For anyone who purchased their home studio by max-ing out their Visa card, a set of outboard audio meters probably isn't high on your list of priorities. Most modern gear includes at least decent metering, and many digital boxes go so far as to offer a choice of average or peak metering by simply pushing a button. The fact that the Dorrough meters can provide the user with both types of information is nice, but so can almost any good quality modern meter. What sets the Dorrough meters apart is that they can provide you with both types of information at the same time. While that may seem confusing at first - it can be hard enough to keep track of ordinary meters while performing a dozen other tasks - receiving both types of data simultaneously greatly increases the value of both bits of information. Every engineer will find his or her own favorite uses for a tool like this. By inserting the Dorrough meters after the compressor, I can keep track of both the average level and any stray peaks. The fun part comes while adjusting the amount of compression: as you dial in more compression, the peak and average levels converge towards each other. Conversely, as you lessen the amount of compression, the peak and average indicators move apart from each other. No other tool ever provided such a clear view of what happens when using a compressor. This is one of those cases where a picture is worth more than any other explanation. Playing a couple of commercial CD releases through the Dorrough meters was also enlightening. A typical 60's reissue results in a near psychedelic light show of dancing LEDs as the song's dynamics ebb and flow. But play a current pop CD and the peak and average levels seem glued together. The Dorrough meters aren't inexpensive, but their performance and variety of applications means that they are still a good value. And they are very popular in the broadcast world, so you might want to check the dealers that move a lot of second hand radio station gear. website:

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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