'The ultimate reference monitor': Meyer Sound on the latest updates to its Bluehorn system
At the end of July, live sound giant Meyer Sound announced that it had landed an ‘unprecedented’ studio monitoring technology patent for its Bluehorn system. Daniel Gumble caught up with CEO John Meyer, EVP Helen Meyer and director of digital product experience Tim Boot to find out more about the firm’s ongoing drive into the studio sector…
For the past 40 years, Meyer Sound has been synonymous with the live sound sector. A true pro audio icon, its line array systems and sound reinforcement innovations have been a regular fixture on the touring rider for some of the biggest artists and festivals on the planet.
Yet outside of the live arena, the company has long been honing and developing its studio monitoring offering – it’s worth noting that the company’s first ever product was the ACD studio monitor – with its Bluehorn system being a major focus. And at the end of July it made a significant breakthrough when it was granted an ‘unprecedented’ US patent on proprietary digital technologies ‘designed to enable the Bluehorn system to reproduce complex musical signals with flat frequency and phase response across the full audio bandwidth’. According to the company, the document ‘outlines the digital signal processing techniques involved in cancelling out the phase anomalies inherent in all loudspeaker systems due to the physical mass of the loudspeaker drivers and resonance of the loudspeaker enclosures’. So what does this mean for Meyer’s place in the highly lucrative and competitive studio market? PSNEurope spoke to CEO John Meyer, EVP Helen Meyer and director of digital product experience Tim Boot to find out…
Meyer recently announced news of its new patent for the Bluehorn system. What does this patent mean for the company?
Tim Boot: Bluehorn is the result of many years of research in creating linear systems; systems that faithfully reproduce the signal presented to them. We have developed advanced filtering algorithms to correct for the non-linearity of phase response inherent in even the most accurate physical loudspeaker drivers. With the availability of today’s high-power digital processors, we can apply these sophisticated filter algorithms with exceptional fidelity, accuracy and efficiency. This patent represents the methods for correcting phase response and producing unprecedented results. These technologies will not only be applied to the Bluehorn System but, as with our pervious innovations, will be part of all future systems across all market sectors.
How long have you been working on this technology, and what can you tell us about the work that went into developing it?
TB: Philosophically, the company has been working on this technology since its founding nearly 40 years ago. One of our core values is creating linear systems. This essentially means that the loudspeaker system faithfully and accurately reproduces the signals that are fed into it, regardless of signal content and level. To achieve this, Meyer Sound has pursued linear phase response for decades. Milestones were achieved in our previous studio monitor loudspeakers, which included the iconic HD-1 and the X-10.
John Meyer: The Bluehorn project began over six years ago as an exploration to model phase response and extend linear phase response to the lower frequencies. We had achieved excellent phase response across our product range for the mid-range and high frequencies, but extending this into the lower frequencies was the challenge. The recent patent is the result of the process we developed to extend linear phase response down to 27 Hz in the Bluehorn, creating the most accurate loudspeaker on the market. Bluehorn has linear amplitude and phase response for its entire operating range, 27Hz to 20kHz. The Bluehorn system also incorporates the latest driver, processing, and amplifier technologies from Meyer Sound’s Cinema Series and LEO family.
What will this technology offer the professional studio sector that others can’t?
TB: Accuracy and the ultimate reference loudspeaker! By creating a monitor loudspeaker that is linear, it is inherently accurate. All other loudspeakers distort the amplitude and phase response to some degree, though some more than others. For content creators, having a linear reference ensures that the content they create will translate better to other systems. With a non-linear system, the content may sound as intended on that system, but it will not translate well to systems with different responses. A linear system achieves more predictable results. It is not intended to flatter the material, but rather help the creators to identify areas that need more work. Engineers, producers and artists who have listened to their music on the Bluehorn system are hearing things they hadn’t heard before. As film composer John Powell said, “It keeps me honest.”
How much of a focus is the studio sector for Meyer Sound in 2018?
Helen Meyer: Meyer Sound has always had a focus on the content creation and studio sector. We create products for many of the sub-sectors in the studio market, including: recording studios, film scoring, mastering studios, film and TV postproduction, as well as new media production. The demands of this sector are in-line with our core values of creating the most accurate systems for all markets. The studio sector is an important sector for us in 2018, so we are bringing this technology to tradeshows and providing demonstrations for the most discerning industry professionals.
The company has always been most closely associated with the live industry. How much of an effort is there to highlight Meyer’s studio offering? TB: The live market has certainly been a large sector for us, but because we focus on linear systems we are able to create products for the studio and other markets as well. We do recognise that the needs of each sector require significant ‘tribal knowledge’, so we have internal teams that are as diverse as our products. For the studio sector, our core team is highly experienced in this market and we maintain direct relationships with leaders to respond to their specific needs.
Talk us through the company’s approach to building and developing its studio products? How big is the team working on product development how much is the company investing in its studio output?
JM: Meyer Sound has always responded to the needs of the customers. And since our full name is Meyer Sound Laboratories, Inc., it shows we are equally driven by research. We take great pride in connecting research with the needs of our customers to create great products. Historically, our studio products have been the result of research to develop solutions for internal needs. That was the genesis of the HD-1 and that monitor has been in continuous production for nearly 30 years.
HM: It wouldn’t be accurate to put a number on the size of the team focusing on the studio market. We do have a team focused and engaged exclusively on the studio market but the entire company to some degree contributes to development of products for the sector. What trends are you currently seeing in the studio market?
TB: Since the mid-1990s the industry has responded to the changing content creation sector by creating a wide range of studio monitor loudspeakers. The 1990s saw the decline of the old record company and studio models. Content was increasingly created in the smaller project studio and personal studios of the creators themselves, and many smaller format monitor loudspeakers offer good results in that scenario. However, we are seeing an increasing demand for highly accurate, full-range monitoring. Content creators must make material that may be played on smartphones, in the car, on their smart-home loudspeakers, televisions, traditional stereo hi-fi, cinema, in a dance club – it may end up anywhere. Consequently there is a demand for monitoring systems that translate to all playback systems and linear systems are the only way to do this.
What are the biggest opportunities in the studio market?
HM: We always see opportunities to bring the most accurate product to market. There will always be content creators who are searching for the next level in quality. We will be there for them.