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Technology Spotlight: Meyer Sound Acheron Speakers


Acheron packs high performance into a compact, dual-ported enclosure.

Walk through this month’s ShoWest convention in Las Vegas (March 30 to April 2) and you’ll find everything you need to outfit your neighborhood bijou — seats, screens, projectors, curtains, popcorn machines, candy, tickets, etc. The exhibitor roster lists familiar names such as Dolby, THX, Solo Cups, Christie Digital, Pepsi and — Meyer Sound.

So what’s Meyer Sound doing at a theater expo? Actually, company founder John Meyer is hardly a newcomer to film products. One of the 30-year-old firm’s first projects was creating custom subwoofers for the touring multichannel sound system that went out with Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 roadshow of Apocalypse Now. John Meyer has always been passionate about film sound, and ShoWest marks the debut of Meyer Sound’s Cinema Series — high-performance products designed for no-compromise film playback for both theatrical exposition and post-production markets.

Enter the Acheron

The line is based around the company’s new Acheron speakers. Named for the fictional French frigate in Master and Commander (Meyer was inspired by Richard King’s brilliant Oscar-winning sound effects work in the film), these compact (35×31×21-inch, H×W×D), self-powered, two-way designs are available with 100- or 80-degree horns to suit wide or narrower rooms. Both the Acheron 80 and Acheron 100 have a 21-inch depth that’s ideal for tight behind-screen installs, and the system can be voiced for perforated or non-perf screens. Acheron’s 15-inch woofer crosses over to the 4-inch compression driver at 580 Hz — a range proven to maximize dialog intelligibility in theater systems. The front-ported enclosures have a narrow slot at the bottom of the cabinet, providing air circulation to the onboard Class AB/H bi-amplification.

For LF headroom extension and extra punch in larger rooms, complementary powered Acheron LF double-15 cabinets have the same footprint as Acheron, creating a single column with all three woofers in phase alignment. For the dedicated LFE channel, a Meyer X-800C powered double-18 sub provides a truly moving (136dB max/23Hz) experience with a smooth linear phase transition from the screen channels to the subwoofer(s). Adding an Acheron LF to an Acheron 100 or 80 requires little more than running a single XLR cable from the top to the woofer cabinet.

The new HMS-10 Cinema Surround speaker is a lightweight (40-pound) enclosure with a 10-inch woofer mated to a compression driver/80×80-degree horn combo in a 15-degree slant-front cabinet. Surround speakers are traditionally the weak link in most cinema installs, but the HMS-10’s 66-to-18k Hz bandwidth, 128dB SPL performance and exceptional phase coherence (essential for spatial cue reproduction) found favor with top sound designers who beta-tested the system.

Installation Made Simple

Taking the HMS-10 one step further, the bi-amped unit is self-powered, which normally would be problematic in theater installs where an AC power source would be required at each speaker. Meyer solved the problem using 48-volt remote powering, which as a low-power install, typically does not require conduit, and with suitable cabling (such as Belden 1502p) can even run in existing plenums, depending on local codes. As an alternative to the HMS-10s, Meyer’s UPJ-1P cabinets can be spec’d into an Acheron installation.

Now in beta testing, another item in the Acheron toolkit is MAPP Cinema, a new version of Meyer’s MAPP Online Pro, a cross-platform, Java-based application for the prediction of system performance. MAPP Cinema combines data from the entire Acheron line with perforated screen data for reliable, accurate acoustical prediction of expected frequency response, impulse response and max SPL output.

So is the world ready for Acheron? “Absolutely,” says Steve Shurtz, cinema manager at Meyer Sound. “The pipelines are improving for both movies and in-theater simulcasting of programming, events and concerts. Even 384Kbps Dolby Digital for six channels isn’t state-of-the-art anymore. The game is different now, with full-bandwidth 24/96 PCM available in 5.1 and beyond — up to 16 channels on DCI and 3-D systems. This is a good time to talk about a more compelling sound experience.”

Acheron systems are available now and are already in use at facilities such as Skywalker Sound, American Zoetrope, ImageMovers Digital, USC and the University of California San Diego. For more information, visit Meyer Sound at