This CD-ROM turns a computer soundcard into an audio test signal generator. It also provides calibration screens for computer or video monitors. Qualikit-PRO ($229) applications include audio and recording, video and television, acoustic measurements, monitor gamma checking and EFP-ENG-Film productions. In fact, those are the choices displayed on the opening screen. Simply click on the application of your choice and a group of test-signal buttons appears.
I found the program’s screens clean and well-organized. This no-nonsense program is easy to use. Pressing brings up a help screen, which clearly explains each function and how to use it. Although the help is not context-sensitive, it does cover everything you need to know.
Let’s start with acoustic measurements. When this button is selected, two new choices appear: noise bands or warble tones. Under noise bands are 28 bands of pink noise, a 1 kHz tone and a mute button. Click on the desired frequency and your soundcard will play it. A graphic display shows the spectrum produced at the sound-card output. Actually, this graph is a drawing, not a display of a measured signal.
To make acoustic measurements with the Qualikit-Pro you’ll also need an integrating sound level meter or VU meter. Future versions of Qualikit-PRO might include a software meter driven by a mic plugged into the sound card input.
Now click on the audio and recording button. A new group of buttons appears: 1 kHz tone, a repeating 20 Hz to 20 kHz sweep, a step-frequency sweep, a 1 kHz tone modulated 0-100% in level, white noise, pink noise, square wave, absolute polarity pulse, 440 Hz tuning tone and speaker polarity check.
There are standard reference frequencies for analog tape alignment. Also in this section is a MIDI check button, which tests Windows MIDI drivers by outputting a MIDI music file from MIDI devices currently on-line.
The test tones are 5-second loops, so they have a small glitch as the samples reload. To measure an audio system with the sweeps or square wave, record the system output on a DAT, copy the recording to your hard drive, and examine the waveform with a WAV file editor. This can be cumbersome. I hope that a WAV file recorder/viewer is included in future versions. The program would need to handle the sound card’s input and output signals simultaneously.
Let’s move onto the video test signals. They can be used to set up a computer monitor, external video monitor, VGA projector or photo-imaging monitor. Even if your work is limited to audio, your computer monitor may benefit from a tuneup. Patterns appear on-screen that test for color purity, linearity, convergence and registration. There are color bars, a strobing stability test, and even a 24-bit test screen with a gray scale, RGB scale and a photo to check skin tone. The monitor gamma check is for calibration of colors and gray tones.
Film and ENG signals are included as well. Here you’ll find a leader countdown with a 35-second clock display, and an academy-style clock with a five-division countdown and beeps.
All in all, the Qualikit-PRO is a highly useful tool for any audio pro, especially those involved in multimedia setup or video productions. It should find a home in your studio’s computer, or on the road in a laptop. Minimum requirements are a modest 486/66, 8 MB RAM, 45 MB hard drive space, 800×600 64+ colors, Windows-compatible 16-bit stereo soundcard, SVGA video card and Windows 3.1x, 95 or NT.
Distributed in the U.S. by Cliff Electronic Components, 707-746-8090 or 800-806-6659.