Mason Sound upgrades Illinois State Fair main stage with Electro-Voice X-Line Advance
August 25, 2016
- Eleven nights of main grandstand stage concerts feature major country, rock and pop artists, including ZZ Top, Meghan Trainor and Little Big Town
- X-Line Advance deployment by Mason Sound includes twin 18-box line arrays of X2-212/120 mains and 32 X12-128 dual 18-inch subwoofers
- Racetrack venue accommodates over 15,000, requiring a throw of 250 feet from stage to top of grandstand
The Illinois State Fair staged its annual 11-day run from August 11-21 in the state capital of Springfield. Music is a big part of the fair, with a nightly grandstand stage attraction for crowds of up to 15,000. Mason Sound of nearby Jacksonville, IL, provided the sound system for the 13th year straight.
“With so many major artists on the schedule, the State Fair is a great opportunity to show off what the system can do.”
For 2016, the long-time EV XLC users brought along the new X-Line Advance system they purchased in March. “We’ve had nothing but compliments on the XLC system we’ve been using the past several years, but we bought the X-Line Advance specifically for gigs like this,” said company president Dave Mason. “With so many major artists on the schedule, the State Fair is a great opportunity to show off what the system can do.”
This was the largest deployment of X-Line Advance in the U.S. so far this summer. X2-212/120 line arrays formed the core of the system, with twin18-box arrays flanking the stage. Mason Sound opted for the 120-degree dispersion model, allowing the system to cover virtually the entire grandstand, which spans the entire straightaway of the fairground’s one-mile racetrack. For the extreme edges of the grandstand, two time-aligned stacks of six X2-212/120 were strategically placed as out fills; six XLD281 very compact line array loudspeakers – a great sonic match for the new system – served as front fills.
“The X-Line had no trouble delivering full fidelity to the very top of the grandstand, a throw of about 250 feet,” notes Mason. “Combined with the lows from the system’s subs, the system delivered sound quality that equals any other system on the market.”
The subwoofers on duty were EV’s latest and most powerful ever, the state-of-the-art X12-128, a dual 18-inch design that delivers clean, linear LF output down to 27 Hz, and matches seamlessly with the X2 arrays. Mason Sound used a total of 32 X12-128 boxes for the grandstand shows, deployed in 4x4 stacks flanking both sides of the stage. The entire sound system was powered by 38 EV TG7 amplifiers and digitally networked via EV’s IRIS-Net.
“We’ve been running EV XLC line arrays for about 10 years now with great results,” Mason continues. “We achieve a consistently high level of sound quality by running the systems the way they were designed, with EV amps and processing. It’s the same with X-Line Advance. We use LAPS software to model the venue and position the arrays for best coverage, and we use the system’s FIR filters optimize the loudspeaker performance. They go up quickly and sound great every time.”
The morning after more than five inches of rain fell in just two hours, causing the previous night’s concert to be cancelled, Mason Sound reported zero failures among the 86 speakers and 38 amps.
State fair attendees were treated to a wide range of musical styles over the course of 11 days. As always, country music was well represented with at the fair, with headliners including Dierks Bentley, Little Big Town, Jake Owen and Cole Swindell. In addition, the main stage hosted the classic rock of ZZ Top and KISS, plus the powerful pop of Meghan Trainor. All of them performed through the X-Line Advance system. Mason Sound were pleased to report uniformly positive feedback for the sound quality and coverage the new system delivered to audiences nightly across the fair’s varied lineup.
“We’ve had nothing but positive comments from all the artists and engineers,” Mason notes. “When you can make the engineers happy for hard rock, country and pop artists all with one system, you know you’ve got a good one. Add in EV reliability, like the way it survived some very heavy weather with zero failures, and you know you’ve got a great PA.”
For Mason Sound, the decision to commit to X-Line Advance wasn’t difficult. “Our business has been on the upswing for several years now, so we were ready to expand,” says Mason. “I do have a strong loyalty to Electro-Voice, but they’ve earned it. Their products always perform, and they’ve never failed me in terms of technical support. So after I got to hear the new X-Line a couple times and saw how much bang for the buck it gives, there was no hesitation. It was a great investment.”
As a regional sound company that does state and county fairs, festivals and tours throughout the Midwest, Mason Sound keeps its six semi trucks busy from March through November, nearly always with an Electro-Voice payload in back.
“We don’t advertise, and we’re down here in central Illinois, but we still get our share of big events and national tours. In this business, it’s all about making your clients happy,” says Dave Mason. “It’s my name on the side of the truck, so I want to make sure our product is good, and that our guys know how to treat people. That’s how you get a gig like the Illinois State Fair and keep it for 13 years. EV understands that. They give us amazing support when we need it, like we’re family. And the product is second to none.”