Have you ever wanted to see exactly what was going on in your mixes? It's easy enough to understand EQ, but it's sometimes hard to know which knob to turn and why. Wouldn't it be great if you could see what was going on, frequency by frequency, so you knew what to tweak? Better yet, you could use your favorite commercial mixes as a point of comparison and learn from the masters. You can! The digital age has brought some great advances in audio analysis.
One of the first programs to do this in real time is Metric Halo's SpectraFoo, which started life as a Pro Tools TDM plug-in and now runs as a standalone application on Mac OS X. There are other audio analysis programs, but many professionals still consider SpectraFoo the best of the bunch.
Figure 19-3: Top to bottom: Spectragram and Spectragraph in Metric Halo's SpectraFoo
SpectraFoo offers a bevy of tools. You can see your mix in a spectragram, which shows frequencies on the Y axis. A frequency's strength is shown by the color it registers, much like thermal imaging for audio. You can easily see what frequencies are present and how strong they are. You can look at a spectragraph, which shows frequencies along the X axis, while the strength of that frequency is on the Y axis. This simple graph shows you, in real time, what's in your mix and what's not. Audio analysis tools show you more than just frequency; they can help maintain phase coherency, correlation, and level metering with different ballistics. Figure 19-3 shows SpectraFoo in action
Logic has frequency analysis built into their Channel EQ plug-ins. You can get audio analysis plug-ins and add them into your favorite DAW. Check out companies like Audiofile Engineering, Blue Cat Audio, and RNDigital Labs for audio analysis tools that you can integrate into your DAWs.