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New NEXO STM sound system for Rock’n’Heim

Although STM stands for Scale Through Modularity, it could well be taken to mean ‘simplify this mess.’ Just ask Martin Ramrath, master of all things audio at satis&fy, who is happy to sing the praises of this new sound system made by the French outfit Nexo, now a Yamaha brand. The rig is “Modularly configurable, more flexible and simpler than ever,” says Martin after its first deployment at Hockenheim’s Rock’n’Heim show. Consisting of Main, Bass, Sub und Omni modules, the STM foursome scales to fit practically every application, from huge open-air festivals to team meetings with PPT presentations. The days when tweeters and woofers were installed in a heavy monolith are over. These days, it’s all about flexibility: Main modules can be flown on their own while the Bass bins remain on the ground. Martin adds, “One Sub, Bass and Main module each ground-stacked customers, deploying the rig at Rock’n’Heim, one of Germany’s larger open-air festivals with 35,000 concertgoers.

One of the bigger challenges at this year’s gig was how to separate the sound of the main stage and adjacent secondary stage. As Martin explains it with tongue planted firmly in cheek, “Those who paid attention in physics class know how to defeat sound waves.” Called phase cancellation, this little acoustical trick is used to contain aircraft noise and sound at large open air events like this. While the secondary stage’s left side packed a mighty sonic punch with a full complement of Main, Bass and Omni modules, the right side made do with a dozen Omni MA 28 modules. Musicians rarely appreciate getting hammered with sub-bass frequencies, so a cardioid subwoofer array was deployed in front of the main stage to contain the volume on stage. Martin was able to configure the rig very precisely using Nexo NS-1 software. It provides views of sound waves’ propagation that look much like weather maps. This made it easier for the promoter’s audio engineer and Martin to pinpoint the best spots for speakers such as the delay lines made up of eight-meter towers covering the audiences at the back. “We first had to persuade the bands of the Nexo system’s benefits,” notes Martin.

There is always the risk of deploying a system too large and powerful for the venue, but it was minimized with trial runs conducted on Nexo’s grounds. A Nexo system engineer and a network specialist accompanied the team to Hockenheim. Martin hastens to add that STM will augment rather than replace the company’s other systems. On the contrary, he insists that “all our systems from L-Acoustics to d&b have their advantages.” However, an engineer as passionate as Martin is bound to wax ecstatic when he’s impressed. His tip for enthusiasts is to deploy “a three-wide STM with Mains flanked by Bass units. It’s a killer system; overkill really; but it sure looks great.”

Photos: Michael Grein

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