Friday, March 25, 2011

Droid Really Does...

Today I got some new rear surround sound speakers set up. They were the last part of my home theater system that hadn't been replaced. Well, they WERE the last part, next is probably a bit higher end subwoofer, but that's another story.

Anyways, I got the same rear speakers as I have front left and right speakers now, some Sony SSB-1000 bookshelf speakers. I got them through a strange coincidence that is a long story, so I'll just leave that for another day.

So, now that I had the entire system set up, I wanted to make sure everything was set up correctly. To do that, a sound meter was necessary. I had already picked one out that I wanted from Radio Shack. It had great reviews and even better was on sale!!

I headed to the closest Shack and when I got there they only had the display model left. The guy really wanted me to get it, I think, but it didn't have all of the parts and I wasn't going to pay full price for something that was incomplete, even if it would have still worked. The guy at the store helped me out by checking to see that the other store in town still had them as well, so I headed to the other side of town.

When I got there, they also only had the display model left. Even though that one was in good shape and worked, I still didn't want to spend $40 on a display model, and they weren't really receptive to discounting the price.

I decided I would just go home and order a new one from the Radio Shack website. But then I started thinking, I wonder if there's an App for my Droid R2-D2 that would work as a decibel meter?? I mean, there are apps for just about everything else, right??

So I quickly checked and found that, sure enough, there are quite a few sound meters available on the Android Market. I found one that looked promising, paid my 99 cents, and about 20 seconds later had a sound meter on my phone.

When I got home I did some more research on it. It seems that the device's microphone is really the deciding factor on how accurate the app is. But I didn't need it to tell me how many dBs the speakers were creating, I just needed it to tell me that they were all making the same level of sound. So even if something is ACTUALLY 55 dB and the phone is only saying it's 48 dB, that didn't matter. All I needed was the device to be able to tell me that everything is putting out the same amount of sound.

I followed the instructions for setting up a sound meter test and got to work. When everything was all said and done, I had all 5 of the speakers in the room within .5 dB of each other, which was about the best that I was going to get. What I did was set up the app to give me an average, then let it listen to each speaker for 30 seconds. I then made any adjustments and did the same thing again.

I'm guessing that being within .5 db is going to be something that can't even be noticed. It also is something probably will have to be "good enough" no matter what due to the way my room is set up. The fronts are at an angle so one is slightly farther away from the listener than the other, and the rears are the same way. The fact that the center channel is a different brand is probably another determining factor.

We set in to watch some TV after I got it all set up, and I immediately noticed a more balanced and complete sound. The voices sounded more smooth and even, and when music kicked in you really got a good "fully enveloped" sound effect going on.

I'm surprised that a 99 cent app was able to get me to the point where I think it sounds much better. Saved $40 in the process. Would the $40 one be better?? Possibly, but seeing as my home theater is pretty budget oriented, I think that the $40 one may have gotten me better overall readings, but I wouldn't have been able to adjust the system any better than I have it now.

So, the Droid saved me $40 tonight. That's nearly half the price of the phone itself. Maybe this thing was a good investment after all????

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