Romain Delahaye, aka Molécule, is an electronic music producer acclaimed by many leading DJs (including Laurent Garnier and Arnaud Rebotini). He specializes in music created entirely in-situ, no matter how harsh the conditions.
Behind this quest lies a clear and challenging goal: to take electronic music into a new sound dimension. In fact, all the sounds on his latest album, -22.7° C, released in February 2018, were recorded during a five-week stay in a small fishing village in Greenland.
Molécule has also taken on the technical challenge of transposing the sounds of these harsh environments to live mix concerts. This involves leveraging experiential technologies and imaginative show design to achieve a sense of immersion.
For the audience, it might mean presenting the Rex Club show in an igloo at temperatures below zero to recreate the album’s recording conditions, or else in complete darkness to sharpen their sense of hearing.
What Molécule Needs, Technology-Wise
On the technical side, the artist adopted L-ISA Immersive Hyperreal Sound technology, so his compositions would be played accurately, in minute detail, and fully spatialized to create “a genuine sense of being enveloped by the music and the mood,” according to the L-Acoustics announcement.
“Being a pioneer is demanding. Not only does it require a great deal of time and involvement, it means working with reliable partners who are willing to listen,” says Romain Delahaye, who found a partner in Hervé Déjardin, a sound engineer working at Radio France, specialized in immersive audio.
Inside the Rex Club
Déjardin guided the producer in his quest for a solution that could meet his demands at the Rex Club, and who advised him to implement L-ISA to optimize his audience’s musical experience.
It was through L-ISA R&D director Guillaume Le Nost that Déjardin and Delahaye discovered what L-ISA could bring to the immersive aspect of the Parisian DJ’s live shows.
Following their initial exchanges, Delahaye and Déjardin went to the L-Acoustics headquarters in Marcoussis, in the suburbs of Paris, for a period of pre-production.
They tested the multiple creative possibilities afforded by L-ISA spatialization and object-based mixing within the L-ISA controller.
Molécule relied on Déjardin’s skills to create several snapshots and automations needed to produce the show’s recurring movements, such as moving the sound of a snare drum in a circle around the audience.
That made a layer of sound bounce off two virtual walls like a ping-pong ball, and using L-ISA technology to fire off random sound movements, such as sending out a sound to the right, making it cross the hall back to the left, stop in the middle, bounce off an invisible wall, and then another to attenuate it.
The immersive exploration was brought to the audience at Molécule’s first live mix using L-ISA on Oct. 12, 2018, at the Rex Club, a landmark of the Parisian electronic music scene.
L-Acoustics certified provider Melpomen also worked closely with the Radio France teams on this operation. The L-ISA processor can channel up to 96 inputs to 64 outputs.
Thanks to an 11.1 immersive configuration of Syva colinear speakers, the production team was able to provide uniform coverage and ultra-precise spatialization.
The 140-degree vertical directivity of the Syva speakers was an asset for the deployment of L-ISA in a confined space. The frequent bass frequencies were reproduced via two Syva Low speakers, and the infrabass frequencies via four KS28 subwoofers positioned throughout the venue.
Rex Club Experiment Proves Successful
The entire Syva system was amplified via LA4X amplified controllers; with the KS28 subwoofers powered by an LA12X. This power distribution allowed Delahaye and Déjardin to reproduce the audio dynamics present in the compositions on -22.7° C.
The optimal listening area created with L-ISA allowed the artists to dispense with stage monitors since the duo positioned themselves in the middle of the audience so they too could benefit from their set’s immersive experience.
Déjardin managed his spatialized mix using the L-ISA Controller software and he was able to adjust—in real time—the positioning and width of each of the 16 sound objects, as well as the distance between the sources.
“The audience had to leave their usual points of reference at the door,” said Delahaye. “With no technical worries, we were able to simply enjoy playing. In the end, our set, initially scheduled for 55 minutes, lasted an hour and 40 minutes. We were the first to engage in this kind of sonic experiment.”
“We are constantly looking to push back the limits of the venue space,” said Déjardin. “Stereo is great, but it is just a tiny part of what spatialization has to offer. It would have been unfortunate to simply stop there.
“An immersive sound configuration with an arrangement comprising L-ISA and Syva speakers brings a considerable degree of precision to the spatial creation; it’s quite simply incredibly effective. I played the set in a club, but it sounded as if it was in a studio,” he said.
Molécule and his production and management team, in collaboration with Radio France and L-Acoustics, will bring a version of this spatialized sound performance—ACOUSMATICS 360°—to additional locations including the Le Printemps de Bourges music festival on April 18.