VU meter

Ranked #12 on the list Best Measuring Instrument of All Time

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About VU meter

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A Volume Unit (VU) meter or Standard Volume Indicator (SVI) is a device displaying a representation of the signal level in audio equipment. The ASA standardized it in 1942 ( C16-5 - 1942) for use in telephone installation and radio broadcast stations. Consumer audio equipment often features VU meters, either because they are useful (basically in sound recording equipment), or just for their looks. The original VU meter is a passive electromechanical device, namely a 200µA DC d'Arsonval movement ammeter fed from a full wave copper-oxide rectifier mounted within the meter case. The mass of the needle causes a relatively slow response, which in effect integrates the signal, with a rise time of 300ms. The meter was designed not to measure the signal, but to let users aim the signal level to a target level of 0dB (sometimes labelled 100%), so it is not important that the device is non-linear and imprecise for low levels. In effect, the scale ranges from −20dB to +3dB, with −3dB right in the middle. Purely electronic devices may emulate the response of the needle; they are VU-meters inasmuch as they respect the standard. The VU-meter (intentionally) "slows" measurement, averaging out

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