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Spectrum Analyzer Recs. and Tips?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Software  
Author Spectrum Analyzer Recs. and Tips?
Hey everyone -- I'm having trouble understanding spectrum analyzers. If I am listening to a clean sine wave (even looks clean on the oscilloscope), I notice the harmonic series showing up in the Ableton spectrum analyzer. The harmonics are much less pronounced than those of a square or sawtooth, but visually it's not a very good aide because the distance in real pixels is not that significant.

What I'm trying to do is get visual feedback on how the harmonic structure is modified by various of my modules. For example: sounds like the the middle section of the VCM adds all harmonics. Sounds like the bottom section adds odd harmonics.

I think using my ears is the best approach, but I am looking for ways to better understand the somewhat nuanced differences between various methods.

Any recommendations for how I can go about generating a better visual aide to harmonic structure?
Could you post a picture of said spectrum? Most likely, your sine wave isn't perfect. Even a mild distortion will show harmonics, but it's hard to know if the problem is in the sine or the analyzer without seeing it.
Actually that makes a lot of sense-- I compared against an Ableton software sine wave and it acted like I want. I guess I should have been able to reason that the oscilloscope is not a reliable judge of harmonics since I wanted to use the analyzer for the very reason that it is hard to tell about harmonics from waveshape d'oh!

So now I'm back to thinking that listening by ear is the best approach to understand what various waveshaping/wavefolding etc circuits do to an incoming signal.

Thank you for that simple suggestion which made the problem obvious!
What Fac said about the imperfect sine wave you most likely have.

To add, if you have an oscillator that can sweep between Saw and Square waves it makes for interesting viewing on a spectrum analyser. You see the even harmonics changing level with the odd harmonics. It is a good exercise to visualise the change in harmonics with waveforms. Past that, it's much better to use your ears to identify the differences and overtone structure.

Lastly, the free Span spectrum analyser is really very good, even when compared to some of the pricey analysers.
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