L-ISA_Lab

The Lab:

a platform for music creation and Immersive Sound Art

THE CONCEPT

We support and promote artistic creations around L-ISA speaker systems and creation tools. We connect artists with art lovers through a gallery of sound art and our label, Blububbles.

Why L-ISA Lab?

The L-ISA project was developed from the start with a clear vision: to support musical creation and sound art with an exceptionally high resolution audio format, specifically developed to render the full dynamic range and every nuance of music. To make that vision come true, the L-ISA Lab was born to fill in the missing links between audio technology, sound artists, music creators and patrons of fine art, and thus to give life to unique pieces of 21st century music art.

What is it?

A 24-channel playback format and corresponding mixing algorithms have been developed to refine the musical reproduction and provide the highest quality spatial resolution. Musical creations mixed in the L-ISA Lab provoke a sense of musical hyperrealism: The listener becomes the conductor of a symphony orchestra, the concert pianist in mid-recital, the close friend of a rockstar watching from within the stage area, or profoundly immersed in a tropical rainforest. Every nuance, every instrument, every movement is reproduced with extreme precision in a multi-dimensional sound universe.

Who is it for?

To name just a few, L-ISA Lab targets sound artists, musicians, designers, music editors or creative coders who wish to explore the spatial aspects of sound through the use of the L-ISA tools. Various areas of interest can be explored, such as audio visualisation, spatial audio synthesis, spatial audio production, virtual and augmented reality…
Through the Blububbles sound art gallery and label, artists can also make their creations available to fine arts buyers in possession of an L-ISA luxury installation.
In the same way, a music lover can also commission unique creations or dedicated remixes from their favourite artists – the antithesis of mass market products.

How to proceed?

The L-ISA Lab is located near central London and offers facilities for artist residencies, recording and music production.
Technical training and support can be provided, depending on the complexity of the projects.
At the end of the creation process, the Blububbles sound art gallery and label can showcase your work to a select group of audio minded, art lovers who may be interested in purchasing your work.

MIXING PRINCIPLES

L-ISA tools integrate seamlessly into existing mixing workflows, while providing complete control of our exceptional sound reproduction format.

Multi-dimensional mixing space

Whether you are mixing a live concert or a CD, the operational conditions impart significant technical constraints impacting the quality of the end result. Be it sound reinforcement for a large audience in the first case, or mass reproduction in the second, these constraints inevitably compromise quality and listening enjoyment. The original sound takes are often of excellent quality but the subsequent audio compression and mixing of the material for the mass market can remove much of the original sonic value. Blububbles revives the explosive dynamics of the original artistic performance.
Recreating a multi-dimensional sound field, Blububbles invites the listener into a fully immersive space distinguished by a frontal 180° panorama representing the music scene, and a surrounding sound environment located outside the field of view.
The sonic result is an immersive 360° sound field providing unprecedented sonic detail, and impressive audio visual synthesis.

The L-ISA 23.1 mixing and reproduction format

Blubbubles musical pieces are based on a 24 channel audio format for mixing and sound reproduction. The L-ISA 23.1 configuration consists of 18 audio channels surrounding the listening area, 1 subwoofer channel and 5 optional channels in elevation.
The Frontal scene is represented by a configuration of 13 sound sources spaced every 15° to form a high-resolution 180° panorama, within which the L-ISA spatialisation algorithms excel.
The rear scene is represented by 5 sources spaced every 30°, that also provide backwards compatibility to all former surround formats.
Height is represented by a quad layout of 4 sound sources, plus a top source at its barycentre.
The subwoofer channel is dedicated to all the music signals below 80 Hz.

Innovative mixing algorithms

To unleash creativity during the mixing stage, L-ISA tools provide each sound object with three parameters that enable simple yet very powerful and realistic control within the soundscape:

Pan allows the positioning of each sound object in space with an ultra-sharp precision. Thanks to dedicated algorithms, the movement of sound objects is always fluid and continuous, far superior to a traditional stereo system.

Width controls the spatial extension, or the apparent “size” of an audio object, from a narrow point to a wide spread. This is particularly helpful when merging sound objects together, or adding dimension to specific sound sources.

Distance brings depth to the mixes by allowing the apparent distance between source and listener to be varied from near to far.
L-ISA algorithms integrate state of the art room simulation technology from IRCAM. The tuning of these algorithms has been developed over a three year period by experienced sound and DSP engineers in order to retain all of the fidelity of the original source material.

Recording

To achieve the desired sound stage, the L-ISA team uses slightly different techniques from the traditional recording approach. A recording best suits the L-ISA requirements when the following three audio components are treated in the most suitable way:

  • The direct sound from the sources
  • The first reflections associated with these sources
  • The diffuse field associated with the reverberation of the room

Close-up microphones will allow very precise positioning of the direct sound. First reflections will allow some control on width and perceived distance in the auditory scene.
Recordings of the diffuse field will enable an enveloping, immersive sensation if properly used within the L-ISA system.

In case of lack of diffuse field recordings, L-ISA reverberation algorithms can synthesise a suitable alternative.

Finally, depending on their content, many existing traditionally recorded tracks can still be used with satisfactory results.

Mixing

L-ISA tools integrate seamlessly into the traditional mixing tool chain, and enhance it with a variety of innovations.
The L-ISA Controller software breaks the norm by providing a single interface to visualise the entire mix. All audio tracks can be effortlessly arranged on a single display that represents the entire soundscape. You can even confidently prepare the spatial properties of your mix off-site without even hearing it!
The L-ISA Source Control plugin (VST/AAX) can be inserted in the most common Digital Audio Workstations (DAW) such as Pro Tools, Nuendo, Reaper, or Ableton Live, and brings full automation capabilities to sound object properties (Pan, Width, Distance) in the L-ISA Controller. For more advanced setups, these sound object properties can also be controlled via the Open Sound Control protocol.
All audio and control signals are interpreted and mixed by the L-ISA Processor, which is inserted between the DAW and the studio’s L-ISA speaker setup.
The sound engineer benefits from innovative tools allowing very precise localisation on the front stage. The tool chain also gives him freedom to directly route the tracks, effects or multichannel buses to the speakers of his choice and to exploit the full range of existing tools, including techniques such as Higher-Order Ambisonics.

TECHNOLOGY

We have developed our creation platform in line with our new approach to object-based mixing: the L-ISA Controller software application is the main creation tool and the L-ISA Processor is the audio processing engine for each L-ISA system.

L-ISA Processor

Combining a powerful multi-core architecture with a compact form factor, the L-ISA Processor is the audio heart of each L-ISA system.
Its object-based design provides great flexibility, and ensures consistent sonic performance across various speaker configurations.
The L-ISA Processor is remotely controlled via the L-ISA Controller, where the speaker configuration and sound object properties are centrally managed.
In response to these parameters, the L-ISA Processor computes the corresponding speaker feeds in real time: Up to 96 audio inputs can be processed into 32 discrete outputs, including automatic mono, stereo and LCR downmixes.

L-ISA Controller

The L-ISA Controller software has been designed with a focus on speed and ease of use. It offers, on a single screen, a full view of all sound objects in the mixing space, or soundscape. Three parameters are offered for each sound object: Pan, Width and Distance. Advanced features such as groups and automation enable high-level control of multiple sound objects at the same time.
All sound object and speaker parameters are centrally managed and processed by the Controller before being sent on to the L-ISA Processor.
The L-ISA Controller interfaces seamlessly with the automation features of all major digital audio workstations, such as Avid Pro Tools, Steinberg Nuendo or Ableton Live, and can communicate with external devices via OSC for more complex setups.
The L-ISA Application team can advise you on the best setup for your project.