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PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 5:23 am 
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dhanson865 wrote:
If your sound meter can't tell the difference between a 1600 RPM fan and a 800 RPM fan at 1 meter what good does it do you?
20dB(A) at 1.00m should translate to 40dB(A) at 0.10m.
With low sensitivity you just have to get "close and personal" with the test object. It's not ideal by far (due to strange angles of incoming sound) but it's certainly better than nothing.

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Olle


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PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 8:25 am 
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Olle P wrote:
dhanson865 wrote:
If your sound meter can't tell the difference between a 1600 RPM fan and a 800 RPM fan at 1 meter what good does it do you?
20dB(A) at 1.00m should translate to 40dB(A) at 0.10m.
With low sensitivity you just have to get "close and personal" with the test object. It's not ideal by far (due to strange angles of incoming sound) but it's certainly better than nothing.

Cheers
Olle


Better than nothing I agree, but that opens up a whole can of worms. Take for example these comments from an SPCR article discussing recording sounds from 1ft/30cm and 3in/7.6cm

Quote:
The "Point of Origin" Problem — It is not always clear what part of the product should be the "origin" from which the three inch position should be measured. This problem is very pertinent for complete PC systems with multiple noise sources. Sometimes, a three inch distance from one part of the system sounds different from a three inch distance from another part.

Low Frequency Emphasis — Because of the way sound attenuates over distance, bass frequencies were disproportionately emphasized.


The quote below is from the webarchive primer I linked to earlier.

Quote:
At higher frequencies (where wavelengths become so small as to equal, or be smaller than, the size of the microphone diaphragm) the direction in which the microphone is aimed - relative to the direction of the sound being measured - will have an effect on the accuracy of the measurement.


I'd just rather not have to deal with measurements made with a cheap meter at short distances. There are too many factors to consider.

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PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 6:39 am 
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dhanson865 wrote:
The "Point of Origin" Problem — It is not always clear what part of the product should be the "origin" from which the three inch position should be measured. This problem is very pertinent for complete PC systems with multiple noise sources. Sometimes, a three inch distance from one part of the system sounds different from a three inch distance from another part.
One feasible makeshift solution is to take multiple measurements at different spots. Then take the average or worst case as you please.

dhanson865 wrote:
Low Frequency Emphasis — Because of the way sound attenuates over distance, bass frequencies were disproportionately emphasized.
This one I don't really understand. Low frequencies travel further, and are thus emphasised in measurements further away. But they also travel more easily through (case) walls and such, which also can make them more prominent in close up measurements.

dhanson865 wrote:
I'd just rather not have to deal with measurements made with a cheap meter at short distances. There are too many factors to consider.
Fine! I'd never consider close up measurements to be directly translatable to the standard measurements. But I still think they can provide a way for those that want to make quantifiable and objective measurements without spending a fortune on the equipment.

Cheers
Olle


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PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2009 3:50 pm 
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If you go look at the SPCR test methodology post you'll see that they had to build a whole chamber with computerized data collection. For stuff below 30dBl this is kind of mandatory, and I doubt most of the members have the space and inclination to invest in that.


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PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2009 4:25 pm 
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darkgreen wrote:
If you go look at the SPCR test methodology post you'll see that they had to build a whole chamber with computerized data collection. For stuff below 30dBl this is kind of mandatory, and I doubt most of the members have the space and inclination to invest in that.

Actually if you read the older articles you'll see that before SPCR had a special room for testing they did sound recordings in an old kitchen. Nothing special about it. They often had to wait for hours when they wanted ambient below 22 dBA but if your sound meter can't record below 25 dBA you wouldn't have to work as hard as SPCR does.

So long as you aren't spending more than $300 on your sound meter you should be fine testing items in a random room in a house. Once you have a meter in hand you'll figure out when and where would work for you.

click on the link below to see pictures

http://www.silentpcreview.com/article190-page1.html
Quote:
October 3, 2004 by Mike Chin

The first reviews for SPCR emerged from a rat's nest of equipment, computers, components, wires and other assorted geeky things that my home office had become during many months of experimentation prior to the launch of the site. Two and a half years have gone by since those early days, and now the lab has taken over the downstairs kitchen and half of the adjoining TV/den. A lot of equipment, instrumentation and plain old stuff has been acquired, some by happenstance, others as a result of careful planning.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 11:39 pm 
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Just wanted to resurrect this thread.

I am looking for a new sound meter, and would like one that goes down to at least 30dBA. Ideally I would like one that can be hooked up to a PC to record the results (this eliminates some of the cheapest models, like the Nady DSM-1).

Of the ones on the list:
Code:
Min dBA Price Brand/Model
 30       200 Extech 407760 USB Sound Level Datalogger
 30       215 Galaxy CM-150 Check Mate SPL Meter [USB, opt. cable]
           35 Galaxy CM-USB USB Cable
 30       250 Extech 407750 Sound Level Meter with PC Interface [RS-232]
 26       275 Extech 407738 Sound Level Meter with Memory
              [No data interface; Discontinued!]
 30       300 Extech 407768 Sound Level Meter with PC Interface [RS-232]


These prices include shipping and tax, approximately. Any opinions in this range, especially the Galaxy CM-150?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 8:33 am 
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Personally I'm not a fan of rs232 interfaces now as USB has pretty well killed the old ports on new PCs. Try and find a modern netbook or thin laptop with a rs232 port, your options will be limited.

Since the Extech USB is cheaper than a Galaxy with optional cables I'd just get the Extech USB if I was only going to use it sparingly. The downside is there is no screen/display on that model so you can't get real time as you do it values. I don't know if a USB extension cable would allow the software on the PC to act as the real time display but I would prefer even a three digit LCD to no display at all.

I'd be contacting Extech or paying attention to the return policy of my retailer if I wasn't sure about the lack of a screen being an issue on the Extech USB.

The downside to the Galaxy is running off a 9v battery which probably means replacing the battery more often than the Extech USB (which uses a 3.x volt lithium battery).

fyi, Most of the brands use 9v batteries but the Protek uses 6 aaa instead. Could be significant if you want to use rechargeable batteries.

I'll update the main post style here
----------------------------------------

The SPL primer seems to be gone from the original site so here is an archive copy

http://web.archive.org/web/200603180612 ... /slm.shtml

Code:
Min dBA Price Brand/Model
 30       120 Nady DSM-1 Digital SPL Meter
 32       130 Galaxy Audio Checkmate CM-140 SPL Meter
 30       140 Protek SL1700 Digital Sound Level Meter
 30       200 Extech 407760 USB Sound Level Datalogger
 30       250 Galaxy CM-150 Check Mate SPL Meter
 30       250 Extech SL130 LED Alert with Alarm
 30       250 Extech 407750 Sound Level Meter with PC Interface
 30       250 Extech 407740 3 Range Digital Sound Level Meter
 26       300 Discontinued - Extech 407738 - Discontinued
 30       300 Extech 407768 Sound Level Meter with PC Interface [RS-232]
 30       350 Galaxy Audio CM160 Checkmate SPL Meter w/Hard Drive
 30       400 Casella CEL-240
 30       650 Quest Technologies Type 2 Sound Meter, basic
 17      1300 Casella CEL-430 (A1 or A2)
 30      1450 Quest Technologies Type 1 Sound Meter, basic
 13      ???? Norsonic Nor118 Sound Level Meter
 17      ???? Norsonic Nor131 Sound Level Meter
 18      ???? Larson Davis 812
 18      ???? Larson Davis 820
 17      ???? Bruel and Kjaer 2250 Light
 25      ???? Bruel and Kjaer 2238 Mediator


The standouts are

Code:
Min dBA Price Brand/Model
 30       120 Nady DSM-1 Digital SPL Meter
 30       140 Protek SL1700 Digital Sound Level Meter

 30       200 Extech 407760 USB Sound Level Datalogger

 17      1300 Casella CEL-430

 13      ???? Norsonic Nor118 Sound Level Meter


There may be better choices but if so they don't show up well on the Google searches I chose and/or they are new as I haven't done the brute force searches since my first post on this subject.

For a casual user the Scosche SPL1000 or Nady DSM-1 might be enough for to settle an argument or satisfy curiosity.

For a more serious use the Extech USB models at 30 dba or the Extech 407738 claims to do under 30 dba for under $300 but you'll have to find a used one on eBay or pay even more for a professional grade unit.

And if I were trying to keep up with SPCR I'd be finding prices on all those stupid SPL manufacturers that don't sell to the retail market. God only knows who makes what at what price. But you can definitely get something that will read under 20 dba if you try hard enough and have plenty of cash.

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Last edited by dhanson865 on Tue Sep 14, 2010 12:48 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 9:30 am 
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Why is the Scosche SPL1000 listed as 35 dB minimum? Every search on the internet suggests it has a 60 dB floor. link That's useful for some kinds of applications of course, but not anything for SPCR.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 11:10 am 
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It seems to me that anything with a low limit higher than 20dBA is not really useful for SPCR-esque sound measurements. The only way to get such results w/o a megabuck SLM is w/ PC spectrum analyzer software + soundcard + low noise mic + mic calibrator. You could do this for ~$500. mebbe less.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 12:49 pm 
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AZBrandon wrote:
Why is the Scosche SPL1000 listed as 35 dB minimum? Every search on the internet suggests it has a 60 dB floor. link That's useful for some kinds of applications of course, but not anything for SPCR.


Good catch, I'm not sure why I can only assume some time in the past I scraped 35db off of a retailers site that had mislisted it. I thought it was exceptionally good for what was practically disposable sound meter.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 1:29 pm 
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MikeC wrote:
It seems to me that anything with a low limit higher than 20dBA is not really useful for SPCR-esque sound measurements. The only way to get such results w/o a megabuck SLM is w/ PC spectrum analyzer software + soundcard + low noise mic + mic calibrator. You could do this for ~$500. mebbe less.


With a description like that you make the $1300 Casella CEL-430 sound simple and convenient by comparison.

yeah $500 is way cheaper than $1300. Both are more than the average SPCR fiddler would want to spend just to have an objective measurement.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 2:43 pm 
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dhanson865 wrote:
With a description like that you make the $1300 Casella CEL-430 sound simple and convenient by comparison.

yeah $500 is way cheaper than $1300. Both are more than the average SPCR fiddler would want to spend just to have an objective measurement.

That's pretty good! I might have rethought my anechoic chamber related audio equipment choices if I'd known about it.... but I admit I'm now hooked on being able to go down to 10 dBA.

here are components for a basic pc-based spectrum analyzer that can do spl down to... the noise level of the choisen mic:
http://www.trueaudio.com/rta_abt1.htm -- TrueRTA -- free to $40
http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/FastTrackPro.html ~$160
http://www.mxlmics.com/products/Studio_ ... /2006.html -- 16dba -- $100
Landtek ND9 Microphone Level Calibrator -- which I bought on ebay for $115. You need a mic calibrator with any SLM, btw.

This is like $400.

A huge bonus for anyone interested in sound/noise phenomena is that this investment takes you into real sound analysis -- way beyond the simple and limited SPL function of a cheap SLM.

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Last edited by MikeC on Thu Sep 16, 2010 4:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 15, 2010 8:45 pm 
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dhanson865 wrote:
Good catch, I'm not sure why I can only assume some time in the past I scraped 35db off of a retailers site that had mislisted it. I thought it was exceptionally good for what was practically disposable sound meter.


Probably just an error somewhere - I guess I missed it the last time this thread was active. When it popped up again I looked over the list and figured I may as well buy the SPL1000, only to see the range started at 60. Well - I might still get one, but more for measuring loud things, since 60 is going to be way over what anything inside my residence would measure!

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 Post subject: Smart Sensor 834
PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2010 7:20 pm 
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Another inexpensive SLM is the Polarich Smart Sensor AR-834 datalogging (ANSI 1.4 Type 2) meter for about $100 (Canadian - from NCIX) that measures from 30 - 130 dB. When rebranded by Extech it can cost several times as much.

Without memory but also 30-130 dB, the AR-824 is $10 less. On Ebay by another name, it is less than $50.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 1:29 pm 
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To follow up:

Code:
Min dBA Price Brand/Model
 30       189 CEM DT-8852 Datalogger Sound Level Meter


I found this sound meter from some random Google searches. Here are some links:
http://www.cem-hh.com/en/DT-8852.php

http://www.ruby-electronics.com/store_i ... r_with_USB

http://www.pro-measure.com/ProductDetai ... de=DT-8852

I am using it now and am pleased. It supports the latest standard, IEC 61672-1 Class 2, it does logging and USB, and it goes down to 30dB. I have not played with it too much extensively but from what I have used it seems like it does the job. I bought it from pro-measure.com. It came with a calibration certificate, instruction manual, CD with software, USB cable, small tripod, small flathead screwdriver, AC adapter, and huge carrying case.

CEM does not appear to have the same brand recognition as Extech or others, as they are a Chinese manufacturer. (The manual has its share of mildly stilted English but it is easily comprehensible.)


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 4:09 pm 
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SeanTek wrote:
I am using it now and am pleased. It supports the latest standard, IEC 61672-1 Class 2, it does logging and USB, and it goes down to 30dB.

So what are you using it for? $400 isn't too bad but it still seems like a pretty penny for just casual interest. (Actually, another hundred, and you could have a spectrum analyzer that goes down to ~20 dBA or lower as I outlined earlier.)

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 05, 2010 11:17 am 
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Quote:
So what are you using it for?


I am using the CEM DT-8852 primarily for measuring highway noise on the other side of the street from my new place, in order to compare the noise levels with the official measurements from the highway authority as they are discussing expanding the sound wall. This means that the dB is in the range of 40-80, and needs to be outside to collect data for a significant period of time. As a parallel purpose, I am also comparing the effectiveness of soundproof windows (sliding glass doors) used to dampen the outside highway noise.

As a secondary purpose, I am using it to measure sounds from my computer. :wink: However, even at the absolute quietest with the soundproof windows and other doors closed, the ambient sound measures around 31.5 dB. So, going below 30 dB is not really worth it in my case.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 05, 2010 5:09 pm 
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MikeC wrote:
SeanTek wrote:
I am using it now and am pleased. It supports the latest standard, IEC 61672-1 Class 2, it does logging and USB, and it goes down to 30dB.

So what are you using it for? $400 isn't too bad but it still seems like a pretty penny for just casual interest. (Actually, another hundred, and you could have a spectrum analyzer that goes down to ~20 dBA or lower as I outlined earlier.)


I'm assuming you were in a hurry, that's $400 inflated retail price that no one ever pays in a million years, marked down to $200. Another retailer listed retail at $249 and marked it down to $189.

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 Post subject: Re: Cheap, readily available sound meter for SPCR forum memb
PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2011 7:23 am 
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fwiw the Casella CEL-430 is discontinued (still can buy one while supplies last) to be replaced by the Casella CEL-620

The CEL-430 was rated down to 17 dBA
The CEL-620 is rated down to 20 dBA

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 Post subject: Re: Cheap, readily available sound meter for SPCR forum memb
PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2011 9:47 am 
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A good microphone and audio analysis software might be an option. You could probably calibrate it to get dB readings but even without it would still be good for measuring relative volume. You could see how much difference a change makes, or compare one HDD to another etc. It would also offer another important feature: spectrum analysis. The type of noise is as important as the volume.

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 Post subject: Re: Cheap, readily available sound meter for SPCR forum memb
PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:49 am 
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MoJo wrote:
A good microphone and audio analysis software might be an option. You could probably calibrate it to get dB readings but even without it would still be good for measuring relative volume. You could see how much difference a change makes, or compare one HDD to another etc. It would also offer another important feature: spectrum analysis. The type of noise is as important as the volume.


See Mike's post about 5 up from yours dated Sep 14, 2010 for similar thoughts.

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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 1:51 pm 
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SeanTek wrote:
To follow up:

Code:
Min dBA Price Brand/Model
 30       189 CEM DT-8852 Datalogger Sound Level Meter

I bought it from pro-measure.com. It came with a calibration certificate, instruction manual, CD with software, USB cable, small tripod, small flathead screwdriver, AC adapter, and huge carrying case.


The pics on the Ruby Electronics page shows the case with all the items you list, instruction manual, CD with software, the tripod, USB cable, etc. And price of $219.95

However, the pro-measure.com site says:
Code:
Accessories Included: Hard Carrying Case, Manual, Screwdriver, & (1) 9Vdc Battery
Note: This is NOT being Sold as a Data Logger SLM


and a price of $149 ($179 list). This is for the exact same DT-8852? You say you got it from pro-measure.com and it CAN do data logging? Wondering if they changed this model since then?


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 Post subject: Re: Cheap, readily available sound meter for SPCR forum memb
PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 12:12 pm 
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MoJo wrote:
Recent discussions have got me thinking - one of the biggest problems on these forums is defining "quiet". A HDD that one person considers quiet may be relatively loud to another. One person may get a very quiet sample, while one may get a louder one.


You sort of answered your own question. Loudness is a subjective impression of signal level. It's generally believed that the perception of loudness is non-linear and correlated with a number of psychoacoustic factors. Therefore, does it really matter to the end-user what the actual sound pressure level is of each PC component separately? I would argue that it does not matter as much as one might be inclined to believe. In other words, SPL is quite different from most other PC benchmarks whose scores have a more generalizable meaning. Yes, it is important for reviewers, such as SPCR to be able to measure noise performance, especially across the entire audible spectrum. After all, we, the readers, are interested in knowing which components are quieter than others. But, the actual perception of loudness of a system composed of those benchmarked components, will often be different for different end-users. Mike sometimes remarks in his reviews, quite correctly, that the SPL values obtained are specific to his own testing environment only.

What matters, I think, is whether your system is quiet enough for you, in your typical environment. For a small group of users, it matters precisely what type and level of noise the PC is making (e.g., in a home recording studio or a PC reviewer's lab), but for most of us, it matters whether the noise disturbs us in some meaningful way. What the actual SPL value is, I think, is mostly irrelevant, as it depends on the noise floor, the spectral tilt of the noise, its periodicity, etc.

As some people already mentioned, the sound level meter would be useless for the majority of end-users. At home, I let my ears do the measuring.


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 Post subject: Re: Cheap, readily available sound meter for SPCR forum memb
PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 4:36 am 
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Took a few minutes this morning to look for cheap meters again. some new additions to consider

Code:
Min dBA Price Brand/Model
30?       40 GSI Quality Handheld Digital A/C Frequencies Sound Level Meter (couldn't find official specs so I don't trust this one)
30        75 Pyle PSPL05R
30       100 Sinometer JTS1357


Still no cheap way to get a meter that reads under 30 dBA but the price and availability of 30 dBA units seems to have improved over the years.


Oh, and for however long it'll last Buy.com has the Sinometer JTS1357 for under $55 right now assuming that listing isn't a mistake.

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 Post subject: Re: Cheap, readily available sound meter
PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 6:01 am 
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DDavid wrote:
Another inexpensive SLM is the Polarich Smart Sensor AR-834 datalogging (ANSI 1.4 Type 2) meter for about $100 (Canadian - from NCIX) that measures from 30 - 130 dB. When rebranded by Extech it can cost several times as much.

Without memory but also 30-130 dB, the AR-824 is $10 less. On Ebay by another name, it is less than $50.


Apparently the Sinometer JTS1357 = Polarich Smart Sensor AR-834 = Extech ????

I've seen several comments/reviews that mention Extech rebranding this product but looking at the Extech site I don't see the match.

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