I haven't tried the others, but the Radio Shit is the best bang for the buck, even though it could use a little correction to achieve really flat response; it's fine out of the box for audiophile use. Just one tip, get the analog meter version, not the digital readout version.
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Go with the Rat Shack digital meter [I don't know if they still make the analog meter]. Make sure that the 9V battery is fresh, since a weak battery will affect your readings.
Also, Rives make a frequency response test CD with two set of tests. One set of tests has been specifically recorded to compensate for inaccuracies in the Rat Shack meter [Note: I am not affiliated with, nor do I have any financial interest in either of these two companies!]
I think that the Rat Shack unit is really easy to use and fun, too! I showed the landscapers why they were smart to use ear protection while operating their wood chipper....peak readings of 109 dB!
I played around with the RS meter and the Rives CD. It was a lot of work, and hard to be sure of results.
So I went looking for a spectrum analyser. Couldn't find one for less than two grand...until I stumbled over the Behringer DEQ2496. The spectrum analyser is much better and easier to use than the meter/test disc, and the equalization function, if you want to use it (and you will) effectively fixes room resonance problems.
It will cost you about $350, including microphone. Worth every penny. Take it from one who has lots of experience with the RS meter.
I think that the RS meter was never intended to calibrate audio systems. It is a good tool for measuring how loud your neighbor's lawn mower is, or how noisy his party is at 2AM.
If you're seriously interested in your room's acoustics I'd suggest that you invest in a copy of the awesomely powerful ETF 5 acoustic measurement software. It runs on any Windows PC with a duplex sound card. ETF can do frequency response measurements of your speakers down to 1/12 octave divisions, MLS measurements, RT60 measurements, and a lot more. Like those cool waterfall plots in Stereophile's speaker tests? ETF can do those too. You can use the RS SPL meter as a microphone and the author of ETF can supply a correction file to offset the RS meter's known inaccuracies. For only $150 ETF 5 is a steal.
Is there any reason to buy the old version (33-2050) off eBay when Radio Shack now offers this new analog model:
Also, Nady has a current model that looks identical to the old RS version:
and can be had for $35 new. Has anyone used this one and is it interchangeable with the RS 33-2050?
So many choices...
avid, you're right, the Nady looks identical to the old RS model. Who knows, maybe Nady supplied the old model to RS.
The question maybe you should ask RS, is whether this new analog is better in any way than the old one. They are both seven range units for instance, but perhaps the new one doesn't have to be corrected like the old one? Maybe you could find out and let us know.
Otherwise, it seems to have all the features of the old one. (And for a mere $39.95 and a 90 day warranty, you can't go wrong.) The tripod mount is very handy to keep your body away from the unit during tests. You can simply turn the unit on its side on the tripod head, and it's easy to read the meter from 3 or 4 feet away.