A sound meter is designed to provide a sound monitoring system with an accurate measurement of the volume of a room whether you are interested in improving a room’s acoustics or determining how loud a background noise maybe, a sound meter can be a helpful tool.
Sound meters come in two primary components: direct-wired and wireless. The former uses a low frequency (LF) signal to measure sound level, whereas the latter uses a high frequency (HF) signal to measure sound level. Reliant on your specific needs, you may want to purchase a combination meter.
A meter’s signal strength is an essential factor in measuring the sound level. An overly strong signal can indicate a problem with your meter itself, or the power supply you are using to power it. You can also get signal strength on the LCD screen when you use the “measure” button.
One more factor to think about is the type of enclosure you are using to protect your hearing and your recording equipment. The enclosure acts as a sound barrier and should be selected with this in mind. While a custom-made recording studio has different controls available for accomplishing this task, there are also commercially available enclosures that may suffice. You can also go to an audio store and ask the clerk for assistance.
A sound meter should be placed as close to your equipment as possible to allow them to capture the very lowest frequencies. It is recommended that you place your sound meter next to any equipment you are to record.
Since you measure the volume of your surrounding environment, you should pay attention to any potential sounds you hear around you. If you have pets, there is a good chance that they are drawing all of their attention to particular objects or areas in your home and maybe unintentionally masking the sounds you hear.
You can determine the sound level by recording the meter’s first reading against the entire audio track in your recording program. If you can’t hear anything, try narrowing the recording area by only playing one or two instruments at a time.
While this method works well for some, others prefer to manually adjust the volume of their meters so that the meter’s reading remains constant. However, if your meter is not calibrated correctly, this method may not work as well as you think.
Keep in mind that a poor quality meter tends to vary significantly in its measurements. Such should not be a problem for the majority of sound meters, but you may need to rerun the meter to ensure the exact result. Generally, you must be able to listen to the same level of audio from a poorly calibrated meter as you would from an adequately calibrated one.
Also, be sure to factor in the size of the room in which you are recording. Since the sounds you hear in the room can be significantly affected by distance, it is best to keep the meter’s recording distance as small as possible. It will help ensure that the meter records the same sound from every sound source you want to record.
The next factor to consider is the design of the speaker or headphones you are using to record the audio. You may want to record the sound from your headphones directly into your computer if you are running the recording program on a Mac or Windows machine. Instead, you might want to record the sound from your headphones directly into your computer if you are using a PC
When measuring the level of your audio, you should also pay attention to the distance between you and any nearby sound sources, such as traffic, friends, or dogs. This factor is often ignored, but its effect on the sound meter readings can be dramatic.
Read more here on how you can use a sound meter for mundane purposes.