Freebie of the Month – July 2016
Looking at audio close up is something we all occasionally need to do. Here are two powerful free tools to make that possible.
by David Baer, July 2016
Electrical engineers have used oscilloscopes for ages. They are great for analyzing cyclical wave forms. Another form of analysis involves the ability to closely examine audio that is not cyclical. When you are tweaking attack and/or release settings on dynamics modules, for example, it’s great to be able to get detailed visual feedback on what it is you’re changing.
We will look at two very different tools in this installment of Freebie of the Month, one each for the two types of analysis just described. One needs both kinds of capability from time to time and these two tools provide just that. We look at both here because they complement each other splendidly.
First, we’ll consider MOscilloscope from Melda Production. It is a recent addition to Melda’s MFreeEffectsBundle, a collection of 29 (but always growing, it seems) mildly useful to extremely useful plug-ins. The free bundle can be upgraded to a paid version (for as little as about $28 USD if one waits for the right sale to come along), and for this the owner will be rewarded with a number of improvements. But the free version works just fine.
MOscilloscope is just that: a cyclical waveform display. Not much to say about oscilloscopes in general. If you have a repeating waveform, they will display it. If there’s some variation from cycle to cycle, sometimes the software will have difficulty deciding where the cycles begin and/or how long they last, which results in a non-stable image. To help in situations like these, MOscilloscope allows the user to tell the plug-in to limit itself to analyzing a specified frequency range.
So, if you’re playing the F below middle C through a synth, and you are not seeing a stable image, it’s easy to fix this. Just specify a Min Frequency of maybe the adjacent E and a Max Frequency of maybe the adjacent F#. You all know those frequencies by heart, right? OK, probably not. But that’s where the typical Melda innovation comes to the rescue. Double click in either frequency slider box, and you see the window displayed to the right. Just click on the note and you are in business. Pretty elegant stuff, if you ask me.
All major formats are supported, including VST 3, an impressive thing for a freebie to offer. Find out more here:
The other tool we’ll look at has been around quite a while. If you are a regular viewer of Youtube tutorials on computer-based music production, you will have probably seen it used, since it’s a favorite with folks who create video tutorials in this subject area. The tool is named s(M)exoscope. It is available for both Windows and Mac. The downside is that there is no 64-bit version. This is too bad, since I don’t believe there is anything else quite like it available, and what it does, it does brilliantly. Happily, for me at least, it performs flawlessly in 64-bit Cubase. Will it work for you in your 64-bit environment? It will cost you only a little time to find out, so you’ve got little to lose.
What this plug-in does is show a continuous audio waveform close up, scrolling right-to-left (and wrapping around as needed) as it goes. Speed can be adjusted and there are several mode parameters that can be set. In my experience, though, other than Freeze, I’ve never needed anything but the default operational mode and to tell the truth, I’ve never felt the need to explore the additional available options.
One non-obvious feature is the analysis cross-hair point that appears when you click on the display (see below). This is particularly useful with the display is frozen. With this you can get precise readings of wave intensity and can use two readings to precisely determine an interval length.
I really can’t say enough good things about s(M)exoscope. Yes, it would make life a little more certain if a 64-bit version existed. But we are well-served, at least for the moment, with the sturdy 32-bit version. Find out more and download here: