Meyer Sound has been manufacturing speakers since 1979. In 1995, the company introduced its first (of what was to be many) self-powered speakers, the MSL-4 long-throw horn-loaded loudspeaker. With this introduction, Meyer launched the clever idea of building proprietary amplifiers into a speaker, taking the option of mixing and matching gear out of the signal equation. This move ensured, to a degree, that the speakers would always perform as they were intended.
Today, many speakers are self-powered, from the giant line array to the pair of studio monitors on my desk. There are pluses and minuses, to be sure, but one major minus in some cases is the sheer fact that self-powered speakers need, well, power. In many cases, this isn’t a big issue, but in the world of permanent installations, fire and safety codes around the world require high-voltage power cables to run inside conduit and installed by a licensed electrician—not always easy, possible, or cost effective. And then try explaining to the contractor that it should be a Neutrik NAC3MPB-1 connector and, well, things get even trickier.
Meyer has heard your conduit and contractor issues. The company has slowly, but surely, introduced a group of small yet powerful self-powered speakers that find a solution to this issue. While being self-powered, they take the power supply out of the speaker and make it a remote unit. Then they run low-voltage DC power between the remote power supply unit and the speaker. Low voltage equates to no conduit, no codes, no headaches. It’s pretty smart, honestly.
These speakers aren’t really grouped as a product line, but they share the “XP” suffix in their names: MM-4XP, MM-4XPD, UP-4XP, and MM-10XP. The MM-4XP was introduced first back in 2007 as a follow up to the largely popular and unpowered MM-4. While this speaker was great and incredibly small, it was indeed a bit of a step backward in that you needed an amplifier and the proprietary MM-4CEU processor. The MM-4XP got rid of both of these and instead uses the MPS-488HP. This is a sleek eight-channel remote power supply unit that works with the entire XP speaker group. It powers up to eight XP speakers and combines the audio and DC power into one five-wire cable (two for power, three for audio). You supply 110V AC to the power supply unit, and it supplies DC, low-voltage power to eight speakers, and has the courtesy to bring along the audio signal, too.
The recommended installation cable is Belden 1502. At 18 AWG, its configuration allows for DC power and balanced audio to be carried 150' with only 1db of signal loss in peak SPL. Each of the speakers and the MPS-488HP power supply come with either five-pin Phoenix connectors or Switchcraft EN3 connectors. I find the Phoenix connectors to be easier to work with.
Speaking in broad terms, I’ve found each of the speakers to be incredible in their size-to-performance. They’re all extremely small, yet they don’t sound that way. I was particularly impressed by the UP-4XP and the MM-10XP subwoofer. Together, they pack quite a punch.
I admit that none of this is truly earth-shattering news. And in some temporary or portable situations, you won’t want to be messing with install cable and Phoenix connectors. But for those real-deal installations or where space is an issue, these externally-powered, self-powered speakers are great, with all the benefits of self-powered gear without a really tough install. Leave the XLR and 110V AC at the rack with the remote power unit. Grab a box of Belden 1502 cable and start zip-tying.