5 Free Audio Analysis Tools

Now that my previous project is finished, it’s time to start the next. In an entirely different direction, I will now tackle the field of audio analysis. My first step was to take a look at what’s already out there and I must admit, it was overwhelming. There are a lot of very specialized tools for just one task and there are extremely general tools that throw in everything and the kitchen sink.

Here’s a summary of the most interesting program I found and which I will focus on a little more in the future. You’ll notice that most of the audio tools you can find for free are toolkits with only basic GUI frontends. I didn’t really find anything particularly user friendly.

  1. Vamp seems to be the audio analysis plugin framework that has the most traction within the open source community. It is fairly complicated to get everything configured the way you want, but there are many existing plugins available, so it’s probably worth your time.
  2. Just as Vamp above, Marsyas is a research driven framework for audio analysis and more. It seems to have more industry support, but I guess most of that is closed source. The list of links on their project page is long and intruiging, and definitely worth a little more research.
  3. SoundRuler is one of many tools that offers a view on the waveform, fast Fourier transform (FFT) and some more. What makes this noteworthy is that it is geared at beginners (me) and has a bunch of manuals. However, upon installing I didn’t really find it very userfriendly, but that might be only a first wrong impression. I will go through some of the documentation in the next week.
  4. WaveSurfer is a similar program, but it seems to be more humble in goals and therefor a little easier to interpret and work with.
  5. I’m not sure if the CLAM project will suite my needs, but my interest was tickled by their graphical way of configuring the tools. Certainly something I’ll be writing a little more about later on.


Creative Commons License photo credit: lazha

So far I haven’t really found anything that I’m really happy with. I have tried all of the above, except CLAM and then another 5 to 10 that didn’t make the list. The only result is, that I can’t help but feel lost. Those tools dump boatloads of information to my screen with very little context or explanation.

I can understand the raw waveform plot, I can even interpret the FFT plots, but all the other stuff is just voodoo. I have the feeling all those tools were programmed by true audio geeks, with an extremely deep knowledge of waveforms. So if you are one of them, you’ll love them all. But what I need is a tutorial or course in sound analysis and sound properties. How to interpret all the little lines and numbers.

Image credit (check it out, cool stuff)