Welsh alternative rock band Lostprophets is the first in the world to tour with a NEXO GEO T Series array system implementing the new NXstream system management software. NEXO claims that the new operating software offers significant improvements to system flexibility and audio quality – front-of-house engineers Alan 'Doof' McCann and Jason Hattams offer the first in-the-field evaluations.
Lostprophets and their FOH engineer Alan 'Doof' McCann (pictured top) are big fans of NEXO, having specified an ALPHA system for two world tours in 2006. Following the success of last autumn’s theatre tour, the band is back to play their first arena headlining shows. For these dates, SSE Audio Group upgraded them to a NEXO GEO T Series system plus NEXO's NX242 advanced digital controller, fitted with NXtension (expander) memory cards, and carrying the revolutionary NXStream software operating system.
"It's the best I've ever heard it sound," says Jason ‘Baboon’ Hattams (pictured bottom), SSE's senior systems tech who has designed and mixed more GEO T systems than just about anybody in Europe. "The system has so much more information on the top end, all the way to 16kHz. When I first heard it, I thought, 'I'd mix on that without any EQ.'"
His words are echoed by Doof, FOH engineer for Lostprophets for the last six years, who loves his ALPHA systems but asked for GEO T on this tour, acknowledging that it's the only way to go for arena shows. "With the new NXStream operating system, I found GEO T a lot tighter, easier to control, and more responsive. I try to layer my mixes as much as I can, and get a lot of detail down."
Doof admits that he likes to drive his PA as hard as possible – although, after three arena shows, he had only destroyed one diaphragm! "Once we start, I never look up as I'm constantly changing things and adjusting to the way the band is playing on the night. The new GEO T gives me all the detail I need; I used to mix through headphones, but on this tour, I don’t need to bother." Even when Doof is running the system at 95% of its capability, Jason Hattams points out that the coherency is still really good.”
Both Doof and Jason Hattams agree that the biggest improvement is "in the whole lo-mid thing: instead of pushing up the low mid stuff around 125 on the graphic, I now find I’ve got so much punch I’m pulling it back!" Lostprophets's touring system is carrying both digital and analogue consoles – a Midas Heritage 3000 for Doof, and a Soundcraft Vi6 for Jason Hattams to mix the support bands Aiden and Taking Back Sunday. Simultaneously running analogue multicore, in case of EtherSound drop out, has enabled them to A/B test the GEO T system with and without EtherSound, and with both front-end formats.
"The all-digital system goes from Vi6 console via t.c. electronic converters, into NetCira. With the Heritage console out front, the difference was amazing; the system sounded like it had been coloured, and there was a huge presence boost in the low end," explained Hattams. "Using EtherSound also gave us a quite audible difference, you could hear the headroom change. There is a tremendous improvement in the coherence of the system. All the NX242s sound the same, which means everything sounds linear."
Doof has specified Lostprophets' arena system with main left and right arrays each of 17x GEO T4805s plus 3x T2815s. Side hangs left and right use 8x T4805s plus 2x T2815s. The system uses 12x CD18 SubBass each side. With 10x NX242 controllers, the system is entirely run on an EtherSound network and powered by CAMCO Vortex 6 amplifiers.
The EtherSound network is providing monitoring of all the amp channels; Hattams can see the whole system at FOH. “I use the wireless tablet remote control to walk the room and adjust the system, particularly to adjust side hang levels and EQ relative to the main PA once the audience has come in and changed the room’s voice.”
"What's the advantage of GEO T with EtherSound? All of this – an arena system plus three sound desks – goes into one truck," says Hattams. "It's a great package; in and rigged in four hours, out in 90 minutes. It has a small footprint, small hangs and it throws for days!"
Main hangs: 17 x T4805, 3x T2815
Side hangs: 8x T4805, 2x T2815
24x CD18 subs
10x NX242 TDcontroller w/ES4
CAMCO Vortex 6
FOH console: Midas Heritage 3000