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‘An experience so absolutely personal for everyone in the room’: Lady Gaga tours with L-Acoustics’ L-ISA

Lady Gaga performed two Las Vegas shows at Park Theater, Park MGM, this year, as part of a multi-year residency, both enhanced by L-Acoustics' L-ISA Hyperreal Sound technology

Lady Gaga performed two Las Vegas shows at Park Theater, Park MGM, this year, as part of a multi-year residency, both enhanced by L-Acoustics’ L-ISA Hyperreal Sound technology.

The multi-faceted superstar has nine GRAMMY Awards and three Brit Awards to her name, plus both an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for ‘Shallow’ from 2018’s A Star is Born.

Lady Gaga’s first Vegas residency show, Enigma, which has now completed 18 sold-out performances to rave reviews, is a spectacle that takes its 5,200 audience members on a two-hour ride through her club classics like ‘Poker Face’, ‘Paparazzi’ and ‘Born This Way’.

Her second show, Jazz & Piano, is a return to classic Las Vegas-style with the artist accompanied by a big band complete with a string section. This show alternates between her popular hits and American Songbook staples like ‘Luck Be a Lady,’ ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ and ‘The Lady Is a Tramp’.

Although the two productions couldn’t be more different in terms of design and execution, the sound technology remains the same. The L-ISA configuration is made up of K Series long-throw enclosures. Three central arrays each comprised of 12 K2 are flanked by two 13-enclosure Kara arrays on each side, while out-fill arrays of 12 K2 are positioned between each of the two Kara hangs to address the far left and right seating sections. The proscenium rig is rounded out by a dozen KS28 subs centrally flown in two cardioid hangs of six enclosures and bolstered by a linear horizontal arrangement of 10 SB28 located under the stage lip.

Front-fill is delivered by a dozen X8 and two X12 short-throw enclosures, with a special side audience area covered by two medium throw Syva and a single Syva Low. 20 additional X8 and 18 X12 are placed throughout the venue to provide 360° surround audio. Elevation reinforcement is accomplished via a combination of 22 ARCS WiFomedium throw enclosures that are split between an LCR array above the main house seating and five zones over the rear upper balcony that is fed a combination of the LCR signals. All systems are powered by 24 LA12X, 12 LA8, and 12 LA4X amplified controllers.

At the FOH mix position, a DiGiCo SD7 console interfaces with the L-ISA Controller software, which enables object-based mixing and spatialisation using the L-ISA Processor.

The seeds to use L-ISA technology for Lady Gaga’s production were first planted when FOH engineer Paul Ramsay initially experienced it back in March of last year. Ramsay later introduced David Brooks of L-Acoustics to production manager Chris Vineyard and digital audio programmer and playback engineer André Bowman who both visited the L-ISA Studio in Westlake Village, California for a demo. Music director Michael Beardon was brought in, and then Vineyard and Beardon took the idea to use L-ISA back to Lady Gaga who signed off on it.

The Park Theater already boasted a Solotech-installed K Series installation, comprised of 32 K2, plus a number of Kara, subs and amplified controllers. Solotech was again called upon to provide the additional enclosures necessary for Gaga’s shows, while Eighth Day Sound furnished the FOH control package.

Marcus Ross, L-Acoustics head of application, Touring – USA & Canada, said: “Lady Gaga’s shows are wonderfully wide and immersive sounding. Her FOH engineer, Paul Ramsay, spent a lot of time setting up his panorama early on in the mixing process, and it sounds very, very impressive.”

Ross noted that both Enigma and Jazz & Piano are each utilising a full complement of 96 objects in L-ISA, and the I/O paths connected to the FOH DiGiCo SD7 are well into the triple digits. With only a five-piece band on stage—drums, bass, keys, and two guitars—backing stems are used for Enigma, but ultimately the mix is very live-centric. “Paul makes great use of the live instruments and uses the L-ISA Controller snapshots liberally along with timeline automation to control objects, width, pan, depth—all of the parameters, really,” Ross shared. “He’s also been able to get some really fantastic guitar tones out of the rig.”

Enigma was described as such by Ross: “Lady Gaga is all over the room—from making her grand entrance by descending from the ceiling playing a keytar to riding atop a giant mechanical robot, to floating out over the audience on a round gyroscope-like platform. While her voice is always kept front and center in the mix, other sonic elements are constantly being moved around the room in a very immersive way.”

When switching over for Jazz & Piano, the system remains the same, but it’s driven in a slightly different way. L-ISA technology allows us to alter the low-frequency profile easily to accommodate for the difference in musical styles; we lower the sub-profile so it has a bit less impact to better suit the acoustic instruments and genre,” explained Ross. “With the jazz repertoire, in particular, the intelligibility that L-ISA delivers allows every nuance of Lady Gaga’s expressive vocals to be perfectly clear and intimate. And the same goes for her performance of ‘Shallow’ in the encore of her pop show. It creates an experience that is so absolutely personal for everyone in the room.”

Reviews from audiences and press alike have both been glowing, especially for Enigma. According to Variety‘She’ and ‘Born This Way’ were both born to be in Vegas, and to raise the bar for superstar residencies just a little bit higher.” And Rolling Stone stated, “For a show that at first seemed like an excuse to remind us what Gaga is best at, it ended up becoming a show that confirms and begins her legacy.”

“Lady Gaga is without a doubt one of the most creative and influential pop artists in the world today,” added L-Acoustics CEO Laurent Vaissié. Her ambitious vision for this double residency, supported by a superb creative and production team, was a perfect fit for L-ISA technology. It has been a privilege to be part of the team and, along with Solotech and MGM, enable the audience at the Park Theater to experience both her pop and jazz shows in such a powerful and emotional way. We are pleased that L-ISA has been a part of these extraordinary productions.”

Currently on a break for the summer months, Lady Gaga will return to the Park Theater in October to continue her planned multi-year residency.