PreSonus’ Commercial Division

by Kevin M. Mitchell
in Company 411
From left, Hugh Sarvis, chief designer, loudspeaker division; Tony Flammia, director, commercial division; Stephen  Fraser, CEO; Jim Odom, chief strategy officer/founder; and Rick Naqvi, VP sales.
From left, Hugh Sarvis, chief designer, loudspeaker division; Tony Flammia, director, commercial division; Stephen Fraser, CEO; Jim Odom, chief strategy officer/founder; and Rick Naqvi, VP sales.

New Division Anchored by PreSonus WorxAudio Loudspeakers Thriving in First Year

At first glance, it might seem curious for PreSonus to get into the pro loudspeaker business and create speakers for tours and installs. After all, there are plenty of other companies building boxes. But looking closer, the evolution was inevitable. And based on the successes they’ve experienced already, it was more than justified.

At Emmanuel Baptist Church in Stanton, KY, Pro Sound & Lights installed PreSonus WorxAudio X3i-P line array and TL218SS sub bass enclosures.

“We’ve gotten to work with Emmanuel Baptist Church, Clear Springs Baptist Church, Lehigh Senior High School Performing Arts Center, West Virginia State Fair and St. George Catholic Church, and we have a number of our loudspeakers out on tours,” says EVP of Marketing Jim Boitnott, referring to projects in Stanton, KY, Corrytown, TN, Fort Myers, FL, Lewisburg, WV and Baton Rouge, LA.

In the spring of this year, PreSonus started a Commercial Division, complete with its own website (commercial.presonus.com), and they’ve thrown the entire weight of the international company behind it.

Templeton Sound Systems installed PreSonus WorxAudio TrueLine arrays for  Clear Springs Baptist Church near Knoxville, TN.

“Today, there are over 100 employees working worldwide for PreSonus, including at our offices here, plus offices in North Carolina, Ireland and Germany,” Boitnott says. “All of our experience across PreSonus contributes to our live sound products and Commercial Division.”

The roots of this development are found in 2009. “That was the year when the first StudioLive mixers came out and when things really took off for PreSonus,” Boitnott says. “StudioLive mixers had a lot of features and were affordable, so they made a big impact.

“In early 2013, we introduced the second generation of StudioLive mixers, with Active Integration, and brought out our
StudioLive AI loudspeakers, which were our first live sound speakers. That led to acquiring WorxAudio [in mid-2014] which, along with the StudioLive products and our newer ULT and AIR loudspeakers, became the core of our commercial division.

At the West Virginia Fairgrounds near Lewisburg, WV, a WorxAudio Stadium Series installation covers a broad area with just six S-XL2 and three S-XL5 weatherized all in one line array speakers.

“The third generation of StudioLive mixers continues to be successful. By creating the commercial division, we have been able to consolidate and focus on doing for the live sound market what our StudioLive mixer series has done, which is to create especially affordable products that are reliable and feature rich and sound amazing.”

 

‡‡         Professional Yet Affordable

PreSonus was founded 1995, when Louisiana State University grads Jim Odom and Brian Smith saw a need for professional, yet affordable, tools for musicians and audio engineers. The company started humbly, in Odom’s garage, but quickly moved to a modest second floor space in downtown Baton Rouge.

Their first breakthrough was the DCP-8 digitally controlled, eight-channel analog compressor/limiter/gate, and the company forged a name building signal processors in its earliest years. They grew creating software, microphone preamps, signal processors, digital audio interfaces, digital mixers, control surfaces and studio monitors. Specific innovations include the DigiMax (2000), Central Station (2004), FireStation (2002), FirePod (2004) and FireStudio series (2006). They also developed the AudioBox USB audio/MIDI interface (2008), followed by the next-generation AudioBox VSL series (2011), which integrated with breakthrough, low-latency mixing and signal-processing software.

The company has been holding workshops around the country to get the word out about its new commercial division.

In 2006, KristalLabs Software Ltd. began working on Capture and Studio One in cooperation with PreSonus. The partnership was further strengthened when PreSonus Software Ltd. took over all assets of KristalLabs. But of all their accomplishments, 2009’s StudioLive series of digital mixers would most foreshadow their recent foray into commercial loudspeakers. These popular mixers incorporated a FireWire interface and an analog-like mixing surface and integrated tightly with bundled PreSonus Capture live-recording software, Studio One Artist DAW, Virtual StudioLive bidirectional control software and QMix monitor-mix control software. In 2012, PreSonus integrated a custom version of Rational Acoustics’ high-end Smaart audio-analysis technology into Virtual StudioLive—yet another first.

commercial workshop

As noted, the second generation of these mixers were introduced in early 2013. They featured the company’s Active Integration (AI) technology. At the same time, PreSonus partnered with Fulcrum Acoustics to introduce PreSonus’ StudioLive AI PA loudspeaker series, which featured a coaxial design with Fulcrum Acoustics TQ technology and PreSonus Active Integration technology to deliver studio-quality sound in a live sound system.

The strongest sign that a new commercial division was inevitable was the June 2014 acquisition of WorxAudio, a designer and manufacturer of commercial loudspeaker systems. The R&D department of the new speaker division is headed, appropriately, by WorxAudio founder Hugh Sarvis. Sarvis started working in the industry in 1979, providing audio services to local fairs, festivals and universities. In 1985 he hit the road with Waylon Jennings and stayed out with him until Jennings retired 17 years later. (Other acts he’s worked with include Wynonna Judd and Alabama.)

 At Lehigh Senior High School near Fort Myers, FL, Creative Sound and Lighting provided WorxAudio X1 loudspeakers and a PreSonus StudioLive Series III digital console.

In 1989, Sarvis signed a five-year contract with Pioneer to build and design the complete TAD line of touring commercial loudspeakers and studio monitors. He has been doing installs for stadiums since 1994, including Super Bowl venues. In the 2000s, his innovations in line array systems led to the popular WorxAudio V8, UltraMax and X-Series. Since 2014, Sarvis has been chief designer of PreSonus’ loudspeaker division. “We have multiple integrated R&D and development teams including the Baton Rouge team at the home office; Hugh Sarvis and the loudspeaker team in North Carolina; and our software team in Hamburg, Germany,” says Boitnott. “We all work together on every project.”

“The new PreSonus Commercial Division enables us to leverage the well-known PreSonus name to boost visibility of all these excellent products,” says Jim Odom. “In the past, integrators would periodically seek clarification as to what products were available to them. The new product structure resolves this. Be it a mixing console, a Dante-equipped rack mixer, a power amp, or one of our many other commercial product offerings, they are all an integral part of the new Commercial Division.”

 A closer look at the WorxAudio X1 loudspeakers at Lehigh Senior High School in Florida

‡‡         Case Studies

While Boitnott acknowledges that the commercial audio market is competitive, he is confident in the company’s success. “The tipping point for the commercial division was StudioLive, but our software has always been strong, and with the addition of WorxAudio, it just made sense to get into the commercial install market. We’re able to provide good products that are affordable, and we work hard to support our customers.”

The offerings are expansive, covering multiple needs and price points. “First, we have the affordable AIR 10, 12, 15, 15s and 18s speakers,” says Boitnott. “These are affordable 2-way active loudspeakers. The next level up is the ULT series, which are active 2-way, ultra-long-throw loudspeakers featuring our custom Pivot X110 rotatable horn. They sound great!” The WorxAudio series moves the commercial division into the touring and stadium install world. “The WorxAudio series features really great subwoofers. This series is especially popular in houses of worship.”

PreSonus headquarters in Baton Rouge, LA

Indeed. In Knoxville, when Clear Springs Baptist Church completed construction of a new campus, they turned to the PreSonus Commercial Division. “We worked with Templeton Sound Systems of Orangeburg, SC, which specializes in house of worship installations,” Boitnott explains. “They put in the PreSonus WorxAudio TrueLine XL1i-P and V5-M line array system and three TrueLine V5M ultra-compact line array enclosures.”

“This is a very clean-looking installation,” says Templeton Sound’s Michael Templeton. “The two XL1i-P loudspeaker clusters are supported by 1.5-inch pipe used with the adjustable WorxAudio TrueAim Grid. There are no chains and no visible wires to distract from the aesthetics of the space. This sound system is top notch in every way—and that includes the quality of support services we received from PreSonus’ Commercial Audio Division.”

Over in Nicholasville, KY, there’s Pro Sound and Lights. When their client Emmanuel Baptist Church wanted to upgrade their sound reinforcement capabilities, they went with the PreSonus WorxAudio X3i-P compact and TL218SS sub bass enclosures.

PreSous headquarters in Baton Rouge, LA

“Services at Emmanuel Baptist Church are contemporary in nature, and music plays an important role in their worship services,” explains Christopher Naughton, Pro Sound and Light’s technician and project leader. “The sanctuary measures 103 feet deep by 100 feet wide. The floor is carpeted, and there is removable seating for roughly 200-300 worshippers. The stage has a 45-foot thrust that faces into the width of the room. After meeting with church officials to determine what they were looking to accomplish as part of the facility upgrade, I determined the X3i-P line arrays and TL218SS subwoofers provided the ideal solution for this space.”

To get the word out about their new commercial division and the products coming out of it, PreSonus has been holding monthly sessions across the country. They’ve already had sessions in Nashville, New Orleans, Des Moines and Cleveland, among others. Spots coming up include Pensacola and Orlando in Florida along with Atlanta and Chicago. “We also have had demo tours in Australia, going into Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney earlier this year” says Boitnott. “This is all in addition to monthly workshops and StudioLive Certification classes we hold here in Baton Rouge where we bring professionals down to see and hear our work.”

The Commercial Division benefits from the company’s R&D and production facilities in Baton Rouge, LA, the loudspeaker division in North Carolina and software team in Hamburg, Germany.

Company Snapshot:

  • PreSonus Commercial Division
  • When Founded: May 2017
  • Industry Roots: PreSonus Audio Electronics (founded 1995 by Jim Odom and Brian Smith) and WorxAudio Technologies (based in Greensboro, NC; founded by Hugh Sarvis in 1979 and acquired by PreSonus in June 2014).
  • Contact Info: PreSonus Audio Electronics, Inc., 18011 Grand Bay Court, Baton Rouge, LA 70809; 225.216.7887, http://commercial.presonus.com.