Often, one can look at a product and tell what the designers were thinking. Unpacking the Noho/C and Soho 12 Technomad Speaker Systems revealed that Technomad’s engineers think military specifications are just way too wimpy!
Product PointsApplications: Live sound; sound reinforcement; amusement parks; dance clubs; portable and install
Key Features: Roto-molded construction; molded-in cabinet hardware; lockable speaker lids; WeatherTech grille
Price: Soho 12: $799; Noho/C: $999
Contact: Technomad at 800-464-7757.
+ Rock-solid construction
+ Musical sound
The Score: Combination of durable construction, sound and features can’t be beat.
In Technomad’s Quicktime movie downloads its speaker is thrown into a river from a 50-foot high bridge, pummeled with a sledge hammer, shot with six shotgun blasts, then soaked with gasoline and set on fire (don’t try this at home, kids). In the operational demonstration, a pump shoots 300 gallons of water per hour over an active Technomad loudspeaker.
When the volume is cranked up, water sprays onto the crowd from the Technomad’s bass driver port. While the demo’s a bit extreme, it shows off the durability of the cabinet, its construction and the components contained within. It’s no mystery as to why these speakers are the choice of the military.
Recent installations include the King Kong and Jurassic Park rides at Universal Studios Theme Park, where speakers are constantly doused with hundreds of gallons of water or blasted with live steam, 16 hours a day, 363 days per year.
Technomad speakers’ design and manufacturing techniques allow them to withstand much abuse. The company uses a manufacturing technology called roto-molding, which is also used by the military, broadcast, audio, medical and computer industries.
Roto-molding, quite a different process from injection molding, produces 1/2″ thick cabinet walls and 3/4″ thick corners that are free of imperfections such as air bubbles, stress areas and other weaknesses. This makes for a very strong cabinet, especially in the corner areas where impact is likely to occur.
The corrugation designed into the cabinet walls provides extreme rigidity to the entire cabinet structure, without the need for additional internal cross-bracing or other supports.
Technomad claims its speaker cabinet offers acoustic performance comparable to 18-ply Baltic or Finnish birch cabinets, but without the sensitivity to moisture and rot inherent in such materials.
In addition to standard black, Technomad offers 13 other colors. These colors are molded throughout the cabinet – not just on the surface. Technomad says the color, as well as the cabinet itself, will never fade or break down due to chemicals, chlorine, bromine, UV radiation, etc.
Placement of cabinet hardware, butterfly anchors (lid latches) and T-nut flypoints are held in place during the molding process. The embedded construction makes these points extremely strong. The pull-strength of a molded-in T-nut flypoint is rated at 400 lb/point. The small, low-profile, recessed lid latches are ATA-III rated and meet Mil-Spec 810E.
Cabinet hardware is black stainless steel, will not rust or corrode and is easily replaceable. Neutrik connectors are recessed just below and to the back of recessed, spring-loaded handles – one on each end.
All Technomad speakers have 1.5″ diameter sockets molded in the sides, top and bottom so the speaker can be stand-mounted on any Quick-Lok or USS Tripod speaker stand. The 1.5″ diameter sockets on the back of the cabinet allow the speaker to convert into wedge monitors with the use of optional monitor tilt legs.
Shorter lengths of tubing can be used between stacked speakers to provide a slip-proof interface – rather like a Tinker Toy peg-and-hole locking system. This unique feature is easy to use and works great. It’s fast, foolproof and safe. It also allows for rotating the top speaker of a stack back toward the stage for a foldback or sidefill speaker, without compromising the security of the stack · cool!!
The speaker lids lock onto the back of the cabinets, preventing loss and providing a larger footprint for stacking stability. Half of an optional metal fin can be sandwiched between the back of the cabinet and lid, with the other half similarly trapped between a speaker stacked above the first, locking the two together for stacking stability.
The lids have rubber gaskets to keep out undesirable elements, such as water and dust. Cables, mics and other small goodies can be stored under the lid – items stored under the lid won’t bother the speaker’s drivers.
The grilles are about as tough as everything else on these things. The WeatherTech grille consists of a powder-coated perforated metal outer screen with inner layers of mesh and foam. The fine mesh and foam inner layers prevent rain, sand and even dust from entering the cabinet. Next, an internal polyurethane foam layer acts as a massive filter, collecting extremely fine dust that could adversely effect the voice coils and diaphragms.
Travel protection is assured when the watertight lid is attached to the front of the cabinet, and the speaker becomes an ATA III rated flight case. With the lid attached, the cabinets can be locked together for truck transport, individually shipped by common carrier or checked as airline baggage.
The speaker drivers have been equally toughened up. Customized cast-frame bass and coaxial drivers start out with paper cones but, after Technomad gets through with them, the driver material resembles plastic more than paper. A chemical treatment ensures the cones will not absorb – or be affected by – water or other liquids. Technomad’s treatment prevents the cone material from drying out, weakening and cracking. If water ever managed to reach the drivers, it would simply bead up and shed away.
The Noho/C ($999) features a proprietary, weather-resistant coaxial 1″ and 12″ driver with a cast frame. A passive internal crossover splits up the signal. Metalized polypropylene capacitors and heavy gauge inductors minimize insertion loss. Frequency response is listed as 60 Hz to 17.5 kHz (+/ö 2 dB).
Sensitivity is 96 dB SPL (1w/1m) and can achieve a maximum (peak) SPL of 118 dB. Dispersion is 60 degrees x 90 degrees. The Noho/C handles 275 W continuous power with maximum peak power rated at 500 W. The 1″ high frequency compression driver lives within the 12″ low-frequency driver and is not visible like some coaxial speakers. Without the grilles, the Noho and Soho appear almost identical.
The Tour Model Noho/C features a five-position internal passive processor EQ system. The passive processor eliminates the need for outboard processors, thereby eliminating expense and system complexity. The EQ contour of the Technomad full-range models is shaped by the passive processor, providing maximum efficiency and fidelity for any indoor or outdoor event or program material.
A slotted shaft in the upper left corner of the cabinet adjusts the processor. The adjustment shaft is recessed behind the grille and is accessible through a hole. A small standard screwdriver is needed for access, so plan ahead. The Nohos are 20.9″ high, 15.5″ wide and 10.4″ deep without the lid. Add 2.4″ for the lid. They weigh 58 lb. without the lid (60 lb. with the lid).
Soho 12 Subwoofer
The Soho ($799) has a built-in internal crossover. A 12″ low-frequency driver operates from 40 Hz to 200 Hz with a sensitivity of 96 dB SPL (1w/1m). Like the Noho, the sub handles 275 W continuous power with a maximum peak power rating of 500 W.
The Soho 12’s internal network is wired to a pair of Neutrik NL4MP Speakon connectors, one on each end of the cabinet. The Neutrik connectors are wired 1+/1-, allowing the Soho to be daisy-chained with the Noho/C using one amplifier. The Soho has the same dimensions as the Noho/C but it weighs less (45 lb.).
The Technomad loudspeaker cabinet is unconditionally warrantied against defects in manufacturing for 10 years. The external cabinet hardware is unconditionally warrantied against defects in manufacturing for five years and all internal electronics are warrantied against manufacturer defects for two years.
Playing with the Technomads – running with and without the subs – underscored how capable the Noho/Cs are without the subs. Of course, with the subs in line, the difference was noticeable. The subs nicely filled out the bottom end, but remember, the full-range Noho/Cs go down to 60 Hz.
With most musical material, the subs weren’t missed as much as one would think. Musical presentation, both with and without the subs, was highly satisfying and musically accurate.
A last minute DJ job for graduation dance gave me a chance to use the Technomads in a larger venue. Transport was easy and convenient. I was able to store a mic and mic cord, speaker cables, a few power strips, several long power cords and the 12″ stacking/monitor tilt tubes underthe lids of the Technomads.
Using the stacking tubes to physically interconnect the Soho and Noho twins, setup was a breeze. Connecting them with the dual-ended Neutrik-terminated cable was instant.
The built-in passive processor was handy for adding sparkle to the music and clarity to announcements by faculty members. After playing around for a few minutes, just to hear the differences, I settled on the processor’s middle position – two clicks from the flat setting, which is referred to as the concert setting.
The sound quality was great! Bass, especially from rap music, was solid and punchy. The kids were impressed that something as compact as the Technomad system could put out the kind of bass levels from a system that is not much larger than car subs. I was surprised too. Vocals were clear and natural, as were the highs.
It turned out to be a piece of cake. The kids took this opportunity to bring their own CDs, and I had a steady flow of requests.
The Technomads would be my first choice for the small-to-medium-sized venues that I do the sound for. Venues that range from the size of a hotel ballroom to a large, collegiate-sized gymnasium. Technomad, of course, has installations in much larger venues than what I typically experience.
For my purposes, the ease of transport and setup, along with the extreme durability of these speakers, make the choice a no-brainer. And given the rich, very musical sound quality, the Technomads are the way to go.