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Author Topic: Radio Shack [cheap] SPL Meter?  (Read 4084 times)

cerberus

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Radio Shack [cheap] SPL Meter?
« on: September 07, 2006, 01:03:29 am »

hi fran;

i'm wondering if a cheap spl meter such as from radio shack might be a useful tool?  

i think i could learn the same information without one by analyzing impulse responses. but then my mic isn't exactly flat.

another cheapish option could be an rta program for mac called "fuzz measure" (costs under $200.) but it seems odd that there is no suggestion in it's user manual to use a flat or "reference" mic/pre to make it work better...

could you comment of the usefulness of low cost measurement tools/methods?

jeff dinces

Teddy G.

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Re: Radio Shack [cheap] SPL Meter?
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2006, 08:00:28 am »

Considering their price, as you say "cheap", apparent quality, good(I say apparent as I'm no expert), I'm amazed at myself at never having owned a Radio Shack Sound Level Meter. Even if no terribly accurate measurements can be done it's still a pretty cool gadget and I am a "sound person"(Always, and I mean as long as I can remember, interested in sound.) and it's the only tool around for measuring at least it's level that I could  buy almost anywhere I've lived, for a relative "nothing" price - and they've been around for a long time. No, not so amazing as embarassing that I never had one.

I do now. And, at least to look at and begin to use, it's even "cooler" than it used to be(Though no analog version anymore. For quite awhile you could get either digital or analog.).

The final reason I finally drove the mile down the road(Could've walked, I need the excercise) and forked over the cash is the 'Real Traps' web site, which offers "a plan" for it's use. A highly sophistocated, incredibly accurate means of determining all the accoustic problems of my studio? I suppose not. But, it is a great excuse to finally buy one of the gadgets I'd thought about for many years and the RT plan(With tones you can download for the purpose) may be a nice indicator of how my room "works", or at least SOME indicator, other than my ears - and while I've only put about 20 minutes into the "room measuring project" so far, I can say that up to now my room looks(On the meter) pretty bad...... I'm not surprised, but, it is kind've neat-o to actually "see it", even if only sort've, to some degree - picture worth a thousand words(Which I don't entirely agree with - I'm a word person.) and that sort of thing.

In the end it's just a "volume meter" you can carry around with you(Hard to carry around all(Or afford) the gear, seperately, even if you DO have it - an old cassette machine with built-in mic and a tiny VU meter could do much the same thing if you can turn it's horrible ALC off.) and I'll bet it's as accurate as most volume meters we DO use and blindly trust.). YES, buy one, use it when you can for what you can, otherwise, stick it on a prominant shelf and let everyone else who has long wished they'd bought one see that you did - "Hey, this must be a 'real' sound guy!". Do your basic tests with it THEN, if you even can, hire a pro with the "real" gear - or not... Or, just assume your untreated, unplanned room IS horrible(It is!) and start 'treating'......

TG
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Ethan Winer

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Re: Radio Shack [cheap] SPL Meter?
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2006, 03:42:43 pm »

Jeff,

I use the ETF program which at $150 is a real bargain, and I've heard only good things about FuzzMeasure for Macs. As for the Radio Shack SPL meter, I've run tests side by side with an expensive calibrated microphone, and mine is quite accurate up to 800 Hz. But then it deviates quite a bit. Unfortunately, anything substantially better will probably cost a lot, and it's the bass frequencies that matter most anyway.

--Ethan

franman

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Re: Radio Shack [cheap] SPL Meter?
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2006, 08:40:01 pm »

Echo what Ethan says... It's a good meter for WHAT IT IS... it's an SPL meter and not a calibrated RTA or that type of instrument. It can be very revealing even just to KNOW how loud things are (like how loud you really are listening)... remember Fletcher Munson??? (spelling?? to lazy to look it up LOL)..

There are several great, affordable programs that will work with your sound card.. Ethan mentions a couple. But poking around with your RS SPL Meter and diagnosing room modes with LF tones, etc... it's some of the stuff we do with our RTA when we are trying to locate tuned traps for clients rooms, etc..As Teddy notes, it's as accurate as most volume meteres we Blindly trust anyway... right on!!

You won't find a better deal on an affordable SPL Meter, that's for sure (my Ivie IE-33 rig that I use for an SPL Meter and can carry all the time, probably cost me almost $1800 with the PDA).....
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jimmyjazz

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Re: Radio Shack [cheap] SPL Meter?
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2006, 09:51:32 pm »

I have access to a Type 1 B&K sound level meter as well as an old RatShack job.  When I get the chance, I'll shoot 'em out.

I've always felt the Radio Shack device was good enough to get an idea of transmission loss through a wall, etc.  I don't know why i felt that way, other than the measured numbers jived with analysis pretty well.
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arconaut

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Re: Radio Shack [cheap] SPL Meter?
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2006, 03:57:06 pm »


One thing about those Radio Shack meters I've never found a use for, but it's always in the back of my mind, is that RCA mic output. Doesn't sound very good - but the thing is that wherever you set the range on the thing is the point of distortion (this is for the manual model, not the auto-ranging one with the digital readout). Set it to 80dB and at 80dB, the output distorts. I always thought someday it would make for a good freaked out drum room mic or something like that, but I haven't ever ended up using it - but perhaps one of you might, so I'm mentioning it anyway!

Noah
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cerberus

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Re: Radio Shack [cheap] SPL Meter?
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2006, 01:54:53 am »

thanks everyone, i got more interested from your answers and did some research:

Accuracy:

Teddy G.

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Re: Radio Shack [cheap] SPL Meter?
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2006, 11:55:28 am »

Very correct Jeff! Few few of us with untreated or poorly treated rooms need ANY meter to tell us we need work... When we DO need the meter(And likely a MUCH better one, along with alot of knowledge) is AFTER we've done enough basic correction that hand-clapping and shouting don't reveal any further problems to the point of us being able to provide accurate correction. THAT is where folks like Fran, come in...... I look forward to getting to that point in my studio.

Of course, the RS meter does do some things very well(Mostly re-inforce how bad our rooms really are - hard to get it through our thick heads!) and, as stated, it is fairly "cool" and "techy" looking - which is good......

TG
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Ethan Winer

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Re: Radio Shack [cheap] SPL Meter?
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2006, 05:48:10 pm »

Teddy,

> Few few of us with untreated or poorly treated rooms need ANY meter to tell us we need work <

No kidding. Because I do this for a living, people are often surprised when I tell them there's little need to measure at all. At least for non-critical and home applications. The only reason I have test tones and advice about ETF etc on my web site is so people can see how terrible their rooms really are. Most folks have no idea how horribly skewed their low frequency response is. So seeing a plot that varies 30 or more dB over a span of two octaves is the slap upside the head they need. Shocked

--Ethan

Brent Handy

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Re: Radio Shack [cheap] SPL Meter?
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2006, 06:27:56 pm »

What's Radio Shack?  They are closing up shop soon.
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