Oct 1, 2004 12:00 PM,
By John McJunkin
One of Europe’s top loudspeaker manufacturers is Paris-based Nexo. This organization makes an entire line of loudspeaker products, and the PS Series has become popular for touring, club, and other permanent installations. The PS15 is the largest of the series, and I test-drove a PS15 system and discovered it to be a high-quality solution.
The PS15’s cabinet is 675 mm long, 434 mm wide, and 368 mm deep. This solidly constructed cabinet is made of Baltic birch, and according to Nexo’s literature, it ships with a textured black polyurethane coating, though the speakers that I examined had a pleasant white finish. Due to the substantial construction, these speakers cannot be considered lightweight, weighing in at 64 pounds. On the other hand, they’re not unwieldy. I was able to move them around easily. The two recessed handles, which are integral to the cabinet itself, are nicely placed in locations that result in a nice sense of balance when carrying the unit.
Nexo’s literature indicates that the speaker features 77 percent transparent acoustic foam mounted on a perforated steel grille on the front to protect the drivers. The units that I examined did not have the foam, but the steel grilles were mounted with a clever magnetic quick-release scheme that enabled easy removal. A steel cable helps to ensure the safety of anyone around the cabinet in case that grille were to fall away. The cabinet also has three steel anchor points for a flying track (one on top and two on bottom). For speaker-on-a-stick applications, the cabinet has a 35 mm stand fitting. A set of four fixing points adhering to Omnimount 100 standard spacing is also featured for fixed installation. The PS15’s back panel is on a 45-degree angle, facilitating use as a floor-wedge monitor. Three NL4MP Speakon 4-pole connectors are found on the narrower back panel of the speaker: one for passive input, one for passive loop-through, and one for active input.
The low-frequency component is a 15-inch driver with impedance at 6ž. The high-frequency driver is a user-rotatable constant-directivity asymmetrical dispersion horn with a 1-by-2-inch throat and a 3-inch titanium diaphragm. High-frequency dispersion is 50 to 100 degrees horizontal by 55 degrees vertical, contingent upon which of the four available orientations is chosen. The published frequency response is 50 Hz to 18 kHz (±3 dB). When used with the LS1200 subwoofer, the response of the entire system is 30 Hz to 19 kHz (±3 dB). The published usable range (at -6 dB) is 47 Hz to 18 kHz for the PS15 alone and 29 Hz to 18 kHz with the LS1200. This is an efficient loudspeaker, with sensitivity (1W at 1 meter) of 102 dB sound pressure level (SPL) nominal (300 Hz to 3 kHz), 99 dB SPL wideband. Nominal peak SPL at 1 meter is 131 to 134 dB (for a 550 to 1200W RMS amplifier).
The crossover frequency is 900 Hz in both Passive and Active modes. Nominal impedance in Passive mode is 8ž, and in Active mode, the low frequency exhibits impedance of 6ž and the high frequency loads 8ž. The PS15 must be used with one of Nexo’s controllers (PS15 TD MkII analog or NX241 digital). The system that I test-drove featured the PS15 TD MkII. The input wiring of the PS15 is 2- and 2+ on the passive input Speakon connectors and 1- and 1+ for the LS1200. Loop-through connectors are featured on both speakers. Single cables can be used to loop through combinations of passive PS15s and LS1200s in no particular order.
Because this review is strictly intended to cover the PS15 speakers, I won’t include as much detail in regard to the LS1200 subwoofer, but a short description is called for. This is not a dainty subwoofer, measuring 515 by 791 by 597 mm. It weighs 99 pounds and has a 4ž 18-inch long-excursion low-frequency driver. The published frequency range is 30 Hz to 120 Hz (±3 dB). Peak SPL is a hearty 133 to 135 dB with an 800 to 1200W RMS amplifier. This speaker provides healthy low end. The PS15 TD MkII analog controller is a simple 2-in, 3-out crossover intended exclusively for usage with PS15 speaker systems. In Passive mode, this box can handle stereo PS15s and a single LS1200 subwoofer, and in Active mode, Nexo’s PS15 bass speaker can be introduced for a three-way system. In this case, two controllers are necessary for stereo.
TURN IT ON
I test-drove the Nexo system in the 6,000-square-foot live sound venue at the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences in Gilbert, Arizona. Included were a pair of PS15s, an LS1200 subwoofer, and a PS15 TD MkII analog controller. All listening was conducted in Passive mode. A pair of Camco amplifiers was included in the rack, as well. I simply fed signal from the conservatory’s front-of-house console directly to the amp rack. The speakers were placed onstage and the subwoofer at ground level just in front of the stage. I listened to a diversity of mixes with which I was very familiar. The overall sound was excellent. Reproduction was smooth throughout the frequency range, confirming the reasonably flat individual speaker plots provided by Nexo. For that matter, the crossover from subwoofer to PS15 was also nice and smooth. I heard no distortion, even at significantly high SPLs. Indeed, this system was capable of providing copious SPL, as well.
The one thing that really struck me was the high end. Nexo’s high-frequency drivers are excellent, and that’s not to say that the low-frequency driver is merely adequate. It’s also very good, but the horns are truly outstanding. The highs were crisp without being brittle or harsh. The mids and high mids were presented clearly in an uncolored fashion. Walking left to right through the image also proved that the dispersion is not particularly beamy. Also, the long-throw dispersion and image proved to be very good. The audience in the back gets as clear an image as those in the front. I listened to the PS15s alone without the subwoofer (and filtered above the crossover), and I found the reproduction clean and full in that part of the range, as well.
LOUD AND CLEAR
The Nexo PS15 is a truly great loudspeaker, particularly when it is used with a subwoofer, and the unit’s high end is particularly nice. I’m very curious to hear Nexo’s higher-end products. If you do work in small-to-moderate-size venues, this loudspeaker is certainly worthy of your consideration.
John McJunkinis the principal of Avalon Audio Services in Phoenix and engages in consulting for both studios and live sound applications.
Company: Nexo USA; www.nexo.fr
Pros: Excellent sound quality. Solid construction.
Cons: Not particularly stackable. Bass extension necessary for most FOH applications. Analog controller box must be opened and jumpers moved to shift from Passive to Active mode or vice versa.
Applications: Live sound. Main or floor monitor.
Price: $2,649 per unit
Components LF: 1″ × 15″ (38 cm) 6ž driver; HF: 1″ × 2″ throat, 3″ titanium diaphragm driver plus low distortion, constant directivity asymmetrical dispersion horn.
Size (H × W × D) 26.63″ × 17.13″ × 14.50″ (675 × 434 × 368 mm)
Weight 64 lb. (29.03 kg)
Connectors 3× NL4MP Speakon 4-pole; passive in, passive loop through, active in
Construction Baltic birch ply finished with textured polyurethane black coating
Fittings Handles two, integral to cabinet
Front finish Acoustic foam on perforated steel grille (77 percent transparent)
Flying Points (1) steel anchor point for flying track on top (9 positions); (2) steel anchor plates for flying track on bottom (3 positions)
Stand Fittings Built-in stand fitting, 1⅜” (35 mm)
Fixed Installation 1 set of 4 fixing points (Omnimount 100 Std spacing)
Frequency Response 50 Hz-18 kHz, ±3 dB (30 Hz-19 kHz, ±3 dB with LS1200 subwoofer)
Usable Range (@ -6 dB) 47 Hz-18 kHz (29 Hz-18 kHz with LS1200 subwoofer)
Sensitivity 1W @ 1m, 102 dB SPL nominal, -99 dB SPL wideband
Nominal Peak (SPL @ 1m) 131-134 dB peak (for 550 to 1200W RMS amp)
HF Dispersion 50° to 100° horizontal × 55° vertical; rotatable horn, 4 positions
Directivity Q & DI Q: 16 nominal; DI: 12 dB nominal (f > 1.5 kHz)
Crossover Frequencies 900 Hz passive or active (internally switchable)
Nominal Impedance 8ž (passive); LF 6ž, HF 8W (active)
Recommended Amplifiers 550 to 1200W into 8ž for (1) PS15; 1000 to 1800W into 4ž for (2) PS15 per channel