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Han Hong Returns to the Stage with Support from L-Acoustics L-ISA Audio

Han Hong, one of China’s most gifted singer-songwriters, has a musical career spanning over two decades. While the pop artist’s signature vocal style is derived from the dynamism of Chinese folk music, smoothly shifting from high to soft low tones, she also treats her live show audiences to more diverse musical genres.

After a seven-year break, the star chose the Wukesong Cadillac Arena as the stage for her return to live performances. Initially built for the 2008 Summer Olympics, the 18,000-capacity arena has hosted iconic performances from local and international artists such as Ariana Grande, Elton John, and Jacky Cheung. Han Hong and her production team chose this venue to mount China’s first-ever L-ISA immersive audio live music concert.

China’s leading sound engineer, He Biao, spearheaded the production of this highly anticipated concert for the accomplished composer. Biao knew that adopting L-ISA immersive concert technology from L-Acoustics would suit Han Hong’s ultra-dynamic vocal style, in addition to the range of genres of Jazz and R&B to Rock’n’roll and Latin music.

When L-ISA was first unveiled a few years ago, I was invited to the L-Acoustics headquarters in France. I discovered then that L-ISA technology would allow me to craft an immersive sound mix creatively,” explained He Biao. “Since then, I have been thinking broadly about its application in concert sound systems.”

Biao integrated L-ISA into his personal studio and then proceeded to use the immersive audio technology for various corporate events and prominent theatre productions. For Han Hong, he designed an L-ISA configuration in Focus mode, giving extra emphasis to low-frequency elements in the mix.

Biao worked with Dadong Huahan AV and Guangzhou Gao Da Shang Electronic Technology, who supplied and deployed the elements of the immersive concert sound system. L-Acoustics Certified Provider Distributor, Rightway Audio Consultants, provided Biao with technical L-ISA system support.

The L-ISA configuration consisted of a main Scene System of five hangs of 8 x K1 and 6 x K2 down. The extension was provided via two hangs of 9 x K2. 32 x KS28 subwoofers in cardioid configuration in front of the stage minimised on-stage rumble. Spatial fill was provided by eight groups of 2 x Kara stacked on the subwoofers. Outside the L-ISA coverage zone, 15 x K2 and one ARCS per side acted as side-fill. 66 x LA12X amplified controllers drove the entire system.

The ability to enhance a source location through spatial audio mixing in L-ISA meant that the mix engineer need not push or overprocess each instrument in the mix, reducing sound reflection back to the stage. “In a Left/Right concert sound system, the mix is largely concentrated on the vocals, snare drum, kick drum, and bass,” noted FoH engineer Lin Mengyang. “Whereas with L-ISA, the clarity of source positioning allowed me to spread all instruments across the Scene System. I could focus the main elements in the centre while using the extension on both sides to achieve a wider coverage of sound immersion. The system overall delivered more dynamic headroom, in which any slight change to each instrument’s sound or signal will have significant differences,” he revealed.

Monitor engineer Wang Ruihua depended on three groups of four L-Acoustics X15 HiQ placed on stage for the artist’s dynamic vocal range. “Han Hong prefers hearing all the frequencies and the natural dynamics of musical instruments. I kept compression in Han’s IEMs to a minimum, as she enjoys the actual live sound and uses that to gauge the audience’s response,” said Ruihua, who has worked with Han Hong for many years.

Han Hong expressed her appreciation to the technical team for efficient on-stage monitoring and the system’s unrivalled clarity for fans at the concert: “I can always depend on He Biao and his team’s technical expertise. I performed for my fans with ease.”

“The future of immersive sound for live concerts is near. There have been leaps in lighting and visuals, yet we are largely still delivering concerts in stereo. A system configuration such as L-ISA does have a cost, but for a live music concert, sound fidelity is essential. Productions that invest in delivering an immersive audio experience will reap the rewards,” He Biao concluded.