The Outsiders Becomes First Broadway Show to Use L’Acoustics New L-Series Loudspeakers

The Outsiders Becomes First Broadway Show to Use L’Acoustics New L-Series Loudspeakers

For decades, the production power of a concert tour was measured in the number of trucks it took to haul its gear across the country.

But bigger isn’t always better, especially in a theater environment where the space across the proscenium arch has to support loudspeakers that maximize coverage without distracting from the look and feel of the show. For The Outsiders musical at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre on Broadway in New York City, that has meant experimenting with the new, lighter, more compact L-Series line source loudspeakers from L’Acoustics.

The speaker deployment is a first for Broadway and part of Sound Designer Cody Spencer’s use of L’Acoustics L-ISA immersive audio technology for The Outsiders. The new show is nominated for 12 Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Sound Design of a Musical.

Announced last year at L’Acoustics’ keynote event at the Hollywood Bowl, the L-Series speakers are being deployed at a number of new activations in the touring world, including their recent installation at First Avenue in Minneapolis. The L-Series speakers use up to 60% less material to construct, compared to speakers with similar sound power and coverage, and 30% less space. Unlike traditional line array configurations that must be hung at a J-shaped angle, the L-Series can be installed in a fixed configuration, requiring less physical space to deploy while allowing crew to make sound adjustments without mechanical ones.

The loudspeakers are the latest of the line array speaker system first developed by L’Acoustics founder Christian Heil 40 years ago. Thanks to Heil’s work on Wavefront Sculpture Technology (WST) theory, line array technology has improved sound reinforcement for live performances and become the standard for sound coverage and clarity at large venues and festival spaces, allowing fans in the back to hear vocals and higher frequencies without the sound being distorted.

The new L Series speaker, starting with the L2, a 10-inch progressive ultra line source long-throw speaker “is the ultimate accomplishment of 30 years of technology improvements on the line array,” L’Acoustics CEO Laurent Vaissié said in a statement.

Laurent Vaissié

“When Christian started thinking about this back in the late 80s and early 90s, the idea was to create a fully coherent speaker configuration that was able to get uniform coverage from front to back,” Vaissié said. “With the L series, we’re able to eliminate more of the material and the physical boundaries between the different parts of the speaker and line array to make it even more compact.”

“We did this,” Vaissié explained, “by physically removing the articulation between the parts of the line array and creating the L2’s very specific shape.”

That shape was the result of analyzing “thousands of different shows where we looked at the audience configuration,” Vaissié continued. “We realized if we start with that shape already, we’re almost there in terms of coverage. We realized could eliminate the articulation of the line array and fine tune the coverage with electronics and software. And that’s the reason why I say it’s the ultimate evolution because 10 years ago, we could not have done the L2 because the electronics and the software were not yet at the level it needed to be. But today we finally got to the point where the mechanical design, software and electronics are converging so that we can have an optimized design for the L2, eliminate all the physical material that we didn’t need, make it smaller, and then adjust with software and electronics to get perfect coverage in the vertical domain.”

Spencer said the L2 speakers helped The Outsiders solve an issue created by the production’s use of a rain curtain, which pushed the show’s front-of-house speakers downstage.

The Outsiders

“I plugged them into our Soundvision model,” Spencer said in a press release, adding that he found that the L-series speaker “gave us three more rows of coverage in front of the orchestra over traditional line array loudspeakers.”

The L-Series speakers are currently on tour with Italian hip-hop duo Coez & Frah Quintale and will be used on Sarah McLachlan’s 2024 tour.

“We are sold out of L2 right now through the first quarter of next year. We could have more, but we’re trying to balance between the needs for the rental companies and the needs for the installation project,” says Vaissié. “The market has been responding very well and the demand is much higher than we anticipated.”

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