A performance by Bon Iver at California’s 4,500-capacity Santa Barbara Bowl aimed to treat the audience to an “immersive” audio experience beyond that delivered by a traditional left/right hung PA, according to front-of-house engineer Xandy Whitesel.
He wanted to present the band, whose sound combines genres including folk, electronic music and classical, as panoramically as possible, using manufacturer L-Acoustics’ L-ISA system to create the impression that audio was coming from all directions.
Whitesel says that, in preparation, he imported a multi-track of a live show that he’d previously mixed in the software Cubase.
“I was immediately impressed with how easily my stereo mix transferred to L-ISA,” he recalls. “Very little change in EQ and level were needed for a very presentable product, once I’d carried out some spatial positioning in the L-ISA Processor for each channel. That began the process of converting my brain from a stereo presentation to the L-ISA Scene/Extension set-p and how to apply L-ISA to Bon Iver’s current show.”
For Bon Iver’s Bowl performance, production company Clearwing flew a 7.1 L-ISA configuration comprising three centre hangs of eight L-Acoustics K2 plus four Kara down, paired with two adjacent hangs of 14 Kara for the L-ISA Scene system. This arrangement was flanked by two outer hangs of nine Kara enclosures each for the L-ISA Extension system, while a dozen KS28 subs were flown in two cardioid arrays directly behind the centre K2 hangs for focused low frequency.