Folies Bergère Goes Crazy For L‑ISA Immersive Sound

Folies Bergère’s L-ISA set up comprises five hangs L-Acoustics A15 for the main system, with L-Acoustics X8 providing under balcony fill to perfectly cover the entire auditorium.

Iconic Parisian music hall is the first in France to install L‑Acoustics immersive technology

PARIS, France – December 2020 – Celebrating all things glamorous, sensual, and flamboyant, Folies Bergère is one of Paris’s most revered nightspots. Originally a cabaret music hall and variety-entertainment theater, The Folies made its mark during the Belle Epoque of the late 1800s with music-hall revues featuring stunning female dancers. More recently returning to its musical production roots, the Folies Bergère stage has been graced by famous artists from Charlie ChaplinElla FitzgeraldMarcel MarceauFrank SinatraCharles Aznavour to Elton John. This year, the theater’s impressive program has been matched with equally impressive audio technology when the Folies Bergère became the first performing arts center in France to permanently install L‑Acoustics L‑ISA  Immersive Hyperreal Sound technology.

The venue hosts many famous French touring artists, with its operating contract handled by specialist live sound company Potar Hurlant, part of the Novelty Group, under the direction of Technical Director Madje Malki. The idea of installing L‑ISA into Folies Bergère emerged following its highly successful use of the technology with pop singer Renaud. As a historical L‑Acoustics partner, Potar and the Novelty Group did not, for a moment, imagine another solution for the venue. L‑ISA was its next progression.

“The idea of installing L‑ISA came from my desire to progress from a standard left-right system,” explains Malki. “This is a complex venue architecturally, and even though the original L‑Acoustics system worked well, the many columns and shadow areas caused issues. When mixing in stereo format, we tried to give as much depth as possible to the audio, employing methods like parallel compression to work the material without eating up the sound, but there were still artifacts to deal with.”

“Olivier Hagneré (Managing Director, Novelty Group) and Madje approached us to see if L‑ISA would be suitable for the venue,” explains Arnaud Delorme, Head of Application, Installation at L‑Acoustics. Delorme worked with L‑Acoustics’ Olivier Inizan and Frederic Blanc Garin, as well as Executive Director of Application Projects, Cédric Montrezor to study the venue and model the room in Soundvision, the L‑Acoustics 3D acoustic simulation program. “We needed to ensure the system could cover as much of the audience as possible while taking into account the venue’s complex configuration,” he says.

L‑Acoustics A15 medium-throw line source loudspeakers were chosen for the main system, their 110-degree horizontal dispersion allowing for wide coverage. A15 also features Panflex horizontal steering technology, which provides exceptional directivity, a bandwidth that allows accurate panning of sources, even at low frequencies, and vertical coverage, requiring fewer enclosures than long throw systems. Electronic optimization is accomplished with the new L‑Acoustics AutoFIR algorithm, allocating one cabinet per channel of amplification. At 35kg per cabinet, A15 is light-weight and necessary to account for limited loading capacities in the venue.

Five hangs of four A15 were deployed, comprising two A15 Focus above two A15 Wide for each hang. In this way, the team achieved a total spatialization zone of 70 percent, with the hangs perfectly overlapping to cover the main auditorium. Partial zones also achieved much better rendering compared to the previous L/R system. To ensure the auditorium’s architecture was respected, the system was placed considerably higher than initially planned. As a result, the A15 hangs also covers most of the balconies, despite the last row of seats placed 40 meters above the second balcony, with 12 L‑Acoustics X8 providing under-balcony fill.

To boost the lower end of the audio spectrum, two cardioid end-fire arrays of four KS21 subwoofers each were positioned behind the center A15 and were indispensable in the final L‑ISA set-up. A single Syva was attached to either side of the proscenium arch, below the balcony, to provide infill to account for the shadowy areas. Four 5XT opens up the front rows and pull the sound image down.

Two L‑ISA processors are deployed, one main and one backup, and the entire system is driven by 11 LA4X amplified controllers. The configuration was determined so that the L‑ISA processor could take the system as a whole into account and provide the best spatialization for the audience.

The remaining challenge was to train the venue’s engineers on the new system. “You have to learn how to treat objects in the mix,” Malki adds. “But once you know how to use it, it provides a much more creative way of mixing.”

The team says the tools within L‑ISA have made life much easier. Additionally, each hang of A15 has its own amp and its own automatically created equalization. “Doing that yourself is almost impossible and would have been really time-consuming,” says Malki.

The installation has delivered exceptional coverage and sound quality and a remarkable musicality fitting for a venue hosting an eclectic mix of productions. It has also provided the team with a new way of mixing. “Switching to L‑ISA and its multidimensional object-based mixing not only corrected the interference issues and made the intermodulation distortion almost non-existent, but it also completely transformed our workflow,” continues Malki. “With L‑ISA, we mix with a different spirit, one that’s much more focused on the aesthetics of the sound. We have experience in the field, but L‑ISA incorporates parameters we may not have taken into account.

“The result is astonishing! Now Folies Bergère is fully equipped with the sound of tomorrow and will offer professionals and technicians alike the opportunity to work with this amazing sound system,” he concludes.

The stunning foyer of the Folies, the first performing arts centre in France to permanently install L-Acoustics L-ISA Hyperreal Sound technology.