Two Intelli-X2 48 audio system management devices graced the main stage of the latest festival to come out of the Manchester music scene, FOMFest (Friends of Mine Festival).
With its routes in Manchester’s club land, where it began as a club night for new bands and singersongwriters, FOM’s cult following has grown to such an extent that a festival was the next logical step, which has launched FOM firmly into the mainstream. Held in the beautiful grounds of stately home Capesthorne Hall, just south of Manchester, it attracted an eclectic selection of local talent including Bad Lieutenant, The Cribs, The Lightening Seeds, Buzzcocks and The Charlatans.
Audio was specified by Paul Nicholson of Red Square Audio. Paul’s company also distributes a number of well-known brands including Apex Audio, APG and Innovason, which also formed a part of FOMFest’s main stage audio system.
The decision to use Apex’s new Intelli- X2 units was made by Paul Nicholson who was audio manager for the event’s four main stages.
“The Intelli- X2 is a fantastic product, its plug and play architecture and great sound quality making it streets ahead of the competition,” says Nicholson. “We decided to use a pair of units on the main stage because that’s where all the big bands were playing and where we wanted to concentrated our efforts.
“We positioned two Innovason Eclipse consoles at main stage Front of House, flip flopping between bands, with one Intelli- X2 on one console and one on the other, linking them out through Word Clock. We utilised AES and analogue connections; you can do three layers of linking, so if one fails another takes over, which is a unique function of the unit.”
Featuring internal processing up to 192 kHz as standard, high-end studio-grade analogue circuit designs and mastering-grade compressors, the Intelli-series sets the new benchmark in system management and speaker processing design. Designed to be Plug-and-Play, the Intelli-X² is simple to configure and integrate into any network. The Intelli-series consists of two system management devices, Intelli-X² 26 (2 in, 6 out) and Intelli-X² 48 (4in, 8 out), providing all the system management tools necessary for comprehensive system alignment and EQ, through to the provision of IIR and FIR based crossovers.
Red Square Audio took the opportunity to showcase the units to visiting engineers, demonstrating the capabilities and exceptional sonic quality of the units.
“The engineers thought the units were really cool. They like the iPod style integration on the front display, which is very contemporary and stylish, and they like the fact that you don’t have to use a computer with it, so you can take it out as a standalone unit,” Nicholson continues.
“Intelli- X2 has fantastic EQ and you can balance, mix, matrix, whatever you want. It’s streets ahead of the competition and has been universally praised. The units are also very easy to understand; anyone who’s used a DSP unit before will be able to use them within just a few minutes.
With a repertoire combining progressive rock, ambient, electronica, trip hop and many others, London-based ‘musical collective’ Archive is a band unafraid to experiment with the very latest sonic developments. One of the newest innovations adopted by band front of house engineer Spike Jones is an Apex Intelli-X² processor.
British audiences are traditionally more reserved about ‘challenging’ music, but Archive’s live shows are extremely popular in continental Europe. On the band’s latest tour, Spike has been manning two digital consoles at the FOH position – a Digidesign Profile for the band and an Innovason Eclipse mixing digital microphones for an accompanying orchestra. Both are digitally linked, with the latter as the master console and an Apex Intelli-X² 48 inserted to EQ house PA systems in the tour’s venues.
“I have been using it on tour for a couple of weeks and really like it,” he says. “We’ve been using the word clock to sync the console and as the master EQ in AES mode. At the last show I used it in analogue mode and it produced great results in cleaning up the old club system sound.”
Blending the orchestra with the band’s electric instruments is invariably a challenge, but the Intelli-X² has provided considerable advantages over ‘traditional’ processors.
“The compression and notch filtering of key frequencies has been a great help in mixing Archive’s musicians with the orchestra,” Spike continues. “Compared with an old analogue graphic EQ I was using, the clean sound is so refreshing.
“It’s also been great using the control software on my Macintosh. The design and use of the unit is very user friendly and satisfying. The unit is amazing, I think it’s the best system tool
Located on the top floor of London’s Millbank Tower, venue Altitude London offers superb panoramic views of the city and beyond, adding an extra dimension to corporate and private events. With four separate spaces able to host a variety of functions, keeping noise levels down is a priority. This has been solved by the installation of four Apex Audio Argos units.
“We host a wide range of events, which often involve DJs, bands and presentations,” says Altitude audio visual manager Jonjo Glynn. “Of course, these have the capacity to create large amounts of noise, so keeping levels under control is very important to ensure that both the adjacent rooms and floors below are not disturbed by both our own and visiting PA systems.”
Frequently described as the most natural sounding and smoothest leveller available, the Apex Argos prevents audio systems from producing excessive sound levels, but without producing unwanted sound degradation.
Using a (provided) measurement microphone, line inputs, or the PA system’s amplifier inputs as a level measurement reference, the Argos unit’s unique servo loop circuit smoothly lowers the levels in an extremely natural sounding way if audio levels go above the pre-set limit.
Argos features concealed, tamper-proof set-up controls, a choice of A-weighted or C-weighted filters and also a ‘fast’ operation option, for situations where loudspeaker protection is required.
“We had previously worked with other limiting systems that physically cut out the signal when the limit is exceeded, but these were not suited to our purpose,” says Jonjo. “We were attracted to the Argos units for their reputation of maintaining audio fidelity and their flexible limitation options.”
Supplied by the Apex UK Distributor RED SQUARE AUDIO, four units were installed one in each of Altitude’s main rooms by the venue’s in-house AV team, and they have proved such a success that the venue is considering installing them in other spaces.
“We are very happy with the performance of the Argos units,” says Jonjo. “So much so that we are looking to add them to our other venues, the Millbank Media Centre and the River Room, in the near future.”
The Dutch-language version of Lionel Bart’s musical presented a glorious opportunity to première the new Intelli-X248 digital audio system management device, considers Marc Maes
The Apex Audio Intelli-X248 was presented first at the 2010 PLASA show in Earls Court, and takes a step further along the path of the original Intelli-series controllers launched some 10 years ago.
Guido Olischlager, FOH operator, has been a loyal user of the first Intelli- X series for many years. When he heard the X2 version was available he decided to use it in the production of a Dutch-language version of Oliver!, in order to have it tried and tested on a significant theatre piece. “Oliver!, a production organised by the Musichall group, was premiered in the Ghent Capitole venue in November, and I immediately decided to use two Intelli-X248 machines,” explained Olischlager. “A first Intelli-X248 replaced the existing BSS Soundweb processors for the Capitole’s in-house Renkus-Heinz SR 6 system as they sounded a bit ‘dusty’ and were no longer reliable. The second X2 was used with the FOH for D-A conversion and matrix while we did a submix for the subs, balconies and underbalconies with the Soundweb.” In Antwerp, where Oliver! played the 2,000-seater Stadsschouwburg, the production started at Christmas and ran until 20 February. The series was sold out but a return is scheduled for April. At press time, Oliver! had welcomed its 150,000th visitor. Like in Ghent, the production used the in-house installation, a Martin W8LM line array of 2 x 12 enclosures powered by Crest Audio Pro 8200 series amplifiers, which Olischlager completed with two Synco STS-LOW cabinets and seven Martin W8LM delay speakers serving the balconies.
The sound design for both of the Oliver! shows in Ghent and Antwerp was made by long-time FOH engineer and sound designer Marc Luyckx.
The production’s audio (main signal and monitor lines) is controlled with a DiGiCo D5 console, using 30 inputs for the orchestra and another 50 for the actors. “Prior to the shows in Ghent and Antwerp I travelled to see the London production. A first challenge was to work with the huge number of sources. In the UK, they used fewer wireless inputs urging the performers to swap beltpacks all the time. We thought this was quite stressful and opted for the full capacity of inputs, which meant less switching. Oliver! has 70 actors on stage – the 40 kids who play in the opening number (Food, Glorious Food) change over their packs to the principals after their appearance, and that was the only switch we had to do,” explains Luyckx, adding that the system employs Shure UHF-R wireless microphone systems and Audio- Technica DP 896 microphones. The AES outputs from the D5 console (left, right, centre and subs) are routed to the Intelli-X248, converting to analogue and steering the speakers, delay boxes and a recording output. In Antwerp, Olischlager decided not to use a centre speaker system because of the visibility of the stage for the audience. The operator reveals he was a very early adopter of the new controller. “I’ve been using two prototypes with brand new firmware, beta-versions but they did the job perfectly.
“In terms of software I cannot change some of the functionality – yet – but everything can be adjusted on the Intelli-X248 itself. Since Oliver! is a long-term production I’ve had plenty of time to adjust EQs, delay times and crossover points, and the routing; and once you’ve determined the parameters, they remain unchanged. But for touring purposes, the [completed] software will facilitate the job.” Olischlager plans to use the Intelli-X248 on the forthcoming Dutch-language version of Spamalot.
“We named our product a ‘system management processor’ and not a ‘crossover’, for a reason,” adds Jeroen Sierjacobs, marketing manager with Apex. “The idea is that you can now control your sound system from one single device. “With the ability to convert the digital sound with a maximum sample rate up to 192kHz, we made no compromise on sonic quality. As Olischlager experienced, we designed the user interface in a way that you don’t always need the software to program a show.”