The iPhone is a device that can combine and replace so many useful tools. Today you can add another tool to that list: an SLM (sound levelmeter). Faber Acoustical based out of Utah has been making signal analysis software on Mac OS-X for a while and they have just ported some of their sound measurement code to the iPhone. You no longer need to break out the a RadioShack SPL meter to prove your neighbor’s sex antics or too loud. Here are some of the features of SoundMeter:
- Measure time-weighted and equivalent sound levels.
- Employ Flat, A, or C frequency weighting.
- Time-weighted measurement options include Fast, Slow, and Impulse weightings.
- Keep track of peak and maximum sound levels.
- Save high-resolution sound level display images to the iPhone’s Camera Roll photo album. Descriptive text may be added to the image before it is saved.
- Calibration controls enable automatic calibration, relative to a calibrated sound level meter, or manual entry of the microphone sensitivity.
- SoundMeter supports rotating the iPhone upside down, so the built-in microphone sits on top of the device when measuring sound levels.
- With the iPhone’s built-in microphone, SoundMeter can measure peak sound levels of up to approximately 105 dB. With the iPhone’s included headset microphone, SoundMeter can measure peak sound levels of up to approximately 100 dB.
SoundMeter is available via the iTunes App store for $19.99. So far the reviews from people who bought it are positive.
Be sure to also check out SignalScope and SignalSuite at the FaberAcoutical website: www.faberacoustical.com
The National Association of Music Merchants otherwise known as NAMM met for their summer event last week in Austin, Texas Nashville, TN. Here’s the new gear and software I personally thought was interesting. I know some of these are not actual NAMM debuts but they fall in the “outed summer 08” category and were featured at the show.
Korg nanoSERIES. These small, flat and inexpensive controllers are just what a lot of musicians have been waiting for. These are perfect to toss in a laptop bag. The nanoKEY, nanoPAD and nanoKONTROL will be available in October and will each be under $150. link
The Moog Guitar. Some people are scratching their heads on this one. A Guitar from Moog? Would Bob approve? According to Moog (the company) this was being planned when Bob was still with us. Personally, I have no problem with the idea. My main gripe so far is that all the video demos I’ve seen of the M.G. in action are not too impressive. The first of the Moog Guitars available is the The Paul Vo Collector Edition which will cost you $6,495.00. link
Arsenal Audio. A new brand from API. A few years ago a friend of mine brought a filled API lunchbox into my studio and hooked it up to my microphone. My voice never sounded so good and never has since. API as a company knows what they are doing so when they launch a new division I’m ready to give it a chance. I’m not totally sure why they need to branch off. Are these built in China or something? If they sound good I won’t care. Three products kick it off: the V14 4 Band VPR 500 Format Equalizer (fits in a lunchbox), the R 20 2 Channel Mic Pre and R 24 2 Channel 4 Band EQ. link
MOTU Digital Performer 6. I’m an Ableton Live fanatic but competition is what keeps the sequencer space evolving at high speed so DP6 is very welcome. This is the true Mac sequencer. Was born on a mac and always lived there so let’s give the guy some respect. What are the new tidbits DP6 has to offer? A new interface, Track comping, Masterworks Leveler plug-in, ProVerb Convolution plug-in, Final Cut Pro Integration, Enhanced Pro-Tools HD support and Direct Audio CD burning. Not bad! link
SPL Phonitor. Imagine you could mix solely in headphones. Imagine you wouldn’t have to pay for a studio space somewhere far away from cranky neighbors. The Phonitor could be the first product that could make this dream a reality. This is a high end piece of hardware costing about $2k. You spend a few minutes dialing in parameters to match the sound of your speakers with your headphones and viola! I can’t wait to read reviews and hear from users of this product. We need this to work! link
So those are the new things that really peaked my interest. Roland continued to bore me with it’s new Juno Stage and of course there were more amazing Melodyne Direct Note Access demos. Sonic State and Sound on Sound have some great videos from the show floor worth checking out. Did I miss something you really liked?
According to Dictionary.com, “A decibel is a unit used to express the intensity of a sound wave.” Basically, it’s number we use to describe how loud something is. Over the past 19 years of making music my ears have been improving, always getting better able to recognize subtle changes in db levels. Take a look at the following chart to see some common dB levels:
A good piece of gear I recommend people buying is a digital SPL (Sound Pressure Level) meter. If your in the USA just head over to any Radio Shack. They have a decent unit called “Digital-Display Sound-Level Meter”, Model: 33-2055 for $49.99. It runs on a 9V battery. Of course the Shack isn’t the only company that makes them, click here to see Amazon.com’s selection. All SPL meters have a built-in mic and display decibel levels.
If your building a recording studio having a SPL meter is important as you can measure how much sound your neighbors or the outside world is pushing towards you. You can also calculate how much sound proofing you will need to keep your own noise private. Auralex has a nice area on their website called “Bothering Your Neighbors” that shows how much dB you can reduce with each layer of additional building materials: click here
Want to make some money? Bring your SPL meter to any concert, record the dB numbers on video and then go sue the band or venue for hearing damage. There have been numerous law suits exactly like that. I’ve even heard of singers suing venues for hearing damage because of excessive volume levels.
Of course, dB levels also play an important role in audio production. For example when you add some eq to a sound your adding actual volume or decibels. This is important to wrap your head around. If you add 6db of EQ at 2khz your adding 6db of volume to the Master. Working in the digital world, ITB (in the box) you want to keep your individual channel faders low and have them all sum toward the Master. I keep my channel faders at -12db to start and I always keep the Master at 0db. So if you have a vocal on a channel and you add 6db of EQ watch the Master fader level as you are adding 6db to the overall sum of your mix!