'Analyzing' the Spectrum Analyzer

Hi Guys,

For me the spectrum analyzer is just a fancy-pancy dancing to my beat type of visual candy, i’m sure it comes in very handy understanding what information can be gathered by the spectrum analyzer.
But i literally have no clue on how to interpretate the information provided by the spectrum analyzer and what to do with it.

I hope someone can help me out here, the reason i’m asking this is basically because i’m working on a house track that is starting to get bigger and bigger (more and more sounds)

Thank you guys in advance!


the spectrum will help you visualize frequencies and it’s volume levels. for example, hoovering over the spectrum with your mouse will tell you the note/freq and it’s db level

this is helpful to see if you have certain sounds/notes too loud in a mix.

i like to use the 1/3 octave display option (click the top right icon in the spectrum > drawing mode > 1/3 octave) now you can see the ‘curve’ of your mix (or individual sound in relation to the whole mix!) this will help to identify any problem areas (overlapping freq’s for example or volume issues)

a nice trick is to load a song you like into renoise and look at it’s curve, now compare it to yours, this will help to get an idea where you are going.

this is all very clinical, at first you should trust your ears, and when that isn’t enough… then you can use the spectrum also ;]

i am sure there are plenty more ways to use it… this is just how i mostly use it

happy spectrum

Here’s a few things you can do to better understand what you’re seeing. Load up a pure sine wave and play some notes. You’ll notice when you hold one note it just shows a single hump. If you play higher notes the hump moves to the right and becomes narrower. Sine waves have no harmonics so it will just be a single hump, but now try a saw wave and a square wave. It might be hard to see but the square wave should contain every other harmonic that the saw wave has.

Now in a song you’re working on, plays something and watch what happens when you sweep a filter cutoff slowly from max to 0.

The spectrum analyzer is useful to see what frequency ranges are doing. It assists in EQing and sound design. It’s less useful perhaps when an entire song full of instruments is playing (maybe more useful to mastering engineers) but on individual instruments it has a ton of uses. You can see where kicks and snares are hitting, you can see visually if 2 instruments are overlapping each other and where (useful if you notice 2 instruments clashing a bit and you want to see where to make a cut), and all kinds of things.

Thanks a lot! I’ve created my first track last Friday without the use of spectrum analyzer, from now on i will use it to make sure that there is enough so called ‘room’ for every sound in my tracks. I get the idea now seeing the low frequencies and the high ones, also gives you an overal idea of what frequencies are overused for example.

It makes sense! Even noticed that cutting some frequencies make more ‘room’ without actually hearing it through the speakers, but giving more space for other sounds.

Sorry, couldn’t resist! :lol:/>

Lel m8

I have noticed that most of the tracks I have been doing in Renoise seem to have a drop off towards the high end of the frequency spectrum. Is this a normal thing? Ever since I paid attention to this, I have started using an EQ on the master to boost in that area, but I have been putting a limiter on to compensate for the peaks. Should I be trying different techniques just to see what sounds best, or is there a recommended method to “brighten” the tracks?

You should never make a EQ decision based purely off what you see in the spectrum, the spectrum is just to see where the problem you are hearing may be. Also, it’s generally ok if there’s a drop off the very high end, because humans can’t hear that high. If it sounds good it’s fine, if it doesn’t sound good try to find the reason, but I wouldn’t just boost the high end because you see it dropping off.

As far as subtle brightening on the master goes, the exciter might do what you’re looking for.

Oh, I’m not boosting the high end because it’s visibly dropping off, I’m boosting it because my tracks sound dull compared to others and I suspected that was part of the reason. I should probably start focusing on only brightening the lead instruments, but I find adding a general high end boost in the master channel makes everything more “sparkly”.