Sound engineer and designer Alain Roy, head of rental company Espace Concept, is one of the most respected names on France’s professional audio scene. One of the leading innovators with digital sound, Roy has earned a reputation for taking the best new technologies available to evolve his own pioneering ideas. A recent classical concert in eastern France gave him the opportunity to examine the NEXO STM Series modular line array as part of his new conceptual approach to immersive sound.
The event, staged at the Axone Arena in Montbéliard near the Swiss border, featured 80 musicians of the Orchestre Victor Hugo Franche Comté, who were joined by a blues band for the second half of the concert.
For the main PA, the Besançon-based rental team of Espace Concept set up a L/R system with (per side) 12x M28 main and 6x B112 bass modules from NEXO’s modular STM Series. In this application, Roy’s system design exploited the sound quality of the 12” drivers in the B112s, rather than increasing the number of double 8” M28s, The nature of the STM Series, where the different modules are specified to mix and match, enabled such a combination.
A small number of STM S118 subs were used in cardioid mode: 6 cabinets per side worked very efficiently and provided a good tonal balance.
Nicolas Poitrenaud, a member of NEXO’s Engineering Support team, describes the objective. “Alain takes a lot of care with the phase response of the NEXO cabinets. He prefers to send a premix of the instruments to the STM modules that is calibrated to their spectrum, rather than sending everything and using low-cut filters, which create phase distortion. For examples, the violins don’t go the B112 modules but straight to the M28 main modules. He maximises the best parts of the NEXO system philosophy – the concept of modularity and the quality of phase response.”
Alain Roy is also experimenting with creating the surround sensations found in a natural acoustic symphonic hall, what he calls his “3D system”. “The idea is to improve the natural listening sensation by creating immersive sound,” reports Poitrenaud. “The result is a major improvement in terms of room sensation. With just the main PA playing, the sonic image is very ‘flat’ and narrow. The immersive sound is obtained by using a secondary PA subsystem. This is composed of two arrays of 6x GEO S12 located outside the STM main PA. The secondary PA is fed by a mix of uncorrelated L +R channel, and a dedicated digital reverb program.”
With a number of NEXO models playing their part – ID24 compacts and 45N*-12 wedges used for stage monitoring, GEO M6 line array modules used for front fill – the whole system ran digital from beginning to end, with many different formats working together – AES48, EtherSound, Dante and MADI. The show was broadcast live, using a Yamaha PM10 console for the radio mix.
“Using digital mics running -50 dBFS without any hum or noise, the sound was crystal and pure,” says Poitrenaud. “It’s pleasing to see NEXO’s ideas on network integration and modularity play an important role in Alain’s global solution.”