On the north-eastern border of Paris, the Philharmonie de Paris complex is the musical epicenter of the City of Lights, encompassing an amphitheater, concert hall, museum, an exhibition hall and studios, and workshops. The newest addition to the complex, the Philharmonie des enfants (Children’s Philharmonic), was created for children aged four to ten with the mission to develop hearing sensitivity through interactive games and immersive sound installations. Children take their first steps into the wondrous world of sound and music in the new, purpose-built venue. The space encompasses five different themed areas, one of which is aptly named Plein les oreilles! (Earful! in English), and has been equipped with L-ISA Immersive Hyperreal Sound technology.
Plein les oreilles! is a blend of specially created musical films, stories, concert recordings, and sound experiences. By combining fully-spatialized sound via L-ISA technology, and 360-degree video projection deployed from floor to ceiling, visitors are enveloped in a truly sensory experience. From the beginning of the project design, Mathilde Michel-Lambert, director of the Philharmonie des enfants, wanted to create an immersive room that encompasses new areas of creativity and seamlessly combines sound spatialization with the visual narrative to awaken the senses of the audience.
“Knowing that the use of virtual reality headsets, mobile phones, and tablets is not recommended for children under ten, we designed Plein les oreilles! with this in mind,” Michel-Lambert explains. “None of the audiovisual elements are too close to the children’s eyes and ears, yet we’ve still designed a meaningful and interactive experience. This installation has really encouraged the creativity of the authors, directors, artists, sound engineers, illustrators, and motion designers, which were led by Milgram production, Oléo Films, and Camera Lucida.”
Sebastien Moreau is Technical, Audiovisual and Digital Manager at the Philharmonie des enfants. He’s been involved since the project’s conceptualization, which started three years ago with the production of a prototype of the full-scale immersive space. Having used L-Acoustics products for more than 15 years, the Philharmonie de Paris has permanently installed L-Acoustics K2 and Kara systems in both its venues. Aware of their superb sound quality, Moreau knew it was what he wanted to use in the final design. “Above all, and unlike many other immersive experiences, we wanted our immersion to be done through sound,” he says.
L-ISA’s capabilities were tested with a wide variety of content designed specifically for the Philharmonie. “What impressed me most was the precision and stability of the sound sources, the quality of the reverb engine, and the ergonomics and functions of the user interface,” Moreau continues. “The adaptation of the 3D spatial rendering for an unusually shaped space —a parallelepiped in our case—was done without any difficulty. By the end of the test period, I was fully convinced that L-ISA technology would be the ideal solution for the project. We have also forged a great partnership with the L-Acoustics team, who supported us throughout the process.”
Constance Guisset Studio managed the construction project, with Moreau, his colleague Antoine Collaudin and the Philharmonie des enfants project team in charge of the technical infrastructure, working on the technical design, drafting the specifications, tracking manufacturing work, and all device settings. Installation was carried out by L-Acoustics Certified Provider AUVISYS and tuned by L-Acoustics.
The final L-ISA installation comprises a combination of X Series and Syva Low, 62 in total in three horizontal layers, distributed behind soundproof fabric screens around the walls, in the ceiling, and on the floor of the 40 square meter space.
Eight X8 are mounted around the top of the walls, with three X8 evenly spaced across the center of the ceiling. A further 20 X8, seven along each long side and three along the short sides, are positioned halfway down the walls. A ring of twelve X8 and ten Syva Sub sits at the base of the walls. Eight X4i form an evenly spaced grid on the floor. An L-ISA Processor provides advanced object-based mixing for the pre-recorded content, with amplification from LA4X amplified controllers.
Arnaud Delorme, Senior Application Project Engineer at L-Acoustics, provided on-site L-ISA training. Although only one of the three engineers had used L-ISA before, all engineers quickly got their bearings and found the L-ISA Controller user interface both intuitive and comprehensive. They particularly appreciated the L-ISA reverb engine, which they have adopted for every element of the content.
“With L-ISA being an additional element in the L-Acoustics ecosystem that we already know well at the Philharmonie, the use of L-ISA technology didn’t require a complete change in working habits, which is great for the team,” notes Moreau. “As an added bonus, the Philharmonie des enfants’ L-ISA Processor can also be used for other events and concerts, such as the world-renowned Jazz à la Villette festival.”
“This is one of the best L-ISA projects I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing,” adds L-Acoustics Head of Product & Technology Marketing, Germain Simon. “The sound engineers working on the audio mixes and the rest of the team at Philharmonie have done a fabulous job of making audio the focus and allowing it to truly transmit the emotion of each video.”
In addition to the L-ISA installation in Plein les oreilles!, traditional L-Acoustics systems, which include X8, 5XT, and Syva Sub cabinets, are also installed in four other areas of Philharmonie des enfants: Maestra, Maestro, where children use simple arm movements to conduct an orchestra, with pre-recorded music that changes tempo and level along with their gestures; Turn up the volume!, gives an onstage experience with children playing instruments from musical scores; The Pianograph, where kids trigger sounds and animated images when playing a harmonium/synthesizer hybrid; and the Grande Finale exit corridor, where pre-recorded music leaves children with a lasting musical impression of their visit. Moreau concludes, “For us, having L-Acoustics and L-ISA at the Philharmonie des enfants perfectly aligns with our ambition to make this an innovative environment, offering visitors of all age groups unprecedented sound and musical experiences.”