This tutorial gives you a brief overview of Toscanalyzer's capabilities . It shows you the most important features of this audio/music analyzer.
Toscanalyzer is an rich audio - analysis tool for mixing, mastering, music - production and the "audiophile" enthusiasts. Toscanalyzer connects your ears with your eyes and you will see things you might not have noticed before. Watch the pros on the fingers!
After the first start you will see an empty album windows (called Lightbox). The menu on top offers you functions to manage your albums, tracks and cue points. Menu item "Player" lets you control the build in audio player, "Testtones" lets you add various test signals to your album. Finally under "Reports" you can find "Key value report" and "Aggregation".
We will look at some of the menu items later in this quick tour.
So lets start with some practical things:
In order to use Toscanalyzer we need some audio material. For this quick tour we are using the album "Thriller" by Michael Jackson, released in 1982, produced by Quincy Jones, recorded and mixed by Bruce Swedien and mastered by Bernie Grundman. This album is the most successful and bestselling music album in music history. So, this should be good source to show some of the amazing features of Toscanalyzer:-) In this quick tour we used the CD version of the album. You can find more stunning information about this album here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thriller_%28album%29
Before we start we need to have the audio files of the album on the PC either as WAVE files (16bit, 44100Hz) or MP3 (128KBs or better 192KBs).
We start with an empty Lightbox. Just create a new (empty) album with "Album->New". We import all tracks of the album with the function "Track->Add" (Please to note that you can select several files at once in the file open dialog).
After a while you will see 9 lanes, each representing a track of the album. If you click anywhere at one of the lanes with the left mouse button the track will be played for some seconds starting at mouse position. You can quickly listen thru the entire album with a few mouse clicks. Stop the playback with the SPACE key at any time. The length of the playback can be set under "Album>Settings: mousecue length".
A longer left mouse click (and drag) sets cue points, as many as you like (blue boxes). "Player->Play cuepoints" or the key "P" plays all cuepoints in a row. Or even loop it with "Player->Loop cuepoints" or the key "L". The cue points can be easily modified by mouse, just hover over it. Finally "Cuepoints->Export all cuepoints to one file" lets you export all cuepoints in a row to a WAVE file (16bit, 44kHz). This is very use full if you want to have only the relevant parts of your tracks together on a different audio system (car, mp3 player etc). Please to note that all cuepoints are saved together with the album.
If you hover with your mouse over any track you can activate much more functionality with the right click of you mouse e.g. remove tracks, move tracks up and down, play/loop cuepoints of the target track. We will look after "Analyze" and "Compare" later.
Key Value Report
One of the most fascinating features of Toscanalyzer is the "Key Value Report". Just start it from the menu. After some seconds you will get a table which lists several values for each track. Each of them is important for music and audio production like RMS average (RMS av), RMS max (RMS mx), Peak etc. The "Key Value Report" of the album "Thriller" gives us some interesting insides of the production of this album:
e.g. the track "Billie Jean" shows 20 overs (clips of the signal). We will look into it later
e.g. the average loudness of the album is -16.9 dbFS which is amazing compared to some commercial albums produced today (please refer to "Loudness War").
e.g. The headroom is well used (Peak max is between 0.0 and -2.1 dbFS)
e.g. the Dynamic Index (DI) of the track "The lady in my life" is much higher then "Billie Jean", 30 to 11. Are you able to hear this?.
The values SB%, L%, LM%, HM% and H% gives you an idea how much of the total energy of the song is distributed over certain frequency bands (Sub Band, Low Band, LowMid Band, HighMid Band and High Band) (=>Harmonic Balancing).
e.g. the track "Human Nature" shows a pretty high value in the Low Band (49%), which means that one half of the energy is absorbed by the frequency band from 50Hz to 499Hz. And you can hear the very strong synth bass, of course.
The K12, K14 and K20 values show the RMS average value based on the different K-systems introduced by Bob Katz.
Finally Toscanalyzer could make a rating for you (check, if the values within technical limits). Just enable the Toscanalyzer standard rating with "Rating->Use Standard Rating":
Now you have a visual rating of your album against Toscanalyzer standard values:
e.g. over column: all values above 0 are marked in red.
e.g. all RMS average values are in line with the K-12 and K-14 (green). Only in the K-20 system 2 tracks are outside of the tolerance (Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' and Thriller).
e.g. Peak max values of 0.0 dBFS are marked in red, which should be avoided.
But you can also use the "Thriller" album as your own reference and rate other tracks/albums against the "Thriller" album. "Rating->save this as rating reference" saves the values of the current album to a reference file, "Rating->open rating reference" opens a file as new rating reference.
Finally we did a rating of the 2011 album "Lady Gaga - Born this way" against the "Thriller" - reference data.
Ok, now lets go back to the Lightbox view, we should have the album "Thriller" still there :-) Close all other Toscanalyzer windows you may have opened.
Please hover the mouse over the track "Billie Jean", press the right mouse button and click "Analyze". This command opens the analyzer window for the full track (If you do it over an blue box, you can analyze just this part of the track with mouse right click "cuepoint->analyze").
The analyzer consists of several stacked graphics (so called instruments) which show many technical audio information about the track. For now lets focus on the instruments "PCM Overview" and PCM Detail": The right side of the PCM overview instrument shows statistical information about "overs". In our case we have 20. On the left side you can see some small red bars, marking the "overs". They occur at the beginning of the song, the first "over" is produced by the kick drum. In the PCM detail instrument you can drag (left mouse click and hold) and zoom (mouse wheel) the view port. We just marked the first four "overs". You can see how the signal is clipped at 0dBFS. Clicking anywhere into the PCM Details instrument plays the track from this position for a few seconds.
Please close the analyzer window and go back to the Lightbox.
Let us start the analyzer with the track "The lady in my life". You can hide instruments by clicking on the instrument title on the right side. Just hide all except the instruments "RMS Peak" and "K-System". "RMS Peak" displays graphically RMS and Peak values over time.
The left side of the "RMS Peak" gives the values "Peak max", "Peak average", "RMS max", "RMS average" and the "Dynamic Index" (in our case 30). The RMS value is calculated in dbFS Sinus (si). Please click with right mouse button into the instrument and click "settings" from the menu. Set the "Averager " value to 220500. This smoothes our RMS curve, so we can see much better where the loudness is. Please click with the left mouse button anywhere in the graph and listen to the music and watch if Peak and RMS curve matches with your ears.
The K-System instrument just below shows you the RMS curve just in the K-System introduced by Bob Katz. Right clicking opens a small menu, "settings" let you change the K-System (K12, K14 or K20).
Next please go back to the light box and open the analyzer of the track "Thriller". Hide all instruments except "FreqBand CH0" and "FreqBand CH1". This instruments displays in which bands the energy is over the time of the song. The interesting fact is that the distance between the loudest band (blue) and the quietest band (red) is very low (Tubewidth 8.8 dB av.). This means that every frequency band is very well represented over time. If you compare it to other songs in your library you will find examples where one or two bands are over represented, and then it sounds dull, airless or even shrill. Just compare the pie-charts!
Now lets unhide the instrument "Freq Correlation". This instrument shows how the energy of the four bands is distributed in the stereo field. The graphics on the rights side displays the average of the four bands: the first 3 bands are slightly shifted to the right, the fourth band to the left. Compared with other commercial songs this track has a pretty good stereo image. The interesting part can be seen on the left side at the beginning of the song. The high band (red curve) is waving right and left. You may use a headphone to identify which sound it is :-)
Ok, lets close for now the analyzer. Back in the Lightbox just click on the title of the track "The lady in my life". The track gets selected. Now right click on the track "Thriller" and click "compare->compare with selected track". We will focus on the instrument "Spectral Comparison": It shows the spectrums of the 2 titles in one graphic. Below you can see the difference curve in green color. Please click and drag the mouse up and down. This moves the red curve up and down as well. In order to make both curves comparable we moved the red curve ("Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'") down by -1.0 dB.
The graphic shows 2 significant differences: in the Low Mid Band and High Band. Could you hear it as well? You could now adapt the spectrum of one of the titles with any good equalizer based on the values of the green curve. Just to make "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" sound like "Thriller":-)
The track compare window offers two more instruments: "Wave compare" and "Amplification". Both are only useful if you compare 2 tracks from the same source (unprocessed, processed).
So, Toscanalyzer offers much more we could show for now, so take some time and play with it. Compare your personal recordings with any commercial tracks. Just learn from the pros. Or just analyze any track or album you like and see and hear why it sounds like it sounds. Sometimes modern music productions sound overcompressed, just look at the RMS and peak levels. Or use Toscanalyzer in your own music/audio production chain as measurement tool.
Please use the manual and tutorials for further readings. And our forum will answer your questions you may have.
Finally, thank you for your time and have fun with Toscanalyzer.
The Toscanalyzer - Team