Wednesday, 19 September 2018

The weird and wonderful world of the WS1361 sound level meter USB driver

WS1361 / HY1361 sound level meter

When I had the need to build an applause-o-meter, I thought I'd go the easy route and buy a cheap sound pressure meter with an USB interface. What could possibly go wrong?
It is bigger than it looks here

About the meter

As seen so often, the identical meter appears under several manufacturer labels:
  • Hongyan / Hong Yan HY1361
  • Wensn WS1361
  • Unmarked HY 1361 (My device)
There is also a model with an Card slot on the market (WS1361C / HY13611). I didn't need recording, but I'll crack the device open some time to see if I can fit a SD-module.

I don't know any details about these meters:

  • Benetech GM1356 digital usb noise level meter
  • CHEER GM1356 digital usb noise level meter
  • Sinokit SK1356 
These look like the WS1361 with the exception that they have no card slot. The WS1361 card slot is sealed with the QC label. Please let me know if you have one of these meters. They might run the same protocol.
Then again, the Tondaj SL-814 also looks similar, but runs a serial protocol on what looks like a USB-Port. But it needs a cable with a prolific pl2303 chip to connect to usb. So a similar appearance can be misleading.

The tripod mount is a nice touch, especially since the case does creak when not handled carefully. Apart from better scaling on the LCD bar graph, I can't see any reason why I should change the ranges from the 30-130db setting. Neither the resolution on the PC, nor on the LCD changes like we're used to see on multimeters.

USB Driver issues

After ordering the meter, I did a little research and prepared for the worst: No signed drivers, proprietary protocol.... a nightmare.
Things could have been so easy if the meter had presented itself as a serial interface.

The device manufacturer's web site might be this one. With installation instructions here. And a software download page here.
The instructions include disabling driver signature enforcement. Not such a great idea.
So I decided to have a closer look.

USB Details

Ok, so the important bits are:
Vendor ID: 16C0
Product ID: 05DC

This Vendor ID is registered to Further research on shows, that the product ID had been reserved as "shared ID for use with libusb". Not a great choice for a consumer product. But then again not really a problem.

The same VID/PID seems widely used for the USBasp Atmel programmer (ISP).
That also explains why the .inf file in the driver is called usbasp.inf and why the .cat file's signature does not match the .inf file. Probably because whe whole driver set has been "borrowed" from there and modified.

New drivers?

While the sound meter's driver, as well as older drivers I found relied on libusb-32, the later versions available for the USBasp use libusbK in a version from 2015. Unfortunately the .inf is also not signed there.

Different approach - Zadig

So what it all boils down to is, that the above Vendor/Product ID pair needs to be associated with a generic usb driver. The driver disc that came with the meter had libusb-win32 on it.
There is another option beside having a signed driver. This is well known to everyone who tried using an RTL-SDR receiver on windows. - Zadig.
There are numerous versions of this floating around. Get the latest version from the Zadig web site.
On my system, the WS1631 is instantly recognized. As the SoundLink software appears to rely on libusb-win32, choose that as the target driver for the WS1361. Zadig installs the driver without any complaints.


And sure enough, the SoundLink software is happy with that:
SoundPCLink Software
As with many cheap Chinese instruments, the software ist very limited in it's abilities. So based on the fact that it uses libusb-win32, it should be possible to write my own code. There are some hints in the links below.

Intersting WS1361 links:


  1. Thanks for sharing your project experience. Did you consider the SL-814 and the info provided by sigrok (, doing a small python script like they show? I am thinking of getting the SL-814 to do a similar dB logging application.

    this SL-814 (although there's no USB cable with the Prolific chip included, which could be a problem if they're hard to find):

    1. I did not really do a proper market research and simply went for the cheapest USB connected meter Banggood had on offer. If I had to get another one, I'd certainly go for a model that is supported by sigrok. The SL-814 is not too expensive, but it's downside is, that it does not seem to go below 40db. This is not an issue for an applause-meter, but the hum of a refrigerator or other household noises fall well below 40db.

  2. Hi Andreas, some good info there. Just to clarify, does the non SDCard model still have the slot (but with a sticker over it). I see lots of these on eBay. Ideally I want the SDCard, as I want to log outside for 24 hours. These 1361 seem like a good model for both Windows and some Raspberry Pi projects too...

  3. The Benetech GM1356 and its variants 1356 is NOT the same device albeit sharing the same case and design!
    The Vendor ID is 64BD and device ID is 74E3. The protocol is different!

    Both devices the 1361 and 1356 share the same characteristic: the DC output (on the 1356 called PWM output) is UNUSABLE and brings only weird values.

  4. Thanks, you saved me hours. I followed your instructions, used Zadig, selected the right driver and the Soundlink software was all up and running in less than 5 minutes.

  5. And an important question - this 1361 meter is useful and accurate in decibel metering? Does it need a calibration with a new one or it is correct and doesn't needed?

  6. Who download the software. The Page ist 404

  7. hallo,
    bei mir ist die mitgelieferte CD mit der SoundLevel Software nicht lesbar! Kann man die Software downloaden, ich finde nichts!!