Phil Vaught isn’t your ordinary country artist, so it’s no surprise that he won’t settle for ordinary equipment. When the crossover musician recently needed new monitors for the 200 performances that take him all over the country, annually, he chose FBT’s StageMaxX 12ma’s for their exceptional quality, transportability and design. The wedges, which he praises for their “big sound in a little box,” have turned out to be just as impressive – and unique – as Vaught’s music.
Influenced by artists ranging from Elvis to Foreigner, and by genres ranging from gospel to blues, Vaught’s “country” music isn’t cookie-cutter and it isn’t easily defined. It also keeps him very busy, playing year-round at major venues in the United States and abroad.
“The way I look at it,” says the Nashville-based performer, “when you’re hauling that much equipment down the road for as many shows as we do, you want to be as compact and efficient as you can be. FBT monitors are incredibly well designed. They’re small. They’re compact and coaxial by design. The definition and tight kick on them is right where it needs to be.”
Kent Laabs, President of Soundworks Systems, Inc. in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, originally suggested the FBT StageMaxX 12ma product to Vaught. A sound engineer with 30 years in the industry, Laabs is impressed with this particular FBT product.
“There are so many choices in floor wedges today,” said Laabs, “but this monitor is something special. The sound is extremely accurate and in phase due to the coaxial configuration, which allows for perfect alignment of the acoustic centers on both low and high frequency transducers. I can honestly say it’s one of the best I’ve heard. Other notable features include very usable box angles (35 and 55 degrees); a custom 12-inch B&C speaker; two dynamic Class D amplifiers – 400 and 100 watts – that are capable of delivering 130db maximum output; 90 degree dispersion; four selectable EQ presets and an HP Filter; low profile rubber feet; three ergonomic integrated carrying handles; three frontal status LED indicators; and Neutrik powerCON TRUE1 connectors that allow you to link up to four additional wedges.”
As a performer, Vaught appreciates Laabs’ expertise, as well as the accuracy of sound and benefits that the StageMaxX 12ma’s provide. He’s also traveled with a pair of FBT Verve 112ma’s on his guitar rig for years.
“When you’re the guy standing behind the wedge up on stage, you’re hearing something completely different than what the crowd hears through the mains,” says Vaught. “With my FBT’s, I don’t have to EQ anything. The first time I used them, I just ran everything flat and they were perfect, right out of the box. Literally. I just plugged them in and I didn’t have to worry about anything. And when I say I get a big sound, there is plenty of available head room and all of the components are of such good quality that it’s just hard to beat anything that’s that compact.”
FBT is an Italian company with a strong reputation and client base overseas. Vaught offers an explanation for the brand’s growing popularity here in the United States.
“Some companies seem to just bolt components together whether it sounds good or not,” he says. “Whoever designs at FBT really has an ear for what the end-user is looking for, and they take the time to put together a really unique product that stands on its own because of that.”
It seems that FBT has done for monitors, what Vaught has done for country music – created new standards within the industry, making music bigger and bolder in the process.