Intellasound fuels growth with investments in Electro-Voice equipment
In a tough business like live sound, where talent, dedication, planning, and plain old luck can all influence results, success isn’t something you can credit to just one cause. Madison, Wisconsin’s Intellasound Productions, for example, has worked its way up to being a region-wide provider of event services primarily through years of paying dues and building a reputation for doing the job right. But the 11-person company, which handles sound, lighting, backline, barricade, and staging, has also benefited from some smart choices in building its equipment inventory. Emphasizing quality, performance, and upgradeability, the company’s brand of choice for loudspeakers, amplifiers, and controllers is Electro-Voice.
“We do festivals, theatres, one-offs, maybe some five- or six-day runs rather than lengthy tours,” says Tim Woodworth, who co-founded the company with business partner David Maier in 1997. Among the events at which Intellasound provides sound services are concerts ranging from Jason Aldean to X, with artists in between including Lil Wayne, John Mayer, and Taylor Swift. The company also handles speaking appearances from luminaries such as the Dalai Lama and President Obama, as well as corporate events.
“In a cold-climate market,” Maier says, “some sound companies find that it’s a challenge to stay busy in the winter. But we do pretty well with work at the University and at various Madison-area venues, as well as in the Milwaukee market. Our core employees — a great staff that’s really knowledgeable — has been very stable over the last half-dozen years, and both the number and size of the jobs we’re getting continues to grow. In the summers we’re now doing festivals for audiences of 15 to 20 thousand.”
Intellasound’s first major investment in Electro-Voice came after Woodworth’s 2004 MuzikMafia tour as the FOH engineer. “The tour used an X-Line system from Dale Morris Leasing,” he recalls. “Intellasound had been on the fence about buying a line array system, but after working with this rig I was thinking that EV had put together a pretty sweet system. So we looked into what it would take to go down that road, and we started buying EV.”
The first Electro-Voice boxes Intellasound bought were XLC127+ compact line-array elements. “Within a year of buying the XLCs, EV came out with the DVX upgrade kits,” Woodworth says. “So we converted all of our boxes. That was absolutely a worthwhile investment. It was a huge difference. It made the 127s sound more like a large format box, allowing us to do larger events than before. Since then we’ve been telling people we know who have the older XLC127s that they should definitely do the upgrade, and they’ve all been very happy.”
Intellasound currently owns 32 XLC127DVXs, as well as four XLC118 subwoofers that can fly at the top of the XLC arrays for low-end balcony fill. The company’s primary subwoofers are Xsub dual-18 boxes. “We really love our Xsubs,” Woodworth says. “We do some pretty heavy-hitting shows outdoors for 15,000 heavy metal fans with 12 Xsubs on each side, and we don’t see any type of clip or limit on any of the amps. So we’re pretty excited about them.”
Around the same time that Intellasound started collecting Electro-Voice loudspeakers it also began buying Electro-Voice amplifiers, particularly the TG-7. “We’re extremely happy with the TG-7,” Woodworth says. “The sonic quality is great, the amount of power it puts out is remarkable, and the durability out on the road is very good. Plus if you’re running IRIS-Net on your laptop, you can use the TG-7’s optional RCM-26 cards to optimize the amp’s output for the specific cabinet it’s powering.” Intellasound is now up to 50 TG-7s, all equipped with RCM-26 IRIS-Net remote control modules.
“What we’re really ecstatic about,” Maier continues, “is all the system protection we get with our TG-7s. The peak anticipation limiters and TEMP limiters really protect our investment in our loudspeakers. And it’s great to have our amps, speakers, and system control all working together.”
The TG-7s also interface nicely with Intellasound’s NetMax N8000-1500 audio control processor. “We currently use the NetMax mostly for festival situations,” Woodworth says. “We typically have multiple consoles interfacing with our system, and we bring them all in with the NetMax. We have our NetMax set up with 8 digital inputs and outputs and 8 analog inputs and outputs, so you can really accommodate a lot of different scenarios. If it’s a digital console, it comes into the digital ins; if it’s analog, you come in via the analog in and let the NetMax do the conversion to digital. The audio then stays digital all the way through the TG-7s. Everyone is pretty excited that their desk is plugged directly into the system controller and not into a drive desk. The TG-7s even allow us to have a digital input as the primary and an analog input as the redundant, and if at any time the amps stop seeing clock for any issue it will switch over to the analog input without being noticeable. It’s pretty slick.”
Intellasound recently made another major investment in Electro-Voice gear, this time in a used X-Line array system. For main-array full-range loudspeakers, the system includes 24 Xvls (90 degree) and four Xvlt (120 degree). The new system also includes four Xfils for downfill, as well as another four Xsubs, bringing Intellasound’s total to 28.
“The size of our events has been growing and growing,” Maier says, “so we knew we were going to have to cross over from the mid-size array to a larger system. We wanted to stay with the EV family, and EV’s new FIR filters for the X-Line have given those boxes a whole new life, making them comparable to the latest loudspeaker system technology. Also, the X-Line array works very well with the XLC array if we need them both. It’s pretty surprising how well they are voiced with each other.”
Woodworth says he has no qualms about staking so much of his company’s future on products from a single vendor, not simply because of performance but also in terms of the day-to-day efficiencies designed into the overall system. “The time savings in setting up and loading out is pretty dramatic since we switched to the EV arrays,” he says. “Their integrated rigging hardware is really fast, and you can stack four cabinets to a cart, whereas with a lot of competing boxes you have to take one at a time, which is a lot of trips to and from the truck. And with the new FIR filters, we spend hardly any time at all EQ-ing the rig once it’s set up. The whole EV package is just smarter.”