Since its earliest days, sound reinforcement has traditionally been a very conservative market that was slow to acccept change. However, everything changed in 1980, when John Meyer unveiled the UPA-1, a compact, high-output, low-distortion two-way system with a little extra. From the outside, the UPA-1 was decidedly different: It was the first trapezoidal speaker (U.S. patent D271,967), now a common practice within the industry. Its sloped sides allowed the creation of tightly packed, wide-coverage horizontal arrays to minimize the comb-filtering effects that occur when spaced drivers reproduce the same frequencies.
But the real revolution in the UPA-1 was less obvious to the eye. The speaker was designed to operate as a system, with the then-revolutionary concept of using an outboard active electronic controller. Placed just before the amplifier, the controller provided far more than mere crossover functions, also incorporating circuitry to optimize the system frequency response, phase response/driver alignment and signal limiting protection. Preset at the factory, the controller parameters were designed to optimize the performance of the system and not just the drivers themselves, allowing the UPA-1 to function like a much larger speaker.
The era of the modern sound reinforcement speaker began with the UPA-1 and continues its evolution today in the form of the UPA-1P, a version with 700 watts of onboard bi-amplification.