Watson is the first British artist to tour with the N-12 wedges, NEXO’s radical rethinking of monitor design, which brings the benefits of line-array principles to the stage. “It’s about time someone designed a wedge using modern technology,” says Watson’s system engineer Mike Savage.
With a 38-piece orchestra behind him, Russell Watson patrols an area across the front of the stage, demarcated by four NEXO N-12 monitors, coupled in pairs. “He moves around quite a lot,” Mike Savage tells us, “hence the need for two pairs of wedges, which give us a defined area but without any hotspots.”
Watson’s sound team is led by Max Bisgrove at front-of-house, with Brandon Reece on monitors and Mike Savage in the overall system designer role. “With Russell, it’s all about his voice. He’s an opera singer, so tone and phrase are all-important; he needs a crystal-clear monitor output which cuts through all the sound on stage. The N-12s provide a rich and full spectrum of sound that he says is just like being in a studio.”
In the past, Watson has used in-ear monitoring systems in an effort to get maximum clarity. “Sometimes he uses a single IEM with wedge. But on this tour, he hasn’t used his in-ears at all; every day, we set them up for him, but he has preferred the NEXO wedges.”
Team Watson discovered the NEXO monitors rather by chance, when they were prepping at SSE’s Redditch warehouse. NEXO Concert Sound specialist Stuart Kerrison provided a demo and SSE’s Yan Stile agreed to be the first rental company to take them out in the UK.
“This is some new thinking around a piece of equipment that has hardly changed over the years,” says Savage. “The N-12 is the first line-array wedge. Put two of these monitors together and they couple, they’re designed to lock together to cover the area without any phasing, and they work together as a block.”
“With ordinary wedges, you have to take the low end out or they get boomy. Rather than using the stage, the box ends up fighting the stage. With the N-12s, you get the full flavour, which is much more natural for the artist. The threshold before feedback is really good, and, at the monitor console, Brandon Reece has found them to be particularly consistent in the way that he can tune them every day.”
So how does it work? The revolutionary NEXO 45°N-12 wedge monitor brings all the benefits of line-array technology to the stage. It draws on NEXO’s patented Hyperbolic Reflective Wavesource which is used throughout the GEO range of high-performance loudspeakers. The design works by wavesourcing, creating virtual acoustic sources behind the enclosure itself and below the stage, using reflection rather than coercion to determine the shape of the wavefront. Unlike a conventional high frequency waveguide in which the exit is rectangular, the NEXO monitor’s waveguide forms a ‘smile’, enabling cabinets to be linked together to form arrays without interference between wavefronts.
Monitor engineers will find that the N-12 design produces a very sharply defined dispersion pattern at the same time as offering a huge improvement in terms of level before feedback. The focused coverage results in lower acoustic power on stage.