Having an accurate visual representation of your audio material is always an asset. This is true especially if you’re working on lower quality studio monitors or an acoustically untreated room. A spectrum analyzer is a tool that represents a waveform in the frequency domain. It displays the amplitude on the vertical axis and frequency on the horizontal one. In the next tutorial, we will show you one way to optimize the settings on your spectrum analyzer. The benefit of this is achieving a realistic visual representation of your audio.
The Voxengo SPAN analyzer
In this tutorial, we have chosen a plugin called SPAN by Voxengo. Let’s add an instance of it to the master bus of our SoundBridge: DAW. Worth noting, it should be the last plugin on the chain.
In this case we’re interested only in the spectrum analyzer, not the metering. The latter we will cover in one of the next tutorials. Let’s just hide it for now. You can do that by clicking on the “Hide Meters And Stats” button in the upper part of the interface.
Next, in order to adjust our spectrum analyzer display, let’s click on the little wheel icon on the upper right part of the interface. Now, we can see the “Spectrum Mode Editor” menu, where we will do most of our adjusting.
We can notice a lot of information coming in between 40 and 80 Hz. In our track, this means mainly the kick and bass drum. However, on this range, this is a very wide spectrum. Such a resolution is not exact enough to show what is really happening, and where are the fundamentals of each instrument. To fix this, we will increase the “Block Size” to 8192 value. With that, we can get a better impression of where the fundamental frequencies of the kick or bass reside.
Smoothing and averaging time
Now we seem to have too much detail everywhere else. Since we’re not interested in individual harmonics or partials when looking at the full mix, let’s make further adjustments to be able to see the overall trends. In order to do this, we will apply some smoothing by clicking on the “Smoothing” tab. Here, we will select a “⅓ OCT” setting.
We’re also not interested in individual transients, so let’s add more averaging time by increasing the average time setting to 6000.
This analyzer setting can be really useful when mixing. Like we mentioned before, if you are working in an untreated room, an optimized spectrum analyzer can be very beneficial. In the end, it can help your eyes and ears agree and greatly speed up your workflow.