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The Biggest HiFi In The World; MEYER SOUND - METALLICA RIG O2, LONDON 2017 or, “Ours Goes Down To Eleven.”


PART TWO: THE METAL OVERLORD AND CRUSHING GIRTH

Early on in my journalistic career I was Max Power magazine’s In Car Electronics editor. And being full of it, tended to get to work on the magazine videos and live shows onstage. The shows were getting big and the public address system I had to use was woeful. After complaining bitterly, it transpired that management agreed with me and I was told that they had hired a slice of serious gig equipment, complete with sound engineer for the next show. And boy were they right! Not only was the system huge - powerful enough for me to even bully the crowd, but the engineer dude was awesome. If Jim Henson's creature shop had been told, ‘sound engineer for a heavy-metal band, called the Metal Overlord’, what design concepts for the classic muppet are showing up inside your head? The fabulous luxuriant locks, facial fungus better than any member of ZZ Top, Wayfarer dark Ray Bans and a Black Country accent for the voice characterisation…. And you actually have the reality, the man they call Big Mick, or in hushed tones, they actually do call him The Metal Overlord.

Incidentally, if you meet him don't ever think that using his surname will be a sign of respect. That means officialdom and memories of school to Mick…. And this guy genuinely was too cool for school. The only folks who get to refer to him as ‘Hughes’, are Meyer Sound on their website, of whom way more, in a bit….

By this time I had been working with car audio systems way beyond the maximum loudness that you are permitted to subject the public to in sound pressure terms. It was the 150dB era, back when that was ‘loud’. I immediately thought it would be hilarious to get Mick to sit inside a heavy pressure bass car and see what he thought. I was impressed with how he wrung the system’s neck, cranking the full beans. Then delighted to be given two new words. Words to do with big audio are definitely my thing. As soon as the volume went down, so I could ask, Mick said, “Fookin ‘ELL, that's got some girth!” meaning how deep it went, before using the term ‘crushing’ to describe serious sound pressure level. I instantly filched both words and have used them ever since.

Fast forward actual decades, and six or seven features later from a massive JBL car installation in his Lexus that I hooked him up with, to a home theatre story we did as a thank you for a discount on a huge plasma TV from Panasonic, where I wrote about Mick, and I finally asked if I could do feature on his ‘work’ Hi-Fi. The one he uses for the band. And after a couple of to-ings and fro-ings with Meyer Sound’s marketing folks, it was deemed that I might be Mick’s guest for the London O2 gig once more for the purposes of reviewing the sound system, in the way I always have.

Just bigger. Lots bigger.

For Meyer are the folks who disrupted sound reinforcement back when I was working in pro audio. Suddenly, in a world of ever yet louder public address systems, there was this mad newcomer. It was all-in-one active stuff (with amp power in the same boxes as the speaker drivers) and was modular and compact, so no more flanged ‘earthquake’ bins and no more amp racks. And it was so bloody loud and clear that it knocked spots off ‘normal’ equipment. The theatre sound people seemed to pick it up first, with only the most monied music acts later being able to go out with Meyer Sound PA systems. Up there with the very first mad-cost moving lighting devices called Vari-Lites, they were for the likes of Genesis who were investors and went out with 55 of them first time and other global superstars. It was posh audio.

Nowadays, at Meyer Sound, the product line and selection of applications and enclosures is fully mature and starts with unobtrusive small boxes that can transmit the passion of a preacher, full dynamics and impact and all, and finishes with an Infrasonic Fear Register sub-sub-bass box called the Very Low Frequency Control element. The VLFC goes from 35Hz…..down to 11Hz. There are a lot of products, from loudspeakers to control equipment and proprietary software and rack-unit control electronics to corral it all.

And here’s the odd thing. There have been a million gig reviews. A magazine called Load In, covers that stuff and my old school chum Paul Lester is a very well known deep-core music journalist these days and the closest to John Peel we now have on the radio. He has written about live music. But NOBODY has ever done a ‘system review’ in the fashion of a big car audio or home theatre system - for a massive touring rig.

How many boxes? What’s in them? How loud exactly does it get and how? Is it stereo? How do you tweak it? And of course…. How many watts mate?

I asked all the above but we do have one thorny pachyderm in the room. Some years back, Meyer were on the utterly unsurprising receiving end of crooked attention. Being that good, meant that others wished to steal, to copy, to take advantage. And reverse-engineer the living hell out of their livelihood. A copy product appeared and the boss was VEXED. The ensuing legal cost and tedium of quashing it, meant that in future, Meyer’s only quality judgements would come from the performance of the products. No more deeper technical details were to be public again. No more making it easy for thieving ********.

Meyer products do have a specification sheet, even a simple version, and I have seen one for one of the enclosures used in this system. But they do not give details of amplification amount, nor processing, nor ratings as to the SPL a metre in front of these boxes.

No, like Rolls Royce used to quote their horsepower as ‘sufficient’, Meyer will not answer “How many watts mate?” Yet that troubles me not, for I was able to ask what is in each box, so I can tell you how many drivers, what the cumulative surface area for bass makers was, explain which areas of the venue were even better than the regular coverage to experience the maximum power for the nutter enthusiast and I even think I have worked out some stuff about their technology. I am probably wrong, of course…but it is worth a thought.

So, OK, I am into extreme audio. I have reviewed some bloody bonkers installations, like this one, https://www.talkstuff.net/index.php/index.html/_/features/installations/the-iceman-cometh-r317 and some crazy posh home theatre systems, like this £38,000 KEF Reference set up http://bit.ly/2zFqgtM but this is something else.


At this point, I shall regale you with the video. I had grand plans that turned out to be piffle, about getting up in the night to shoot the loading bay as the equipment arrived. But that was daft and I was tired as a tired thing by the time the day was done. Besides, I was given lovely access to all that I wanted to film…

So, here it is; what follows below will be the equipment and how it was applied.






NB @ 22m and 36 secs, I make a massive boob speako. I refer to the subwoofers being hung, which makes no sense after what I just said about weight limits. I should have said “which is why only these subs but not the sub-sub VLFC’s have been flown…”. To compound that I then call them ‘VLC’ instead of ‘LFC’..it’s easy stuff to conflusticate when you were as stupid as me. But just ignore me for that bit, as the images were too good to waste.

Now, lets go meet the main parts of the stuff you have just seen in the dappled darkness…


2 Comments

Wonderful. what a monster.  moving onto part 3..

 

I would like to know more about this Adam - 

 

I could do feature on his ‘work’ Hi-Fi. The one he uses for the band.

 

:raz: do you have a link??

Oh Rodders, I was kinda being metaphorical, as in the title..... errrmmmm. I HAVE written twice about the eyeball peeling surround system he has in his detached house, though.....