BUENA PARK, Calif.—Kenny Chesney has always brought country’s brightest lights to America, and this heated summer is no different as he taps newcomer and quadruple 2013 Academy of Country Music nominee, Kacey Musgraves, and 2012 ACM Single of the Year winner and multiple 2013 ACM nominee, The Eli Young Band, to open on many of his ‘No Shoes Nation’ tour stops. Country Music Association 2012 Album of the Year Winner and ACM nominee leader, Eric Church, has also taken the stage on 16 of the 19 stadium dates, while triple Grammy-winner and multiple ACM nominee, Zac Brown Band, joined for three stadium shows including a co-headline show in their hometown of Atlanta. The tour is in support of Chesney’s latest CD “Life on a Rock.”
The 46-date tour, which began March 16 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, has made a major change to its stadium line array. Morris Light & Sound (Nashville) has provided a new NEXO STM line array for the 2013-2014 tour. The system layout is configured with 74 M46 for mains, 74 b112 bass extensions, 48 s118 flown subs, 16 RS18 ground ray subs, 12 PS10s for front fills, 14 GEO S 1210s and two GEO S1230s, 22 NUAR amp racks, and two Yamaha DME 64 digital mix engines with LAKE Mesa EQ cards for system tuning and console switching.
At an early stop at Cowboy Stadium, the 45,000+ concertgoers were treated to improved sound at the venue when the STM rig arrived for the Chesney show. The in-house audio crew was extremely impressed by the NEXO system.
Morris Light & Sound was involved early in the development process of the new NEXO System. “We were involved with the STM system for about a year before the system launched,” states John Mills, Morris VP and systems engineer for the Chesney tour. “Since we were the first company with a system of this size, Chris Rabold (Chesney FOH engineer) and I provided NEXO with tons of input on how it was performing and what we were doing with it from a tuning perspective.”
Mills said NEXO support was unparalleled. “We had at least one programmer and one system specialist with us for the first few weeks of rehearsals and shows. Beyond that, we sent them our tuning files and SMAART measurements and they incorporated our preferences into a new preset. Since then we honestly do very little to the PA each day. From stadium to shed, 70,000 seats to 10,000 seats, our tuning is almost always the same. The consistency and accuracy of the PA is like none I have ever tech’ed. From what my NS1 model predicts to what we measure is really the best software/hardware/measurement relationship I have ever experienced. It really makes my job as a system engineer easier because it is so accurate.”
One of the first things that attracted Morris Light & Sound to the NEXO STM, Mills continued, was the modularity. “It really works; we have done large and small venues and even some small ground stacked systems. It is great to have a system that sounds the same no matter how you deploy it. The modularity and scale-ability coupled with the accuracy are second to none. Sonically, the throw of the system out performs anything on the market. Vocals, guitars, and even high-hat and cymbals are still clear and musical at 400 feet away. It is very accurate and revealing. Very small moves in the system EQ are very noticeable. STM was everything I hoped it would be, and more.”
“From the first meeting we had with NEXO discussing the concept of the STM, I was very intrigued,” states Morris L&S President, David Haskell. “Then, after subsequent meetings, trips to the factory, and getting to better understand both the product and the people behind it, I am proud to say that this relationship with NEXO has been amazing. From concept drawings to manufacturing and implementation to ongoing support, the STM and the fine folks behind it can only be summed up in one word…flawless!”
The NEXO STM Series (Scale Through Modularity) loudspeaker cabinets are the first of its kind on the market. Ideal for touring, festivals, and sound company rental, the new system combines the best of Alpha functionality with the technical innovation of NEXO’s patented Hyperbolic Reflector and venting design in which all radiating surfaces are in phase, delivering a powerful, flexible, and easy to use system. STM enables line array systems to scale up or down depending on event audience size, from 1,000 to 100,000 people.
When asked how the STM sounds to him, front of house engineer, Rabold, said the system sounded hi-fi and clean. “Even when I drive it hard, it won’t distort. My ears have yet to feel fatigued after a show; that’s indicative of a clean system. On a mixing level, I’m getting some great sounds. There was a bit of a learning curve in the beginning as was to be expected. I have a specific sound that I want to achieve everyday. Once I learned what the NEXO STM wanted to do naturally, I married that with my own goals and we’ve been in great shape ever since. John Mills and NEXO obviously had a good line of communication by the time I arrived on the tour, and they were extremely proactive with any of our suggestions early on.”
“The Seahawks Stadium show was spectacular, and the audio was superb,” states Fred Micera, Audio Engineer, CenturyLink Field in Seattle. “I heard things/parts I had never heard before in past Chesney shows. Kenny’s voice was captured perfectly and has never sounded more natural. The mix was very well balanced and exciting. Tonally, it was bright and crisp without being harsh or overly sibilant. Clearly understanding everything Kenney had to say between songs was another new revelation. The definition between instruments, especially the multiple guitars were remarkable. Subtle use of panning and EQ made the 4-part guitar exchanges, in particular, stand out while staying musical and not overbearing in any way. The drum sound was quite impressive, and the bass guitar/bottom end was tight and well defined. The lack of overtones and clarity in the low end stopped me dead in my tracks as I crossed in front of the FOH mix position. The STM brings out a whole new dimension to the music.”
Micera said the volume level was steady throughout the night. “The PA system’s coverage was very consistent as we walked the house. Even in areas that are usually disappointing, the sound was solid and uncompromised by the surroundings. We were literally stunned. Seriously, stunned! The success of the system deployment and tuning was not lost on us either. John Mills really addressed the venue and clearly knows how to use the tools at his disposal. The fact that the opening acts sounded so good and all the mixes came together so quickly is another testament to John and the tour’s well-oiled machine.”
For more information on the “No Shoes Nation Tour”, visit www.kennychesney.com.
For more information on Morris Light & Sound visit, www.morrislightandsound.com.
For more information on the NEXO STM system, visit www.yamahaca.com.
PHOTO CREDITS: Keith Clark and John Mills
About Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems, Inc.:
Celebrating 125 years of Passion and Performance, and 25 years in the manufacturer of high quality digital audio consoles, Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems, Inc. (YCAS) provides a full line of integrated professional audio products offering complete systems solutions for the broadcast, sound reinforcement/installed sound, touring, commercial recording, and post production markets. With the addition of NEXO to the product line, the company remains the official U.S. and Canadian distributor for all NEXO speaker models. YCAS offers comprehensive in-house and field product training for its customers, a dedicated dealer network, and 24/7 technical support.