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Meyer Sound Amie: First Impressions

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GXAlan

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Yes, these are already en route to @amirm for a formal spin on the Klippel NFS.

$8160/pair MSRP (Sept 2023)
Manufacturer's Website
Specifications
Frequency Response45 Hz – 20 kHz ± 4 dB
Phase Response190 Hz – 20 kHz ± 45°
Linear Peak SPL120.5 dB with 18.5 dB crest factor (M-noise), 117.5 dB (Pink noise), 120 dB (B-noise)
Coverage80° horizontal x 50° vertical
LF transducer6.5-inch long-excursion cone driver; 4 Ω nominal impedance
HF transducer1-inch dome tweeter on a constant-directivity waveguide; 4 Ω nominal impedance
AmplifierTwo-channel Class-D
Total output power: 900 W peak ; THD/IM/TIM <0.02%
Location of ManufactureBerkeley, California, USA
NotesLinear Peak SPL is measured in free-field at 4 m referred to 1 m.
Loudspeaker SPL compression measured with M-noise at the onset of limiting, 2-hour duration, and 50 °C ambient temperature is <2 dB.
Peak power based on the maximum unclipped peak voltage the amplifier will produce into the nominal load impedance.


Background
Meyer Sound is one of the best-known names in the professional music industry. More than a historical “we were involved with the Grateful Dead’s Wall of Sound,” Meyer Sound is still responsible for powering the audio for touring artists like Ed Sheeran and Metallica, enabling the three-dimensional soundscape at Cirque de Soleil's Love and even enhancing the acoustic expertise at some of the world’s greatest concert halls without you even knowing it. They are considered one of the top three brands in this market.

In the cinema world, they are found at studios like FOX (pre-Disney) where they scored movies like Avatar: Way of the Water, Warner Brothers, Universal, and of course, Skywalker Sound, where the entire audio for Avatar: Way of the Water was put together along with many of today's blockbuster movies. At Skywalker Sound, while they do have B&W 801's in their scoring stage and larger Meyer Sound speakers in their large format theater rooms, the Amie was specifically made for them, and reportedly they use Meyer Sound Amie in all of their smaller "dubbing stages" as seen in this photo from Apple as well as in small offices seen in this YouTube video.
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Skywalker Sound is famous for its affiliation with George Lucas, THX, and the whole Star Wars universe. Their role in sound design, mixing, and audio post-production go beyond Disney/Marvel/Lucasfilm with "rival studios" also using the creative talents at Skywalker Sound. Top Gun: Maverick? Jurassic World: Dominion? Sing 2? All Skywalker Sound. They have Academy Awards, Emmy Awards, and even a Grammy-winning classical album.

At least when it comes to movies, if we want to talk about the circle of confusion and wanting to replicate what the sound engineers intended, it seems like Meyer Sound is a compelling choice if you like mainstream movies.

Meyer Sound's Technical Expertise
It's easy to talk about technical expertise in flowery audiophile language, but what impressed me the most was their focus on measurements -- not just of a single speaker, but for entire systems and developing the software in-house. If you only have time to watch one video about Meyer Sound's approach to engineering, this is what you watch:


MAPP 3D does not have the Amie characterized yet, but the previous generation 2D MAPP XT does have the Amie which lets you create your room, place your speakers, and simulate the effect of how multiple speakers in-room interact with each other.

So, if I put a single Amie in a giant room and put a microphone 1 meter away. I can get this sound field and this theoretical frequency/phase response.
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For my own in-room office, if I wanted to see what 2.5m away from a pair of Amie's, 2 meters apart, toe'd in 20 degrees, I'd get this:
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But if I accidentally aimed one of the speakers incorrectly, I could end up with interference patterns
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You can even assess the vertical response
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Which tells me that if I'm sitting on a low sofa, I might end up with a little bump at 16 kHz...
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While this doesn't account for room interactions, it does show more information than you normally get from typical audiophile brands. Each time you run the simulation, the curves are slightly different so it's not simply a looking up a pre-defined table. I'm not sure why it would be different unless there is a random number generator to capture the tolerances from unit-to-unit since the main goal for this is designing vertical arrays like this:
mapp_xt_main.png


The white paper (attached PDF) explains some the additional design goals/philosophies for Amie. I have bolded the interesting parts
Since we were designing this monitor to create a sonic image similar to the image of Acheron loudspeakers, we needed to make sure that we avoided anything that would upset the projected stereo image. Small near field speakers have very wide coverage patterns and sit slightly above and on the back of the mixing desk. There is a lot of sound bouncing off the console’s surface, causing echoes which will alter the sonic image. HD‐1s are used to hear exactly what is on the recording, whereby the mix is sent to the horn-loaded 'mains’ speaker system to listen to the sonic image. Amie was designed for translation to the larger horn-loaded cinema sound system; however, since it would be used in rooms that have no other systems, it also needed to be sonically transparent. That is, it should sound as close as possible to the HD-1.
...
Amie’s horn was designed for an 80˚ horizontal coverage and a 50˚ vertical coverage. This narrow vertical coverage helps eliminate the sound bounce off the console surface above 1200 Hz. The high frequencies give us the most clues to the image that is created between the loudspeakers. This is a precision near field speaker intended for listening to fine detail in the sonic mix. Designed to work from one to two meters, it makes for greater flexibility in the setup. Although this speaker was designed for cinema mixing, we have found that it makes for an excellent near field monitor for music recording.

John Meyer also points out:
Using pink noise, each speaker would need to produce 96 dBc sound pressure level (SPL) continuously with 108 dBc peaks, with low distortion at the listening position. We will refer to this as the cinema spec. The near field monitors that we tested could only meet this specification at one meter. We would need 6 dB more output in order to meet the cinema specification at two meters.
...
Speakers measured in this paper: HD-1, Amie, Dynaudio BM6 mklll, Genelec 8040B.

The rest of the white paper focuses on impulse response and their approach to sound. It's good that they were benchmarking Genelec's but the 8040B is a much lower priced product.
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My In-room Measurements
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I didn't have time to play with MAPP XT or carefully set up my speakers since I wanted to send them off to Amir for testing. This was in my office, a little over 8 feet to the listening position. 96 dB is what REW reported as the level. I'm not sure how much the room is adding to the gain (it can be as high as 6 dB if the speakers are in corners) but this is still really loud when you convert it to the usual SPL at 1 meter instead of ~2.4 meters I was measuring at.

Subjective Impressions
We'll see if any of these pan out when Amir runs the measurements or if it's all sighted bias. I set up the Amie's before playing with MAPP XT and my configuration was a Marantz SA-10 and
Schiit Freya Noval.

1) Great soundstage depth and imaging that’s natural.
The phantom center image seems more diffuse than the JBL 708P but the speakers disappear in a different way that makes it feel like you're listening to a bigger room than you really are in. It's a really interesting phenomenon because the imaging is still very precise but it still sounds more like I'm in a well-treated large room. The 708Ps were very clean with ultra-precise stereo imaging, but it still had a near-field sound where I could hear that I was in my office. This could be all sighted bias, but there are plenty of hand-waving explanations ranging from linearity letting the various cues from volume, phase which isn't supposed to be audible for the most part, or something about the narrower dispersion making it harder for room cues to tell my brain where I'm listening because I was really hearing a reflections from something in my office. It basically feels like the speakers are further away than they are. As most Amie systems were intended for L-C-R systems rather than 2 channel systems, this phantom center effect may not be that important. Again, it's very subtle -- and may simply be speaker/height/position. Just sharing what I heard.

2) Sense of smoothness/warmth without any sweetening of the treble or sparkle.
It's very clean, and I have probably gotten accustomed to distortion with compression drivers and tube amps. I did feel as if the tube pre-amp mode of the Freya Noval could be used to add some distortion to the signal relative to passive mode, but it is hard to A/B compare them due to the differences in gain. A quick REW sweep between the passive pre-amp mode and tube mode showed very similar FR/distortion, but once I get the Amie's back from Amir, I'll definitely run some recordings through @pkane's DeltaWave to compare the two. I found the Focal Vestia's too subdued. My in-room does show a slight depression in the 4-9 kHz region which isn't present in the predicted FR, but that also may be decreasing sibliance. I would also describe the sound as calm because the treble sweetening effect of a tube amp is always a bit unexpected/exciting.

3) The self-noise seems to be quieter than the JBL 708P.
Hiss is audible with your ear right next to the tweeter. I don't see this being a problem even in a full Atmos setup but this is one area where control of gain could have an advantage. Unlike many other speakers in this class, there are no trim levels, gain options, or DIP switches for any sort of configurability. You get I/O for analog audio and I/O for AC power. There isn't even a power switch. As soon as you feed it AC power through the Neutrik PowerCon20 connector, it's on. It's very much an industrial tool. The heatsinks are warmer than room temperature, but at my listening levels, it was fine.

4) Excellent build quality.
I will see what Amir thinks. It's still Birch plywood as opposed to aluminum, but for the weight (which is light), the sound output is excellent! The pain feels nice and thing and doesn't absorb oil/sweat from your hand much.
 

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MachOne

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These are listed at Sweetwater for $8,160.00/pair if anyone is interested.
 

fpitas

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These are listed at Sweetwater for $8,160.00/pair if anyone is interested.
A "mere" $8,160. Although they do seem to be quality.
 
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GXAlan

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I wonder how a KH150 would compare as it's also a 2-way 6.5
If you look at the FR plots, the Amie is NOT as smooth. Once you get into the movie-spec directivity, it also might not have as good of a preference score.
 

alex-z

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Having a front mounted port on a speaker meant to hit 120dB peak seems optimistic, compression behaviour is usually an issue even with optimized port geometry. I would think for $8160 they could have sprung for some side-firing passive radiators.
 
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GXAlan

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NBC Universal just switched from JBL to Meyer Sound. They are using Amie’s in one of their systems but you can actually see the photo shows a JBL 7 series.

New Meyer Sound

Old JBL
 

jhaider

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NBC Universal just switched from JBL to Meyer Sound. They are using Amie’s in one of their systems but you can actually see the photo shows a JBL 7 series.

New Meyer Sound

Old JBL

Not the best fact-checking or copy editing!

Sound quality may not be a reason for the change, mind. I think you've noted in the past that JBL has not maintained a constant supply of 7-series. Also, it's possible Meyer simply makes a more consistent product. (I don't know that they do, but an eight thousand plus dollar pair of 7" 2-way speakers with a utility cabinet finish damn well better be individually tested in an appropriate chamber with the results thoroughly documented and provided to the purchaser. As for JBL...measurements here have shown what looks to me to be some sort of issue flashing the DSP code to the processor on the 705P sample, and clearly a tweeter that performs differently from the one the DSP was designed to correct in the 708i sample. I love my own 708is and 705is, but am reluctant to recommend the line to someone who doesn't have the capability to thoroughly audit their performance.
 

thewas

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If you look at the FR plots, the Amie is NOT as smooth.
My guess is that this is also a result of such accentuated edges at its waveguide which even if equalised on a specific angle will have deviations on others.
 
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GXAlan

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Sound quality may not be a reason for the change, mind. I think you've noted in the past that JBL has not maintained a constant supply of 7-series. Also, it's possible Meyer simply makes a more consistent product.

For sure. Reliability is one reason I decided to splurge on the Meyer when a demo pair was available so I could get a decent deal on it. You'd imagine that a company like NBC Universal gets bumped to the front of the line for orders, but spare parts may be an issue and while most of us watch a movie/show a few times a week at night, I can imagine professional studio gear gets pushed to the limit.

Meyer Sound is supposed to be bullet proof, and like the JBL of yester-decade, they will service gear that’s 25 years old.

This doesn't look bad by any means, but 8K for a pair? That seems to be a stretch. You get no digital inputs, and no controls whatsoever. So you'll need to spend even more money to add this.

Agreed, it’s a very specialized product for cinema use where upstream electronics do the rest. You clearly pay a hefty premium since they’ve opted to be a mom & pop operation based in Berkeley, CA where the cost of living is sky high against even Prague (not sure which city in Czech Republic Neumann builds in) or Tijuana, Mexico where JBL Professional is built.



It’s even way more expensive than Amsterdam.

There’s basically a 100% tax to buy Made in California, instead of somewhere global.

You are also buying into the brand history, for sure. This is a good lecture to show how Meyer thinks about measurements. The HD-1 would also be good if someone could send one in…

 

mziegler

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I've never heard their speakers in a formal setting, but they did the acoustic treatment in Comal, a Mexican restaurant in Berkeley, which is astounding. Somehow the system blocks the noise from other diners, yet the music at the table is crystal clear. I can easily hear the bass while sitting at a table even though the volume is not particularly loud. The food is very good and that drinks are excellent too.
 
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GXAlan

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I've never heard their speakers in a formal setting, but they did the acoustic treatment in Comal, a Mexican restaurant in Berkeley, which is astounding. Somehow the system blocks the noise from other diners, yet the music at the table is crystal clear. I can easily hear the bass while sitting at a table even though the volume is not particularly loud. The food is very good and that drinks are excellent too.
 

gnarly

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Congrats GXAlan, i hope you end up enjoying your Meyer stuff as much as I have mine.

I bought larger theatre and night-club type speakers from them, when I wanted to finally and fully, satisfy a thirst for dynamic SPL with deep low extension.
I thought the Meyer gear would be a second party-type system, with my long standing love of electrostats keeping stats as my main speakers.
But I found the Meyer stuff was what I wanted to listen to 90% of the time.....response that truly stays linear, unclipped, uncompressed, and with less distortion...as SPL is increased ......I've found to be very addicting, and a bit more real sounding...

Quality is second to none, everything first class. Look inside the speakers and you'll see what i mean. Meyer is known to grade divers for suitability before assembly. Testing/verification is 100%.
And they are the most science based shop I'm aware of. Been way ahead of the measurement game for ages, with their old SIMM system. Grab Bob McCarthy's System Design is book, if you haven't already.

Reliability of the 5 speakers I own, with a collective 14 channels of internal processing and amplification, has been excellent. Only had one power supply fail in one 2-channel speaker.
I do have some complaints with the company, but they are only about their repair policies, and willingness to divulge info that often seems way too trivial to be considered proprietary.
For a Meanwell PSU that I could replace myself for $50 shipped, Meyer wanted $450 plus shipping to replace the entire removable power supply module, and wouldn't consider simply selling the PSU. (In fairness, Meyer does alter the Meanwell model with a proprietary fan that is a little quieter....like I said, everything first class.)

Enjoy...and frankly...i'd say, not to give a damn if spinorama doesn't stack up oh so perfect.....
Oh, did you get the Amie-sub? Hope so, cause that will change EVERYTHING...that's what Meyer does best...integrate their boxes seamlessly.
 

jeffme

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Can vouch for real-world experiences with Meyer equipment, primarily MINA-based arrays at SF Jazz & the ridiculously over-mic'd Constellation setup at SFSoundBox. If you have the opportunity, please check out the sound at these venues - it won't disappoint. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to @amirm's quantitative Amie review.
 
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GXAlan

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Congrats GXAlan, i hope you end up enjoying your Meyer stuff as much as I have mine.
...
Enjoy...and frankly...i'd say, not to give a damn if spinorama doesn't stack up oh so perfect
Yeah, I'm less worried about the spinorama since they've already hinted in the White Paper that there are sacrifices made to minimize latency, optimize impulse response/phase, and REPLICATE the Acheron sound in a smaller space RATHER THAN "hear exactly what is on the recording.”

The Acheron 80 doesn’t “spin” that well but we don’t know if that’s at 130 dB or something silly like that.

So we know they have made some decisions and compromised to hit their targets and if the emphasis is to generate the Acheron sound then it may not be flat? I am just as curious as everyone!

Then we have to consider the circle of confusion. If the studios are running their sound tracks to Meyer Sound’s frequency response, for all we know, the mixing studios are tweaking the sound this way and what the Amie measurements may tell us is a target we may want to use for movies.

If you think about modern mixes having rapid bass drop off, I really wonder how they work on an Amie Sub. That handles all bass management and how crazy would it be if the reason for BEQ is that things are being evaluated on setups with a single 15” sub?

Oh, did you get the Amie-sub? Hope so, cause that will change EVERYTHING...that's what Meyer does best...integrate their boxes seamlessly.

I did not get the Amie-sub. As everyone's pointed out, these are very expensive speakers. It will take a while to save up and I do want to make sure the Amie’s are something I want to keep. I do have a trial window, so Amir will try to expedite the testing.

Can vouch for real-world experiences with Meyer equipment, primarily MINA-based arrays at SF Jazz & the ridiculously over-mic'd Constellation setup at SFSoundBox. If you have the opportunity, please check out the sound at these venues - it won't disappoint. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to @amirm's quantitative Amie review.
I don’t think anyone has heard a bad Meyer system.

If the Amie measures great within the context of SPL/size/intended dispersion, we know that the systems sound great because of speakers plus the DSP and way they do their room measurements.

If the Amie measures mediocre even in context of size and SPL, which it might, we know that the systems sound great due to the electronics.

I don’t see a lot of cinemas running Genelec, and the one that I see, uses above screw direct firing LCR:

which seems like it’s a bad idea for imaging.
 

pierre

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There is a complete review of the Amie here in Production Partner. Usually there is a very good agreement between Amir’s results and them.

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That gives a good idea of the Amie properties: flat enough, narrow directivity to minimise reflections on console & co, high output.
Expensive and good.
 
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