Bringing Live Sound Home: Understanding the L‑Acoustics Sonic Signature

Human beings are uniquely identifiable by various characteristics: physical traits, fingerprints, voices, handwriting… Just as we each sign our name in a different script, loudspeakers also have their own “sonic signature”.

The L-Acoustics sonic signature is widely viewed as the benchmark for professionals in the performing arts industry. It is recognized as being natural, dynamic, precise, generous, and consistent. Our sonic signature is based on pure performance criteria that can raise home entertainment technology to the next level, allowing listeners to perceive live concert sound as if they were in the concert hall. This means enjoying the physicality and realism of live music. What you hear draws you in and feels completely believable. It’s an incomparable sensation.

The graph below illustrates what is meant by the L-Acoustics sonic signature for Archipel systems. The five systems available for purchase differ in terms of throw (coverage capability), output power, and price point. Yet they share the same sonic signature across the full range of audible frequencies at high SPL (Sound Pressure Level). To use the earlier handwriting metaphor, just as you would sign your name repeatedly in a similar fashion, L-Acoustics loudspeakers yield a frequency contour curve with a consistent shape for all systems. This is a fundamental strength of the L-Acoustics pro audio DNA and an asset for engineers who design sound systems for a wide variety of venue shapes and sizes. They can always count on the various components of an L-Acoustics system to perform together seamlessly.

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Frequency contour graph: The frequency contours of Fiji 2.1 and Tonga 2.1 share the same shape, indicative of solid bass and consistency above 1 kHz. This is the L-Acoustics sonic signature.

To elaborate on the technical aspects, the frequency contour graph shows frequency in relation to SPL. L-Acoustics sonic signature, the frequency contour, boasts a wide-ranging and solid bass as well as perfect spectral linearity and stability (flatness) above 1 kHZ which brings a realistic foundation to the musical message independently of genre or stylistic content, giving an impression of volume and space, even in smaller rooms.

The shape of this curve is not a measurement of something that is left to chance. It is voluntary by design. L-Acoustics frequency contour results from research and application that combines objective data points, field observation, and repeatability with perceptual and creative design choices. Our signature is our identity, albeit a transparent and invisible one. It is how we can best support sound professionals in delivering musical creations that remain truthful to the original and in which listeners hear the musicality and the message, not the sound system.

To improve intelligibility for the audience, L-Acoustics deploys technologies to optimize the level of the pure direct sound coming from the sound system vs the reverberation of the room, while ensuring uniformity of sound signature for the entire coverage area. These technologies are part of the DNA of our products and reinforce our signature with the sensation of realism and proximity. The listener has the impression of hearing an instrument or voice up close, when in fact that same impression can be felt over a wide area.

Two technologies contribute substantially to L-Acoustics signature: Wavefront Sculpture Technology (WST) and Concentric Driver Technology (CDT).

The first, Wavefront Sculpture Technology, has made L-Acoustics the benchmark for professional sound ranging from intimate theaters to stadiums to massive outdoor festivals. WST focuses sound like a laser and makes it possible to carry a clean and intelligible message, giving an impression of proximity to the sound source even far away from it. WST is incorporated in the Tahiti, Tonga, and Ibiza Archipel sound systems.

The second technology, Concentric Driver Technology (CDT), adapted to listening over shorter distances, positions the transducers in a concentric formation, enhancing the realism of an instrument or voice. This does full justice to the fact that the sound of a voice is emitted from a specific point, and not from separate transducers which betray the integrity of the signal. At L-Acoustics we often say, “The best sound comes from one source.” CDT, present in our Fiji and Hawaii sound systems, adapts perfectly to smaller spaces.

“The best sound comes from one source” is a design principle common to L-Acoustics WST (Wavefront Sculpture Technology) and CDT (Concentric Driver Technology). It also makes for a great t-shirt design.

Photo courtesy of Audiomatrix

In order to properly convey the emotion that an artist shares via his or her music and to give the sensation of being carried by the music as well as a feeling of wellbeing that can evidenced by physical “symptoms” ranging from goosebumps to an irresistible silly grin, L-Acoustics Creations sound systems are built to handle extreme dynamics.

Everything in our sound system designs is refined to faithfully transcribe transients, as well as the lowest notes right up to the the highest sounds, whilst accurately preserving dynamics from pianississimo to fortississimo. Loudspeakers, cabinetry, amplification, and digital signal processing (DSP) are designed as an integrated whole to form sound systems with high SPL capabilities that go beyond basic home listening enjoyment to support celebrations with friends, even transforming the home indoor or outdoor environments into a club or live performance atmosphere, just as we do in the pro audio sector.

These are a few of the elements of sound perception and criteria that make up the renowned sonic signature of L-Acoustics, and part of the reason L-Acoustics sound systems have become a top-of-rider favorite for sound engineers at the top of their trade.

About the author

Christophe Combet, Executive Director of R&D at LAcoustics, has been with the company for most of the current century. He has played a key role in notable company milestones such as the development and introduction of K1 and K2, the reference for large-scale stadia, festivals and touring worldwide.

Christophe has been a contributor to design team efforts for every loudspeaker, subwoofer, and amplifier that enters into the current Archipel range of sound systems. When he is not brainstorming, prototyping, testing, and iterating, Christophe can be found strumming an acoustic guitar as part of the eclectic French jazz- and world music-infused folk ensemble known as YAPA.  

Christophe is shown here in our London showroom with a Syva loudspeaker in the background.  

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