My Measurement Rig

My Measurement Rig

I’m asked on a relatively regular basis what gear I’m using in the field, so I figured I’d post it here.

Audio Interfaces

  • Roland OCTA-CAPTURE (8-channel interface. Since the preamps are digitally controlled, Smaart can track when you’ve adjusted a preamp level, which is helpful)
  • Behringer UMC404HD (4-channel interface, and bus powered unlike the Roland so it’s a little quicker to set up)
  • ART USB Dual Pre (2-channel interface, great for small rigs and basic setups)

Measurement Microphones

Software

Other Gear

  • Whirlwind ISOXL line level isolation transformer (I use this to keep my audio interface isolated from the rest of the system. Besides killing off any ground hum, it prevents the system DSP etc from seeing any phantom power coming out of the audio interface.
  • iSEMcon SC-1 mic calibrator – only for SPL measurements. Not required for most optimization tasks.
  • Rational Acoustics Noise Stick – This is a great little problem solver. I actually use a different brand that’s no longer available but it still works great so why upgrade?

Please take note – I’m not saying the stuff I use is superior to other options. I use this stuff because it works for me. Your mileage may vary.

Before we wrap up, I’d like to make a point via analogy: 

This is a video of Carter Beauford, drummer for the Dave Matthews Band, sitting at his drum kit. It is a very large and expensive drum kit. Carter’s first drum kit, however, was almost certainly much smaller and much less expensive. As his professional experience grew, he would have added or changed out one component at a time, an evolution resulting in this drum kit.

Translation: You don’t need to go out and buy everything on this list to get started with measuring sound systems. My first-ever measurements were taken with the Rock Band 2 microphone connected directly to my aging laptop via USB. It was cardioid and not anything even approaching flat. But I was able to measure the loudspeakers owned by the company I was working with at the time and spot deviations in their responses. From there, I spent less than $200 on the small ART interface and a budget reference mic. Room EQ Wizard is free, and although it is not as full featured or powerful as a true dual-channel platform for sound system optimization tasks, it is a great way to get started taking real measurements and getting some actionable data. From there, you can grow and invest when/if your work and budget allow it.

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