• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

adding VU-meters in the audio chain?

Joined
Dec 26, 2018
Messages
18
Likes
18
#1
Every time I see an amp with vu-meters, I get that weird irresistible attraction for it... it's like a spell :)
Maybe some nostalgia from my 80s years as a young teen with an amp with vu-meters.

I listen to music mostly on headphones nowadays. But my equipment doesn't have any kind of meters.
When I see the SPL Phonitor amps, I feel a urge to buy one just for the look, trying to forget that there is no measurements done on those as far as I know...
So please save me and my wallet to buy $2000 of an amp I may not like and don't really need (I am happy with the JDS Labs ATOM and have a THX ordered)...

How can I put some vu-meters (or potentially a digital screen with custom views) somewhere between my DAC and amp for instance?
Is there any already made solutions that I will not have to solder and find a case for?
Any chance it would impact the sound?
Maybe I should put the vu-meters on the output of the ATOM or my other amp, at the end of the chain?

Or please somebody measures the Phonitor X and tell me it sucks sound wise :)
But I believe it has good "subjective" reviews...
 

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
19,475
Likes
20,534
Location
Seattle Area
#2
I too am fond of analog vu meters. There are a bunch of kits on ebay but I could not find one I liked. Some actually have microphones on them to listen while playing on speakers.

For headphones, I would route an auxiliary RCA outs to them. You do not want to run the audio through them if you can help it.
 
Joined
Jan 24, 2019
Messages
40
Likes
59
Location
Montpellier (FRANCE)
#4

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
19,475
Likes
20,534
Location
Seattle Area
#5
I have not tried them recently but the software VU meters tend to have latency that makes them out of sync with music. They can't anticipate how long it takes audio samples from the player to get to the output of the device. For this reason, while they are pretty to look at, I don't find them as satisfying as real VU meters.
 
Joined
Dec 26, 2018
Messages
18
Likes
18
#7
I also would like more a dedicated device both for the reactivity/latency and for the look.

I am exploring he apps on iOS to repurpose an old iPhone for instance. But so far I can’t find one that can use an external source.
I wonder also the type of cables I would need to convert the stereo rca output to the microphone input. Maybe I will need 2 iPhones also to get 2 meters.
 

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
19,475
Likes
20,534
Location
Seattle Area
#11

restorer-john

Major Contributor
Joined
Mar 1, 2018
Messages
2,050
Likes
3,043
Location
Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
#14
Tempting indeed!
It looks like a mini Accuphase monoblock. Totally stole the meter look with labelling exactly the same.

1553388665001.png


Very cute!

Meters really aren't really huge however. Based on the photograph and the unit dimensions (it's pretty small), the meters are 11.8cmx6.9cm, decent enough I guess, but not in the same league as some of the big Japanese and American meters of days gone by.

These Sony meters are nearly 17cm wide each:

1553388257974.png


Just go all out and get this giant meter with a bonus amplifier:

1553388408505.png


Accuphase

1553388566614.png
 
Last edited:
Joined
Dec 26, 2018
Messages
18
Likes
18
#15
The Mkintosh would fit nicely on one half of my desk as a warmer for the headphones gear.
And would help for warming me up in the winter and the foggy summer around here....

Is that really impossible to find vu-meter-in-a-nice-box? Sounds like such a missed opportunity for all those little audio companies. They could use one of those vu-meter kit, put it in a nice box for me, add 80% margin, I would still buy it for $100-150 I am sure if they look cool.
Otherwise I'll go the eBay way and hack a wooden box of some kind from Homedepot material or even a pre-made storage box from Ross.
 

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
19,475
Likes
20,534
Location
Seattle Area
#16
Is that really impossible to find vu-meter-in-a-nice-box? Sounds like such a missed opportunity for all those little audio companies. They could use one of those vu-meter kit, put it in a nice box for me, add 80% margin, I would still buy it for $100-150 I am sure if they look cool.
The large VU meters (the part) are pretty expensive. With that kind of margin, it would have to sell for $500. :)
 
Joined
Dec 26, 2018
Messages
18
Likes
18
#20
I am all about entertainment not precision in my case. Just something that looks good, that’s analog and moves with the music like my brain is.
I’ll seriously consider the kits on eBay. I may not need huge size since I listen to music at my desk, with the equipment right there.
I’ll keep dreaming about MkIntosh size vu-meters....
 
Top Bottom