, California’s JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort.

The exclusive, by-invitation-only CEO event is one of the country’s most prestigious gatherings of high-growth, market-leading companies and annually brings together more than 1,000 of the nation’s top executives, entrepreneurs, advisors, investors and other business leaders. The 2019 event concluded with honoring top entrepreneurs of the year with a prestigious dinner and gala emceed by Late Night’s Seth Meyers. 

To best underscore this year’s central theme of “innovation” with maximum impact, LMG suggested L-ISA for its client. Paired with an elaborate video display arrangement that ringed the resort’s 25,000-square-foot Desert Ballroom with massive LED walls, L-ISA surrounded attendees with fully immersive audio to accompany the event’s dramatic visual elements, such as moving water during a video segment on the criticality of water resources for global sustainability. 

“For our most recent event, we were met with the challenge of offering a full 360° immersive experience for 1,200 people,” says Robert Newton, the global production leader on the client side. “While we had placed a lot of time and effort into a state-of-the-art wrap-around LED canvas to support the visual component, it wasn’t until we participated in a demonstration of the L-ISA technology that we realized we had the capacity to create an experience that had never been done in a corporate setting.” 

“This particular client has always been at the leading edge when it comes to event technology,” notes LMG Director of Audio Services Shane Smith. “For instance, we’ve deployed 5.1 surround systems for them at past events,” he explains. “So taking the sound for this event to the next level was a natural step. They understood the technology and appreciated the benefits.”

A total of 136 speakers were used to create the immersive 360-degree L-ISA sound configuration, supporting over 160 channels of audio created by the client’s creative services team to complement the four opening videos for each day of the conference. These included seven arrays of nine L-Acoustics Kiva II enclosures comprising the Scene system—the primary system over the wide stage—plus far left and right hangs of two ARCS Wide enclosures per side for additional fill. In addition, three SB28 subs per side were laterally positioned in front of the stage wings, while six compact 5XT speakers delivered frontfill and four more were used for central stage monitoring.

The elevation speakers, which provided the critical overhead effect, comprised 40 short-throw 5XT—eight enclosures spread out across each of the five ceiling trusses—all firing downward. “Those are what enabled us to get the realistic feel of flowing water across to the audience,” says Smith.

“Two more Syva speakers were placed on both the left and the right sides of the venue, and an additional four were used along the back wall of the venue. Combined, these side, rear and overhead speakers were used to immerse the audience in the program, and all of the speakers were synched using the AVB networked protocol at a 48kHz resolution.”

A total of 136 speakers were used to create the immersive 360-degree L-ISA sound configuration, supporting over 160 channels of audio created by the client’s creative services team
A total of 136 speakers were used to create the immersive 360-degree L-ISA sound configuration, supporting over 160 channels of audio created by the client’s creative services team.

Smith points out that L-ISA technology greatly improves the resolution and localization of sound compared to traditional systems. “To achieve higher resolution and localization, we physically deploy more loudspeakers instead of electronically manipulating the sound system,” he says. “This approach allows the audience to accurately perceive and hear sound from the same location that they see the sound coming from. This simulates the way that our brains, eyes and ears naturally work, creating a less-fatiguing listening environment compared to a traditional sound system. The results are a more engaging and focused environment to better understand the presentation, music, or other content for the event.” 

The success of this year’s event began weeks ahead with preproduction starting in LMG’s Orlando headquarters. The client’s creative services team spent several weeks creating the music and effects that were used for each day’s opening video. “We used Pro Tools to create different sessions for each day that had more than 40 individual objects that were synced to the opening video using time code,” Smith explains. “After we were happy with our proof of concept in Orlando, we shipped the equipment to our Las Vegas office where Audio Services Manager Oscar Sturup worked with the onsite engineers to recreate the proof of concept with the actual equipment and team that would be setting up and using the equipment at the event.” 

The onsite execution was equally complex. Audio Engineer Luke Biever manually tracked the localization of each presenter using an iPad and L-ISA Controller software and worked closely with Mix Engineer Billy Walsh mixing 120 input channels, which included wireless microphones, band inputs, Pro Tools playback tracks, and video playback tracks. Systems Engineer Jay Richardson managed the deployment of the loudspeakers, cabling and routing of the AVB with an analog fallback system design. L-Acoustics support came from Carlos Mosquera, and Dan Palko created the audio content for each day’s opening video.

The end result was a 15.1.15 sound field environment, unprecedented for large-scale, critical corporate applications like this. “The Kiva II arrays allowed the sound to precisely follow the movements of the presenters on stage in a very natural and engaging way, while the Syva surrounds and 5XT coaxials overhead totally enveloped the audience in the engaging journey that the client designed for the program,” says Smith. “The overall effect was absolutely amazing, and you could see it in the audience’s reaction. L-ISA is truly showing us the future of live events.”

And Robert Newton was in complete agreement. “Seeing and hearing it all come together onsite was something that exceeded all expectations,” he enthuses. “With audio synched to our 360-degree opening video, L-ISA proved to be both sublime and powerful, and helped us create a natural, yet compelling environment. For stakeholders, crew and, most importantly, attendees, the experience was something that all will not soon forget!”

Tim Albright is the founder of AVNation and is the driving force behind the AVNation network. He carries the InfoComm CTS, a B.S. from Greenville College and is pursuing an M.S. in Mass Communications from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. When not steering the AVNation ship, Tim has spent his career designing systems for churches both large and small, Fortune 500 companies, and education facilities.

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