The Spectrum device can really come in handy to help you learn more about the frequency content of an audio signal. Many engineers are quick to point out that meters are never a substitute for ears, and this is absolutely true. However, a good spectrum analyzer can be a great tool to help train your ears as you learn what to listen for in a good mix.

Before using Spectrum as a tool for your own music, try using it to analyze some music you like. Load up a few tracks from your music collection into a single track in Live. Take care to pick some different sounding tracks, ones that seem louder and softer, brighter and darker, agressive and smooth.

Picture 18

Drop a Spectrum device on to the track. Most of the default settings are just fine, except for one:

Picture 16

Auto means that the display’s dynamic range will automatically be adjusted to match the range of the signal.

In other words, if the signal never goes above -6 dB, the display will max out at -6. This is useful if you want to optimize the display so you can see the overall frequency spectrum of a signal without worrying about it’s volume.

However, in this case, you’ll find it clearer if display’s scale stays put while you send different signals into it. Turn Auto off, and set the Range from 0 dB to -100dB. (You can always adjust this later on if you really want to zoom in on a smaller range).

Picture 17

Picture 19

Ok, now you’re ready to listen to some music and do some visual analysis. More on this in the next tip.