Choosing an audio system has always been a very difficult decision for a rental company. For many, the decision can often be based on a form of “affiliation” with a particular brand, an affiliation built on trust and unconditional devotion. Some may call this exaggeration, but I can assure you that there have been a great number of occasions where I have listened to discussions that border on religious mysticism…
But why is this? Over the years I have visited many companies in the professional audio market, perhaps all of them as far as the big brands are concerned. This is because I have always been convinced that to really know the technology behind a company, and to debunk any myths that might be associated with them, the products must be listened to and handled directly.
A WALK INSIDE THE COMPANY…
Meyer Sound is certainly one of the most famous and appreciated brands in the world, a direct reflection on the brilliant and sometimes unpredictable personality of its founder John Meyer who, together with his wife Helen, founded Meyer Sound Laboratories in 1979 in San Leandro CA.
Until the time of my visit to Berkeley CA, I had never realized just how important (and in some ways “evocative”) the term “Laboratories” was to Meyer Sound. Indeed, this is a phrase that helped me to better understand a company that now has over 300 employees.
The factory has obviously greatly expanded over the years and today the production, design and storage activities are located across many different buildings. Visiting the facilities, one can clearly perceive the “handcrafted” approach that Meyer still practices today. Sophisticated machinery and engineering are accessible to their factory employees, a dedicated team, building and assembling products with a smile on their faces and a tangible, vibrant passion. Not to be trivial, but Meyer Sound perfectly reflects the stereotype of the “easy going” Northern Californian company, a land with beautiful nature, mostly mild temperatures and a relaxed lifestyle. This, together with the presence in this same area – north of San Francisco – of an incredible amount of companies operating in the technology sector, has perhaps contributed to the success and growth of Meyer Sound.
I sense that this environment has in some way influenced – and still influences – the creative process of Mr. Meyer. This is a man who has chased, for his entire career, new solutions for his audio systems, with the sole purpose of offering a reliable, quality sound, whilst simplifying products and technologies to the maximum. Considering that “No risk. No innovation” is one of John’s rules, it is easy to understand what the company’s approach is. After all, this is a company that today boasts over 100 registered patents and numerous engineering awards.
Despite our visit falling during the hectic few days before the upcoming NAMM Show, we were greeted with great warmth as we entered into the company with substantial curiosity. After the ritual greetings and presentations we were entrusted to Todd Meier, who accompanied us throughout our guided tour.
The construction and assembly facilities of the company were not so different compared to other factories that I have visited. What really sets the processes apart, however, is the dexterity and the constructive skill of the operators, a position which is held in high regard within the organization. Unfortunately, I can’t go into the specific details of their work – and am unable to publish photos of certain areas – but I was particularly impressed by the care in the construction of the paper-based cones. In this sense, a great importance is given to the raw materials, which have been meticulously selected and developed for years, so as to maintain a “coherence” in terms of materials that then translates into coherence in sound reproduction.
As with any “premium” brand, Meyer places a great level of importance on quality control. This is because, as I have long understood, putting reliable and resistant products on the market leads to a substantial reduction in costs, as well as an increased positive perception of the brand.
A LITTLE BIT OF LISTENING..
The tour was very pleasant, and the morning passed quickly. To conclude our tour, we were taken to Bear’s Lab, an internal studio of Meyer Sound, where a complete Bluehorn listening system has been installed. The system proved to make for an incredible sound experience, making it difficult to explain in words the degree of definition and spatiality that the system conveyed. As well as being an absolute pleasure to the ear, the definition of the system was outstanding. Whilst listening to a couple of famous Michael Jackson songs, we were able to notice areas of arrangements that we had never before perceived within the recordings.
Describing and portraying a company that produces audio systems with words alone is no easy task, it would be like explaining the experience of driving a luxury sports car to someone without a driving license. However, the key to our work is to portray the emotions and feelings evoked by visiting companies and listening to such high-quality products. It was a pleasure to experience a company that is clearly founded on a strong passion and a great desire to constantly deliver optimum listening experiences. It is this driving force behind a brand, combined with excellent technical expertise, that propel companies such as Meyer Sound into the premium sector of the market in which they preside.
Of course, there is absolutely no problem with being fond of one brand over another, but we implore our readers to retain a critical spirit, constantly exploring alternative options and completing practical checks in the field. This is always the best method to choose an audio system and to discover just why some brands gain the reputation that they do.
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