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Peer Review: Superlux 4u2set Real Time Analyzer

Peer Review: Superlux 4u2set Real Time Analyzer; Price: $1,000 MSRP

Peer Reviewer: Angelo Morgan, owner, ALM Fusion LLC, West Allis, Wis. ALM Fusion specializes in all aspects of consulting, design, installation, sales, rentals, repairs, and production of audio, lighting, and music systems. The company also has limited involvement in video projects. The firm services clients in both the commercial and residential markets.

My Pick: Superlux 4U2SET Real Time Analyzer (distributed in the United States by Avlex Corp.)

List Price: $1,000

What I Like About It: The Superlux 4U2SET

Real Time Analyzer is an inexpensive, PDA-styled audio analysis tool that is logically laid out and easy to use. The unit has all the necessary tools for quick or more extensive system checks and setup. Onboard tools include real time analyzer, sound level meter, RTA channel comparison, polarity check, reverberation time, distortion and noise analyzer, spectrum analyzer, and equalization calculator.

I particularly like the dual inputs for comparison and analysis. All the functions are easily accessed through the unit's touchscreen, and test tones can be generated via the accompanying test tone CD. After results are visualized, they can be saved for further comparison or future reference. The unit can also be linked to a PC to save measurements for later recall. The system package comes with two reference microphones for dual comparison and measurements. One can be mounted directly on the handheld device, and the second can be positioned in a different location using a mini tripod, which is also supplied.

The unit's charger will operate from 100 VAC - 240 VAC, making it convenient to use, no matter where you operate. Full charge is accomplished in approximately two hours and will enable the unit to operate remotely for two and a half to three hours with full backlight capability.

I Would Change: The one disappointing aspect of the 4U2SET that I would like to see improved is in regard to the microphones' power system. These condenser microphones require a battery to drive them. Unfortunately, there is no switch to turn the microphones off. If you forget to remove the batteries, they will continue to drain, and you'll quickly discover at the next job that they need replacement.

Where I Used It: Twenty-first Century Prep School, Racine, Wis.

This particular building was originally a factory that was converted into a school, and the new owners wanted to use a particular room as their new theater. The room is 100 percent poured concrete — an acoustic nightmare. The amount of echo and reverberation in this space was hard to imagine. My job was to acoustically convert this space into a usable area, and install sound and lighting suitable for the school's theatrical performances.

My Results: The room is essentially a square, with approximately 60-foot walls and a ceiling height of 14 feet. With hard, highly reflective concrete walls, this space was extremely live— so much that at six feet, it was nearly impossible to understand what another person was saying. Upon taking my readings, reverberation times were in the range of seven to nine seconds. Speech intelligibility was for all intents and purposes nonexistent, and I was genuinely concerned about our ability to bring this under control —given the intended application.

After taking our measurements and making calculations, we were able to introduce acoustic treatment that ultimately brought reverberation times down to 1.3 seconds, which made the issue of speech intelligibility perfectly manageable. To accomplish this, we installed a series of studio-grade Auralex acoustic foam sound panels that ran from the floor to the ceiling on all walls—spaced approximately one foot apart. Panels were affixed to the walls using an adhesive recommended by Auralex.

This project also called for us to install a sound system consisting of several surface mount loudspeakers hung overhead and angled down toward the seating areas. With the acoustic treatment and loudspeakers in place, we used the 4U2SET's accompanying CD as the source to generate pink noise and other test tones while the unit analyzed the material. We then EQ'd the room based upon the readings presented by the 4U2SET.

Ultimately, this project yielded impressive results, and I was very pleased with the Superlux 4U2SET's performance. The unit offers the right set of tools to get this type of project done correctly. This once acoustically unusable room now has the ambience of an intimate theatrical space.



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