Process Audio Decibel review: The perfect metering solution?
Accurate, attractive metering that leaves your screen free of clutter so you can concentrate on recording and editing – what black magic is this?
⊕ Display meters on handheld devices
⊕ External display setup effortless and reliable
⊕ Gorgeous and highly effective Super Meter
⊖ RMS metering only via numeric readout
⊖ Layout of panels can become fiddly
Process Audio has set a new benchmark with this fantastic metering solution
Creating the perfect combination of audio metering for a given project is easy nowadays, with a whole host of plug-ins available that offer any number of different ways to visualise your audio.
But the more meters you throw at a project, the more screen real-estate you have to give over to those meters… but not if you’re using Process Audio’s new Decibel system.
Is it too loud?
Decibel is a flexible metering platform that runs as a plug-in or as a standalone app. It also provides a custom audio driver that allows you to route any app’s audio to the standalone app, making for near-universal compatibility with all production software.
The plug-in can host multiple meters within a single instance, with a range of visualisations on offer. Most of these are fairly conventional but good-looking examples of their type, such as the bar-style peak level meters, needle-style VU meters and real-time spectrum analyser. We were disappointed, however, by the lack of an RMS level meter, although there is a numeric RMS readout. Less common is the Number Box readout, which can be used to display a numeric reading from various different measurement sources.
The most impressive and original of Decibel’s meters is undoubtedly the Super Meter. This visualises numerous LUFS loudness metrics within a single, bold, semicircular readout. Bands within the semicircle show the short term and integrated LUFS measurements. Additional indicators highlight the resulting “TrueDyn” measurement, which is a measure of dynamic range that’s derived from the LUFS measurements).
Markings on the semicircle show target and peak levels, and at the centre of the display are numeric readouts showing the current integrated loudness, TrueDyn and true peak values. It’ll be hard to find a more perfect meter for mixing, mastering and post-production
Standard bar-style and numeric LUFS readouts are also included, as well as a loudness histogram graph that shows the LUFS over the period since the meter was last reset. There are also “Target Validator” panels which give a handy colour-coded readout of whether your audio is with your defined loudness target and peak limits.
If this was all Decibel could do, then we would say it was a very good metering solution. But it has something much, much cleverer up its sleeve: the meter panels you create with Decibel can be passed-off to a mobile device for display – phone or tablet, iOS or Android – leaving your computer screen free for recording and editing work.
The setup is staggeringly easy too: Install the Decibel Display app, which displays the local IP address of your device when launched. In the Decibel program on your computer, enter this address into the Manage Displays panel and your meter panel will appear there.
Better still, you can create additional panels as tabs within Decibel, and pass each of these tabs to a different device for display: peak meters on your phone, and loudness meters on your tablet, for example.
The app is display-only, and is not interactive, with the choice and layout of meters always controlled from Decibel itself. The connection between Decibel and Decibel Display is stable and reliable, and we had no problems getting it up and running, even after closing and re-opening the plugin and app. Creating layouts can be a bit fiddly but isn’t difficult, and once you’ve created the desired layout, it can be saved as a preset.
There’s room for improvement in the form of additional metering options, but overall Decibel is unquestionably an excellent metering platform. The visualisations are smart and attractive, the Super Meter is super-awesome, and the ability to display your meters on a handheld device with such ease is game-changing. Process Audio has created a masterpiece.
- Low latency connectivity via WI-FI or USB connectivity for high accuracy real-time analysis
- Compatible with all main DAWs (Pro Tools, Cubase, Logic Pro X, Ableton, Studio One, and Luna)
- All plugin formats (64 bits) AU, VST3, AAX, and standalone
- Compatible with Premiere Pro (DaVinci and Final Cut Pro coming soon)
- Fully customizable Super Meter, Phase Scope, Spectrum Analyzer, and various modules that provide all essential audio monitoring information