Such is the reputation of Meyer Sound that its newest offering, the Leopard line array loudspeaker and 900-LFC low-frequency control element, sold its entire first month’s quota – before anyone had even heard it.
CIE recently travelled to Peterborough to attend a demonstration of the powerful new addition to the Meyer Sound family, and was not disappointed.
Leopard and the 900-LFC join Meyer Sound’s flagship LEO Family, offering an impressive power-to-size ratio with ultra-low distortion.
“I’ve always followed my own path in this business, never satisfied until something is the best it can be,” says John Meyer, founder and CEO of Meyer Sound.
“With the LEO family we set out to reduce distortion to the theoretical limits and both Leopard and 900-LFC bring us even closer to the goal of the ultimate linear loudspeaker system. Quality components, amazing technology, incredible convenience and elegant design are critically important, but it’s really the results that matter. To borrow an analogy from the auto industry, sometimes you have to just get behind the wheel and take it for spin. With Leopard and 900 LFC, you just have to listen. Once you hear it, you’ll want it.”
This certainly seems to be the case as a result of Meyer Sound’s two-week demo dates.
“We’ve had everyone from sound designers, consultants, theatre managers, FOH engineers and rental companies; it’s been very wide spread,” says Meyer Sound’s UK and Ireland sales manager, Roger Harpum as he welcomes CIE into the theatre space.
“These demos have been extremely busy. The first week was a little bit quieter, but as people hear the system they say: ‘so-and-so needs to hear this,’ and they go and talk about it and bring other potential customers here – the reaction has been incredible. The phrases we’ve expected to hear have all been said: ‘It’s unbelievable for the size of the package, for the power, the clarity’.
“It’s already been specified for the Mamma Mia! European tour and The Bodyguard Musical tour – just from these demos, plus we’ve had some venue dealers from London come up who are very interested.”
The large theatre’s focal point during the demo is Meyer Sound’s brand new line array, hung eight boxes per side with four subs apiece – not forgetting the discreet CAL 64 column array loudspeaker tucked away stage right, which was also demonstrated.
Using no EQ, the Leopard and 900-LFC are put through their paces – with help from a DiGiCo desk – playing everything from Alison Krauss (warm, immersive and plenty of depth) to Tool, (bold, dynamic and powerful), to Daft Punk where the low-end is revealed in all its bone-vibrating glory.
But this system wasn’t designed to play videos of live performances. A drummer (hired by the manufacturer for the full two weeks) takes the stage, showcasing the dynamic nature of the system.
“A potential company who uses two other brands literally had the drummer up for two bars and said: ‘Okay, done’. If you can’t mix on this then you shouldn’t be in this game,” says Roger.
Leopard can both anchor a main system in a medium-sized venue or integrate seamlessly with Lyon in down- and out-fill systems and is optimised to offer greater phase coherence and seamless and uniform coverage.
Newly designed class-D amplifiers have been included to virtually eliminate distortion while consuming less power and generating less heat – the draw for the hang of eight at the demo is just 12amps.
Impressively, six Leopards and two 900-LFC loudspeakers can be flown using a ½ ton motor, while the 900-LFC offers low frequency, clarity and impact inherited directly from its big brother, the 1100-LFC.
The system is bolstered further with MAPP XT for acoustic prediction, Compass RMS for real-time system performance monitoring, the Galileo Callisto loudspeaker management system and the new MDM-5000 distribution module for routing AC power, audio, as well as RMS signals.
“The big difference with this product in comparison to Leo or Lyon was that John spoke to the R&D team and said he wanted to build on the success of the other systems but give the engineers an open platform to push the engineering envelope; new everything,” Roger explains.
“We reached a theoretical limit, as John puts it, in that the distortion – or lack of – is such that there is more distortion in the air than you get from this product.”
A strong boast, but one that the manufacturer can back up, says Roger. In fact, Meyer Sound claims that the system offers 10 times less distortion with significantly more power than similar products in the same class.
“Every demo we do we are putting no EQ on the system, it is just in native mode,” Roger points out. “Install is different, as you will have time to tune it, but for touring, if someone turns up at an event it’s perfect. If a truck is late and there’s only an hour before the show starts you need something that can go up quickly. It’s an extremely quick system to rig and you can literally run it as your heard it in the demo – that’s how well it works, it’s basically plug and play!”
“In terms of the rigging – everything works from the same grid – so you can hang Leopards, 900s and you can ground stack from the rig. On the 900 you can actually rotate one of those around and get three in a line to form a cardioid array. The potential to keep the noise off the stage is brilliant, and someone came just to see that,” he enthuses.
A gap in the market
“The way I see it, as we moved on with technology there was a gap of 10 years – Milo, then Leo, then Lyon,” says Roger after the demo. “This system is a smaller package. It has the power of a Mica system, but in a package the size of a M’elodie – and it sits right in the middle price-wise.
“The benefits are the size-to-power ratio, the weight, coverage, the clarity and the linearity. Most venues these days are multipurpose, so whether it’s just a conference happening, or a full band or an orchestra, this faithfully reproduces that.”
It’s easy to see why the product is already generating interest in the theatre sector.
As production costs are reduced, productions and theatre owners are looking to save time and money.
“It is something the market has been asking for – particularly the sound designers. The people that have come here and have specified it for shows have said they want a system that is as powerful as Mica, but Mica is too big a package, whereas this is the perfect size.”
Amongst the first to hear this new system was London-based theatrical sound designer Richard Brooker, whose current productions include The Bodyguard, Annie (UK tour) and the just-opened Bend It Like Beckham: The Musical.
“Right away I noticed Leopard’s appearance and physical dimensions,” he says. “As a sound designer for theatre – who must constantly negotiate with set designers – one of the first things I look for is the size of the box and the look of the fascia.
“To me, this marks a step forward in linear loudspeaker development and makes Leopard a bit of a game changer in the small line array category. Overall, it’s apparent that Leopard embodies a new approach for Meyer Sound in this size range and evidently a lot of thought went into how the end user would be working with the product.”
Shipping worldwide now, all products are crafted by hand and are subjected to rigorous tested for quality control at Meyer Sound HQ in California.
“The integration network works through our dealer network, but the product is open to anyone if they’ve got the potential for this size system. We also offer services worldwide where we help design the set with MAPP XT.”
While Meyer Sound doesn’t complete the install itself, Roger is keen to point out that the team is happy to work with people and help where necessary.
“If a rental house buys this, then yes we will spend time with them. Most will find this very simple because of the way it is set up in native mode with internal optimisation, meaning they can use this without doing much in terms of EQ, if anything at all,” he adds.
“With regards to the permanent install world, we would naturally spend time with the client even if they have gone through a dealer and we can go through any training required.”
Roger reveals that if enough interest is generated from the Peterborough demos, then more will be scheduled.
Judging by the response to Leopard and 900-LFC so far, it’s looking like Meyer Sound will have to find a gap in its calendar for more events this year.
As Roger concludes his explanation of the system, he is tactfully interrupted with a reminder that his next scheduled meeting has already arrived – another potential client.
“The buzz has been exceptionally good,” Roger says, rising from his chair to shake hands with his next appointment. “Before anyone had even heard Leopard we had already sold that month’s quota – we’ve been taking orders from this demo already. One theatre manager said this ticks a lot of boxes for some of the projects he has coming up. That’s the potential for long term.”