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Title: Sencore SP395 Audio Integrator
Post by: Bennett Prescott on June 02, 2006, 12:48:04 am
FedEx is playing games with me again... They left this one at my mailbox, at the end of my driveway, 2/10 of a mile away. Despite their scheming, I now have in my possession Sencore's model SP395 Audio Integrator, a handy-dandy little battery-powered hand-held dual-FFT meter of many functions.

For those of you as visually minded as I, here's a link to the photos:
The manual is also an informative read, so here's it:

The unit arrives in a nice padded shoulder bag with foam cut-outs inside for it and the supplied (calibrated!) reference mic and the power supply. There's a zipper pouch on the front that contains a goody-bag of cables for connecting the 395 to your computer, its reference mic, or bare contacts for measuring impedence or what have you. It also includes a software CD, warranty information, a few warning cards about how to charge the thing without destroying your battery life, and a glossy sheet of 8.5"x11" lauding their customer service on high.
If you read carefully, you'll notice nowhere did I say they included anything like a manual... no quick-start guide, no handy photo with a few arrows explaining what all the cryptic symbols on the screen are, nada. I figured, no problem, I'll go download it from their website... of course they'll have it, in some easy-to find section marked "downloads" or "tech support". Nuh-uh. No luck. A listing of telephone numbers I can call to get help (nobody's gonna be there, it's well after closing time) is all I see. Now, I happen to know that this is a former Terrasonde product that Sencore has teamed up with them to market, service, and (soon) build. So I go to the Terrasonde website where I am quickly and easily able to find the manual and download it... a quick leafing-through and everything is explained.

Once I'd given the manual a quick read and figured out what the strange symbols at the top and bottom of the screen were, the unit was simple to use. One or two things aren't under the menu I'd necessarily expect, but there are only so many options and once you've found a feature once you know where it is from then on. Just so's you know, the strange symbols are...
Top, from left to right: Back to main menu, battery indicator, current mode, then polarity, phantom, and gain for the left preamp, automatic or manual gain mode, then polarity, phantom, and gain for the right preamp.
Bottom, from left to right: Monitor input on/off, level, internal speaker on/off, input selector, mono-mix-down, memory settings (memory slot, Store, Recall, Clear), tone generator on/off, level, wave type (sine, square, etc), frequency, frequency selection granularity (1hz, 1/3 oct, or 1 octave).

I would like to take a second to explain the "automatic or manual gain mode" selection, since I think it's a really great feature. Simply put, when you've selected automatic gain mode the unit will turn down its input gains whenever it senses clipping. It does this quickly and seamlessly and adjusts for the change internally so you can go on with your measurement and stop worrying about how hot you might have your mic set. Everything is referenced to the unit's internal calibration for the supplied reference mic, so SPL readings are accurate. It also turns its input gain back up, but only to a "safe" level... I'm not quite sure how it determines that, but in my basement if I scream at the RTA mic with the gain set to +58 (the maximum) it knocks the gain down to +10 or so pretty quickly and then takes it back to +40 within a few seconds and leaves it there.

If you've ever seen one of these things without actually trying to pick it up and use it, your first though may be like mine: It's pretty damn big. Here's a photo of me holding it in my hand, which is pretty average-sized:
After a few minutes messing around with the 395, however, I've decided that its initially off-putting size isn't really a problem except in terms of, for instance, packing it in your luggage to fly to a gig with. It's a comfortable width that fits easily in my hand and the weight is not an issue, even with my atrophied pasty-white-geek hand muscles. The screen is nice and large and readable, although extremely low-res and chunky, and the clickable rotary encoder that is the only HUI is appropriately responsive. No complaints there.

My SP395 came loaded with all the extra "add-ons", like TechBench which allows me to do crosstalk and distortion measurements, and Speaker for measuring impedence and polarity and all that jazz. I asked for it that way, I don't know how much those particular tools add to the price.

As I have alluded to a few times already, the screen on this unit isn't exactly high resolution. It's a big, easy to read, back-lit screen, certainly... but it's about 125 pixels wide, and maybe 100 tall (I tried to count, that's within a few pixels, you try counting something that small). It's also got a very slow refresh rate, so trying to see rapidly changing waveforms in oscilloscope mode, for instance, is tedious.
Fortunately, for nearly every function where the size of the screen is an issue there's a sliding scale on one or both axis that allows you to "zoom in" on a measurement, plus some sort of scrollable cursor to help you pick out particular data-points. All this adds up to make the unit extremely usable without requiring the cost of a large high-resolution screen. Plus, of course, there's the computer interface which ought to make things a lot easier to see.

While we're on the subject of taking measurements, it should be noted that the unit has a number of memory slots that you can store measurements in on the fly... 40 of them, to be exact. It's easy to pause a measurement, save it to a memory slot, and then keep going to measure something else. While scrolling between memory slots the unit thoughtfully tells you what kind of measurement is stored in each so you don't try to, say, recall your impedence sweep in RTA mode or accidentally overwrite your hard-to-get measurement from last week. Each memory slot holds the actual measurement data, too, so you can export it to a computer or look at it on the unit's screen and zoom in and out.

As long as I had my USB->Serial dongle handy, I figured I'd hook the unit up to my computer and see how well the software works. What ensued was a lengthy and exhausting fight replete with meaningless error messages and buttons that didn't work (or didn't appear at all, in some modes) for no apparent reason whatsoever. The software is, of course, only available for the PC, so I'm running it in emulation mode. Figuring that might be the problem, I grabbed an actual PC laptop and loaded the software onto it. All the same problems occurred, actually more of them in this case, so it's not just my platform. There is very little mention of how to use the software interface in the manual, and the error messages it gives you are completely useless or, in many cases, lies. I finally figured out that you've got to have the SP395 in the same mode as you want to view on the computer in order to use "real time" mode, where the computer essentially mimics the Audio Integrator's display. Using this newfound wisdom I managed to capture this screenshot:
Still beyond my reach is the ability to grab data from the unit's memory ("No serial data." it said. Then: "Cannot open connection: Port blocked." it said. "Shutdown Windows Now" I said.) or use any mode other than RTA. There are also several functions available on the SP395 itself that aren't represented in the software at all, as far as I can tell. For a box with a mediocre screen one would think that a multi-platform well-tested computer interface would be way up at the top of their list. Apparently now. I will give them the benefit of the doubt, however, because this whole Terrasonde line is a very recent addition and they're probably still getting un-mixed-up and taking care of bigger problems.

Quick note, before I forget: That USB port on the side of the unit is for the I/O. It uses standard drivers and allows you to send or receive signal to the unit from a computer, which is a pretty handy thing.

That's all I've got for the basic operation of the unit, it's past my bedtime and I need to hit the sack. So far, I like it a lot. It's a quick and easy way to take a few basic measurements without having to break out a computer, and it's small enough to take with you anywhere. The memory functions are nice because you can take measurements elsewhere and worry about getting them off the unit later, so it's really kind of a "one box to do it all" kind of dealy. I'll have to see how well it performs in transfer function applications, and I'll give Sencore a call to see WTF is up with their computer interface.
Title: Re: Sencore SP395 Audio Integrator
Post by: Dave Stevens on June 02, 2006, 02:27:21 am
What's the list price on that box?  It certainly has possibilities.  The previous Terrasonde boxes were pretty useful, this looks like it could be too.

About the FedEx, they changed the policy on residential drops that if the shipper doesn't specify signature required they'll drop it off without you being there.  Pretty weak if you ask me.

Title: Re: Sencore SP395 Audio Integrator
Post by: Bennett Prescott on June 02, 2006, 11:56:51 am
Just had a very informative talk with John Olsen at Sencore, who was able to answer all of my immediate questions. Even managed to get the whole computer interface up and running... I still think it's a little esoteric, but once you've figured it out it's really very handy. This unit may look a little low-tech, but it's got really powerful guts and calibrated everything. Every time I use it I'm more and more impressed with my newfound ability to just... measure. Quickly. Easily. Without having to spend an hour setting up my laptop. Heck, the laptop's only useful here for offloading data to in order to let it look pretty for others.

I've uploaded an impedence sweep of one of my QW2s in full range, and here's a link to the raw data (also right off the device) for those of you interested:

Dave, list price on the base unit without any goodies is $3195. I've got a breakdown of costs on the add-ons (which ship with the unit, but you have to enter an unlock code to actually use) that I'll post later.

I'll be hauling this with me everywhere for the next few weeks... I'll have it with me at InfoComm if anyone wants to play. Once I got over the "you actually have to read the manual" curve, it's very easy to use and makes a lot of sense. A lot of the initial difficulty is simply due to figuring out what the little symbols on the screen mean, but they've managed to pack a lot of information into a very small space while keeping it usable for at-a-glance measurement. If you want a fancy screen, the SP495 has a 320x240 color screen (about twice the resolution of this one) and costs only $800 or so more.
Title: Re: Sencore SP395 Audio Integrator
Post by: Bennett Prescott on June 02, 2006, 10:28:06 pm
Here's all the pricing for the add-in modules:

TDA $795 (Includes Terralink Software)
Speech Intel $395
Tech Bench $295
Noise Curves $195
Audio Stethoscope $95
Multiband RT60 $95
Terralink Software $295 (Included with TDA firmware)
Title: Re: Sencore SP395 Audio Integrator
Post by: Bennett Prescott on June 04, 2006, 09:52:57 pm
I ran this thing through its paces doing meaningless but fancy measurements, including a 5-sweep TDA plot of one of my QW2s, which is a feature I've never been able to work with before. Not much to say, still a very nice box, I like it a lot... wish I could afford it, of course, so I'll be slaved to my laptop again as soon as I send it back.

I'll have some more "technical" measurements once I finish using it on the RSS snake... I'm going to use it to verify noise spec and the like.

Attached is the raw data, lightly annotated by Yours Truly, of my last few days of fun, as well as a screen cap of the 3-D waterfall plot of the TDA sweeps of the QW2 of my basement. Of.
Title: Re: Sencore SP395 Audio Integrator
Post by: Tom Young on June 06, 2006, 07:01:30 am
One of the unpleasant little surprises that I came upon with my ATB3c is that the impedance measurements are restricted to 4200 ohms (or thereabouts) due to the current (amperage) limits of the tester. Now this has only occured (hitting the upper envelope) just a few times, but because they do not mention it anywhere in their documentation it completely threw me off until I called them and was enlightened.

I have very mixed feelings about the ATB and love it some days while being completely pissed off and frustrated on others. While it is apparent that Sencore may have fixed some of the physical flaws of the ATB in their equivalent models (and provide a much better suited case), they appear to not have improved the software at all.

It appears that the TDA tests are clearly handicapped versus "real" TDA (TEF) measuremenrs, much like the FFT function is nothing like those provided by Smaart, SIM and TEF.
It does do SLM related measurements very well and also provides impedance, cable and polarity checks that are as good as (or better than) anything else I have used. But it does these at a pretty hefty premium.

As you say; this thing (when full or near-full feature loaded) costs some very serious cash. I just wish it did the more sophisticated measurements well.
Title: Re: Sencore SP395 Audio Integrator
Post by: Ivan Beaver on June 06, 2006, 09:31:51 pm
Tom: If you wouldn't try to do impedance sweeps of 70V speakers tapped at 1 W you wouldn't have that problem. Laughing

I currently have 2 audio toolboxes.  The original I bought when the company was 2 months old (the one with the purple hardware-it has been upgraded) and a ATB2.  I love both of them and both are well worth the money.

However, the newer ones have gotten so expensive-I cannot justify the costs. As Tom said they don't do the extensive measurements (what about the phase of the impedance type stuff?), and only provide a sampling of what TEF and Smaart do.  I use mine all the time-even three times today at infocomm during setup for some testing.  It was the fastest thing that I could grab and give me the results I was looking for.  But I wasn't looking for high precision either.  If I want real measurements, I will use the appropriate REAL tool.

I think they are really missing the possible target market with the price and limited features.  "It's just like a TEF" NOT!

If they would reintroduce some of the simpler less expensive models they would sell more, but they are trying to compete in an area where they can't with the same quality.

The price has just gotten out of hand.  But I still like the unit.

Title: Re: Sencore SP395 Audio Integrator
Post by: Bennett Prescott on June 07, 2006, 06:52:09 am
Ivan Beaver wrote on Tue, 06 June 2006 21:31

The price has just gotten out of hand.  But I still like the unit.

Ivan, Tom, thank you very much for weighing in. After having said "it's too expensive" about the last unit I reviewed, I was wary of saying the same thing about this one and was hoping someone would step in and determine value.

Those are very much my thoughts exactly... very well put together unit, nice for what it is, I'd love one for taking general purpose measurements... within a few dB is plenty good for what I want it to be. If it were half the price it would still be pretty expensive, however, for what it is. In an age when I can buy a laptop for $100 (thanks, MIT!) that has a high resolution color screen and a powerful built in processor, I just don't see why a handheld piece of hardware like the SP395 can command such a premium in the marketplace.
Title: Re: Sencore SP395 Audio Integrator
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on June 07, 2006, 08:23:51 am
Bennett Prescott wrote on Wed, 07 June 2006 05:52

Ivan, Tom, thank you very much for weighing in. After having said "it's too expensive" about the last unit I reviewed, I was wary of saying the same thing about this one and was hoping someone would step in and determine value.

Those are very much my thoughts exactly... very well put together unit, nice for what it is, I'd love one for taking general purpose measurements... within a few dB is plenty good for what I want it to be. If it were half the price it would still be pretty expensive, however, for what it is. In an age when I can buy a laptop for $100 (thanks, MIT!) that has a high resolution color screen and a powerful built in processor, I just don't see why a handheld piece of hardware like the SP395 can command such a premium in the marketplace.

Correct pricing is subjective from the buyer's perspective and (hopefully) calculated by the seller to intersect with a target portion of the market. There are several moving variables in there so it's not an exact science.

I had a little experience with "value" test gear, designing and selling a little sine-wave gen, freq counter, dB Voltmeter (LOFTech TS-1) back in the '80s for $300. There were huge differences in precision and THD between that $300 box and the typical several $k for pro test gear, but it proved very useful.

These days there are still differences between "pro" and "pro-sumer" test gear but I suspect we will continue to see price compression. I continue to be blown away by how much scope I was able to buy for a grand, compared to 20 years ago. Times change.

Title: Re: Sencore SP395 Audio Integrator
Post by: Tom Young on June 12, 2006, 05:20:02 pm
No doubt about it: the numbers that Sencore will sell versus any popular consumer device (PC's, HiFi, telephones, coffee makers, etc, etc) are miniscule. So I am resigned to pay a price that hardly seems as economical. But I definitley expect it to do what it claims.

Sencore has hiked up the price of the ATB over what Terrasonde sold it for with no apparent improvements (other than the color of the enclosure). Frankly, if their customer service / tech support was better that *might* be enough justification. But I am not aware that it is better. Plus they have their own brand-cult persona (evident in their training class description and elsewhere) that simply rubs me wrong and therefore I wish to have no relationship with them. A salesman from Sencore called my office dozens of times, leaving messages in anticipation of a sale. Apparently they did not buy Terrasonde's owner list.

I was very enthusiastic about the ATB and Ivie IE33 when they first appeared. I highly recommended them here at LAB (regretfully). It was only after 1-2 years of further use that I have reached the conclusions I now have, which is that they both suck. Terralink does not work on my current PC, plus the other gripes I already mentioned. But when I consider offing them on Ebay I realise I need the limited functions they offer and therefore will keep them. As I said earlier, the SLM functions work quite well. Other than "for court".

BTW - I owned several Loftech generators. And crossovers. Good stuff. No gripes.
Title: Re: Sencore SP395 Audio Integrator
Post by: Bennett Prescott on June 14, 2006, 11:08:14 am
Hey, Tom, admittedly I'm not just Joe Blow to them, but I had a charging circuit problem with the unit they shipped me (wouldn't charge at all) and they're advanced me a replacement and issued a pick up ticket for the old one, with practically 0 effort on my part. Because the unit arrives in a shoulder bag, braced in some foam, inside a box it takes about 10 seconds to box it back up and get it off to them. So that part is pretty good.

I've been doing some more work with it, and I've got a little more to do, so there's going to be one more update and then I think I'm going to wrap my part of this road test up and get it off to someone else to play with.

Tom Young wrote on Mon, 12 June 2006 17:20

Frankly, if their customer service / tech support was better that *might* be enough justification.

Title: Re: Sencore SP395 Audio Integrator
Post by: John Olsen on June 22, 2006, 10:16:06 pm
Bennett, have you had the opportunity to use the Speech Inteligibility functions?  At InfoComm I was told by our Application Engineer, Tom Schulte, that we had nearly the same results as the other companies participating in the training session.
Title: Re: Sencore SP395 Audio Integrator
Post by: Bennett Prescott on June 23, 2006, 12:05:18 am
Ahh, of course, and here I was playing with the TDA functions more. I'll get some measurements and see how it pans out.
Title: Re: Sencore SP395 Audio Integrator
Post by: Bennett Prescott on June 26, 2006, 03:06:12 pm
Sorry I'm a little long between posts here, but I wanted to make sure I got as many opinions and thought about what I was trying to say as much as possible before I got back to y'all here on the board.

The reason I'm so conflicted is that I'm having an exceptionally difficult time determining the value of this instrument. It's got a lot of excellent features all rolled into one unit, some of which apply more to live sound than others.

For instance, it's got an excellent polarity checker. If you need a mobile unit to check polarity for a bunch of speakers, this is a great option. It's also got a cable tester, signal level meter and an audio scope... but it's not anywhere near as capable as, say, a Minilyzer in that regard. It's got a tone generator that's well put together, but because it's attached to a fairly large box it's of limited utility... I'll still be carrying a separate tone gen for use in the field.

There's TDA and soon-to-be-implemented Transfer Function and Energy/Time graph, and while the built in tools are certainly useful for basic confirmation and troubleshooting, they're not anywhere near the capability of Smaart (or TEF, I'm told), so I've still got to carry that. The RTA feature is nice, but not anything different from what I've already got in a $300 handheld unit. There's an easy to use impedance meter that saves me having to wire one up for Smaart, so that's a nice addition. The sound Study graph is also useful, but the stock microphone isn't accurate enough "for court", so if you needed that function you'd have to purchase the precision mic from Sencore.

For Live Sound use, which I keep coming back to seeing as this is a live sound forum, the Sencore SP395 does very little that I can't do already. For serious measurement I have to set up Smaart or equivalent anyway. The SP395 comes calibrated, which is very nice, but I can get a microphone calibrator that will let me do the same thing with my Smaart rig for $500 or so. It certainly takes the cake in the pick it up, walk on stage, and confirm your monitors aren't blown department. Again, though, I can get 95% of that functionality with a sweeping tone gen I own and a $300 handheld RTA I own. That extra 5% of usefulness certainly isn't worth the additional cost.

What I'm really getting at here is what I had a problem with at the beginning. For a unit that costs about the same as two entire Smaart rigs, I simply don't see enough benefit in the live sound field to justify the price. It's got a number of "fringe" features that are useful enough to make it attractive, but at $4,000 loaded I can buy a handful of other tools that are on their own more capable, with the only detriment being they're not all in one box.

It's not all bad, of course. I think for someone doing large installs or system troubleshooting on a regular basis the Sencore SP395 makes a lot of sense. It's got speech intelligibility and noise analysis and many different kinds of decay. It's got a built in tone generator and speaker for confirming what's going down your signal lines. If you're an install company and you need one box that you can send a tech out with to crawl around in the ceiling and figure out why such and such speaker system isn't working or performing as expected, there's not really anything else on the market that does as much in one physical unit as the Sencore. It does just enough of everything to be a great tool when you need to grab one thing and have a whole slew of functions available for you.

I just don't see how, for the price, it has a realistic benefit to someone working mainly in the live sound field. Were it $2,000, fully loaded, I'd probably think it was just expensive but probably worth the price to A level touring system engineers. At $4,000 though I can buy an armful of products that will do everything I could possibly need while out there in the trenches, and do it better for my needs than the Sencore unit I've been reviewing.

I would love, however, to hear some other opinions. It has been suggested by a few influential people that I'm looking at this with my head screwed on wrong, which is why I've taken so long to get this last post in. After much discussion with outside parties, however, I think I've come to a reasonable conclusion. I just hate to take this product that John Olsen from Sencore was so kind to send to me to evaluate and say that it's got no application to this section of the industry unless you're independently wealthy or can get your company to buy one for you, and even then you still need something like Smaart.

Barring any sudden revelations, I think I've probably got enough hands on time. Would anyone else like to play? I'd be happy to UPS it out to someone who thinks they'd be able to clock some hours on it and kick the tires.
Title: Re: Sencore SP395 Audio Integrator
Post by: Lee Jacobson on October 19, 2006, 04:04:35 pm
I guess I was next on the list to check this thing out. Bennett sent it to me a while back. I have not had time to realy wrap my head around it as of yet. With the next "toys" slated to come my way for road test, I plan on putting this unit to good use. Then I can share my real world opinion of it here. What I think right now, is that while each function it performs reportedly can be done with more accuracy by a dedicated piece of hardware, I see value in carrying in ONE piece. As I told Bennett over dinner during Infocomm, perhaps this thing is more of an install guy/acoustician's tool than a live production guy's. I dunno. I'd think Ivan and Tom would be the target customer, and they have both given their less than glowing reviews. As I said before, when I get the latest toys, I'll really crack this thing open, see how she handles corners and whatnot. As perhaps I have established with the TT24 thread, my roadtests are "no hold barred" affairs.

More later,

Title: Re: Sencore SP395 Audio Integrator
Post by: Adam Ellsworth on November 20, 2006, 12:44:39 am
This was really interesting to read... maybe a bit off-topic, but I have nothing to contribute other than I live a couple miles from Sencore and drive by several times a week. Neat to see it referenced and get some insight into what they actually make, although I'd rather live a mile from EAW, JBL, or QSC. Or Crown... you get the idea.

I wonder if they have a dumpster...
Title: Re: Sencore SP395 Audio Integrator
Post by: Tim McCulloch on November 20, 2006, 04:08:09 am
Topic swerve...

A mile from EAW is by far more scenic than a mile from JBL...  Never been a mile from QSC and only driven through Elkhart.

Tim Mc
Title: Re: Sencore SP395 Audio Integrator
Post by: Lee Jacobson on November 21, 2006, 06:47:05 pm
I had an interesting conversation with two of the guys from Sencore today. I told them both to post here. They were tryng to tell me all the things their unit does, almost defending it as if I had attacked the thing. I told them I hadn't, and I was in fact trying to word a reply to Bennett's "it cost too much" stance. I agree that it does cost as much/more than a pile of separates that will each do ONE of this unit's functions, some maybe even "better" (more like you're used to, mayhaps??). That said, the fact that this thing is as small as it is, and does ALL of the things it does, is a "value added" thing, from where I sit. I told the guys from Sencore to post here. I believe they will. In the mean time, I'll try to spend more time with the thing, so I can post my "hands on" with something resembling an intelligent flow.

Fun stuff...
Title: Re: Sencore SP395 Audio Integrator
Post by: Lee Jacobson on November 29, 2006, 02:44:32 pm
OK, so I have a real world use for this thing! I picked up some wedges. I intend to ue this, and not smaart, to help with the dsp drive stuff. I'll get on that this afternoon and report my initial steps and findings....

Wedges are a PS15 inspired box, loaded with Mc Cauley 6000 series cone and RCF 2" on Renkus waveguide. Nicely built. I am considering purchasing same...
Title: Re: Sencore SP395 Audio Integrator
Post by: Lee Jacobson on January 23, 2007, 08:40:27 pm
Well, my time with the Sencore unit is up. They're calling me at least twice a week, asking for it back. I guess I should send it in. My review?? My thoughts have not changed since I got the unit. It does some things very well. Other things, you may get better results using dedicated tools JUST for those jobs. I still think the fact that this one box does so much is quite impressive. Sure you gotta hook it up to your computer to get all the data, so what?? Do you want to lug a laptop and whatever your smaart rig is around to do everything? I don't. I will say the fellows from Sencore are kind of  off with their "it takes 45 minutes to set up a smaart rig" company line. My smaart rig only takes 45 minutes to set up if I include grabbing breakfast, and a shit/shower/shave in that timeframe.... BUT, that doesn't change the fact that this unit does an awful lot, and does most of it VERY well. Is it pricey?? Sure. Would I buy it?? If I had a need for all of this in one box, you damn betchya I'd buy it. Seeing as I am more of a live production/occasional installed system guy, my needs for a tool like this are few and rare. Were I a full time instal guy, or an acoustician, this unit is on my list.

I will now take a moment to bust Bennett's ballz just a tad. This unit is a widget. There are other widgets. Sometimes, we buy a more costly widget because it'll do something the others won't. Now that BP is in the position he is with Alex's company, he should understand that sometimes tools, good tools, cost a bit. Is this the best tool for each of its functions?? Dunno, prolly not. Again, to me, the fact that it is the "swiss army knife" of audio measurement tools means alot. Now where did they put that corkscrew???????

Title: Re: Sencore SP395 Audio Integrator
Post by: Nicolas Lowman on December 20, 2008, 02:34:27 pm
I have a friend who purchased an older model several years ago because it was being closed out for like five or six hundred bucks. I think it still lives in his workbox, I don't think it gets used very much. It was a cool toy for that price. For many of us engineers we buy the tools that we use out of our own pockets and I personally have seen a lot more interesting things to put four grand towards.

Title: Re: Sencore SP395 Audio Integrator
Post by: chris fletchall on January 13, 2009, 09:08:03 pm
We have used the sp395 for about 8 months now and love it. But our primary use for it is home theater installs.
We have used it on our live rig but with a dbx in the rack ... its kinda hard to get off my butt and dig out the sencore when I can just click on the mouse to look at the dbx.

Good unit though.
Title: Re: Sencore SP395 - SP495 Audio Consultant
Post by: Shane Ervin on March 31, 2010, 11:05:16 pm
Hi Bennett,

Sorry to take so long to cruise to this part of the forum and see the thread.

We at Integral DX Engineering had been looking for a device (or system of devices) that would do the following, as required by the ASTM E336 & E1007 measurement & reporting procedures (pertaining to condo and office sound isolation testing): When Sencore released a firmware upgrade around 2007, the SP495 became, in one stroke, a candidate solution - and the least expensive one capable of meeting these requirements, so we bought one, then another a few months later.

As to your comments about price for function, we tend to agree; it's just that we didn't find anything else out there for less than double the price that met those bullet requirements I've listed above, so we were glad to find it.  Not even Larson Davis offerings would compete at double the price, two years afterwards.

In a moment, I'll describe using the FFT to ring out wedge monitors, but first, while I'm on the ASTM E336 sound isolation testing topic, I'll add this:

If anyone is interested in doing the 30 sec Leq measurement after the RTA filters, with the aim of offering ASTM compliant test services, beware that the Sencore manual steers you wrong (unless they've updated it pursuant to my teleconf with an ex-employee of theirs).  In post-processing, you need to be able average the post-filter 30 s Leq SPL's.  The STC screen only works on a single mic position scenario - which doesn't cut it without a rotary boom, leastways.  Also, reverb measurements in 1/3 octaves are required for some scoring metrics (e.g., Normalized Noise Isolation Class).  Still, a quick'n'dirty, single mic, un-normalized Transmission Loss measurement can be obtained with the STC screen functions.

Here's what page 72 (page 77 by the pdf page ctr) says:

Transmission Loss is used to measure the amount of sound isolation that a partition provides. Typically, a noise source is placed on one side of the partition, and the room noise level is measured in 1/3 octave bands, sometimes at more than one point. Then, the measuring device is moved to the other side of the partition (presumably in another room) and the same measurement is taken. Then, the transmission loss (TL) at each 1/3 octave bands is computed, and a formula is applied to derive a numeric number representing the relative noise reduction of the partition. The idea is that this number can be used to effectively compute the amount of reduction in sound level that a partition (wall) will provide in actual use.
There are several ways of measuring transmission loss. One key issue is whether or not the measurement is being done under laboratory conditions, with carefully controlled room reverb time and control of sound leaking around the partition, or whether the measurements are being taken in the field under minimal control characteristics.
Several standards apply here, including ASTM 90, which talks about how to measure the transmission loss data, ASTM 413 (or ISO 717-1), to define a laboratory measurement, and ASTM 336, which takes the lab measurement and applies it to field work.
The SP495 calculates laboratory values including STC, RW, and OITC. STC (Sound Transmission Class) is the ASTM (US) measurement, RW is based on the European standard, and OITC (Outdoor-Indoor Transmission Class) is based on an A-weighting curve, and is considered by some to be more modern.

Here's what you should do instead, for each stationary mic postion, if you're doing an ASTM E336 / E1007 type measurement:Next, each time, before beginning a 30 s Leq measurement:
Scroll on over to "Play" and at the end of your 30 s averaging period, "Pause" the RTA.

The height of each filter band's yellow marker is indeed a legit 30 s Leq measurement, post an IEC 1260 third octave filter.
Save to a memory location, or use a connected laptop and/or dump to a Terralink spreadsheet.  A macro is advisable here, too, to increment the memory pointer prior to the "Store" action; otherwise you risk writing over a memory location holding data from an earlier mic position.

We use the Sencore MACRO feature for most of these steps - including the actual 30 s "Play" -to- "Pause" interval.

Finally, post process the filtered SPL's by arithmetically averaging (convert to pressure, then average the pressures, not the decibel values, then convert the answer back to SPL) - within each 1/3 octave band - across the multiple mic positions to obtain the average SPL's for each 1/3 octave in the source condo.  Repeat for the victim condo.  Then compute the
NIC - Noise Isolation Class

Reverb RT60's in the victim condo are required for:
NNIC - Normalized Noise Isolation Class
FIIC - Field Impact Isolation Class

Anyway, for ringing out wedges, life is a lot easier:  Use the FFT on 1 or 3 second time averaging and use the cursor to read off what freq should be notched in your DSP crossover, or cut with a graphic EQ.  I've made 25 year-old bi-amp wedges really work well with a BSS Mini-Drive, and the Klarks left flat.

(Edit: Added pic of RTA screen with settings as described (1/3 oct; Avg; Flat)
Title: Re: Sencore SP395 - SP495 Audio Consultant
Post by: Shane Ervin on April 01, 2010, 11:10:52 am
More pics.index.php/fa/29124/0/
Title: Re: Sencore SP395 - SP495 Audio Consultant
Post by: Shane Ervin on April 01, 2010, 11:12:36 am

The main menu of the SP495.
Title: Re: Sencore SP395 - SP495 Audio Consultant
Post by: Shane Ervin on April 01, 2010, 11:14:23 am
Clicking the jog/shuttle wheel on "Acoustics" brings you here, where you can select the RTA function.
Title: Re: Sencore SP395 - SP495 Audio Consultant
Post by: Shane Ervin on April 01, 2010, 11:29:49 am

Here's the FFT screen.

I've used the jog/shuttle control to move the cursor to the FREQ field; then clicked on it (changing that field's display to a yellow font against a purple background, as shown).

At this point, further spinning action on the jog/shuttle control moves the thin blue vertical line in the FFT display left or right.  The peak at 752 Hz is shown.

To ring out wedges:Again, the overall point here is that it's way more expensive than a Smaart license and a laptop.  But as others have said in their posts, there will be cases, like that of the firm for whom I work, where it fits for some circumstantial reason.

(Edit: typo)