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Radio Shack analog SPL meter being discontinued


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#1 of 29 Chris A H

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Posted November 24 2003 - 07:28 AM

Radio Shack.com doesn't have them listed anymore, and the Oakland B&M shop says it's being discontinued in favor of the digital meter.

Get one before they are gone!

#2 of 29 Matt`G

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Posted November 24 2003 - 08:37 AM

About a month ago my local RS ran out of them, so I picked up the last one in the RS the next town over. Whew!
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#3 of 29 Phil Iturralde

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Posted November 24 2003 - 08:44 AM

FYI: Another option for those that can't find the Radio Shack Analog SPL Meter ...Craftsman Sound Meter - $34.99
Posted Image

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#4 of 29 Brian Johnson

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Posted November 24 2003 - 10:26 AM

Ooooooh.

Thats sharp Posted Image

Whowouldathunk it. Sears selling SPL meters?
Gimme da cashhh!!

#5 of 29 steve nn

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Posted November 24 2003 - 11:54 AM

I don't know what I am missing but the dgtl does fine for me. More $$ though. I intended to buy the analog but dgtl is the way it worked out.

#6 of 29 terence

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Posted November 24 2003 - 12:37 PM

Quote:
I don't know what I am missing but the dgtl does fine for me. More $$ though. I intended to buy the analog but dgtl is the way it worked out.


Same here.
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#7 of 29 JimmyK

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Posted November 25 2003 - 05:52 AM

Quote:
I don't know what I am missing but the dgtl does fine for me. More $$ though. I intended to buy the analog but dgtl is the way it worked out.


I was given the digital version as a gift some years ago and haven't had a problem using it.

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#8 of 29 steve nn

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Posted November 25 2003 - 11:45 AM

Ok I say we start our own club then! (The digital boys) against (The analog boys)..Posted Image

Seriously though> I just would like to see a common standard in mixing of the sound level on all DVD's. The swing must be up to 10db or so. -10 on that dvd is like -20 on this dvd??? Posted Image

#9 of 29 Robert AG

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Posted November 25 2003 - 12:10 PM

Analog meter movements are easier to intrepret with events (like sound) that are changing over time. Digital readouts are OK for events that are more stable. It's very difficult to accurately "eyeball average" a display of constantly changing numbers.

It is a shame that RadioShack is discontinuing the analog meter. It is actually used on motion picture dubbing stages to check the SPL of movie mixes.

#10 of 29 steve nn

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Posted November 25 2003 - 02:30 PM

I understand what your saying Robert and I do agree. But for HT calibration purposes though> The dgtl will do fine. Steady numbers on my end.

RadioShack has been in the process of phasing out the analog for over a year now. Possibly just another way of getting a little more $$ out of us poor HT/bass addicts??

#11 of 29 Kenneth Harden

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Posted November 25 2003 - 02:58 PM

Hey, Parts Express could fill the gap. A SPL meter is right up their alley!!!

#12 of 29 WarnerL

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Posted November 25 2003 - 03:39 PM

Quote:
Analog meter movements are easier to intrepret with events (like sound) that are changing over time. Digital readouts are OK for events that are more stable. It's very difficult to accurately "eyeball average" a display of constantly changing numbers.

No offence Robert, but I find that most of the people that quote this advantage of the analog over the digital sound pressure level meter have never tried out the digital meter and thus do not know how it actually works in real life. They are just quoting misguided quotes from other analog meter users.

The digital display that the digital meter has shows the average level over one second intervals. This cannot be altered with the fast/slow response button which is common to the analog and digital meters. The display changes at the same speed as the seconds display on a digital watch which I believe that most people can follow.

As Steve NN said, the display is usually steady numbers when used for home theater calibrating so there is no problem with reading a number that does not change (remember too that the meter is averaging the level over one second intervals). Sometimes the display will fluctuate between two numbers (at a rate of one per second) and that is usually a range that is 1 dB apart. Well the number you are looking for is .5 dB between those two numbers.

Now with bass calibration tones, the display will often fluctuate (again in one second intervals) with a range of wider than one dB. I know that when the analog meter people see this on their display they look at the lowest point of the swing of the needle as well as the highest point and conclude that the average is the point in between the highest and lowest point of the swing. Well people, that is not the average you are looking at, that is what is called the median or the middle point of the range of numbers (again, this is not the average). Looking at this midpoint (median) does not give the average because it does not take into account the length of time the needle is spending at any one position or frequency that it returns to any one position. I know with the bass calibration pink noise tones, that needle is not swinging back and forth at a regular interval like a pendulum of a clock (which would make the median the same as the average) but instead hovers at one area for a certain fraction of time then jumps to another area and stays for a different fraction of time and so on.

Now this is where the digital meter people have an advantage if they so choose it. The digital meter has different "modes" it can be set to and it can be set to actually take the actual average over a user set time interval. After this user set time interval is over, it will hold the display at the one number which is the actual average over that time period. Again, it is not just displaying the midpoint of the highest and lowest readings but the real average.

One other advantage of the digital meter that I can think of right now is that when that large round dial is set to a certain dB number, eg. the 80, then the range that the meter can read and display is +10 dB and -10dB around that number, ie. read and display from 70 up to 90 when the dial is set to 80. With the analog meter, when the dial is set to 80, it can only read and display up to +5 and down to -5 dB around that number, ie. from 75 to 85 when the dial is set to 80. With the digital meter, there is less need to change the dial when the levels happen to fall over a particular range.

Any comments?

#13 of 29 Robert AG

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Posted November 25 2003 - 04:20 PM

>>>No offence Robert, but I find that most of the people that quote this advantage of the analog over the digital sound pressure level meter have never tried out the digital meter and thus do not know how it actually works in real life. They are just quoting misguided quotes from other analog meter users.<<<

No offense taken, but I am one of those people who use these meters professionally on the motion picture mixdown stage - I'm not just parroting some information I read on the internet. Meters with analog displays are used in calibration applications (and this is the area of interest for home theater) for a very good reason - accuracy and ease in intrepretation. Unlike consumer components that use band limited pink noise centered at 1Khz as a calibration tone source, we use full range pink noise which causes more meter deflection than filtered pink noise due to the presence of low frequencies. Under these circumstances, a digital readout meter is almost useless, regardless of it's time constant, or additonal modes of operation. Additional modes on digital meters may have application in sound survey (for instance, establishing average and peak sound levels for OHSA compliance) and acoustics work, but are useless in the relatively straightforward role of establishing a calibration level. I am not dismissing digital readout meters (I own one made by Bruel and Kjaer) - they have applications where their abilities are useful, but for establishing sound calibration levels, they are a 10 dollar solution for a 2 dollar problem. That is the reason the original analog RadioShack meter enjoyed such popularity: a simple, foolproof and easy to intrepret solution to a relatively simple problem. There are always those who look for complex solutions to simple problems. I've never been able to understand that.

#14 of 29 JimmyK

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Posted November 26 2003 - 07:26 AM

Quote:
The digital display that the digital meter has shows the average level over one second intervals. This cannot be altered with the fast/slow response button which is common to the analog and digital meters. The display changes at the same speed as the seconds display on a digital watch which I believe that most people can follow.

You lost me on this one. When I select slow response on my digital meter, it is much steader than if I select fast.

When setting speaker levels, I set the meter to C weighting, slow response, and have no trouble getting all speakers to read a steady 75db.

Am I not understanding something?

JimmyK

#15 of 29 Robert AG

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Posted November 26 2003 - 08:20 AM

Like I said, some people believe in complex solutions (and evidently explanations) for simple problems. In the slow response mode, the time constant (or "damping") of the meter readout is longer, which smooths the response to sudden changes. When reading lower frequencies, the time constant must be longer to achieve the same "damping" action relative to mid-range frequencies. None of this really has any bearing on the test tone used in receivers and pre/pros for setting the level for the mains and surrounds because that tone only contains about an octave wide band of frequencies centered around 1Khz, so the readout is going to be relatively steady whether you are using an analog or digital meter. My comments regarding the analog movement have more to do with the ability to intrepret easily the "rate of change" of the action of the meter, while correlating that with the audible feedback of full range pink noise. How quickly the needle changes it's position is useful information along with the absolute level / average reading.

I think the more mundane reason RadioShack is discontinuing the analog meter is an increasing difficulity in obtaining analog meter movements that meet the ballistic requirements of the meter for sound work. They are simply costing more than the relatively easy to manufacture digital LCD readouts do, so RadioShack has a monetary incentive to discontinue the analog meter.

#16 of 29 WarnerL

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Posted November 26 2003 - 10:00 AM

Quote:
You lost me on this one. When I select slow response on my digital meter, it is much steader than if I select fast.

When setting speaker levels, I set the meter to C weighting, slow response, and have no trouble getting all speakers to read a steady 75db.

Am I not understanding something?

Yes, you are not understanding how the digital meter is different from the analog meter. With the digital meter, there is a response button which toggles between fast and slow response. However, it is not the response of the digital readout that is changed. This continues to update once per second regardless of the fast or slow setting. The Radio Shack digital meter has in its display, a bar graph below the digital readout which moves around similar to the needle in the analog meter. When the response is set to slow, the meter revises the bargraph reading every 0.5 seconds. At the fast setting, the meter revises the bargraph every 0.2 seconds.

So Robert, what is the advantage of the analog over the digital (other than price which is mute since the analog is being discontinued) since there is also a bar graph to look at as well as the digital display. I think I can follow the "rate of change" that you desire to see with a bar graph the same as an analog needle. To me it is the same as watching the bargraphs when setting recording levels on a tape deck. Before, all the tape decks had analog meters with the needle bouncing up and down. Later, they changed them all to bar graphs with lights jumping up and down. Are you saying it was so much better watching a needle moving around as opposed to watching a bar graph moving around?

And I wasn't looking for a complex solution when I purchased the digital meter. The Radio Shack that I bought it at gave me the digital meter for the same price as what the analog one would cost so it was a 2 dollar solution worth 10 dollars for a 2 dollar problem plus now I can use this 2 dollar solution for a 10 dollar problem also. :wink:

#17 of 29 Robert AG

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Posted November 26 2003 - 10:10 AM

>>>Are you saying it was so much better watching a needle moving around as opposed to watching a bar graph moving around?<<<

I'm saying that is what I prefer, and what is used to monitor the SPL on every movie dubbing stage I've worked on. The discrete nature of LEDs or LCDs leads to a dis-continuity which is not as intuitive to read as the continuous movment of a needle - it is simply distracting. If you prefer bar graphs, FINE!! I simply feel that especially with an inexperienced user, an analog meter movement is easier to intrepret. If I want to monitor the noise pollution levels at an airport, I would use my B&K digital meter (in addition to spectrum analysis). I simply prefer to use the tool appropriate to me for the job. Maybe you like tech for tech's sake, but to me this blind view just gets in the way of getting the job done.

BTW: Studer, Ampex and other manufacturers of tape machines went to LED readouts for two reasons - cost and the ability to cheaply read peak levels with bargraph meters. Real VU meters are horrendously expensive to manufacture. The peak level issue could be solved by PPM meters, but this would have just raised costs unacceptably.

Don't sweat it!

#18 of 29 Allen Marshall

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Posted November 26 2003 - 09:23 PM

whats wrong with the digital?
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#19 of 29 Robert AG

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Posted November 27 2003 - 05:16 AM

>>>whats wrong with the digital?<<<

Nothing is wrong with the digital. It's just easier and more intuitive for me (and the people I work around) to use the analog meter movement. When following something that is constantly changing, the smoother readout presented by a needle gives added feedback that the discrete nature of digits and bargraph readouts don't. If you're having good luck with the digital meter, all this isn't an issue with you.

#20 of 29 Parker Clack

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Posted November 27 2003 - 07:06 AM

I personally prefer the analog version (yes I have used both) and it is a shame that RatShack is discontinuing it. I prefer the look of an analog VU meter of a digital bar graph. This is just my personal preference.

Robert:

When I watched some of the guys mixing down some movies at the studios I noticed that a lot of them have 6 large VU meters under the screen that they monitor the various audio tracks with. This is off the sound board. Do they do this because the find the VU meters easier to read than the digital bar graphs or what?

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