Electronic guru’s new composition realizes ultimate immersion with L-ISA Immersive Hyperreal Sound technology
PARIS, France – February 2022 – The godfather of electronic music, Jean-Michel Jarre, recently premiered his latest opus Oxymore in a series of headline performances at the inaugural edition of Radio France’s innovative Hyper Weekend Festival in Paris. The concerts were staged in la Maison de la Radio, the iconic “roundhouse” of the Radio France headquarters. Surrounded by a live seated audience, the concert was also broadcast, and live VR streamed to tens of thousands of viewers. To truly create the ideal immersive experience, Jean-Michel Jarre used the game-changing L-Acoustics L-ISA Immersive Hyperreal Sound technology, specified by Sound Design Engineer Hervé Déjardin.
“I was involved with Jean-Michel Jarre’s epic virtual concert ‘Welcome to the Other Side’ last year, during which Jean-Michel and I spent a lot of time discussing how to best present his compositions. We agreed that the most important thing is to compose for space. Having seen the technology available, he approached me several months ago with the newly completed Oxymore. We began work on a new show concept embracing the incredible immersive audio possibilities. Coincidentally around the same time, Radio France started to plan the exciting new Hyper Weekend festival, and happily, the two projects came together,” explains Déjardin.
Oxymore is a homage to the pioneering electronic musician Pierre Henry and a perfect fit for the new live/virtual hybrid festival, which was launched to celebrate and pay tribute to French music across all genres. The event was performed across three days, on five stages, and showcased 60 artists.
Déjardin already had experience staging immersive concerts with L-ISA technology, from his work with French electronic artist, Molécule—with whom he devised a concert series based around a 360-degree spatialized sound experience where the audience listens in darkness.
“I was free to choose the system for the show, and naturally, I opted for L-ISA. This was the first time Jean-Michel had worked with the system but not the first time he’s worked in immersive. As a very young man in the 1950s and 60s, he was a student with composer Pierre Schaeffer, and in the 1990s and 2000s, he produced several DVDs using 5.1. However, the technology just wasn’t ready. Over the past four or five years, new technology has given us the benefit of accuracy. For me, L-Acoustics L-ISA has reached the pinnacle of that technology,” says Déjardin.
Production rehearsals took place at Innovation Radio France studio, where Déjardin began his immersive mix using the L-ISA Studio software with a 12-loudspeaker setup and a Nuendo DAW.
“Jean-Michel’s music is naturally spatial, and although he works in stereo, he thinks in terms of space. He organized different stems for me during the mastering process and sent me the multi-tracks, so I could start the spatialization design, which we spent two solid weeks finalizing together,” explains Déjardin. “It’s so easy to work with him because the material is so logical. My job was just to reinforce the emotion and story in space.”
The performance was set for Maison de la Radio’s Agorastage, a rounded outdoor/indoor hybrid space enclosed with a glass ceiling. Christophe Dupin (system engineer) specified an oval of 17 Syva cabinets, plus Syva Low and some extra SB21, provided by Magnum. Jarre was positioned at the ‘top’ of the oval on an elevated stage to artistically achieve a zero-degree reference point for the audience seated around him facing the stage. Due to social distancing, audiences were limited to 200 people for each of the seven concerts over the three-day festival. Simultaneously, the live festival performances were broadcast via radio and streamed in 6DoF binaural format to the virtual platforms VRChat by VRrOOm.
“The Agora stage really worked for this performance because the circular shape is so relevant to the music. At traditional live events, there is a sense of separation between the musicians and the audience, enforcing the feeling of being a spectator. As a 360-degree sound system, L-ISA installed in a circular performance space completely embodies the immersive experience. It is very effective at drawing the audience together so that they are inside the sound, sharing the same experience as the musicians and fellow audience goers,” continues Déjardin. “The limited audience numbers inspired Jean-Michel to produce an intimate, immersive experience, and he was very motivated to focus on space and the music.”
Déjardin employed a small mixer with 48 inputs, loaded with tracks from Jean-Michel Jarre. He set up several stereo groups in L-ISA and applied L-ISA’s four positioning parameters (pan, width, distance, elevation) to create the spatial mix. This also allowed Déjardin to ensure recordings would be compatible with 5.1 to enable DVD production later. Part of the audio spatialization was written on Nuendo, which contained about 400 lines of automation for the movements in space.
“It was easy to work with L-ISA because the technology is so forward-thinking and effortless,” Déjardin says. “With stereo, you are forced to use compression, filtering, and temporal effects, but with 360, you don’t have this problem. If I use compression or filters, it’s an active aesthetical choice. The technology reproduces sound in a more natural way of hearing, and this new sense of space also becomes part of the creative process, as the artist can decide which components to distribute and where in the room. It’s also why it’s great to work with an artist like Jean-Michel, who is so involved with creating music using new technologies. Our next ambition is an immersive tour.”
“I could not have achieved this project without L-Acoustics,” concludes Jean-Michel Jarre. “Its vision and pioneering approach always impress me, and, once more, we are opening doors on virgin acoustic territories together.”
Sound design engineer, Hervé Déjardin (left) with Jean-Michel Jarre, finalizing the L-ISA spatial design.