Cody Spencer creates an immersive sound design for the first theatrical musical in North America to use L-ISA Immersive Hyperreal Sound technology
NEW YORK CITY - September 2019 -- After being heard by over six million spectators at more than 1,500 live music performances around the world, L-ISA Sound technology by L-Acoustics recently made its North American musical theater debut in Broadway Bounty Hunter, a delightfully campy musical comedy from Tony Award nominee Joe Iconis, staged at Manhattan’s Greenwich House Theater.
Starring Orange Is The New Black’s Annie Golden—also well known from her Broadway roles in The Full Monty, Xanadu, and 1977’s original cast of Hair—the musical follows Golden as a down-on-her-luck “woman of a certain age” whose acting career takes an unexpected turn when she is hired to hunt down a dangerous drug lord in the jungles of South America. After selling out its initial world premiere at Barrington Stage Company, the show moved to New York City for a month-long Off-Broadway run starting on July 23.
The musical’s relocation to the Greenwich Village venue brought the need for a new loudspeaker design and created an opportunity for Sound Designer Cody Spencer to create a truly panoramic soundscape with L-ISA. “Associate Sound Designer Stephen Jensen and I were very happy to have the opportunity to use L-ISA on Broadway Bounty Hunter,” he says. “The localization of the vocals and the fidelity we got from the band when we were able to space different instruments across the panorama of the stage was amazing. It led to crystal clear vocals, a lush and full-sounding band, and the ability to rock out but also pull back and keep the fidelity of the band when needed. The integration was super easy and Jesse Stevens and L-Acoustics provided unending support to make this a very smooth process. L-ISA is a game changer for the musical theater world.”
With show production handled by Sound Associates and L-ISA tools and support provided by See Factor, Spencer chose a frontal configuration of five L-Acoustics X12 short throw loudspeakers and two SB15m subwoofers to form the base of the 13.1, 360° immersive audio installed at Greenwich House Theater. Nine 5XT loudspeakers were placed around the audience for immersion, while another pair of 5XT served as near proscenium fills, and a series of four X8 served as fill for the venue’s small balcony. To fit snugly into the modest power draw allocated to the audio system, seven LA4X amplified controllers powered all of the loudspeakers in the space.
A total of 64 inputs representing nine actors, five musicians playing nine instruments, reverb engines, and a host of sound effects entered the show’s Yamaha CL3 FOH console, feeding out to the L-ISA Controller that served as the hub for object-based mixing of the ’70s funk-inspired score and sonic backdrop.
“The CL3 generated a MADI signal via an RMio64-D, which fed to a RME MADI router, acting as both a MADI stream switcher and combiner for the L-ISA Controller,” Spencer details. “The direct outs from the CL3 fed this MADI stream, which was split to the main and backup L-ISA Processors. Their individual speaker returns were returned via MADI to the MADI router, which then sent the final MADI signal to the amps. On the conversion side, an RME M-32 converted the MADI stream to analog outputs to feed the L-Acoustics LA4X amplified controllers.”
He goes on to add that all show control for the production was handled through QLab 3. CL3 and L-ISA cues, sound effects, and even integration of triggers to and from the lighting department were all managed on multiple cue lists in QLab. “And all moves within the L-ISA soundscape were stored in snapshots on the L-ISA Controller and recalled via OSC commands from QLab.”
Broadway Bounty Hunter Production Manager Erica Blumrosen was thrilled with the results. “L-ISA technology really brought a unique sound experience to our show,” she enthuses. “Because it gives you a true surround sound experience, Cody was able to create sound that moved with the visuals of our projections and with our actors. Our play used the entire space on the stage, with the actors coming in and out of the audience constantly, and L-Acoustics really gave us the ability to match what the audience heard to what they saw in a way that a conventional theater rig would not have. It was a truly incredible auditory experience that made you feel like you were in the action and encouraged you to dance in your seat to Joe Iconis' incredible music."
Director and Choreographer Jennifer Werner shares Blumrosen’s enthusiasm for how Spencer was able to contribute creatively to the production with L-ISA. “Joe’s score is the heart and soul of Broadway Bounty Hunter, and the L-ISA audio design brought that score with our six-piece band fully alive—the music sounded so exciting!” she says. “We were able to achieve that perfect balance of hearing every nuance in the orchestrations in concert with the actors’ soaring vocals.”
“L-Acoustics was able to meet the gamut of audio design needs with a very tricky venue space,” Werner adds. “I was able to have moments where the richness of the R&B/Funk score could really rock out, as well as have more intimately crafted moments of sound in the book scenes. The flexibility of L-ISA technology also gave me the tools to support any storytelling idea, which gave me the ability to create a fully environmental production where the audience was truly immersed in the sound.”
For more details on Broadway Bounty Hunter, visit www.broadwaybountyhunter.com.