To or Not To invest in SMAART.

Should I do it or talk me out of it?

After this weekend, seeing the FOH/System tech do his thing with SMAART and time aligned correct the PA (flown d&b) and heard it cleaned up the sound. And we got talking about my system (he’s heard it before) and because I’m mixing brands, we’re thinking that my tops and subs aren’t playing nice with each other and there is a time/phase alignment delay. In a few weeks we’ll be on a gig together and I’ll be supporting the C-Stage with my system and we’re going to check the time alignment.

I am running RCF TTP4A tops and JBL SRX828SP with an SQ5 at the front end. Depending on the situation/room, I either ground stack or I put the TTs on tripods & center cluster the subs. I’m also thinking of investing in the fly hardware to hang the tops off an SL100 or Lifts.

So… would it be worth it to invest in SMAART (will need to buy an RTA Mic and USB interface) and then pick up a decent DSP for delay adjustments. Or am I over thinking this?
I really like the idea of Smaart, but I've found that at the level I'm working (mostly one-offs on small rigs), the extra time and effort required to bring even a small Smaart rig (laptop, microphone, interface, cables, figure an extra half hour for even a basic setup/measure/adjust) simply isn't justified.

In the time domain, you can get quite close on time and phase alignment with a measuring tape, a click track (mostly for tops), a tone generator, a polarity flip (sadly missing from the outputs on the SQ series), and your ears, although it may take longer than a Smaart measurement to get exact. The basic technique is to rough-in the delay based on distance, then polarity-flip one of the passbands and, using a tone at the frequency of interest, sweep the delay until you maximize the null.

For frequency domain stuff, there are more options - I've been very happy with a combination of the AudioTools LARSA tool on an i-device combined with a Bluetooth to XLR adapter (I use the one from Switchcraft, but there are others). The Bluetooth range is enough to let me walk the room and get multiple measurement points very quickly. The downside is that you can't get time-domain information due to the variable-latency link.

And while an external system processor is nice to have, I have generally found that for processing self-powered boxes in a portable (not installed) environment, what's built into today's digital consoles is plenty (although on the SQ, you might end up running short on matrices if you have a complicated setup).

Riley Casey

Jan 12, 2011
WDC in the USA
There are a couple of cross platform options for FFT analysis in the donation ware realm. Open Sound Meter is a very sleek interface but does much of the core measurement functions. Room EQ Wizard is popular with home hifi types and has some over lap with Smaart functionality. They both take some reading up on to get going and they aren't nearly as comprehensive as Smaart but they are an option if your market has you working on shows that pay less than a single Smaart license. Analysis mics can be had pretty cheaply as in under $100. If you have a digital console that will connect to a computer for recording you have your computer interface already in hand. Again even X32s have adequate output delay functionality for things like delay speaker zones although may not be capable of fractional delay times needed for aligning multiway systems but the you likely have that built into a digital crossover. If you simply want a capable Swiss army knife DSP look for an Ashly Protea 4.24D. These have been out of production for a few years, they have Euroblock connectors for I/o and will require a connector panel and a harness and they have serial port control interface so need a serial to USB adaptor but they often turn up on Ebay for $250 and the control software works fine on Windows 10, even on a virtual machine.
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Tim McCulloch

Graduate Student
Jan 11, 2011
Wichita KS USA
Smaart is a measurement tool. Ask yourself, "Self, what am I attempting to measure, for what purpose, and what is the anticipated audible result of any change I make based on that measurement?"

Chris Tsanjoures

Jan 18, 2013
Putnam, CT
What's up Matt - One of the things we wanted to accomplish with the Version 9 platform is to make it easier to get in to Smaart. There are multiple editions at multiple price points, and multiple ways to try before you buy to see if it's something that works for you or not.

There are two demo's with the real time mode functionality - for Suite, and LE. Each one is 30 days, and each one resets when we release a .X update so that people can try out the new features before they update/purchase.

As far as cost, the lowest cost entry is an annual subscription of LE for around $160. IDK if this applies but afaik you can write off software purchases on your taxes as a business owner per section 179 of the IRS tax code, or tools cost if you are a 1099. So, subscribing to Smaart just becomes an annual write-off, and you'll always be up-to-date.

Ultimately, Smaart is a tool, like a multimeter - which is useless if you don't know how to use it. So there is an amount of time to put in to understanding your tool. If you make it part of your workflow than the time to action becomes essentially inconsequential compared to the time it saves you on the other side.

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about anything at all - you can reach me directly by email at [email protected] if you'd like and I'll make a point to check back in here if there are any other questions I can be helpful answering.
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