NEXO’S STM: A System For All Seasons?
At Prolight+Sound last month, NEXO revealed its concept for a new modular-design high-end loudspeaker series. Pre-Frankfurt, TPi got up close and personal with the French manufacturer at its Paris headquarters to get the in depth story on STM, which, NEXO claims, is the ultimate multi-purpose box.
The STM (Scale Through Modularity) project actually got underway more than two years ago when Nexo decided to replace its popular GEO T box (launched in 2002), and build a ‘next generation’ loudspeaker. From the off, according to Nexo’s R&D Director, Francois Deffarges, it was imperative to make something ‘a bit different’ that would stand the test of time and appeal to a wide range of users.
“We were determined not to create ‘just another line array’. We certainly didn’t want it to be a stadium-only system,” he explained. “We wanted it to be useable for business arenas in the winter time as well as a range of smaller venues for different live applications, which is ultimately what led us down the modular route.”
STM comprises four modules: Main, Bass, Sub and Omni, all of which are the same width, to help provide a more compact and efficient setup.
The main module is the M46, a full range, lightweight (55Kg) and low-density box which boasts four six-and-a-half-inch drivers for the mid-range and four high-frequency drivers with Ketone polymer diaphragms that guarantee an even response between 10 and 20 kHz, as well as a long throw. It has four six-and-a-half-inch LF/MF drivers and four HF compression drivers, which provide full-range coverage over a 90º horizontal dispersion.
The bass module is the powerful B112, which, according to Nexo, offers as much as 10-12 dB more than a standard bass solution. It is a 12-inch horn-loaded box which provides 63-200 Hz coverage and a splaying angle of up to 10º.
The S118 sub, which can be run in omnidirectional or cardioid sub mode, is double the height of the M46 and comprises one neodymium 18-inch LF driver. It has a peak SPL of 143dB and a frequency response of 25-85Hz.
Lastly, there is the M28, which is known as the omni module. At first glance it could be mistaken for a downfill, and although it fulfils that role comfortably, it actually has a lot more to offer than that. The M28 has two eight-inch LF drivers, four four-inch MF drivers, one HF compression driver, a 140dB peak SPL, and a frequency response of 60 Hz - 20 kHz; add to that 120º of horizontal dispersion and 0-15º splaying angle between modules and, as Nexo says, it’s very much a box to be reckoned with on its own.
The manufacturer was also keen to get as much ‘grass-roots’ input as possible at the design stage, to see if there was anything in particular that people would like to see incorporated into a new system. This involved close interaction with three of the world’s leading sound rental companies, and any number of system engineers and riggers.
“We went directly to the guys that rig the kit and asked them what they’d like to see in a new line array,” Deffarges said, “and one of the main points was: ‘make a system I can fly on my own’. That, we realised, was where the true value could lie.”
As a result, Nexo has incorporated its new Piston Rig system into the back of each cabinet, delivering streamlined compression-mode rigging that eliminates the guesswork, risk and physical effort from the process of getting large-format speakers in the air.
“The Piston Rig has allowed us to honour the engineers’ demands of being able to fly the system on their own,” Deffarges explained. “One person can fly it via its motor suspension and two rigging points. The system also includes one-tonne rigging parts, and we have designed self-correcting modular dollies which make it very easy to organise and move systems of any size, anywhere. That, we feel, is also pretty unique.”
According to Deffarges, the STM benefits from its 1-1-1 ratio (main, bass, sub) design, and apparently, rigging is ‘as simple as putting building blocks together’.
“It’s like building a system with Lego, in a way; ultimately, we feel that STM is a system which fits the way you want to work,” he continued. “The main enclosures can be flown as a single column only, or you can combine bass and main enclosures on the same column. Alternatively, you can groundstack it, putting a main and a bass enclosure on top of a couple of subs, for example, so it becomes a plug ‘n play standalone system too, if you want it to be. There are so many options, all of which are equally appealing.”
Nexo has also released its NUAR Rack (Nexo Universal Amp Rack) which houses two NXAmp 4x4 units, and is capable of feeding 12 of the STM modules.
“The NUAR Rack is also compatible with any other Nexo products, of course, but it works particularly well with the STM modules,” Deffarges insisted. “STM is really a massive injection of common sense, and it dovetails with the rest of the Nexo kit seamlessly; for example, you could use it in conjunction with RS18 subs - we just wanted to keep everything as flexible and simple as possible.”
Ken Iwayama, Nexo’s Product Strategy Director, believes that the NUAR rack will add an extra dimension due to its new Dante capability.
“The addition of a Dante option adds merit for all Nexo customers,” he stated. “For many years, Nexo has been an EtherSound partner but that platform is primarily suitable for live use, whereas Dante is more flexible, and primarily suited to installs. It’s easier to match it with existing IT infrastructure in the project for example, and it’s a very good option which allows us to cater for a wider range of applications.”
Nexo believes that STM is the most versatile and appealing offering in today’s high-end touring market, and it sounds like it’s been an extraordinary team effort to get to this point.
Deffarges concluded: “The production of the STM has only been possible due to the exceptional hard work from everyone in all of our departments, working together as one unit; the technicians, the support guys, R&D, training, everyone – modularity has become a philosophy at Nexo, and we believe it can re-define touring sound.”
Photos by Nexo