J Street Productions, specialists in event management, design and technology in Lanham, MD, has taken delivery of new GEO M12 Series medium-format line array systems for its audio rental inventory, after a programme of comparison shopping overwhelmingly found in favour of the French manufacturer NEXO.
Michael Viljoen built a 27-year career as a national event producer, technical consultant, audio engineer, computer analyst, and university instructor, before founding J Street Productions in 2013. Year-on-year expansion has seen the company become a full-service audio, video and lighting production house, named as one of the Top 5000 fastest-growing companies in the USA. Positioning itself as a technical consultancy for the events and conferences of association not-for-profit organisations and the corporate world, J Street Productions is customer-centric not gear-centric, and Michael Viljoen will take bold investment decisions if they deliver better results for his clients.
“Although it is not widely understood in the USA, NEXO’s tangent array technology was, to me, a game-changer,” recalls Viljoen. “The first time that I ever used a GEO S8 system (in 2005 with PRG), we put 24 boxes a side on an outdoor stage on the Mall in Washington D.C. We walked so far from the stage that we couldn’t see the S8 anymore and it was still killing it in terms of PA! It was astounding. 400, 500 feet away and it was still crystal clear. Over the next 15 years, we’ve had tons of experience with the system and it has always been a winner for us, we’ve never regretted it. I don’t think we’ll ever sell it, it is far too useful!”
When it was time to get into a mid-format line array system, Viljoen and J Street Productions doubled-down on the NEXO brand, and selected the new GEO M12 design, supplied and supported by Yamaha Commercial Audio.
“Of course we did comparison shopping,” he says. “Actually, it’s not fair to compare a tangential line array to any other line array system, not because NEXO is going to lose but because it’s going to win! It is a design technology so diverse from what anyone else is using. We considered some prominent competitive brands, but the only reason to do this was rider notability. I discovered that, although we are big fans of the product line, the popularity and success of NEXO systems in Europe and the rest of the world has not yet penetrated fully in the USA. I feel good about that because it puts us in a unique position!”
J Street Productions opted for 24 modules of GEO M12, with 8 units of NEXO’s RS18 subbass, a model choice mainly dictated by the fact that the company doesn’t fly its subs.
“Our key criteria for purchasing was what would be usable and functional for our needs. We considered the hanging points of the ballrooms and meeting rooms where our events take place; that worked against the bigger and heavier systems. And we had to think about how well the new purchase would mesh with the rest of our inventory, for example our GEO S8.
“With the NEXO GEO M12, the price point was good, and, from a quality and performance standpoint, it scored 10 across the board. It matched and fit everything we had in our current inventory and we fell in love with the performance of the box. The low weight and flexibility of how we can use that box in our venues were huge factors pushing us in that direction.”
J Street Productions intends to use the M12 system for events with 1500-10,000 audiences, running up to 24 cabinets in two lines, and teaming up with another vendor in the Atlanta area if they need to expand their inventory for a particular project. With regard to their smaller projects, Michael Viljoen highlights other practical advantages offered in the NEXO M Series.
“Although the rigging was not a factor in our decision, I was absolutely stunned by it: it’s beautiful, it’s probably the cleanest simplest rigging process I’ve seen in the marketplace. One person can put up an M12 rig, it’s better with two but you can get the boxes up in the air in 20 minutes, it’s incredibly easy.”
The J Street Productions system is completed by a full complement of NXAMP4x4MK2 amplifiers, and it’s fair to say Michael Viljoen was impressed by this new iteration of the original NXAMP4x4. “I have a lot of experience with the D Series from d&b audiotechnik, and also with Lab Gruppen. These MK2 amps are the nicest product I’ve worked with, ever! I can’t think of anything that even comes close. The processing, the Dante control, the look of them, the performance, the amount of power; this is a product that I believe, pound for pound, is without a rival in the industry. I am so knocked out by the processing, the ease of patching, not having to worry about reconfiguring outputs when you’re changing from one family of boxes to another. There are just so many advantages.
“The NXAMPs are delivered with an expansion slot for a network card. Currently we are networking just to get amplifier control, volume control and the basic serial connection capabilities. At some point, we will venture into Dante country, but, at the moment, most of that processing is done from FOH on our projects. What’s fantastic about the MK2 amps is that we have that possibility built into the unit, but we don’t have to pay for the functionality until we are ready to use it.
“Teaming up the NEXO system with our Yamaha CL5 consoles and Yamaha switchers means everything inhabits the same ecosystem. When we sign onto the Dante protocol, which provides seamless integration throughout the equipment lines, from the consoles and processing all the way through to the NEXO amplifiers, it becomes true plug-and-play.”
J Street Productions filled out their system order with NEXO’s smaller cabinets, ID24 which they use for fill, and eight of the brand-new P12 point-source cabinets. “The varicurve horn in those products are far superior to anything else that is in place in the competitive product lines,” says Viljoen. “The P12 boxes are incredible: I can take them into a very live room, and because of the variable horn flares, I can put audio where I need it without it bouncing off the walls. The relative SPL between the front and back of the room is so consistent over 60-70 feet. I’m incredibly pleased with the power handling and the throw is staggering. Using them as front-fill, over 160 feet I could still hear the P12s as clear as day – it’s really amazing!”