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Anyone use an external vu or led meter?

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Anyone use an external vu or led meter?

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Sat Jan 25, 2020 9:59 am

Had a bit of a gear clear out and now have an empty rack space in which an led meter might look spiffing. Any one use one that could be recommended and is accurately calibrated?
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Re: Anyone use an external vu or led meter?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Jan 25, 2020 11:48 am

Not clear exactly how big your rack space is, but I'm assuming you have just 1U available. If so, that limits the choices quite a lot.

The smallest moving-coil VU meters are in 2U panels, and the better ones are larger.

Coleman Audio in the US do a couple of VU panels, but one of the best I've seen is from Crookwood in the UK which not only uses very good (format-compliant) meters, they also include the proper attenuation control which is needed to make them genuinely useful!

Imagehttp://www.colemanaudio.com/

Image
https://crookwood.com/vu-meters/2u-stereo-vu-meter/

But if you're limited to just 1U of space the only practical option is an LED meter of some kind, and these range from the cheap and cheerful to the expensive and elaborate.

Sonifex make some very nice and quite sophisticated ones such as the RM-M1R53 with 53 segment stereo meters, or the RM-M1R106 with 106 segment meters (there are also dual-meter versions), and versions with monitor speakers too. They also have selectable analogue and digital inputs and can be configured to display a number of different meter formats (BBC/EBU/Nordic/DIN PPMs, standard and extended VUs, etc), and include a phase meter. These don't have (externally) accessible level trimmers as they come fully calibrated to the meter-standard specs.

Imagehttps://www.sonifex.co.uk/refmon/rmm1r53.shtml

Image https://www.sonifex.co.uk/refmon/rmm1r106.shtml

The larger version will set you back around £750, and the manual is here: https://www.sonifex.co.uk/company/logos ... meters.pdf


At the other end of the scale (see what I did there? ;) ) there are things like the Thomann t-racks DB meter for less than £50... but you're looking at a standard chip-based meter like those in budget consoles which won't have particularly accurate ballistics. It does have input trimmers, though, so it can be calibrated to some extent.

Image
https://www.thomann.de/gb/the_t.racks_dbmeter.htm

It really comes down to what do you want the meter to do. If it's just a light show filling a space, then the Thomann (or similar) will no doubt do the job. If it's to serve as a genuine reference tool than something more sophisticated and format-compliant would be essential. My own view is that there are two grades of meter: something that exists basically just to confirm the presence of a signal, and a proper reference tool used to guide mixing/mastering/broadcast operations.


HTH
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Re: Anyone use an external vu or led meter?

Postby Arpangel » Sat Jan 25, 2020 12:11 pm

That’s really a great set of links a Hugh, I’ve been looking for a large meter for ages.
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Re: Anyone use an external vu or led meter?

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Sat Jan 25, 2020 12:17 pm

Yes, very helpful, Hugh, thanks. I have just one rack space free (and nowhere near £750!). Need-wise I'm just looking for a quick "how close to peaking are we" visual reference rather than something more forensic. So definitely the cheaper end of the LED-based spectrum (see what I did there).

Suspect the Thommann is a Chinese model that is also branded American Audio, but gets a poor review here in terms of accuracy/response:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQVcTy6HEtU
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Re: Anyone use an external vu or led meter?

Postby Zukan » Sat Jan 25, 2020 12:31 pm

Worth having a look at available options and this one seems to be quite popular amongst my amigos:
https://www.dv247.com/en_GB/GBP/TC-Elec ... gK0H_D_BwE
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Re: Anyone use an external vu or led meter?

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Sat Jan 25, 2020 12:37 pm

Nice, but looking for a rackmount.
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Re: Anyone use an external vu or led meter?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Jan 25, 2020 12:38 pm

Dr Huge Longjohns wrote:I'm just looking for a quick "how close to peaking are we" visual reference rather than something more forensic.

If you work with a sensible headroom margin, you don't need to worry about how close you are to clipping the converters. You just need to know that the sound is present and in roughly the right ball park. There should be plenty of headroom available to cope with any likely transient peaks.

So pretty much any kind of meter with any kind of ballistics will do...

However, if you're trying to peak signals in the 0 to -6dBFS area as many still do in the mistaken belief that it's a good idea, then you will need a very accurate, very fast, peak reading meter which will cost a lot...

Suspect the Thommann is a Chinese model that is also branded American Audio, but gets a poor review here in terms of accuracy/response

I'd take anything shown on a youtube video with a large pinch of salt as it's often difficult to know the true situation of how the meters are specified, configured, or calibrated, let alone the understanding and competence of the video creator...

And as discussed in another thread here recently, there can be enormous differences between different metering systems quite intentionally, even if they appear to have the same broad spec (eg. "peak meter")

But if you're going for a budget model, order online and test thoroughly at home. You can then return it as unfit for purpose if it isn't suitable...

H
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Re: Anyone use an external vu or led meter?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Jan 25, 2020 12:39 pm

Zukan wrote:Worth having a look at available options and this one seems to be quite popular amongst my amigos:
https://www.dv247.com/en_GB/GBP/TC-Elec ... gK0H_D_BwE

Yes, the Clarity M is a very good metering system, but it's £600 and won't fit in a 1U rack space!

https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/tc-electronic-clarity-m
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Re: Anyone use an external vu or led meter?

Postby Kwackman » Sat Jan 25, 2020 12:44 pm

A nice rack mounted guitar tuner would be cheaper.......
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Re: Anyone use an external vu or led meter?

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Jan 25, 2020 12:53 pm

DV24/7 and Thomann are selling it for €250/£210, I might consider one at that price.
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Re: Anyone use an external vu or led meter?

Postby Zukan » Sat Jan 25, 2020 1:04 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
Zukan wrote:Worth having a look at available options and this one seems to be quite popular amongst my amigos:
https://www.dv247.com/en_GB/GBP/TC-Elec ... gK0H_D_BwE

Yes, the Clarity M is a very good metering system, but it's £600 and won't fit in a 1U rack space!

https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/tc-electronic-clarity-m

It's 200 squids Hugh. Oops, read it wrong about the rack space.
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Re: Anyone use an external vu or led meter?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Jan 25, 2020 1:07 pm

oh wow! At that price it's quite a steal.

https://www.thomann.de/gb/tc_electronic_clarity_m.htm
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Re: Anyone use an external vu or led meter?

Postby The Elf » Sat Jan 25, 2020 1:55 pm

Kwackman wrote:A nice rack mounted guitar tuner would be cheaper.......
That a would be my choice if I had spare rack space!
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Re: Anyone use an external vu or led meter?

Postby The Elf » Sat Jan 25, 2020 2:14 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:oh wow! At that price it's quite a steal.

https://www.thomann.de/gb/tc_electronic_clarity_m.htm
BEWARE!

As shown on the Thomann page, that thing will likely be supplied with a Euro plug PSU. And for this reason I will never again buy anything from Thomann that comes with a PSU. UK options are available! ;)
https://www.dv247.com/en_GB/GBP/TC-Electronic-Clarity-M/art-REC0012891-000;pgid=F8zge1C6nWZSRp6f0TQwIxBn0000nvGacd-0

The Clarity is a really good device, BTW - if you can find space for it. And at these prices it really is a steal.
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Re: Anyone use an external vu or led meter?

Postby Wonks » Sat Jan 25, 2020 2:58 pm

The Elf wrote:As shown on the Thomann page, that thing will likely be supplied with a Euro plug PSU. And for this reason I will never again buy anything from Thomann that comes with a PSU. UK options are available! ;)
https://www.dv247.com/en_GB/GBP/TC-Electronic-Clarity-M/art-REC0012891-000;pgid=F8zge1C6nWZSRp6f0TQwIxBn0000nvGacd-0

Except that DV247 is German (Music Store), and it will be shipped from Germany. So no guarantee you'll get a UK PSU. Euro PSU and adapter still very likely.

£269 at GAK.
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