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post #1 of 22 Old 06-18-2014, 04:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Studio Six Digital AudioTools App & iTestMic Microphone for iOS



Scott Wilkinson tries out his new audio-measurement app and microphone at the movies. How does it measure up to his professional SPL meter?

I'm a strong advocate for hearing protection—plus, I'm an audio geek by nature—so I often measure sound levels in loud environments, especially commercial cinemas, concerts, etc. Normally, I use a Larson Davis Model 720 professional SPL (sound pressure level) meter, which measures the instantaneous level as it changes over time and calculates various metrics, such as Leq (equivalent continuous level over the entire duration of the measurement; i.e., the level of continuous, steady-state noise that would result in the same exposure as the measured sound), Lmax (the maximum RMS level in any 1-second interval during the measurement), Lmin (the minimum RMS level in any 1-second interval during the measurement), L10 (the level the measured sound stayed above 10 percent of the time), L50 (the level the measured sound stayed above 50 percent of the time), and L90 (the level the measured sound stayed above 90 percent of the time). It also calculates the noise-exposure dosage as a percentage of the maximum daily dosage based on various criteria.

Recently, I found an app called AudioTools for iOS that does much the same thing along with many other functions. Offered by Studio Six Digital, AudioTools is not inexpensive for an app—$20, but on sale for $10 until July 25—and that's only for the basic tools, which are nevertheless quite useful. These include a basic SPL meter that looks just like the RadioShack analog meter, an RTA (real-time analyzer), an FFT (Fast Fourier Transform) display, line level and frequency measurement, a dual-trace audio oscilloscope, a speaker-polarity tester, some system-design and installation tools, a signal generator, microphone monitor, a very handy audio calculator, and an audio recorder. Measurements and recordings can be saved and exported to a computer.

Among the many available add-on modules, I was most interested in SPL Graph, which is another $10. This module measures and records SPL over time and provides the metrics I'm used to from the Larson Davis meter—well, most of them. It does not calculate L33 or dosage, but it does provide Leq, Lmax, Lmin, L10, L50,and L90. It also graphs the level over time, and you can use standard finger-swiping gestures to zoom in and out of the graph and place the cursor at any point in the measurement. It also lets you store and recall each measurement, and it even lets you record the audio so you can go back and determine exactly what caused, say, any peak.

After I bought AudioTools and SPL Graph, I tried them out on my iPhone 4S using the phone's internal microphone. One of the first measurements I took was at the Sonos party at CEDIA 2013, at which a live rock band was playing. The display soon indicated an overload, which wasn't all that surprising—the band was really loud!—but I was disappointed that the iPhone's internal mic didn't have more dynamic range. Mark Henninger (imagic) was with me, and the mic in his Samsung Galaxy S4 Android phone didn't overload.

That experience led me to look for a better external mic to use with AudioTools—which Studio Six Digital just happens to offer for $229 ($200 from its US distributor, AudioControl). The iTestMic connects directly to an iDevice using a 30-pin connector, and you can use an adaptor to connect to a newer iDevice with the Lightning connector. It is powered from the iDevice, drawing less than 50 mA, or it can be connected to an AC charger from its mini USB port and charge the iDevice while running for long periods. I've made measurements over three hours starting with a full charge and the battery was drained only about 50%.

The omnidirectional iTestMic is factory-calibrated, and it downloads its calibration to AudioTools when you connect it. The frequency response is spec'd from 20 Hz to 20 kHz (±3 dB), and it has two selectable gain ranges: 27-105 dBA and 48-120 dBA. I'm not generally interested in low-level sounds—at least, not yet—so I usually select the high range, which is set in the AudioTools app. (BTW, the iTestMic will work with other audio apps; see the Studio Six digital website for more info.)

The only thing I don't like about the iTestMic is its short cable, which is about 17 inches long. According to Studio Six Digital, this is due to the limitations of data communication and power transfer, and an extension cable is not recommended. If you need to set up the mic far from your position, the company offers the AudioTools Wireless app ($25), which sends the mic data to another iDevice running AudioTools over any local WiFi network. The wireless app also has its own SPL meter and remote signal generator.

For now, I'll make do with the iTestMic's short cable. My most common application is measuring movie levels, so I take my iPhone, iTestMic, and a cane to the theater. I tape the mic to the top of the cane using blue painter's tape so the end of the mic is out in free space, and I wedge the cane between the seats. The cable is long enough so the iPhone rests in the cup holder. (When AudioTools is running, the phone does not go to sleep, so I make sure the screen is covered so the light doesn't distract me or anyone else.)

My first outing with the new rig was to see X-Men: Days of Future Past. I ran AudioTools with the iTestMic and my Larsen Davis meter together so I could compare the results, but unfortunately, the Larsen Davis was mistakenly set to A weighting, while AudioTools was set to C weighting, which I recently decided to use because it's a better indication of overall level, including low frequencies. The downside is that OSHA and other standards use A weighting, making it more difficult to determine if an event is within OSHA guidelines.

Here are the results I got with AudioTools:

Leq: 90.2 dBC
Lmax: 115 dBC
L10: 99 dBC
L50: 91 dBC
L90: 71 dBC

The Larsen Davis numbers were all right around 10 dB less, which makes sense when comparing A and C weighting. I was a bit surprised that this movie didn't yield higher numbers—there were some loud scenes, of course, but not as many as I expected.

Last night, I saw How to Train Your Dragon 2 and got the following results from AudioTools:

Leq: 83.5 dBC
Lmax: 102 dBC
L10: 91 dBC
L50: 83 dBC
L90: 73 dBC

I didn't use the Larson Davis meter this time (the battery died). As you can see, the movie wasn't all that loud—I didn't feel like I needed my earplugs, though I did put my fingers in my ears a couple of times when the Alpha dragons roared. (BTW, Dragon 2 is a wonderful movie and a great sequel to the first one.)

I discovered one bug that Studio Six Digital is working to fix. The current version (7.1) doesn't display L10, L50, and L90 (collectively called Ln) after stopping a measurement. You can cause them to appear by zooming into the graph, at which point they appear with the values for the visible portion. Then you can zoom out to see the whole graph, and the Ln values remain on the screen, adjusted for the entire measurement. I'm told this bug will be fixed in version 7.2.

The package I put together is not cheap at $230, but that's way less than a meter like the Larsen Davis, which is several thousand dollars. Plus, AudioTools can do much more that the Larsen Davis, and it's much easier to use. Finally, Studio Six Digital has been very responsive to my questions and problems, which speaks well of its customer service.

If you are looking for a good audio testing and measurement app for your iDevice, I can definitely recommend AudioTools and the iTestMic.

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Last edited by Scott Wilkinson; 06-18-2014 at 08:03 PM.
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post #2 of 22 Old 06-18-2014, 07:54 PM
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For the non-apple crowd is there anything similar? I have an S4 and the little I used of the mic with an spl app seemed within a reasonable range of my Omnimic with a very rough comparo.
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post #3 of 22 Old 06-18-2014, 07:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by wattheF View Post
Thanks Scott. Did you happen to get a chance to compare the results you came up with using the external mic against the results Mark had using just his S4 mic? I am wondering how accurate the results would be using just the phone.
No, I didn't have the external mic at that time.

BTW, I think everyone would appreciate it if you didn't quote an entire article in your comments; it's really unnecessary. Thanks!
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post #4 of 22 Old 06-18-2014, 08:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lovinthehd View Post
For the non-apple crowd is there anything similar? I have an S4 and the little I used of the mic with an spl app seemed within a reasonable range of my Omnimic with a very rough comparo.
I don't know; I'm not familiar with the Android or Windows Mobile ecosystem or what's available. Maybe someone else knows of something similar?

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post #5 of 22 Old 06-18-2014, 09:14 PM
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Interesting article Scott, thank you.

I understand why you would need equipment like this for your own theater, to make adjustments. But I am curious, why do you measure the levels in public theaters? Is it just out of curiosity to know weather the levels are set properly?

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post #6 of 22 Old 06-18-2014, 09:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lovinthehd View Post
For the non-apple crowd is there anything similar? I have an S4 and the little I used of the mic with an spl app seemed within a reasonable range of my Omnimic with a very rough comparo.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson View Post
I don't know; I'm not familiar with the Android or Windows Mobile ecosystem or what's available. Maybe someone else knows of something similar?
I use the iMM-6 from Dayton. It comes with a calibration file (manual download) and the price is right ($16 from Parts Express, $18 on Amazon). It's accurate enough, the main thing it adds versus the S4's built-in mic (if calibrated) is bass response.

According to the specs, it's good for 18-20,000 Hz, ± 0.5 dB (Calibrated) and 127 dB max spl. My favorite thing about it is it's tiny and it uses the headphone jack.

I use AudioTool, an Android app that is compatible with the iMM-6 calibration file. It offers similar features, including a chart recorder. AudioTool also lets you calibrate your phone's mic.

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post #7 of 22 Old 06-19-2014, 05:41 AM
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Greetings,

Great stuff guys. Thanks...!


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post #8 of 22 Old 06-20-2014, 01:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post
I use the iMM-6 from Dayton. It comes with a calibration file (manual download) and the price is right ($16 from Parts Express, $18 on Amazon). It's accurate enough, the main thing it adds versus the S4's built-in mic (if calibrated) is bass response.

According to the specs, it's good for 18-20,000 Hz, ± 0.5 dB (Calibrated) and 127 dB max spl. My favorite thing about it is it's tiny and it uses the headphone jack.

I use AudioTool, an Android app that is compatible with the iMM-6 calibration file. It offers similar features, including a chart recorder. AudioTool also lets you calibrate your phone's mic.
+1 for the Dayton Audio iMM-6 Calibrated Measurement Microphone. $15 and well worth it. I'm contemplating getting a USB mic that is calibrated for additional accuracy but I wonder if "close enough" is close enough ?

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post #9 of 22 Old 06-22-2014, 12:13 PM
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oh man I was there for both XMen Future Past and How to train your Dragon 2, shoot I wish I would have spotted you to say hi...

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post #10 of 22 Old 06-22-2014, 02:01 PM - Thread Starter
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oh man I was there for both XMen Future Past and How to train your Dragon 2, shoot I wish I would have spotted you to say hi...
So you go to the AMC Burbank 16? Tom Norton and I went to see Dragon 2 in one of the regular 3D auditoriums, not Imax because the last showing was too early in the day. I'll try to remember to PM you the next time I/we go, but it won't be for a couple of weeks. Sorry to have missed you, too!

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post #11 of 22 Old 06-22-2014, 02:06 PM
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So you go to the AMC Burbank 16? Tom Norton and I went to see Dragon 2 in one of the regular 3D auditoriums, not Imax because the last showing was too early in the day. I'll try to remember to PM you the next time I/we go, but it won't be for a couple of weeks. Sorry to have missed you, too!
Yeah I live in Valley Village and Burbank 16 is my favorite theater
I know there are a few closer to me but that theater and the surround stores makes for a far more enjoyable experience and not to mention ATMOS ^_^

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I just finished reading this entire article and am still unsure as to how the iPhones internal mic works with this measurement app compared to using a calibrated Dayton UMM-6 mic with REW? I would guess that down low, the iPhones internal mic is not accurate, but, I wonder how much it is off?

Sorry, but for me, the Studio Six Digital mic at $240+ just does not have any value or relevance to most of us in the lower 48 as we have many different avenues to go down for measurements, for far less than a $240 mic and a $10 or $20 app. For that price I would just go with an OmniMic or XTZ Room Analyzer II, or even better (cheaper) yet is to use a UMIK-1 or EMM-6 to run to REW via USB!
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Originally Posted by Martycool007 View Post

Sorry, but for me, the Studio Six Digital mic at $240+ just does not have any value or relevance to most of us in the lower 48 as we have many different avenues to go down for measurements, for far less than a $240 mic and a $10 or $20 app. For that price I would just go with an OmniMic or XTZ Room Analyzer II, or even better (cheaper) yet is to use a UMIK-1 or EMM-6 to run to REW via USB!
AudioTools from Studio Six does in fact work with the UMIK-1 mic and its calibration file. I use it with my iPad ant it is accurate and very convenient to use. Surprisingly the iPad mic with calibration file from Studio Six is fairly accurate too but I use my UMIK-1 for better accuracy.
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post #14 of 22 Old 04-20-2015, 06:04 PM
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AudioTools from Studio Six does in fact work with the UMIK-1 mic and its calibration file. I use it with my iPad ant it is accurate and very convenient to use. Surprisingly the iPad mic with calibration file from Studio Six is fairly accurate too but I use my UMIK-1 for better accuracy.
Can this be used to measure my subwoofer response?

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Can this be used to measure my subwoofer response?
Yes. I think I used their LARSA module add on that I purchased as an extra to measure the sub response.

I has other features too. The company also told me not too long ago that they were where going to add some kind of waterfall plot soon but I do not think they have added it yet.

Over all the software has many useful features. I also love the spl logging feature.
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post #17 of 22 Old 05-01-2015, 05:01 AM
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Quote:
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AudioTools from Studio Six does in fact work with the UMIK-1 mic and its calibration file. I use it with my iPad ant it is accurate and very convenient to use. Surprisingly the iPad mic with calibration file from Studio Six is fairly accurate too but I use my UMIK-1 for better accuracy.
I've been using this for a couple of weeks now and I really like it. Can anyone comment on the accuracy of using the mic on the iPad? Seems like my response below 30Hz drops off way too much. I'm guessing if I used the UMIK-1 it would be more accurate.

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Quote:
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I've been using this for a couple of weeks now and I really like it. Can anyone comment on the accuracy of using the mic on the iPad? Seems like my response below 30Hz drops off way too much. I'm guessing if I used the UMIK-1 it would be more accurate.
Using the Studio Six ipad mic and ipad mic calibration file that comes with the program, it was surprisingly fairly accurate. I did not do any detailed lengthy test but in comparing it to my UMIK-1 it was fairly close. For more accurate measurements I would buy a UMIK-1 and use it along with its calibration file. I did not compare or pay attention to the low end using the ipad mic but for serious measurements just buy the UMIK-1 from Spectrum Labs.

Studio Six's LARSA add on purchase works great for sub and speaker measurement - from what I recall it has a sweep used to measure things like sub response.
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post #19 of 22 Old 05-02-2015, 05:37 AM
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Using the Studio Six ipad mic and ipad mic calibration file that comes with the program, it was surprisingly fairly accurate. I did not do any detailed lengthy test but in comparing it to my UMIK-1 it was fairly close. For more accurate measurements I would buy a UMIK-1 and use it along with its calibration file. I did not compare or pay attention to the low end using the ipad mic but for serious measurements just buy the UMIK-1 from Spectrum Labs.

Studio Six's LARSA add on purchase works great for sub and speaker measurement - from what I recall it has a sweep used to measure things like sub response.
OK thanks. I do plan on getting the UMIK-1. I have been using the sine wave playing a sweep from 10-200 Hz over 15 seconds. Would the LARSA be better?
This is a measurement from about 3 inches away from the sub driver.
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Quote:
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OK thanks. I do plan on getting the UMIK-1. I have been using the sine wave playing a sweep from 10-200 Hz over 15 seconds. Would the LARSA be better?
This is a measurement from about 3 inches away from the sub driver.
I believe the FFT that you are using only has a manual sweep. LARSA will provide a continual sweep and record the full frequency graph all in about a second or so. Hence much faster and convenient. It will also allow you to compare separate measurements of up to 8 and average them out too. Well worth the cost in my opinion.
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post #21 of 22 Old Today, 11:09 AM
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FYI, from Studio6 (AudioTools) website:
http://www.studiosixdigital.com/audi...valuation.html

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
MicW and IMM6 Evaluation

We have thoroughly tested MicW and IMM6, and our conclusion is that they do not improve on the performance of the built-in Apple device microphones, whether the iPhone mic or the supplied headset mic, other than in appearance, and in the fact that it is a couple of inches away from the iPhone.
Basically you are trading one small-diameter electret condenser capsule for another, with similar performance.
This is because any mic that plugs into the headset connector is subject to the same filters as the Apple mics. There is no way to avoid the effects of the severe Apple low-frequency roll-off filters and limiters, so any mic plugged into the headset connector suffers from the same problems.
Also, we have recently discovered that due to the design of the headset jack, if you turn on the output you will get bleed, sometimes severe, back into the mic input. This bleed effect is described in further detail here.
Therefore, although it would be great to have a moderately priced microphone that performed well, we do not recommend spending money on this device, as it will not improve the performance of AudioTools.
iOS 6 update: We have been able to defeat the internal low-frequency rolloff filters in iOS 6, using AudioTools 4.7. However, even in iOS 6, we see no improvement in frequency response, or flatness, with micW or iMM6, over the Apple-supplied internal mic.





----------------------------------------------------------------------



Seems the IMM6 is a waste of money, albeit a small amount.

I was curious about using the Apple lightning to usb adapter and then connecting a Dayton UMM6 mic with pro calibration from Cross-Spectrum Labs.



UMM6 with cal from CSL: http://cross-spectrum.com/measuremen...ated_umm6.html


Anyone gone this route or tried it?

Should be quite a bit less expensive than the iTestMic, but I'm not sure if one would perform better with AudioTools.
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I have not tried the UMM6 USB mic. But I have tried the UMIK-1 USB mic with its own calibration file which is similar in cost to the UMM6 USB mic. Although I have not fully tested the UMIK-1 I would imagine that it should be much better then the internal mic.
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