Homelytainment earn commissions (at no additional cost to you) if you purchase products from retailers after clicking on a link from our site.
Audio is a significant part of any home theatre. Every movie buff, gamer, or music fanatic needs an immersive sound around them. Without immersive audio the whole theater experience is dull.
This is why the sound pressure level in the seating area must be the same for each speaker around it.
After that, anyone can get an immersive sound for which the home theatre is installed. Many receivers come with auto sound calibration mics.
Those mics can calibrate the sound of each speaker by keeping in check the whole environment and all the possible sitting areas in the theatre room. That’s why you get different levels of speakers in the setup menu.
Our Top Tested & Reviewed Products At A Glance
FREQUENCY RESPONSE RANGE
Where To Buy?
We need its range from 65dB to 85dB only for home theater purposes
That calibration result is good only when there is more than one row of seating in the room. But when you have one seating area then you will miss out on the immersive sound. Then your brain will be confused because you will get different levels of sound from the speakers. And this level of difference among the speakers always hurts the immersiveness of sound.
That’s why you need an SPL meter that can measure the pressure level of sound in your seating area and then you can adjust each speaker level accordingly. For the best and most immersive experience, you must set each speaker to 75 dB. In easier words, you must get a 75 dB level for each speaker in your seating area.
You must carry out this manual sound calibration technique twice per year to ensure the best theatre experience.
I have bought many meters for my business and have suggested them to many of my clients.
That’s why I am the best person to educate you about it.
You can also use these meters while soundproofing the theater room. You can measure the sound pressure in/out of the room.
Without taking much time, let’s discuss each one’s review.
1. BAFX 3608 | Best Digital Sound Level Meter
Digital & Analogue Reading: Yes both | Data Recording: Yes + Software for windows | Backlit Display: Yes
Today’s Best Deals
Incredible Accuracy + 1-year Warranty
- Accuracy is very near to professional meter results
- Nice and handy aesthetics
- Excellent Windows software for data analysis and recordings
- 1-year warranty
- The software is only for Windows and not for other platforms now
- A 6V adapter can power it but that Wall adapter is not included
Is It For You?
For those who want the perfect audio in their seating area with high-accuracy calibration.
- The build quality is very user-friendly. It fits in my hand very well. I love the feel of it.
- It was convenient and I loved its aesthetics.
- All the needed connections are provided.
- The Display is backlit and reading the data in the dark is helpful.
I have professional meters with myself in my boutique as well. These meter results were very near to the professional meter readings.
These meter readings were 0.3dB behind the professional meter. Professional meter readings were 76dB and these BAFX 3608 readings were 75.7 dB.
For home theater, a few dBs up or down don’t matter. Like 0.7-1 dBs higher or lower than the actual readings doesn’t significantly affect the whole experience. That’s why the 0.3dB lag in the accuracy is impressive.
Unique Features Of This SPL Meter
The Windows analysis software keeps it apart.
Detail Review Of BAFX 3608:
This is the best of the best because it has the best accuracy and nice software available for Windows only.
I have tested it with Windows 10 and it worked very well.
I was able to save the data in Excel format for future use.
A lot of my clients are veterans. I was installing an audio system in my client’s theatre room. My client and his wife are the two audience members in their theatre room. I wanted to give them a top-notch experience. He is a veteran and he still loves war scenes.
That’s why the stress of responsibility increased.
After installing all the speakers. I adjust the level of the speakers by BAFX 3608 and by keeping their seating area as the focus point.
The accuracy of this meter was top-notch and was near to a professional meter. I set all the speakers to 75 dB and the subwoofer to 79 dB because I wanted to give that thumping effect to my client.
My client and his wife both were very happy with the immersive sound they were getting and I enjoyed it too.
In the end, my client wanted to keep this meter with himself and I gave it to him as a bonus.
My client didn’t get the box with it. LOL! But in the box, you get a Windows software CD, a Meter, a Data cable for its connection with the PC, an audio jack to convert digital signals to analog for analog device connectivity, and an instruction manual.
You must have the best preamp to have the fuller, more natural, and deeper sound possible. Read my review about it.
2. VLIKE MS6708 | Best For Its Build Quality
Digital & Analogue Reading: Yes both | Data Recording: Yes | Backlit Display: Yes
Today’s Best Deals
Nice Accuracy and build quality
- Nice accuracy
- Best build quality with anti-dropping design
- Backlit display
- The automatic display turns off
- Measurements both in dB and Sones
- No dedicated software for data analysis
- Batteries not included
Is It For You?
For those who are fans of well-built products and also love audio accuracy for their movie experience.
- The build quality is ergonomic-friendly. It is equipped with an anti-drop design. A place for each finger of the hand is there in the design.
- High-quality plastic material is used in manufacturing the product.
- Special circuitry is designed to save the energy of the batteries for the long run
There was a 0.4dB accuracy lag when comparing its reading to a professional meter. This number of accuracy lags is impressive and acceptable.
You must acoustically treat the theater room to stop sound reverberation around the room. It will give you error-free audio. Read my guide about where to place acoustic panels for maximum effect.
Unique Features Of This SPL Meter
The build quality is the feature that keeps it apart.
Detail Review Of VLIKE MS6708:
This one is the 2nd best because of its high accuracy and build quality.
The grey color on its display is very alive and the numbers look so clear. The display is backlit and the light can be turned off automatically after 8 seconds of inactivity.
But the Vlike must have included this feature as well that the light turns on automatically by some gesture like lifting it.
But there is no automatic turning on the feature.
Another feature that I like is the dB/sone button. You can measure sound both in sones and decibels.
I have used this for soundproofing my clients’ theatre rooms and adjusting the speakers’ audio.
In both of these jobs, it never disappoints me. For soundproofing, I have checked the noise of the theatre room in the house and the noise of the household products and cars on the road inside the theatre room.
After reading the data on its screen I have optimized the soundproofing characteristic of the theatre room. I repeat this process several times by going in and out of the theatre room to check the result of soundproofing.
And this helps me to keep my clients happy. Because now there is no noise in and out of their theatre rooms.
I installed this meter with the help of its bracket on a stand. And placed it in the seating area of my clients. Then I adjust the level of each speaker so that all speakers have the same level.
The accuracy of this meter was so good that it satisfied almost all of the clients that I used this meter for.
In the box, you get the meter, user manual, and bracket. But you don’t get any batteries in the box.
You must have the best speakers too. To have the perfect immersive sound. Read my review about it.
3. Gain Express SLM-25 | Best Budget Friendly
Good accuracy and can be powered by a USB cable
- The accuracy is excellent
- The build quality is helpful
- It can be powered by a USB cable too
- Dedicated Data analysis software for PC
- Data can be transferred to analog devices too
- The PC software is compatible with Windows only
- Records data only when connected to a PC
Digital & Analogue Reading: Yes both | Data Recording: Yes + Software for windows | Backlit Display: Yes | Measurement Range: 30dB to 130dB | Frequency Response Range: 31.5Hz to 8.5kHz
Is It For?
For those who want a pleasant sound in their room and are okay with connecting it to the PC for recording.
- The build quality is very handy and feels so professional in hand. When I first held it I instantly felt the professionalism of its design.
- Nice plastic material is used and the bottom is designed like a handle.
There was a 0.5 dB difference between the reading of SLM-25 and a professional meter.
This amount of difference is acceptable for home theater. That’s why I will end this review. I will not review any other meters here.
Unique Features Of This SPL Meter
It can be powered straight by a USB cable as well
Detail Review Of Gain Express SLM-25
This one is equipped with all the needed features. It has enough internal memory that can keep the recording data for a whole day.
It can shift digitally recorded data to any analog device. A separate cable is provided to do this connection for analog devices.
It has a USB cable that can be used to transfer its data to the PC. Dedicated software is provided that saves data in a spreadsheet and graph form. This graph and spreadsheet can be downloaded and stored on the PC for future reference.
This USB cable can be used to power up this meter in case you run out of energy in the batteries.
This is the best functionality. Because we are professional and we use these meters daily in our business.
But when someone buys it they only use it a few times a year. And it is advised that don’t leave batteries in any device for too long. That’s why you can use this USB cable to power the meter for a few minutes of sound calibration once every 6 or 5 months.
I was ordering these SLM-25 units for my business in bulk. That’s why I ordered 1 unit sample to just check out its quality.
I calibrated my showroom’s theatre room. In this theatre, my customers test out speakers, AV receivers, projectors, TV displays, and many more things before they buy them.
The calibration process was Swift. It just took 15 minutes to set up each speaker to 75 dB.
Then I sat in that seating area which was the focal point for it. The sound was immersive and the sound felt of equal level from each speaker.
I told my assistant to do the same and he was pleased with it too.
Then I placed an order for many more. I have sold many and no customer has ever complained about it.
You must have the best subwoofer to have that realistic touch in movies. Read my review about it.
How to calibrate home theater speakers with an SPL meter?
You will have to set the sound pressure level of each speaker to 75dB in your seating area. This dB level is recommended only for home theater purposes.
The review is following right after I teach you how to use the meter for the calibration.
- To get this 75dB, you will have to do audio setup manually
- Go to the audio setup manual option
- Install the meter in your seating area
- Now, send test tones from each speaker in the setup menu
- Record the pressure of each speaker.
- If it is above the 75dB then lower it and if it is lower then raise it to match the 75db
- Now, you have adjusted the audio of your home theater successfully
How do you calibrate a subwoofer with an SPL meter?
You will have to adjust the subwoofer to 75-79dB and some folks may prefer 80 dB. But don’t go above 80dB because this will then harm your ears.
Because any sound above 80dB is harmful to humans according to CDC.
Calibrate the subwoofer with SPL meter: Step by Step
- Go to the audio manual setup of the AV receiver
- Send test tones from the subwoofer
- Install the meter near your seating area.
- Now, analyze what pressure level reading you are getting
- Change the level of the subwoofer by remote in the manual audio setup
- Adjust it unless you get a pressure level of 75-79dB on your meter
- After, that you have calibrated your subwoofer
What are the best dB levels for surround sound?
When I was entering the theater room game, there were many speculations. The speakers in your room should have variations in their levels. This is not true.
You should get the same level as each speaker in your seating area. In this way, you will get an immersive sound.
When there are variations in the levels of the speaker then it can confuse your brain pretty quickly. This will ruin the movie experience for you.
You will miss a lot of background voices and sounds.
That’s why all of the speakers in the room should have the same level of 75 dB. The subwoofer should have 75-79dB for that thumping bass.
If you want to have more clear dialogues then you can up the level of the center speaker a little more than the rest of the speakers.
How do I optimize my 5.1 surround sound?
To optimize your 5.1 surround sound you will have to work on many more things out of the setup menu.
First, you have to soundproof your home theater. When it is soundproofed then sounds from outside will not leak into the room to interfere with your movies, TV shows, or music audio. It will also not allow the audio to leak from the inside to the outside of the theater room.
Next, you have to kill the reverberation of the sound within the theater room. This happens when the sound collides with hard surfaces in the room and the sounds will reflect several times inside, confusing your brain and ruining the theater experience.
That’s why you will have to install acoustic panels and introduce soft surface objects to the room. Soft objects like sofas and rugs.
How accurate are sound level meters?
I will tell you about the meters that I have used personally. I can’t tell you about all of them in general.
We don’t need 100% accuracy of meters for home theater purposes.
A little error in the readings will never affect the audio of the theater significantly. That’s why an error from 0.5db to 1dB is completely ok for our purpose.
I have checked the above meters’ accuracy with professional meters in my showroom. I have professional meters as well because it is my business now.
All three meters on this list were very well accurate when comparing their readings with the professional meters. Yes, they are the products to be trusted.
SPL meter vs Audyssey. Which one to use?
Audyssey is good when you have more than one row in your room. In this case, the Audyssey results are good for you.
But when you have one row or sofa seating in your room then you will have to go for the SPL meter.
Because Audyssey calibrates the sound for all the seating areas in the room. At least this is the case now. And the meter will calibrate the sound for your seating area only.
When the sound is calibrated for your seating area, then you will get a truly immersive sound in your home.
Note: Sometimes Audyssey tends to incorrectly calibrate the Atmos speakers
What is A and C weighting and which one is the best for my home theater?
A-weighted is a standard created to prevent harm to human ears. That’s why A weighted will cut the edges of the sound to give you a harmless sound and C weighted reads the pure sound.
That’s why you should always calibrate the speakers with C-weighted readings. Why? Because you need clean pure sound and also 75 dB level is not harmful to human ears and in-home theater we keep all speakers on 75 dB.
But when it comes to subwoofer calibrating then you can adjust it by A-weighted readings. Calibrate the sub by A weighted if you want to play it safe.
What is fast and slow weighting and which one is right for me?
For fast weighting, the time period is 125 ms. It means that the meter will measure the levels for 125ms and after that, it will refresh itself for another period reading and that is 125 ms. Due to this very small period, it will be really hard to analyze what is the actual level of the sound because the meter numbers will change so fast. It will change per 125 ms.
The slow weighting is what we need for home theater. Because its time period is 1 second. Here we will be able to better examine the level values.
Helpful Resources For The FAQs To Read More
- Know more about what noises cause hearing loss from CDC.GOV to play it safe. This was my opinion, read the discussion here on this forum. (Resource for the first answer)
- Read my this complete guide about installing acoustic panels & Soundproofing home theater. (Resource for the third answer)
- This was my opinion read more here on AcousticalEngineer. (Resource for the seventh answer)