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Old 18th February 2009, 11:14 AM   #1
clm811 is offline clm811  United States
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Thumbs up List your favorite(cheap) test tools for audio systems

The emphasis here is on tools that help to improve sound, safety, etc.

Here is one of mine (very basic & cheap):

AC Polarity Indicator

Cost: Around $5 at any hardware store.

Uses:
To check that your mains outlets are wired correctly with regards to Hot, Neutral, and Ground.

Benefits: Obviously for safety. Plus, I found that my audio gear sounds best when properly connected to AC Hot, Neutral and Ground(where needed).

Please list yours .

-Chas
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Old 18th February 2009, 11:50 AM   #2
poynton is offline poynton  United Kingdom
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My eyes and nose are some of the best diagnostic equipment I possess and they are FREE...


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Old 18th February 2009, 04:32 PM   #3
clm811 is offline clm811  United States
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Okay, Here's another one:

Radio Shack Mini Audio Amp/Speaker P/N#277-1008

Cost: $14.99

Uses: Test amplifier or signal tracer to check system noise floor or for microphonics - See Stereophile article:

http://www.stereophile.com/finetunes/212/

Benefits: Identify undesireable noise sources in and around your hifi system
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Old 18th February 2009, 08:09 PM   #4
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Your use of that amp reminded me of those AC "noise sniffers".

I had a chance to try the Audioprism Noise Sniffer(on loan from my local A/V installer). We used it to check the house wiring for noisy dimmers, appliances, etc. The most surprising find was that the popular new 'CF' compact fluorescent "bulbs" we retrofitted to save money are among the worst offenders, introducing a buzzing sound on the line that went away when we removed them. Turns out some brands of CF are worse than others.

While not cheap, if you can find such a unit on the used market it's worth trying. Once you've fixed your AC noise problems you can always sell it to recoup most of the cost.
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Old 18th February 2009, 09:17 PM   #5
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Best tool I have for voicing speakers.
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Old 18th February 2009, 10:22 PM   #6
Magura is offline Magura  Denmark
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Quote:
Originally posted by Cal Weldon
Best tool I have for voicing speakers.

You should try one of the newer models, some goes all the way up to 20KHz



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Old 19th February 2009, 05:31 AM   #7
clm811 is offline clm811  United States
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Default re: Test Gear

Seriously, folks!

So far we have:
AC Polarity Indicators, and two kinds of "Noise Sniffer".

Also, we've established that, opposed to using test gear, some here prefer to rely on their senses for troubleshooting of hifi equipment. That's ok too, I guess.

I rely upon my ears for enjoyment of music on my system, but I'm afraid that such use is subjective (I find I can't reliably pass a blind A/B test- I've tried).

While my senses can tell me if or when something is wrong, they don't tell me specifically what or where (unless it's something as obvious as speaker position, loose or crossed wires, or an illuminated warning light) .

It's a great challenge, indeed, to try to use our senses objectively! If you can, perhaps you should apply at one of the audio magazines!

Seriously- other than the (obvious) use of our own senses, are there any other cheap diagnostic tools you've found that you could share that might be helpful to others here?
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Old 19th February 2009, 05:45 AM   #8
col is offline col  Australia
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Behringer ECM8000 microphone.

Hooked up to a cheap mic preamp with phantom power, a laptop computer with a freeware realtime spectrum analyzer and bob is your uncle

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Old 19th February 2009, 06:20 AM   #9
star882 is offline star882  United States
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Can't do without a multimeter. Good ones start at $50, but a $15 meter is better than nothing as long as you understand its accuracy limitations.
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Old 19th February 2009, 03:58 PM   #10
clm811 is offline clm811  United States
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Default Good, but cheap ?

Quote:
Behringer ECM8000 microphone.Hooked up to a cheap mic preamp with phantom power, a laptop computer...
Nice! How much did THAT set you back(: cd:... )?

Personally, I evaluate the value(benefit) of each audio-related purchase in terms of "how many CD's would that cost", i.e. how many records could I buy with that money? It'd be nice to have deep pockets, though!
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