Pro Audio

L-Acoustics: L-ISA

Let’s make all the mixes spatial

Stereo has long been the standard for how we listen to music. Of course it has come a long way since the bizarre panning decisions of 60s Beatles recordings (yep I said it,  drums and vocals all on one side is not a vibe).

But let’s take a moment to consider that maybe we’re taking our first steps into a world where stereo is replaced by immersive audio. In fact we’re already really seeing signs of this with Apple Music’s support for Dolby Atmos mixes on its platform.

Spatial Mixing

L-ISA by L-Acoustic is one of the newest big hitters in the immersive audio space and we had a chance to dive into the studio version of L-ISA which allows the humble home producer or audio engineer to delve into some object based spatial mixing.

No doubt you’re asking yourself how it’s possible to wrangle a surround sound mix without a lovely mixing room with 100 different speakers suspended on all of the walls.

Well L-ISA studio offers the option for binaural headphone mixes (this is its own whole rabbit hole you should absolutely find time to fall down). If you are one of the lucky ones among us who has access to them you can also connect up to 12 speakers using a suitable audio interface.

The interface is pretty simple. You’re presented with a soundscape that you can drag your sound ‘objects’ around. You set up objects as ‘sources’ using the L-ISA audio bridge plugins.

Binaural Mixes

Sources can then be further organised into ‘groups’ to be manipulated in space. L-ISA studio also includes inbuilt reverbs to sink sources even deeper into the virtual space you are creating. FX can also be added. FX in L-ISA are pre-mapped paths that objects track along in space.

I’ve spent a little bit of time doing film mixes in surround sound. In the past I’ve always used native DAW panning and spatial plugins but I think L-ISA has more to offer in terms of setting up a dynamic spatial mix.

The UI is really intuitive in terms of moving objects around the virtual space and the tight integration with my DAW means I don’t have to change the rest of my mixing and editing workflow to make use of the benefits that L-ISA has to offer.

Surround Sound

L-ISA does take a moment to set up and it can be pretty overwhelming at first glance. Taking the time to have a dig through the ‘learn’ tab of their website will absolutely be worth your time.

You’ll discover that the initial complexity sets the software up to integrate with your workflow as conveniently as possible.

Surround sound has long been the standard for mixing film and L-ISA ticks all the film mixes boxes with ease but I think it’s really exciting to imagine a world where spatial mixes and binaural mixes become the new standard for music.

Object based mixing

It’s hard to imagine a new progression in music listening as big as stereo, but spatial mixing could be the next big thing and if it is then L-Acoustics is gonna be one of the big guns leading the charge.

We haven’t even really scratched the surface of what L-ISA can do and that’s just because of how much there is to discover. So why not try it for yourself. L-ISA Studio is available to download for free from the L-Acoustics website: https://l-isa.l-acoustics.com/create/studio/