An Ongoing History of Innovation in Audio Engineering
Since its founding, Meyer Sound has been devoted to meeting the needs of sound reinforcement professionals with the finest products available, the industry’s most extensive and knowledgeable customer support, and high-level technical education.
The 1970s saw sound equipment for live performance increase in power capability, but not in reliability or fidelity. In 1979, John and Helen Meyer established Meyer Sound to create and support high-quality products for sound reinforcement and recording, designed to meet the real challenges faced by audio practitioners. Today, the company’s history shows a track record of more than 30 years of innovation, quality, performance and support.
Meyer Sound has more than 300 employees at its Berkeley, Calif., headquarters and satellite offices, including one of the largest engineering staffs (in proportion to company size) in the audio industry. International sales and support are supplied by more than half a dozen offices around the globe. The company works closely with professionals in all areas of sound reinforcement, gathering information on customers’ needs and providing the tools, training, technical support and information to enable the best experience possible for sound system users and audiences alike. Meyer Sound products are manufactured entirely at its Berkeley factory, where high technology is combined with hand craftwork. By performing core processes in house, the company is able to exercise the control to insure its quality standards are met and that each unit is exactly the same as the last.
John and Helen Meyer have been personally involved with the performing arts for years, which has given them a feeling for the role of technology in the arts. Meyer Sound is often involved directly with the performing arts at both corporate and individual levels, locally in Berkeley and worldwide. This is one more way that the company stays in touch with the real reason for its existence.
A Company Dedicated To Great Sound
Meyer Sound has always created totally integrated systems: comprehensive solutions encompassing transducer design, signal processing, and power amplification, as well as tools to support these systems with electroacoustic prediction, system measurement and alignment, signal processing, and system drive.
Meyer Sound engineers have earned an enviable reputation for developing unique solutions to some of the most difficult problems confronting audio professionals. Meyer Sound breakthroughs — such as the 1995 introduction of self-powered systems — have often become standard in the industry. The company’s 34 U.S. and foreign patents and numerous awards (including five prestigious TEC awards) present further testimonial to Meyer Sound’s advances to the art and science of audio.
With the 2006 acquisition of LCS Audio and release of the Galileo loudspeaker management system, Meyer Sound decisively entered the world of digital audio, positioning the company to continue leading the industry into the future.
John Meyer’s philosophy is that no component of a system should be compromised to compensate for variables “upstream” or “downstream”; the entire system must be conceived, designed, manufactured, and tested as a whole. Further, Meyer Sound believes that exceptional customer support both before and after a sale, including science-based professional training, is equally a part of the company’s mission.
The company’s ultimate goal is to meet the needs of our customers and to provide the best experience possible to them and to audiences. For Meyer Sound, doing business is all about the relationships we build and maintain with our customers.
When customers invest in equipment, they are making a commitment that goes beyond the financial. Recognizing our customers’ investment in the company, as well as its products, Meyer Sound is dedicated to delivering products and services that continue to pay returns on that investment for years after the purchase.
Meyer Sound products are designed for long product life and each new product is carefully considered to insure that it adds capabilities to the product line and does not simply obsolete customers’ investments prematurely. Specifications are derived from careful measurements taken using scientific methods designed to produce statistics meaningful to real-world applications, not just inflated marketing numbers. This guarantees that customers actually get the performance that is promised.
As a privately owned, family-operated company, Meyer Sound is not beholden to investors, enabling the company to pursue these goals without compromise and be immediately responsive to customers’ requirements. When a customer has special needs or a problem, Meyer Sound is able to go the extra mile in resolving the situation quickly and properly. Honoring the primacy of the customer is an imperative that permeates every department at every level of the company.
A Legacy of Distinction in Advancing Audio
John Meyer’s early career included creating the innovative Glyph loudspeaker system, designing loudspeakers for McCune Sound Service, and as a researcher at the Institute for Advanced Musical Studies in Switzerland. He and his wife, Helen, founded Meyer Sound in 1979 after their return to the San Francisco Bay Area at a time when most large-scale sound equipment was custom because there were no manufacturers providing high quality, concert-level systems. Meyer Sound changed that situation, and, in doing so, changed the industry.
The company’s breakthroughs started immediately. After creating subwoofers for the multichannel sound system touring with Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, Meyer Sound introduced the UPA-1, a processor-controlled loudspeaker with a patented trapezoidal enclosure shape. The UPA-1 was an inaugural inductee into the TECnology Hall of Fame, alongside Edison’s cylinder recorder and De Forest’s triode vacuum tube.
The company’s ongoing string of awards, patents, and products and technologies are acclaimed for their quality and usefulness: arrayable point-source loudspeakers, source independent measurement, cardioid subwoofers, self-powered loudspeakers for studio and stage, high-accuracy studio monitors, acoustical prediction software, atmospheric compensation equalization and more. Meyer Sound is renowned for products of unparalleled fidelity and road-worthiness, as well as for outstanding customer support. In recognition of his contributions, John Meyer was designated a Fellow of the Audio Engineering Society.
In the 1990s, Meyer Sound began a major expansion at its Berkeley headquarters, including building a large anechoic chamber for research and development, a driver fabrication facility, and a new assembly plant. These facilities bear “planetary” nicknames: Saturn, Mars, Earth, and Phoebe (a moon of Saturn and the newest facility). In 2004, the company erected a unique, 57-seat theatre on site for training, research, and demonstration. The theatre’s design and construction represent a new approach to multipurpose venues, and has attracted notice from top professionals in theatre, film, and other sectors of the arts world.
Building Great Products One Detail At A Time
Meyer Sound products are made at its Berkeley factory, where every aspect of manufacturing can be supervised and controlled directly by John Meyer and senior engineering and production staff. This constant interaction allows Meyer Sound to continuously analyze production methods and implement improvements immediately.
Products are subject to rigorous 100-percent testing and warranted for a full three years. Every major component undergoes multiple test procedures; both before installation and as part of the finished system, to ensure Meyer Sound products meet or exceed all stated specifications and provide long-term reliability and complete consistency from unit to unit.
Meyer Sound products often must be virtually built-to-order due to the number of options required by customers. At the same time, those orders typically need to be filled very quickly, posing a conflict with the time normally incurred in semi-custom manufacture and quality assurance procedures. At Mars, Meyer Sound’s 65,000-square-foot loudspeaker production facility, drivers are assembled with the electronics, cabinets and other components in a Meyer Sound loudspeaker. All processes have been optimized for speed and efficiency, while still meeting the same demanding quality control standards. Residing in the landmark H.J. Heinz Building (former factory of the ketchup makers), Mars's fluid and flexible production floor reflects the lessons of decades of uncompromising loudspeaker manufacturing, and enables the company to build and test large orders in a matter of days.
At Meyer Sound, endless prototyping, power testing and failure analysis are employed to determine the methods that produce reliable results. It is this reliability that gives professionals complete confidence that Meyer Sound products will continue to perform faithfully under the rigors of constant use.
Driver Design and Assembly
Drivers used in Meyer Sound loudspeakers are manufactured on site in the company’s Saturn and Phoebe driver fabrication facilities. Using custom-designed and highly modified machinery, the company makes its own paper cones from custom-formulated raw paper stock and creates its own magnetic assemblies starting from unmagnetized slugs.
Core component manufacturing processes are performed in house, including forming diaphragms, building phasing plugs, individual optimization of each compression driver, and even formulation of many key adhesives and compounds. Less critical components are made to Meyer Sound’s tight specifications and subject to exhaustive quality control.
Meyer Sound’s driver engineering lab is located in the fabrication facility itself in order to facilitate a close working relationship between those designing and those building the drivers.
Having a complete fabrication facility also provides Meyer Sound with the ability to do small runs of prototype designs, allowing fast iteration in the development process. Further, by the time a new driver design is finalized, its manufacturing process is already established.
Every aspect of driver manufacture is not only tightly controlled, but also assiduously documented. This has many benefits: it enables the achievement of extremely high levels of consistency and reliability in the drivers, makes possible ongoing detailed analysis and improvement of processes, and allows issues that arise to be traced back through every step of manufacture.
Having driver manufacturing on site allows Meyer Sound to establish and maintain quality and consistency impossible to attain when key processes are outsourced.
Product Testing and Quality Assurance
Consistency is paramount at Meyer Sound, and it can only be guaranteed by quality control and testing. In order to reach and maintain the level of quality required in Meyer Sound products, quality control must be exhaustive, including thorough and repeated testing.
It starts with incoming materials and parts, which are subjected to thorough batteries of tests and evaluations. Meyer Sound’s Quality Control department maintains elaborate measurement laboratories for incoming parts that often exceed the capabilities and precision of the parts’ manufacturers. Critical components are often hand-graded and –matched, and detailed procedures imposed at every stage of the loudspeaker manufacturing process check each component and subsystem multiple times.
Every transistor, every transformer, every cable, every circuit board, and every driver traverses layer upon layer of documented procedures designed to guarantee that each component meets and maintains specifications.
Rigid test procedures are performed at each step of assembling components into subsystems and subsystems into complete systems. Specifications are tight and nothing is allowed to “slide through” by being merely close to the mark; it must meet spec to be accepted. SIM® audio analyzers are employed at numerous stages to insure that each unit being measured matches stored curves of reference units.
Enforced adherence to design specifications results not only in amazing consistency from unit to unit, but also promotes reliability. If a problem arises in the field, the consistency of Meyer Sound products enables customers to replace assemblies or parts in the field and return the loudspeaker to service without need for any alignment procedure. When timing is critical, this efficiency provides the fastest method of restoring users anywhere in the world to full functionality.