Capital Sound Innovates with Nexo STM for Pet Shop Boys

Electronic music duo The Pet Shop Boys have received rave reviews for the first two dates of their 2013 Electric tour. Capital Sound Hire deployed its NEXO STM system for the shows in London and Manchester, the largest they have undertaken to date, using the first three-wide configuration of the modular line array, requested by FOH engineer Holger Schwark.


For both the O2 Arena and MEN Arena, Capital’s sound design presented a main left/right system in a ‘double bass’ configuration, with each array having a hang of 15x STM M46 main cabinets in the centre, and two hangs of 15x STM B112 bass units, one on each side of the mains. The outfill arrays covering the sides of the arenas used 15x M46 main cabinets per side. There was also a flown line of 9x STM S118 subs per side, and 9x S118s ground-stacked per side.

PSB_4Holger Schwark explains his decision to go with STM for the two concerts. Since Capital is our supplier for the control gear, its new STM system was an obvious choice, he says. I had to think about whether I was happy to use such a new system on a big gig like this, so we had a small version of it with three tops, basses and subs per side to play with in rehearsals, and I got a good idea of the tonality of the system and how it behaves. The sound it produces is very clear, and I like the clarity of the top end; in the Arena, it covers well right up to the last rows. It’s also very consistent – during sound check, I wasn’t hearing any drastic changes walking around so it seems to be mechanically well designed.

I do like its performance, Schwark added, after two arena shows in front of the STM system. I could hear pretty much every detail I mixed at FOH, while it had a punchy, exciting overall sound quality. I also got quite a few positive comments after each concert, so I can safely assume that many others liked the sound.

The unusual three-wide configuration of the main hangs was designed at the request of Schwark, exploiting the flexibility of NEXO’s modular design. Often, a proper full range setup on the side has adverse effects in front of the main PA – things get too ‘boomy’, so I use EQ to reduce the low mids and lows on the side PA. It felt logical to move the LF elements from the side hangs to the main hangs, maintaining the total number of required speakers, amps etc. And using the same box for the mids and highs, between the main and side hangs, brings exceptional uniformity in the tonal balance when walking from the main zone into the sides.”


Describing his subwoofer setup, Schwark explained, “I am a big fan of flown subs, as the bottom end is usually more evenly distributed for a larger part of the audience, whereas ground-stacked designs tend to massively massage the fans in the first rows, much more than I would personally feel comfortable with. We went for a combination of flown and groundstacked subs, with the flown ones running at a slightly higher volume. They sounded great – a massive, punchy bottom end.”

Ian Colville, Capital Sound Hire’s technical manager, offers the company’s perspective: “Capital Sound has been involved with the STM project from day one and it’s very rewarding to be able to introduce the system to our clients and for it to be so well received. These two shows are the largest that we have undertaken with STM to date and I think that the speed with which the system can be rigged and de-rigged was particularly impressive.


The ability to tailor a STM system design to suit a particular type of programme material or just the engineer’s personal taste is also a massive advantage and I’m looking forward to creating bespoke designs utilizing the four STM building blocks, as we’ve done with The Pet Shop Boys.”

Schwark looks ahead to more STM events: “I am looking forward to seeing a great new system entering the scene. Usually the Pet Shop Boys tour with only desks and control gear, using local PA systems as we travel around the world. I will happily add STM to the next revision of our list of preferred PA systems.”


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