Blog logo, you're not missing much

Serving the Acoustics Community Since 1994

Cross-Spectrum Acoustics Inc. offers Sound & Vibration Consulting Services

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat

Nov 10, 2008

The fundamental product I sell is acoustical test data. And since April 2003, the fundamental instrument that has produced the bulk of my acoustical test results is the first sound level meter/real time analyzer I ever purchased: the TerraSonde Audio Toolbox Plus.

I met Alvin Foster (of the Boston Audio Society) in winter 2003. He invited me over to his office to talk shop and have look at his testbench. We discussed measurement equipment and he showed me an ATB Pro unit he was evaluating for a write-up in the BAS Speaker newsletter. He went through the list of features - ANSI-standard sound level meter, 1/3 octave band analyzer, signal generator, and so on. All for the ridiculously low price of $2,000 which was nothing compared with similar instruments from Norsonic and Larson-Davis that might cost anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000.

Odyssey Pro Sound in Salem was a TerraSonde dealer at the time and they gave me a demo unit to play with a week. I wound up buying it. Since then, the ATB Pro has been the workhorse of my business - I’ve used it for noise surveys at lakeside retreats, machinery source level measurements on construction sites, Noise Criteria (NC) measurements in office spaces, OSHA noise surveys in factories, directivity measurements for microphone characterization, loudspeaker impedance measurements, home audio calibrations, noise source mapping, STC measurements and so on. It’s been used to measure everything from roosters, to gunshots, to Shakespeare plays. It’s been everywhere from subway tunnels in Boston, to suburban Washington DC neighborhoods, to the top of the Berkshire mountains, and many, many other places. It’s always come through for me, and I’ve been amazed at how one little machine can do so much.

Alas, time marches on and it’s time to upgrade - in this case to the ATB’s younger brother, the Audio Toolbox 3 (which has been re-badged by Sencore as the SP395). The SP395 is similar to the ATB Pro with a few very useful improvements, including 2-channel capability and phantom power.

Of course it doesn’t really make much sense for a one-man shop like mine to have two such analyzers, so I’ve decided to partially finance the purchase of the SP395 by selling my ATB Pro. So I listed the ATB Pro on eBay last week, and with luck it will be sold by the end of the day.

I’m going to miss the little guy, but I’ll always have the fond memories. Farewell, old friend.

permanent link


Two weeks ago Auralex released a press statement announcing their new Room Analysis Plus and Room Analysis Pro programs. These programs have gotten a fair amount of attention amount on audio-related websites, including a mention on the AVRant podcast.

Auralex claims:

Room Analysis Plus is an offsite analysis service where dealers/integrators can download an audio file featuring a swept sine signal from 20 Hz to 20 kHz at Users can then record the sweep with an omni-directional measurement microphone in the location of the room in question. All files can be sent via e-mail, along with the Personalized Room Analysis Form, directly to Auralex for examination by their acoustical engineering staff.

Frequency response, impulse response, waterfall plots and reverberation time (RT) values can all be generated from this service without ever having an acoustician enter the room. A written report will be presented to the user within three to five business days outlining the acoustical issues and how to solve them.

In short, the program claims to allow Auralex to analyze the acoustic properties of an existing room (and therefore recommend appropriate acoustical treatment) without the need of an acoustical professional to visit the site. This has caused consternation among some consultants who are concerned that potential clients may chose this solution over hiring a consultant and wind up with disappointing results. I can sympathize with this concern - I’m a big believer in “you get what you pay for” and my experience has shown that making detailed acoustical recommendations for an existing space that you haven’t seen with your own eyes or heard with your own ears is always problematic.

I’ve made some inquires and I’ve been assured that the purpose of the program isn’t to put consultants out of work, but to give customers (and dealers) access to acoustical expertise when they may not have access otherwise - for example, if there are no local acoustical experts, if local acousticans are too expensive, or perhaps just not interested in providing this service (I’ve made a number of out-of-state measurement trips to areas where more local consultants weren’t interested in the project so I can see that this might be true).

The press release indicates that the Room Analysis Pro services will generally cost “$1,500 - $2,000 per day plus expenses” - as an FYI, for that pricing I could likely provide similar services for a 2-day (1 overnight) trip, and the same service at a lower price (likely less than $1,000) for project in Massachusetts.

In any event, I’ll be curious to see the Auralex program works out.

permanent link