Review: Meyer Sound UPJunior

The UPJunior might be small but it knows how to stand up for itself.


27 October 2007

Review: Lucas Kungl

The UPJunior is the latest addition to Meyer’s UltraSeries of powered loudspeakers. Building on the overall success of this range – or possibly in part relying on it – the ‘Junior’ is amongst the smallest ‘U-somethings’ to date. This ultra-compact VariO loudspeaker is comprised of an eight-inch neodymium low-midrange driver, a rotatable horn and two-inch high-frequency driver, making it – by Meyer’s own admission – a smaller version of the already well-accepted UPJ 10-inch and horn. The speaker is mainly designed to increase the versatility of Ultra Series range, allowing speakers to be placed in tighter spaces and offering a lower profile where sightlines and visibility are critical.


The ‘Ultra’ series is now in its third decade, with the UPA first appearing in 1980, and Meyer has been manufacturing self-powered loudspeaker cabinets since 1995. With this in mind, one would hope they would know a thing or two about producing a two-way self-powered loudspeaker by now. And they certainly do. So much so that the industry seems to almost take the fact for granted nowadays. When Meyer releases a new product people remark: ‘It probably costs a bit… but I expect it’ll sound just as good as all their other stuff’ – a big compliment, built on a good track record.

Never has the old saying about getting what one pays for been more accurate than with Meyer loudspeakers, and this is clear when you play with ‘Junior’. The engineering and build quality of the UPJunior is exceptional. And while this is important to many, particularly in the theatre and corporate circles, what is perhaps more impressive (and a credit to Meyer) is that the UPJunior displays the same warm, ‘cuddly’ phase coherent U-series voicing that so many of us have grown to love over the years… packaged in a slightly smaller cabinet. This consistent voicing makes it a whole lot easier to design a complex sound reinforcement system – knowing you can pick and choose from the loudspeakers in the range and have confidence that they all sound similar.

One of Meyer’s biggest strengths would have to be its emphasis on consistency of design and quality throughout its product range. Transducer design, control circuitry, remote monitoring software, even the power supply for the amplifier sections are designed in-house, many specifically for each product. The result is a very fine audio product indeed – well designed and beautiful sounding.

The ‘Junior’ is a bit of a toolbox loudspeaker. Comprehensive rigging plates and a rotatable 80° x 50° horn make it very versatile. Data claims of 300W peak power and 126dB SPL are bold for a box of this size. While the limiting circuits (independent for each HF and LF amplifier section) are very capable and not overly savage, the voicing does start to fall apart a bit at high power levels. These are protection devices, though, and not really meant to be listened to, and it should be hardly surprising that the voicing of a cabinet less than half a metre tall changes at 120dB SPL. The only other minor sonic complaint would be that the porting starts to breath heavily at 75Hz at higher output levels, although – considering these wavelengths are several times longer than the entire cabinet, and the frequency response figures of Meyer’s own data sheet range from 76Hz to 18kHz – perhaps this is a harsh criticism. If you’re expecting accurate low frequency response from an eight-inch and horn you should possibly reconsider your system design. Meyer doesn’t expect it from the Junior, nor should you.

The coverage of the Junior is very smooth, particularly at high frequencies, and is perhaps one of my favourite attributes of later Meyer horn designs in general. Putting as much emphasis on phase response as on frequency response is something I wish more manufacturers would embrace. A crossover point at 3.5kHz helps this, I suspect, ensuring an interference-free vocal range. Rotating the horn is a simple affair, involving the removal of the front grille and horn bolts. Although not something you would need to do on a daily basis, this feature adds greatly to the versatility of the box.


There are other nice features in the UPJunior design. For instance, the two-channel amplifier module inside the cabinet can be replaced as a whole without pulling the loudspeaker out of its rigging, which is a great design advantage, especially when, for example, the speaker is stuck under a balcony in the middle of a theatre run. All amplifier operations can be sent to an optional ‘RMS’ (Remote Monitoring System) network, part of all the Ultra-series powered products. The speaker possesses very low self-noise, and the only thing I would change would possibly be the inclusion of an attenuation device. (Hey, sometimes it’s just handy to have control of gain structure at the amplifier.)

One further benefit of the UPJunior is that its power supply is auto-voltage sensing (useful for ordinary Australian power) and will happily range from 100 to 240V AC, with additional protection against transient voltage spikes. Signal processing, as well as input level peak and RMS limiting includes processing to monitor and control driver over-excursion, thermal limiting, DC protection and frequency and phase correction filters. There is also fan-forced cooling of the heatsink.

There’s no doubt, the UPJunior will be a welcome addition to the arsenal of many, particularly those already using UltraSeries cabinets who might be looking for something smaller to fill in that little gap in their systems.


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