Recording - May 2018 - 63

show numbers up to 1999; it's described
as "2000 counts". Numbers above 1999
don't use the half-digit, so they're only as
precise as you can get with three digits:
1.998, 1.999, 2.00, 2.01...
Two more things to know about making
AC measurements with a DMM-they're
designed with AC line frequency (50 or 60
Hz) in mind and most aren't worth a hoot
when measuring AC above about 400 Hz.
Also, unless a meter is specified as "true
RMS," it's only accurate when measuring
a pure sine wave. You can't count on an
accurate reading if you're measuring a
clipped, or any other complex, waveform.
There are plenty of places to purchase a DMM on line, and
hundreds of choices. The Fluke Model 77 that I've had for over 30
years is one of the most popular service shop meters, but they're
currently close to $400. Auto-ranging is convenient, but manual
range switching is fine and less expensive. You'll want one with an
AC voltage range of 2 volts or lower and a scale of 2000 counts or
greater. Accuracy and ambiguity are about the same for meters in
this price range and it's actually pretty good. See my blog for more.

THE SIGNAL GENERATOR: THE OTHER END OF THE LINE
For end-to-end measurements, you'll need a signal generator,
and you can make one from things you have around the studio.
Several DAW programs include a tone (or function) generator
plug-in, and this will work just fine. There are also function
generator applications for smart phones and computers.
If you haven't discarded all your CD players, you can re-purpose
one by making a test tone CD, which will then free up your
computer to make other measurements. I'd suggest making 50
Hz, 250 Hz, 1 kHz, and 10 kHz tracks at -10, -6, and 0 dBFS.
Save the WAV files that you burn to the CD-you can import one
to a DAW track and loop it forever. Google is your friend here,
or check the Resources at the end of this article for my favorites.

TEST LEADS
Nearly all multimeters use banana jacks for their connections,
and most DMMs come with a pair of test leads that have banana
plugs on one end and test probes on the other. You might recognize
the banana connector from your home Hi-Fi loudspeakers. The
probe is useful when troubleshooting a piece of gear, but darn
near useless for connecting your meter to an XLR or phone jack.
You can easily make a couple of audio test cables with banana
plugs on one end and your choice of audio connector on the other.
A voltmeter's input is, by definition, differential. To connect
the meter to a balanced source, you'll want the banana plugs
connected to the tip and ring of a TRS plug or pins 2 and 3
of an XLR. For convention's sake, make your test cable with
a red banana plug on the tip and a black one on the ring,
though for AC, it doesn't really matter how you plug them into
the meter. Use two-conductor shielded cable, with the shield
connected at the audio connector end and open on the meter

1
end. (Figure 2) If you want to be clever, you can attach a third
banana plug to the shield on the meter end, and, for unbalanced
¼" jacks, connect the tip and shield plugs to the meter.
For a dedicated cable to use with unbalanced outputs, I
recommend using shielded cable with an RCA plug on one
end and banana plugs on the other. (Figure 3). RCA phone
plugs are tricky to solder, but RCA-RCA cables are cheap. Cut
the plug off one end, strip the cable, and connect the center
conductor and shield to the banana plugs. Use an RCA-TS
adapter for connecting to a ¼" unbalanced input.
To use your phone as a signal generator, you'll need a
mini-TRS plug wired to whatever audio connector you need.
Off-the-shelf stereo mini-to-2xRCA cables are inexpensive, and
you can use an RCA adapter for connecting to a ¼" jack.

LET'S MEASURE SOMETHING ALREADY!
Connect the meter to the output of your signal generator of
choice (probably the Monitor or Main output of your audio
interface), set the meter to read AC volts, set the generator to
a frequency between 30 and 300 Hz, and read the voltage. If
you're using a plug-in or a standalone application, its output level
will be calibrated in dBFS. -10 dBFS is a good starting point.
When using a signal generator plug-in, be sure that the
DAW track and main mix levels are set to their unity gain
(usually "0") positions. If your interface has an output level
control, set it to maximum-this will allow you to repeat the
setting easily. You may need to fiddle with the DAW track

2

3
RECORDING May 2018

63



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - May 2018

Contents
Recording - May 2018 - Intro
Recording - May 2018 - Cover1
Recording - May 2018 - Cover2
Recording - May 2018 - 1
Recording - May 2018 - 2
Recording - May 2018 - 3
Recording - May 2018 - 4
Recording - May 2018 - 5
Recording - May 2018 - Contents
Recording - May 2018 - 7
Recording - May 2018 - 8
Recording - May 2018 - 9
Recording - May 2018 - 10
Recording - May 2018 - 11
Recording - May 2018 - 12
Recording - May 2018 - 13
Recording - May 2018 - 14
Recording - May 2018 - 15
Recording - May 2018 - 16
Recording - May 2018 - 17
Recording - May 2018 - 18
Recording - May 2018 - 19
Recording - May 2018 - 20
Recording - May 2018 - 21
Recording - May 2018 - 22
Recording - May 2018 - 23
Recording - May 2018 - 24
Recording - May 2018 - 25
Recording - May 2018 - 26
Recording - May 2018 - 27
Recording - May 2018 - 28
Recording - May 2018 - 29
Recording - May 2018 - 30
Recording - May 2018 - 31
Recording - May 2018 - 32
Recording - May 2018 - 33
Recording - May 2018 - 34
Recording - May 2018 - 35
Recording - May 2018 - 36
Recording - May 2018 - 37
Recording - May 2018 - 38
Recording - May 2018 - 39
Recording - May 2018 - 40
Recording - May 2018 - 41
Recording - May 2018 - 42
Recording - May 2018 - 43
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Recording - May 2018 - 46
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Recording - May 2018 - 50
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Recording - May 2018 - 60
Recording - May 2018 - 61
Recording - May 2018 - 62
Recording - May 2018 - 63
Recording - May 2018 - 64
Recording - May 2018 - 65
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Recording - May 2018 - 67
Recording - May 2018 - 68
Recording - May 2018 - 69
Recording - May 2018 - 70
Recording - May 2018 - 71
Recording - May 2018 - 72
Recording - May 2018 - Cover3
Recording - May 2018 - Cover4
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