Nexo R&D engineer Mathieu Pobeda, UK Sales Manager Gather Collyer and Concert Sound Representative and FOH legend Stuart Kerrison took the microphone to present a close look at various configurations of the new products with associated processing, amplification, accessories and packaging.
Introducing the Nexo Geo M6
Mathieu provided a short technical presentation on the new ‘baby’ M6. Like all contemporary Nexo loudspeaker products, this is constructed from a lightweight polyurethane composite material that offers several key advantages over traditional wooden cabinets (of which more later). The enclosure also contains the ‘NEXOSkeleton’, an internal steel rigging system which allows for an almost unlimited number of options for mounting M6 modules individually or in multiples. As well as the main system (see below), two arrays of three M6 modules were mounted on poles on top of LS18 subwoofers – single or dual M6 cabinets can also be used like this and all powered from a single NXAMP 4×1 powered controller.
One M6 can be used as a standalone loudspeaker or as an element within a super-compact line-source system and Mathieu’s presentation was followed by some playback demonstrations that showed just how versatile and powerful this little box is. Two arrays of six modules each were flown from a truss above the front of the stage, with low-frequency reinforcement provided by 4x LS18 subwoofers. In a large room (it seats 1,500 people when laid out for banqueting) this tiny system easily delivered perfectly intelligible speech, ample low-end and extremely musical playback to even the furthest corners – an extraordinary performance by any standards.
…And then it got even more startling when Mathieu turned off the subwoofers. Just twelve of these little boxes, each measuring just 191mm x 373mm x 260mm and weighing under 10kg, produced perfectly natural speech reproduction seamlessly across the room with ease. The LF performance from the M6s alone was such that this rig could comfortably handle light live music too, perhaps a string quartet, solo piano or small jazz ensemble. Further, under real event lighting, they would have been virtually invisible.
Obviously a product like this has a massive range of potential applications but this section highlighted what must surely be one of the most appealing, i.e. for production companies working with corporate AV clients whose natural habitat is venues exactly like this. That a single crew member could deploy a PA system that is discreet enough not to annoy the set designer or projectionist, very quickly and using minimal floorspace for control gear is the perfect solution.
M6’s possibilities for permanent installation are no less compelling, partly because of the very well thought-out range of mounting accessories but also because it is available in the full range of RAL colours, potentially allowing an already-discreet audio reinforcement system to blend near-invisibly into the decor of any room.
On top of all this, as Gareth Collyer explained, the M6 concept is incredibly efficient in terms of amplifier power, with all twelve flown enclosures being powered from just one Nexo NXAMP powered controller. Another NXAMP provides power and processing for the subwoofers, if you need them, meaning that all the power and processing for this amazing little system occupies just six units of rackspace which is extremely space-effective – and in turn of course it’s also very cost-effective in terms of purchasing, transport and storage.
Introducing the STM M28
Stuart Kerrison, now Nexo’s Concert Sound Representative but formerly FOH engineer for INXS, Jesus Jones, Orchestral Manouvres In The Dark and many others, took the helm for the second product launch of the day, introducing the latest member of the STM family – the new M28 ‘Omni-purpose’ module.
Nexo’s STM (Scale Through Modularity) system is well-established and Stuart’s presentation reinforced the fundamental concept behind it, that is STM’s ability to provide production companies with an inventory of loudspeaker modules that can be freely mixed and matched to provide systems of any scale. The operational and business advantages of this are obvious, as such flexibility can only mean maximum utilisation of all stock and thus the greatest return on investment.
The new M28 module extends this commercially-aware approach by providing a more compact cabinet (2/3rds the height of the M46 and some 22kg lighter) but which is only 4dB down from its larger sibling in terms of maximum SPL. Like the M46, it can be deployed in numerous ways, flown, ground-stacked, placed on top of S118 subwoofers and / or B112 bass modules or used an an individual loudspeaker for delays or lip-fills. It is also (as we later discovered) more than capable of being used as a main PA system, and because it is voiced identically to the M46 and uses the same processing, it is also perfect for use as side-hangs, delays and infills for a large M46-based system at major events.
The initial demo took place indoors, using two small ground stacks each comprising a single S118 subwoofer, a B112 bass module and three M28s on top. Once again the large space was covered seamlessly by very little equipment, but this time the power and headroom available was instantly apparent as was the common voicing with the M6 system – really first-class intelligibility and a very balanced, musical and natural reproduction of playback material. Once again the operational possibilities of a well-planned, multiple-element system were highlighted by Nexo.
One of the main reasons for choosing the polo grounds as a venue was the availability of very large open spaces well away from any population so that Stuart could let the M28 stretch its legs, and so the next demo took place outside. This system comprised twelve M28s per side (flown from portable towers with a lower trim height of approximately 4m) supplemented by twelve S118s arranged in pairs. From 30m the system looked almost ridiculously small and from 50m it almost disappeared into the background, but when Stuart fired it up there was no mistaking that something very powerful was in the area…
He used a variety of playback material and, as with the demos indoors, the reproduction was powerful, balanced and always musical. The standout performance was Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Fistful Of Steel’, whose brutal dynamics and vocal performance really showcased the M28s ability to deliver serious levels at distance with finesse and accuracy, even in a light crosswind. This compact S118 / M28 system is almost a metaphor for everything that makes modern loudspeaker systems work for production companies – when a PA of this power and flexibility, including amplification and FOH control gear, can be transported in a medium-sized truck and set up by a single crew member, it is a game-changer. M28 has changed the game.
Both of Nexo’s new loudspeakers contain proprietary transducers engineered exclusively for the company and whilst very significant (especially in their use of near-indestructible Ketone polymer HF diaphragms), they are not unique in this respect. Where they are clear innovation leaders however is in their use of advanced injection-moulding technology for creating loudspeaker enclosures for high-profile PA applications. Stuart Kerrison takes up the story:
‘We’ve been using an injection-moulding specialist in the south of France for some years with great results, but with products like the new M28 the real benefits started to become apparent. Using polyurethane composite gives any cabinet made from it some instant advantages right out of the box – weather proofing as standard for a start, as this material is virtually impervious to moisture and big changes in temperature. It’s also very light compared with a wooden enclosure, and is so tough that it will handle road use far better than any comparable product made out of traditional materials.
‘With the STM M46 and M28 however, we’ve pushed the design envelope to create products that punch far above their weight in terms of size-to-output ratio. This has partly been achieved by our own transducers and how they are arranged within the cabinet but a huge part of the achievement is in the internal architecture of the box, which is simply too complex to be made in wood. Further, the B112 bass module produces so much output that a wooden cabinet could not withstand the stresses placed upon it – we know because we tried and blew it to pieces! Only our composite material can provide the structural integrity needed to handle that design.’
‘Being freed from the design constraints of wood, and having access to the kind of moulding techniques that we do, also makes big differences to the external architecture of the cabinets. In particular it allows us to build sophisticated, flexible rigging systems that are entirely integral to the enclosure but which are still simple and quick to use – including unique features like PistonRig and REDLock that contribute to the core efficiency of these products is totally facilitated by using modern composite material production techniques.’
Team Nexo have produced two extraordinary products. The multi-purpose M6 is instantly applicable to so many situations in both live and installed sound that it’s surely a shoe-in for a huge range of customers. M28 extends the attractiveness and operational flexibility of not just the physical STM product range but the brilliant commercial concept behind it – a concept which brings tangible, everyday cash benefits to owners worldwide and shows Nexo’s understanding of their markets.