Duane Sheets began his career in professional audio over 40 years ago with a recording studio in Salem, Oregon. Soon after, he added a music retail outlet adjacent to the studio that became Alpha Sound, which also offers live sound equipment rentals.
Corporate events and installations propelled the company through the 2000’s and now the inventory includes new NEXO STM line arrays and a Yamaha CL5 console. Although based in Salem, Alpha Sound provides services throughout the United States and occasionally Europe.
Alpha Sound owns quite the selection of NEXO loudspeakers beginning with the French manufacturer’s earliest days in the U.S. as well as a stable of Yamaha consoles, owning every Yamaha digital console series up through the CL5.
“While there are many great products on the market, we remain exclusive to Yamaha and NEXO not only for their superior sound and functionality, but also because of the incredible strength of the company and the brand,” states Alpha owner Duane Sheets. “Having also been a Yamaha dealer who owned one of the first PM1D’s, the new partnership between Yamaha and NEXO has been wonderful.”
Sheets says his son Devin recently returned from living in Europe to take on the role of lead system tech and front of house engineer. Both Duane and Devin have university degrees in music and an intense passion for the arts. Having both heard a NEXO STM line array demo at NEXO HQ in France it was obvious that this was a new level of sonic excellence that Alpha was looking for. Although purchased very recently, the new system has already made quite the impression.
“We have been using the M28’s stacked on S118’s and it has worked very well,” the younger Sheets says. The STM system configuration includes six M46 with three M28 cabinets flown per side using Variobumpers, and a total of twelve S118 subs with five NX4x4 amplifiers.
Alpha Sound’s NEXO STM was used most recently for a performance by Joshua Bell and the Salem Symphony and for a TEDx Conference event in Portland.
“With Joshua Bell in Salem, we had the S118’s in B2B cardioid mode with some EQ to help the crossover up to 85Hz, and then crossed them over with some PS15’s (two per side) which were processed with the B112 setting and our own custom cardioid configuration from 85-200Hz,” notes Devin. “The GEO-S8 was then crossed over at 200Hz on the Yamaha CL5 console. While a bit non-standard, it sounded amazing; tons of gain from everything. At the TEDx Conference, the M28’s provided new clarity and presence for the Keller Auditorium floor level, with the S118’s giving a very smooth bass response throughout the hall.”
“Since Alpha now specializes in new and creative uses for amplification, STM will enable us to bring a clarity and presence that is appropriate for classical, jazz, and experimental musical styles, as well as the volume and impact necessary for pop/rock events.”
“Through my experience, amplification in a classical setting has always been a touchy subject,” comments Dallas Aimer, music director for the Salem Symphony. Many classical musicians are hesitant to use technology in this capacity. However, from the first note, Alpha Sound quelled any misgivings. They strived to produce the best sound quality while maintaining the intimacy of delicate musical sections. There’s a unique understanding and skill that comes with classical and orchestral sound amplification, and Alpha Sound has exceeded every expectation.”
Christopher Noel, associate conductor for the Salem Symphony shares Aimer’s sentiments regarding Alpha Sound. “The company is professional, great to work with, and the best experience I have had with amplifying a symphony orchestra.”