Sonic Visualiser - an intuitive audio file analyzer

Discussion in 'Home Theater PC (HTPC) & Media Servers' started by rojo, Apr 14, 2017.

  1. rojo Audioholic Samurai

    rojo
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    Sonic Visualiser is an open source application available for Windows, OSX, and Linux which allows the user to view and analyze audio files. It is extremely useful as-is, and is extendable with Vamp plugins.

    A valuable use for Sonic Visualiser is to create a spectrogram of a section of audio to see how deep the bass plays. Having an easy to use ability to quantify this data can make you more effective at organizing your subwoofer test tracks. It's also a handy way to demonstrate why a song is awesome to people who place a high value on objective data.

    [​IMG]
    Culture Shock - Have It All ft.Raphaella

    After downloading the software and installing, you're ready to start making spectrograms immediately, although I'll suggest a few settings tweaks to make your spectrograms more easily readable.

    Before loading up an audio track, go to the File menu --> Preferences. Go to the Session Template tab. Select "Waveform and Melodic Range Spectrogram", and hit Apply. This template is a good starting point for creating your own template. Before dismissing Preferences, go to the "Other" tab and uncheck "Show splash screen on startup" for faster loading. Hit OK, and close and reopen the application for the settings to take effect.

    You can load an audio file through the File menu, through the second toolbar button, or by dragging and dropping a file onto the window. With an audio file loaded, you'll see the waveform pane and the melodic range spectrogram pane. X out the waveform pane.

    There are zoom controls in the lower right corner of the spectrogram. The vertical wheel increases and decreases the frequency range on the Y axis, while the horizontal wheel changes the measures per inch, expanding and contracting the X axis. Incidentally, rolling the mouse wheel also changes the X axis, and you can double-click the wheels or the vertical range slider to enter values manually. For analyzing bass response, I like to set the vertical range from roughly 10 Hz to 200 Hz. You can drag the spectrograph up to reveal lower ranges, and play with the vertical roller control until you get the range the way you like it. The wheels can be hidden or revealed through the View menu, or by hitting Z on the keyboard.

    To the right of the spectrogram are the property boxes, where you can further tweak the behavior of your spectrogram.
    1. Firstly, on Tab "3", change the amplitude range to 20dB by messing with the dial on the right edge of the "Sunset" color drop-down. Click the dial and drag straight up to rotate it clockwise, or down for counter-clockwise. You can watch the value change in the status bar on the bottom edge of the window.
    2. The value of the Window size changes the level of focus for the spectrogram. Larger values make the blobs skinnier for greater accuracy, but at the expense of CPU usage. A value of 16384 focuses the fundamentals to a width of only a few Hz while still allowing for reasonably acceptable scrolling motion during playback on my 6th gen Core i3. You can further focus the fundamentals by changing the normalization on the "Scale" line, but that can also add puddles of blue to other parts of your spectrogram while de-emphasizing the fundamentals. Try it both ways and see what you prefer.
    3. The Window Overlap setting blurs or sharpens the blobs. There seems to be no appreciable CPU hit for leaving the Window Overlap set to its highest setting.
    These are the settings I used to generate the spectrogram above:

    [​IMG]

    Next, go to the View menu --> Show All Overlays to reveal a dB color legend to the left of the frequency axis.

    After you get the spectrogram tweaked the way you like, go to the File menu --> Export Session as Template. Name it something recognizable, such as "bass spectrogram", and check mark the box to have this template applied by default to all the audio files you load. This template will also store the song position, so be sure to rewind your song if you want all songs to start at 0:00. Or if you most often measure Drum and Bass tracks whose bass lines typically don't start in earnest until a minute into the song, pause your song at 1:00 before exporting the session.

    To export a screenshot of your spectrogram, go to File --> Export Image File. Choose a name and location, then tell it to export the visible area only. You can then upload it to Imgur or similar to show off to a bunch of strangers you met on a forum. Achievement unlocked: bragging rights.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2017
    rojo,
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  2. rojo Audioholic Samurai

    rojo
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    Ever been curious to quantify the LFE treachery at the beginning of "Edge of Tomorrow"? It appears that the fundamental frequencies are somewhere around 30, 25, 20, 15, and 10 Hz.

    [​IMG]
    rojo,
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  3. lovinthehd Audioholic Ninja

    lovinthehd
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    Cool looking graphic! Love the beginning and ending bits of the movie for LFE demos....the middle was mostly disappointing in that respect, tho.
  4. Pogre Audioholic General

    Pogre
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    This does pique my interest. I may start playing around with this program.
  5. William Lemmerhirt Audioholic Chief

    William Lemmerhirt
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    I downloaded it late the other night. It's sweet, but it'll take a little time to learn. Wish I could use it on my phone! lol
  6. Bucknekked Senior Audioholic

    Bucknekked
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    Thanks for this suggestion and brief tutorial. I downloaded it (OSX version) and gave it a try with your suggested adjustments. I loaded Flight of the Cosmic Hippo as my tune. I am going to compare it to the spectrograph shadyj did in his subwoofer candy thread.

    Great idea. Data rules. Unexplainable graphs are even better when dealing with newbs. :D

    My graph looks different than shadyj's. I'm sure its settings and axis stuff. the frequencies are the same.
  7. rojo Audioholic Samurai

    rojo
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    shadyJ doesn't use Sonic Visualiser for his graphs. I'd thought he might be using Spectrum Lab (similar to this cat), but he's not using that either. When I asked about it, he responded:

    His graphs show time on the Y axis and frequency on X, whereas Sonic Visualiser uses the X axis for time and the Y for frequency.
    rojo,
  8. Bucknekked Senior Audioholic

    Bucknekked
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    you are 100% correct. But, even though shadyj's look different, I think the Sonic Visualiser looks pretty good. And I understand what I'm seeing so that's a plus as well.
    FLight of the Cosmic Hippo spectrograph

    [​IMG]
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  9. Pogre Audioholic General

    Pogre
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    Okay, here goes nothing...

    Bass Spectrogram.png

    That's Punchline. Looks pretty close, though I'm sure I could refine the settings some more. Great guide Rojo. I'm not the best at picking up new things in the digital world, but I was able to manage with following your instructions.
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  10. Pogre Audioholic General

    Pogre
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    Figured I'd bring this over here so I'm not clogging Shady's thread with my questions about this.
    I did play with normalization, but don't remember if I disabled it. How do I dial the amplitude range in? I need a jr high explanation. I feel dumb, but I'm not even sure the difference between x and y axis. I know one is vertical (y?) and one is horizontal (x?).

    I'll be getting on my lappy a little later today and intend to play with it some more. Here are a couple cool bass sweeps in 2 different songs by Chevelle.

    Wonder What's Next

    Wonder What's Next.png

    Forfeit

    Forfeit.png
  11. rojo Audioholic Samurai

    rojo
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    To answer your question:

    See how my little wheely dial thingamabob to the right of "Sunset" is cranked up to 2 o'clock?

    [​IMG]
    I just realized you can also double-click the wheel and manually input a value. If you do, enter a value of -20 (that's negative twenty).
    rojo,
  12. William Lemmerhirt Audioholic Chief

    William Lemmerhirt
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    ok. first try. Having some issues with certain iTunes files, but I found this one. It's a 50hz-1hz test tone drop. Tried two ways to upload. one says file too large, the other says invalid file ext. ideas?

    Attached Files:

  13. Pogre Audioholic General

    Pogre
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    I'm still tweaking stuff too. How are you loading files? I just dragged and dropped. WAV files too and it never told me the file was too big.
  14. Bucknekked Senior Audioholic

    Bucknekked
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    I keep all my files in .AIF format and the files are huge. But they drag n drop in to the analyzer without issue. File extention may be another issue. I am fully converted to aif so that's all I have tried.
    I don't do the drag n drop from itunes directly, I do it from my Finder/Explorer file manager window
  15. William Lemmerhirt Audioholic Chief

    William Lemmerhirt
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    Iirc, drag n drop gave me "invalid file extension" alert. When I browsed, it said file too large. That doesn't make any sense. The clip is like 5 seconds long. Lol
  16. William Lemmerhirt Audioholic Chief

    William Lemmerhirt
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    Hi buck. Part of my problem is I had to replace my HDD's. So in sonic visualizer when I go to load a file, there's nothing but a thumbnail. The place it said too big, and bad extension was loading the MP3 to the thread.
  17. Pogre Audioholic General

    Pogre
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    That is weird. I've only used WAV files and last night I used an mp3 file for that 3005 song for the first time (ripped it from youtube). I've only dragged and dropped. I dunno man. Buck just said there might be issues with file extension .
  18. William Lemmerhirt Audioholic Chief

    William Lemmerhirt
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    What's are you using for YouTube conversions? The first one I tried had my AVware going crazy. The second one(can't remember) worked, for an a7x song, but I'd like something local to my pc.
    In case I wasn't clear, the "too big" thing was loading to AH.
  19. Pogre Audioholic General

    Pogre
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    Ohh.... the image? You can resize it if that's the case. I'll have to look up the site I used for conversion. It was super simple. The only thing I had to dl was the mp3 file.
  20. William Lemmerhirt Audioholic Chief

    William Lemmerhirt
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    Lol. No it said the MP3 file was too big to load to AH. I can't figure that out since it's literally like 5 seconds long. I'll try again in awhile.

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