Introducing VB-Audio’s Spectralissime

It’s been said that, “You can’t manage what can’t be measured.” While this idea is most generally true, it’s definitely true with respect to various types of signal systems. Throughout my career I’ve focused on audio and video production, so I find myself drawn to new tools in that space.

A couple of years ago I discovered Vincent Burel’s VB-Audio software. His Virtual Audio Cables, VoiceMeeter, and later VoiceMeeter Banana, have fundamentally changed how I handle sound on my computers.

A short while ago he released a new software package called “Spectralissime.” This program is a real-time audio analyzer (RTA.)

RTAs are used to evaluate the spectral makeup of a sound. That is, they create a visual representation of the loudness (Y axis) vs the frequency (pitch) along the X-axis.

RTA’s are profoundly useful. In the most simple case, I’ve used them to evaluate a signal path for HDVoice capability. I’d send a white noise tone across a SIP link between two soft phones, comparing the the result against the original tone.

A more common use would be to setup a music playback system. It would help you to balance the low, mid- and high-frequency playback elements. They’re routinely used to analyze the acoustics of a room for unwanted resonances.

In the past I’ve used TrueRTA for Windows. This program, while older,  is very popular with DIY speaker makers. The free version offers 10 frequency bands, while paid versions provide 30, 60 or 240 bands.

Spectralissime is donation-ware that provides 60, 120 or 240 frequency bands! While it lacks the signal generator or oscilloscope function of TrueRTA, it’s much more refined in core RTA presentation.

Further, it seems to be a very lightweight application. Even at 240 bands and updating 30x per second it uses just a few % of my desktop’s CPU. It can be set to update as fast as 100x a second!

HP Mini 2140 Elementary

In fact, Spectralissime is runs admirably on my ancient HP2140 netbook (pictured above running Elementary Linux.) That old netbook sports a very modest, 32 bit, single-core Intel Atom N270 CPU clocked at 1.6 GHz, paired to an Intel GMA 950 GPU.

Add one of the affordable new USB reference microphones to Spectralissime running on the netbook and you have a potent, affordable toolset for high-quality measurements. This was once the exclusive domain of high-dollar specialty gear!

The sample video shown above is one of Randy Resnick‘s performances from Soundcloud piped into Spectralissime running on the netbook. That explains the Windows XP style application framework. The HP 2140 runs Windows XP Home.

Most interestingly, Spectralissime integrates with other VB-Audio software via VBAN. While it can display the sounds present at any audio device on the host computer, it can also be set to display an audio signal streamed from another computer over the network.

The app also has nice options for peak vs RMS reading, peak hold, measuring methods, adjustment of scale. It’s a real treat. Highly recommended.