Which SPL meter?

i_raz

Well-known Member
Im looking to buy a SPL Meter. Can anyone recommend one please?

I need to it set my speakers and subwoofer.

I don't want want to spend too much. Maplins do a mini SPL meter for £30, is that any good?

Any recommendations?

Thanks
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
There are few SPL Meters that come close to the Radio Shack for both value and preformance.

There are two types -

One has a digital read out in both numeric and bar graph. This is the type I have, and it works well. Priced at about £40.

The other type uses an analog dial/meter. Many prefer this type, but I personally like my digital meter. This Dial type is priced at £30.

Radioshack :: Catalog

RadioShack :: Radioshack Sound Level Meter Digital

RadioShack :: Radioshack Sound Level Meter Analog 7-Range

Either one should do a good job for you.

Steve/bluewizard
 

mykyll2727

Novice Member
I've had the RS digital version for 7-8 years. Still works great and I've been very happy with it. I find it quite invaluable really.
 

Weetabix

Active Member
There's an app for that!

But seriously, if you've got a smart phone, search for a sound level meter app, they work reasonably well indeed.
 

aandpwoodley

Distinguished Member
I'm not sure why but the analogue RadioShack meters are always recommended over the digital ones.

They can both be connected to your pc & av amp
 

i_raz

Well-known Member
Weetabix said:
There's an app for that!

But seriously, if you've got a smart phone, search for a sound level meter app, they work reasonably well indeed.
I already have a microphone app on my Android phone but I was told that they are not accurate for subs?
 

Weetabix

Active Member
in my experience, using a sound level meter for subwoofers returns unreasonable results, this is as a consequence of the room boost and the accuracy of the microphone picking up direct and reflected sound.

best to set by ear using a scene you're familiar with the bass and adjust accordingly.

At least get the front left, right and centre sounding at the same level, then adjust the surrounds to provide enough immersive sound, then adjust the subwoofer to blend in seamlessly.

Try Lord of the rings -the two towers - the scene with the deeping wall where the Trojan plants the bomb, when it goes off it is dramatic, too much subwoofer volume provides a one note boom, too little and the effect is wimpy, just right and it's explosive with serious bottomless weight to it.

good luck!
 
Last edited:

DodgeTheViper

Moderator
Weetabix said:
Try Lord of the rings -the two towers - the scene with the deeping wall where the Trojan plants the bomb, when it goes off it is dramatic, too much subwoofer volume provides a one note boom, too little and the effect is wimpy, just right and it's explosive with serious bottomless weight to it.

good luck!
And you gauge that by ear, quite impressive.
 

Weetabix

Active Member
I still use a sound level meter, however after a calibrated set-up, I tweak by ear which provides better real world listening.

the level meters are good to reaffirm my hearing and experience hasn't wavered too much.

regards
 
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DodgeTheViper

Moderator
That's really good that you can use a particular movie to set the levels, and it works for other movies as well, quite impressive that.
 

Weetabix

Active Member
it's a starting point, not to be confused with a fixed reference, but it provides a gauging.

tweaking from there may have to be performed with other material to provide a more universal pleasing result.

:)
 

DodgeTheViper

Moderator
So you use a particular movie to set the levels by ear, then depending which other movie you watch you may tweak the levels to suit, depending on which movie you are watching ?
 

Weetabix

Active Member
I will use a number of movies, with the LOTR as an example, them watch a few other scenes from other movies, and make a good volume compromise between them so that the subwoofer provides a uniform result.

so for instance the light cycle scene from Tron Legacy is pure overload with bass, where as another film may be the opposite.

You're more than welcome to step in with your own method.

I try not to take it too seriously though, after all, it one mans preference.

just my 2 cents.......:)
 

DodgeTheViper

Moderator
I will use a number of movies, with the LOTR as an example, them watch a few other scenes from other movies, and make a good volume compromise between them so that the subwoofer provides a uniform result.
So do you use LOTR as your first reference point for setting the levels as you like them, then use a few other movies to tweak either up or down to find a good balance overall, and then leave the levels that you have set regardless of the movie that you watch afterwards, or do you still tweak afterwards depending on what you watch ?
 

Weetabix

Active Member
yes, effectively, I can't remember when I last made a subwoofer setting adjustment.

It's at a point now where it provides a pleasing result whatever.

A sound level meter is a great tool, and I will always use one to get a measured reading level, but after all, the finished result is heard by our ears not a piece of electronic measuring equipment.

So I will always trust my ears to do the final tweaks.
 
If you want to accurately measure your system, don't expect to be able to use anything under £1000. An SPL Meter does have it's uses, but don't rely on it to be accurate.
 

mykyll2727

Novice Member
yes, effectively, I can't remember when I last made a subwoofer setting adjustment.

It's at a point now where it provides a pleasing result whatever.

A sound level meter is a great tool, and I will always use one to get a measured reading level, but after all, the finished result is heard by our ears not a piece of electronic measuring equipment.

So I will always trust my ears to do the final tweaks.

I do something similar for all of my speaker settings. I use the SPL meter to get everything to match by it's measurements. Then I use a variety of recordings imcluding designated test discs and CDRs I made myself for that purpose. I make what ever adjustments I need to to get it to sound best to my ears. I go back to the SPL meter to check on differences if any but the final determination is what sounds best to me. For me, what sounds best to me is more important than satisfying the meter's readings or Audyssey for that matter. Interestingly what sounds best I find to fall exactly or very close to the meter's readings. I can understand someone taking a different approach and I'm not saying anyone should do it my way. It's just what I've found to work best for me that's all.
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
An SPL meter, at least the Radio Shack, have a frequency response of 30hz to 10,000hz. Above and below that, the reading will be off, but it will be consistently off. That is, if the SPL at 20hz is 80db, and the meter reads 70db, it will always read 70db.

One of the benefits of the Radio Shack Meter is that they are so common, it is not that hard to find correction files for them. If you apply the correction file, to the reading you've taken, you can adjust the numbers to the equivalent of Flat response.

In the above example, if the correction files say 20hz = -10db, then you simply add 10db to the reading you took, and you will have close to accurate response measurements.

Steve/bluewizard
 

DodgeTheViper

Moderator
Do these drift with time?
That is a very good question and one that I have contemplated myself, but havn't come up with the answer :D

I'm sue they may drift on readings if the battery power is seriously lacking ;)
 

i_raz

Well-known Member
What's the general consensus, are the radioshack better than microphones that you can get on your phone as apps?
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
A true SPL Meter is certainly better than a Phone App, at least, based in the information I've been able to gather.

Though some may be better than others. I know there are very high quality mics available for iPhone (etc...), but they are not cheap. In a sense, you get what you pay for. The built-in mic of a Phone is intended for voice use. That is actually a pretty narrow range. These mics are not calibrated for high fidelity. They might be OK for broad and general sound measurements, but I wouldn't trust them with a frequency response plot. Again, there are high quality external microphones available, but do not expect them to be cheap.

Most meters have two weightings - A and C.

"A" weighting covers 500hz to 10,000hz. This is used for very broad and general measurements. For example, if you want to check noise level in a industrial situation, you are more concerned with the SPL and less concerned with the frequency response.

"C" weigthing covers 30hz to 10,000hz. This would be used when there more precise frequency requirements. For example, when you are testing the frequency response of a speaker. I've done this to all my speakers, plotted the bass frequency response. Though in my case, I'm not really concerned with anything below 30hz, so I don't need compensation files.

As to the response of a meter changing over time. Likely it is like a speaker being broke in. Over time the surrounds on the microphone diaphragm soften from use. But, given the small size, I don't expect it to be much.

There are places that will calibrate your meter for you. Buy the meter, use if for about a year. Then send it in, and they will compare it to a know industrial/Studio standard system, and send you back a calibration file. That way you have the precise calibrations for your specific meter.

Although, as I said, there are countless generic Radio Shack calibration files out there. These should be sufficient compensation for hobby use.

Search Google for 'Radio Shack Sound Level Meter Calibration Files' and you should find several of them. Take a look at the deviation, and I think you will find that within any realistic working range, the deviation is pretty small.

Steve/bluewizard
 

biggy7

Well-known Member
hi guys

sorry to bump an old thread, im also looking for a SPL meter

noticed Bk do not sell the RadioShack one anymore

which ones are recommended these days? any links would be handy

many thanks
 

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