Matt Fellows quizzes Florent Bernard, L-Acoustics’ director of application, touring, on the manufacturer’s X Series of coaxial speakers, which were launched at Prolight + Sound earlier this year following a rigorous R&D process…
What was the main idea behind the X Series?
The R&D process to create the K2 [loudspeaker system] led us to make significant advances in the sound and directionality, as well as in handling and ergonomy. We felt that these breakthroughs in design would be well adapted to our coaxial line. The goal was to create each of the enclosures in the series to optimise it for a specific use.
We’ve gone back to the drawing table for each, and improved SPL, widened bandwidth, reduced weight for the X12 and 15 by 30%, reduced the size of the box and ensured that each speaker is easy to handle, transport, install and take down.
Tell us a bit about the new models – what are the key features of each?
The X8 is a live monitoring enclosure with maximum SPL, imparting a faithful translation of the engineer’s mix on the larger L-Acoustics live system. With a 1.5in diaphragm compression driver coaxially loaded by an 8in low frequency transducer in a bass-reflex cabinet, it’s also got our signature L-Vents (a feature on all X Series models – Ed), which reduce turbulence and port noise, increasing LF efficiency. The X8 goes from 60Hz to 20kHz and has a wide 100° conical directivity for spatial imaging.
The X12 is a multipurpose enclosure, perfectly suited to any short-throw application. The X12 operates from 59Hz to 20kHz and the ellipsoid design produces a 90° x 60° directivity with smooth tonal response, giving maximum flexibility. Using engineered wood, the enclosure has been reduced to 20kg (a 9kg weight loss compared to the previous 12XT) and ergonomic handles make it easy to carry and place. It’s got integrated risers (which we call stilettos) that allow for two different angle choices: 35° or 55° vertical.
The X15 HiQ is our reference stage monitor – an active coaxial system with a low latency preset, designed to integrate onto any stage and withstand even the most energetic live performers. The X15 goes from 55Hz to 20kHz and boasts ellipsoid directivity of 40° x 60°, perfectly adapted to stage monitoring. The X15 weighs just 21kg and the ultra-low profile – it’s just 341mm high – makes for easy integration onto any set. Like the X12, the X15 has integrated risers, allowing for a 35° or 55° vertical angle.
All X Series cabinets come in a RAL colour program, making them easy to integrate with any architecture.
How does it differ from the rest of your product portfolio?
Our mission at L-Acoustics is to keep our product portfolio as shallow as possible, meaning we avoid confusion by creating product lines that respond to a specific need – and so each of our product lines is clearly adopted for its niche.
What that means is the X Series is our only coaxial product line, and within the series each speaker has its specific use. The beauty of coaxial technology is that you don’t have any minimum listening distance; you get clear tonal balance over distance and excellent specialisation. For live/stage monitoring and fill needs, the X Series is the perfect solution.
You say that the X Series design was influenced by what the company learnt bringing the K2 system to market. What experience did you gain from the K2, and how did this affect the design?
When designing the K2 we set out to get the absolute most SPL in the smallest footprint possible. We meticulously chose our materials to assure power while cutting weight. We designed the cabinetry intelligently, using the material and form of the box to reinforce the acoustics. The result was a powerful speaker with extended bandwidth and horizontal as well as vertical directional capabilities that is quick and easy to rig.
What this translates into for the X Series is a 30% weight reduction for the X12 and X15, as well as a smaller profile – really important when you are doing stage or live monitoring. The angle settings for each enclosure have been carefully designed to ensure each is the most useful for its purpose.
How did you use industry feedback to your advantage?
In general, we are constantly getting feedback from our partners about their experience in rigging our systems. From this feedback, we’re continually improving the ergonomics and handling of our products. In the case of the X Series, this translates into an obsession with the handles (this is not a joke – our R&D team went back to the design over and over to ensure that the handles are easy to grip, comfortable to use and well-balanced!) as well as attention to details like the integrated pole mounts (they are specifically designed to welcome the pole on the first try, so users don’t have to spend time fiddling with the mount) and of course the L-Acoustics obsession with weight. Lighter boxes make for lighter freight costs, quicker install/rigging and happy users.
What were the challenges you faced during the R&D stage?
Whenever the team sets out to incorporate vase improvements in size, weight, SPL and bandwidth, you know that there will be many challenges along the way. Beyond that, it’s hard to be specific as we keep a close lid on our R&D processes.