Like a lot of you audiophiles, from time to time Ian gets the urge to tweak his setup, and as he was doing so the other day, a visiting friend was checking out his vintage Lutron SPL meter in amazement. (Truthfully, the styling is . . . rather retro!) For kicks, we asked her if there was an SPL App available for iPad and clickity-click, there was!
It was interesting to run pink noise through the speakers and watch the results on both devices. In most areas the two meters were quite close, but for low frequencies, the iPad SPL app was at a complete loss (more accurately no doubt the mic in the iPad was at a complete loss). I described the test to Alan Lofft, who would definitely have been impressed at the gorgeous and realistic graphics on the app, if nothing else!
Alan commented: "At lunch one day in a very noisy restaurant, Mike Trei showed us his iPad SPL meter, and said it was "better than nothing". It would be interesting to compare the iPad spl meter to the Radio Shack SPL meter, which thousands own, since it's always been widely available through the "Shack" stores, and it's cheap ($50). The Shack spl meter is pretty accurate through the midrange. I've compared it to the one at Axiom in the listening room, shown in the photo. However, it's acknowledged that the Radio Shack meter isn't accurate at low frequencies. In fact there's a correction curve available online for the RS meter."
For random tests like "wow, how loud is my cubicle-mate playing that awful music?" the SPL app would be just fine, but out of the box without calibrating your device or hooking up an external microphone, to use it for tweaking your home theater system . . . well, as Bono would say "Nothin' better than the real thing."
Have you tried an SPL app? Did we simply rush the setup process, or does your experience mirror ours? Is there one you use and recommend?