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Author Topic: Metering the services?  (Read 1087 times)

Kevin Maxwell

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Metering the services?
« on: April 16, 2024, 11:34:12 PM »

I am working with a pastor at a church and he is looking to have his sound volunteers have a point of reference (for a target to shoot for) as to the levels at certain times in the service. And he also would like to figure out what peak and overall average levels they presently are at for the songs/music parts of the services. This isnít for keeping things at an unreasonably low level but he want to make sure that they are pushing it enough at certain times. And also so the transition from the walk-in playback music to the band starting up is at a decent enough level so the band level isnít a shock for those attending. He said he DOESNíT want the walk-in music at a level where people can comfortable have a quiet conversation he said they can take that out to the lobby. They also have different types of services on different days and they may want a different set of target levels for those services. 

 I was thinking that maybe a Cheap tablet with the right app would do what they want. Sound levels (SPL) with a peak readout and at the same time a slightly averaging readout. Also if it could do an averaging level that could be done by pushing a rest button and then a stop button to see how loud a song might have be overall.  Also an RTA display so they can see where in the frequency response it might be sticking out.

I have an android app (Audio Tool) that gives me the RTA the SPL as either Peak or average. But it is short average. There are a lot of things it can do but it doesnít display them at the same time. I think displaying the desired things at the same time so they just have to glance at it would be helpful. I donít know if maybe it would need to be a couple of different apps running and displaying at the same time, if that can be done.

So I am looking for the best device (?app) to be able to do what I mentioned for a reasonable price. It doesnít need to be a calibrated device just one that will give them reverence levels. But at least somewhat close to reality.
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Brian Jojade

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Re: Metering the services?
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2024, 12:04:17 AM »

The more you try to overcomplicate this, the more useless it becomes.

The simple short average peak in audio tools would be enough to gauge what the volume level is right now when you need it.

Measuring average over a longer period of time may be useful for measuring chances of hearing damage, but is otherwise generally not useful for setting levels in a show.

Relying on an external app for this might be too complicated too. Why can't you just make the measurements and observe the levels on the meters on the mixer? Then, make sure you're hitting those same levels when you want to repeat that volume?
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Brian Jojade

Scott Holtzman

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Re: Metering the services?
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2024, 12:34:53 AM »

I am working with a pastor at a church and he is looking to have his sound volunteers have a point of reference (for a target to shoot for) as to the levels at certain times in the service. And he also would like to figure out what peak and overall average levels they presently are at for the songs/music parts of the services. This isnít for keeping things at an unreasonably low level but he want to make sure that they are pushing it enough at certain times. And also so the transition from the walk-in playback music to the band starting up is at a decent enough level so the band level isnít a shock for those attending. He said he DOESNíT want the walk-in music at a level where people can comfortable have a quiet conversation he said they can take that out to the lobby. They also have different types of services on different days and they may want a different set of target levels for those services. 

 I was thinking that maybe a Cheap tablet with the right app would do what they want. Sound levels (SPL) with a peak readout and at the same time a slightly averaging readout. Also if it could do an averaging level that could be done by pushing a rest button and then a stop button to see how loud a song might have be overall.  Also an RTA display so they can see where in the frequency response it might be sticking out.

I have an android app (Audio Tool) that gives me the RTA the SPL as either Peak or average. But it is short average. There are a lot of things it can do but it doesnít display them at the same time. I think displaying the desired things at the same time so they just have to glance at it would be helpful. I donít know if maybe it would need to be a couple of different apps running and displaying at the same time, if that can be done.

So I am looking for the best device (?app) to be able to do what I mentioned for a reasonable price. It doesnít need to be a calibrated device just one that will give them reverence levels. But at least somewhat close to reality.


The paid version of Audiotools has several SPL apps.  You also need the calibrated USB microphone, the built in mic is meaningless.  They sell a mic for that purpose.

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Scott AKA "Skyking" Holtzman

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Mike Caldwell

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Re: Metering the services?
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2024, 07:38:18 AM »

Way over complicating things that you can use your ears for!!
My guess is that the operators would get too focused on watching the numbers and miss hitting cues ect.

As for walk in music I'm guessing an SPL meter would be measuring the ambient level of people talking and not "hearing" the walk in music.....unless the walk in music is crazy loud!!

At best if it's a loud rocking type of service there is an SPL meter to look at for a not to exceed number.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2024, 09:34:13 AM by Mike Caldwell »
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John Schalk

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Re: Metering the services?
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2024, 09:27:32 AM »

So I am looking for the best device (?app) to be able to do what I mentioned for a reasonable price. It doesnít need to be a calibrated device just one that will give them reverence levels. But at least somewhat close to reality.
As others have already commented, you can use the AudioTools app by Studio Six Digital to do this.  There is a charge for the basic app and then you'll need to do an In App purchase to use the SPL Pro digital sound meter.  This SPL utility includes a Leq function which can help your operators see the SPL averaged over time.  Unfortunately, the app doesn't allow you to specify a time period to average over, but it does have a reset button next the the Leq Time counter.  Since A weighted noise is already frequency band limited, using the internal mic on an iPad is fine for SPL purposes, and the developers have calibrated the app for Apple's products.
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Kevin Maxwell

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Re: Metering the services?
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2024, 11:40:29 AM »

Thank you for the replies.
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Scott Holtzman

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Re: Metering the services?
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2024, 01:33:09 PM »

As others have already commented, you can use the AudioTools app by Studio Six Digital to do this.  There is a charge for the basic app and then you'll need to do an In App purchase to use the SPL Pro digital sound meter.  This SPL utility includes a Leq function which can help your operators see the SPL averaged over time.  Unfortunately, the app doesn't allow you to specify a time period to average over, but it does have a reset button next the the Leq Time counter.  Since A weighted noise is already frequency band limited, using the internal mic on an iPad is fine for SPL purposes, and the developers have calibrated the app for Apple's products.


I am not sure where you got the idea the software is "calibrated" for the plethora of iPad and iPhone products.  Studio Six Digital sells a USB microphone that contains a calibration chip the software can read.  This is the only way to get a calibrated reading.  You need the mic, it's $100 well spent.


Scott
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Scott AKA "Skyking" Holtzman

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Erik Jerde

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Re: Metering the services?
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2024, 04:24:34 PM »


I am not sure where you got the idea the software is "calibrated" for the plethora of iPad and iPhone products.  Studio Six Digital sells a USB microphone that contains a calibration chip the software can read.  This is the only way to get a calibrated reading.  You need the mic, it's $100 well spent.


Scott

Years ago I read an article that Studio Six Digital wrote about the reliability of iPhone microphones.  In short they found across a large set of devices that the microphones performed close enough to each other that they could craft a fairly reliable calibration for a given model of iPhone.

No idea if that remains but it wouldnít surprise me if apple has continued to have this sort of component control.
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Brian Jojade

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Re: Metering the services?
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2024, 07:02:53 PM »

Nothing in this scenario really requires a 'calibrated' microphone.  It's a reference level.  If you set up the gear and say hit 96db on this iPad placed at this location, who cares if another device placed there would have a different reading, except if you need to replace the device.  Even then, the accuracy between apple devices is surprisingly consistent.
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Erik Jerde

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Re: Metering the services?
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2024, 08:17:46 PM »

I am working with a pastor at a church and he is looking to have his sound volunteers have a point of reference (for a target to shoot for) as to the levels at certain times in the service. And he also would like to figure out what peak and overall average levels they presently are at for the songs/music parts of the services. This isnít for keeping things at an unreasonably low level but he want to make sure that they are pushing it enough at certain times. And also so the transition from the walk-in playback music to the band starting up is at a decent enough level so the band level isnít a shock for those attending. He said he DOESNíT want the walk-in music at a level where people can comfortable have a quiet conversation he said they can take that out to the lobby. They also have different types of services on different days and they may want a different set of target levels for those services. 

 I was thinking that maybe a Cheap tablet with the right app would do what they want. Sound levels (SPL) with a peak readout and at the same time a slightly averaging readout. Also if it could do an averaging level that could be done by pushing a rest button and then a stop button to see how loud a song might have be overall.  Also an RTA display so they can see where in the frequency response it might be sticking out.

I have an android app (Audio Tool) that gives me the RTA the SPL as either Peak or average. But it is short average. There are a lot of things it can do but it doesnít display them at the same time. I think displaying the desired things at the same time so they just have to glance at it would be helpful. I donít know if maybe it would need to be a couple of different apps running and displaying at the same time, if that can be done.

So I am looking for the best device (?app) to be able to do what I mentioned for a reasonable price. It doesnít need to be a calibrated device just one that will give them reverence levels. But at least somewhat close to reality.

I'd skip the app and just go with a standard SPL meter set dba slow.  Then give a general range that specific service elements should fall in.

That said, the best tool is a set of ears and knowing how to use them.  Couple that with a meter so you have a concrete reference regardless of what your ears are doing on a particular day and you've got all you need.  Churches are tough though, often they are staffed by well meaning volunteers who often have a technical background but a lot of the time (especially in smaller places) have little music background.  Leadership often unrealistically expects them to be highly competent with a couple weeks of shadowing at best.  They think that because the soundboard is a piece of electronics you can read the manual and be good to go.  It never occurs that sound is a musician position and that they'd never bring in a pianist or guitar player who had only a couple weeks of experience.  The percentage of people in a given congregation who have been "playing" an audio console for since high school and toured with a local band during/after college is a lot less than the guitar players who've done that.
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Re: Metering the services?
¬ę Reply #9 on: April 17, 2024, 08:17:46 PM ¬Ľ


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