In honor of Valentine's Day, I'm giving up my secret Valentine. It's a speaker. Yes, I know that sounds sad and absurd; my wife and daughters are obviously the loves of my life, but my favorite speaker has a special place in my heart, too. Hey, it's impressive. It's compact, powerful, flexible, and self-powered. It's lightweight and even looks good. I've used it for Broadway, regional theatres, television, houses of worship, corporate industrials, film playback, and rock concerts. It can serve as a main speaker in an intimate space, as a fill speaker in a large system, or as a delay or surround with equal ease.

I'm referring to the Meyer Sound UPJ-1P Compact Vario Loudspeaker, which snagged a 2004 EDDY Award for Sound Product of the Year. If I could fit four in my workbox, I would. It is my special weapon for the times when a client says, “Oops, we forgot we have to add this.” It's the perfect speaker for an intimate or small theatre and is among the best tools in a large system. While it won't replace either the small or large format speakers I adore, it has a “can do” attitude that never stops.

What else can I say about the UPJ-1P? The rotatable horn effectively gives me two great speakers in one cabinet. The renowned HF driver packs the classic-sounding UPA punch in such a small footprint. On a permanent installation I designed, the architect could not believe they were half the size of the speakers they replaced. And they are easy to hook up; the XLR and PowerCon loop-through connections let me run a series of surround speakers down an aisle with ease.

It's easy to forget the amplifier design, because the speaker is so light, you might forget it is self-powered until you plug it into a courtesy wall outlet for that emergency press conference. Don't forget that it runs surprisingly cool and has a very low amperage draw. I normally run four boxes on a single circuit, whether they are functioning as delays, as a main PA system, or for a rock concert front fill.

So for Valentine's Day, celebrate with the ones you love. If you see me with my family, keep my secret Valentine to yourself, okay?

Jim van Bergen is a sound engineer for PRG Audio. He can be reached at