DACS Test Lab Multifunction Test Unit and Universal Tool for Installers

November 22 2016, 03:10
DACS Audio is a company with over 25 years of field experience in Audio Installation, Studio Design, and Acoustic Treatment. In addition, DACS design and build a range of very highly regarded pro-Audio equipment, from microphone preamps and analogue processors, to monitor controllers. The company’s Test Lab is a portable trouble-shooting solution for all pro audio engineers that addresses all the problems that could be encountered, and is a must-have tool in live sound, installation, and studios. 

DACS Test Lab is a product born of necessity. Fault-finding in the field and often under severe time constraints can be a stressful business and the DACS installation team found that multiple test devices had to be employed to trace different faults. DACS Test Lab relieves pressure from those high-tension moments: testing cables, speakers, power, connections, or comparing input and output levels. There’s even a built in flashlight and plug in connectors to make on-the-fly soldering easy (even in the dark!) using all major types of connectors from XLR, TRS, RCA phono, Speakon, Terminals and IEC Mains.

Designed for engineers to provide swift but rigorous fault investigation, Test Lab was conceived in the field by DACS installation engineers and developed by their design team to provide tests that were needed during installation and live sound projects. The result is a comprehensive, easy to use portable test unit operated by battery or AC power where available.

Tests include signal path integrity using the internal signal generator, 10 segment LED meters and built in loudspeaker; checking speakers using the same generator (70Hz, 1kHz, 4k5Hz, cycle through these or pink noise); correcting wiring of cables (local and remote) by cycling through pins to reveal open, shorted or reversed connections (in 2 seconds); and checking the presence and voltage of the AC supply.

Test Lab is built in a rugged steel case with a non-slip base with the majority of controls and connectors on the upper surface. The center of this surface is dominated by two 10 segment LED bar graph meters, which show audio output and input levels on the two banks of connectors that flank the LEDs. Above the meters, a row of three LEDs show if the unit is running off the internal 9V battery, 110V or 240V AC. At the lower end of the columns a rotary control adjusts the output level from the signal generator, and below that are two columns of three LEDs which are used for the cable testing mode. Below these is the rotary ‘Mode’ switch.

On the left, the first output connector choices are a pair of terminals with sockets for 4mm plugs or bare wires, and a Neutrik NL4MD Speakon connection. Both these are fed by a power amplifier capable of driving four ohm loudspeakers. Further output connectors are an isolated RCA (phono) socket, a three-pin, male XLR and a 3-pole, 6.35mm jack socket. Input choices on the right are Speakon, isolated RCA (phono) socket, and a three-pin, female XLR combined with a 3-pole, 6.35mm jack socket.

Dr Douglas Doherty, Managing Director of DACS is very much hands-on when installations are being undertaken. “The amount of time saved by using Test Lab is truly significant. The modest expense of purchasing the unit can be recouped in an extremely short time, plus the ease and speed of diagnosis helps preserve one’s sanity; definitely added value. Just to quote one example; we were called out to check a client’s sound system which we had not installed. He had reported that the amplifier had died. It fed four areas but neither amplifier nor cables were labelled. We removed the speaker wires from the existing amplifier, put bare wires into the top terminals with pink noise running and immediately we could identify which cable fed which speaker and label them. The Test Lab lights were essential here as the amplifier was in a cupboard and the speaker wires were short. This whole process took about five minutes. Without Test Lab, this would have taken at least half an hour or forty-five minutes. The client may or may not be charged less, but we can certainly get to another job much faster. There is nothing wrong with that scenario,” he says.

The DACS Test Lab is distributed in the US by Independent Audio, located in Portland, Maine.
www.dacs-audio.com | www.independentaudio.com
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