“OXYMORE,” pioneering electronic artist Jean-Michel Jarre’s recently released 22nd album, was conceived and produced as an immersive work, with the artist collaborating with long-time sound designer Hervé Déjardin in utilizing L-Acoustics L-ISA Studio immersive technology to help create and deliver the unique audio experience.
Also released on both spatial and 3D binaural formats by Sony Music, listeners can experience the album on a variety of playback systems, including headphones. The immersive concepts of “OXYMORE” were road tested during a live world preview showcase at the Hyper Weekend Festival at the Maison de la Radio in Paris in January of 2022, and the creators were able to translate and extend concepts from the live performance to the new album using the L-ISA Studio immersive software platform.
Déjardin, who’s also noted as the initiator of Radio France Innovation Studio, says that L-ISA Studio provided him with the right canvas on which to create: “I spent a lot of time looking at the tools I would need to realize Jean-Michel Jarre’s creative vision, which was to make a deeper emotional connection with the listener,” he explains. “I decided to use L-ISA Studio because I knew it was more than capable of handling all the spatial movements I needed for the composition. I also knew, based on my prior experience with L-Acoustics, that L-ISA Studio was a stable platform and that I wouldn’t encounter any technical issues.”
In his “day job” at Radio France, where he contributes to the development of immersive audio, Déjardin routinely tests new software tools and working methodologies, and for “OXYMORE,” he says that he needed a tool that would carry the project forward, putting Jarre’s demanding artistic dimension before the technical. Using L-ISA Studio, the project was mixed at the Radio France studio. Once the mix was completed using 12 loudspeakers, Déjardin and Jean-Michel Jarre also monitored the mix on 5.1.4 and 7.1.4 setups, using L-ISA Studio as the ‘bridge’ among the various formats. At the end of the project, it was output to Dolby Atmos.
In addition to the multi-channel surround mixes, Déjardin also had to account for the binaural rendering for spatial audio distribution — something that he says can be enormously challenging for producers to get right in modern immersive productions. “I think this is the most important thing that today’s producers should concentrate on, because I see a lot of productions that work for loudspeakers, but how many people listen with 5.1 or 7.1?” he says. “The essential point, as I see on my train every morning — is that people are listening on headphones.”
Care and detail was also put into automation during the mixing process Déjardin notes, describing the hundreds of automation lines he wrote to capture all the spatial movements on the album: “The importance of capturing these movements cannot be overstated. For just two tracks, I would have 300 or 400 automation lines to incorporate spatial movements within the song. I know I can rely on L-ISA Studio for this degree of accuracy.”
Private guests were recently treated to an advance preview of “OXYMORE” in L-Acoustics Creations immersive sound spaces in London and Los Angeles as well as in the Innovation Studio at Maison de la Radio France. Jarre sums up the experience of creating the album by saying, “together, Hervé and I called on the best current technology on the project to create the feeling of being in the center of the sound of music. With this kind of composition, I think we can really, for the first time, be in the middle of the experience, and further develop the essential and visceral relationship with the music.”