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Author Topic: Spectrafoo vs Smaart  (Read 18341 times)

Dave Jones

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Spectrafoo vs Smaart
« on: January 24, 2012, 09:09:24 pm »

Hi There,

I was about to pull the trigger and buy Smaart 7 (for the Mac) but I then I thought I should just check what else was out there before I did so. This lead me to Spectrafoo which seems to be very feature rich.

I was after opinions on what other preferred and why? I plan to use it for live work using FFT, RTA and SPL.

My interface is a Sound Devices USBpre 2 with an Earthworks M30.

Thankyou.

DJ
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Langston Holland

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« Last Edit: July 19, 2012, 03:06:17 am by Langston Holland »
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Jason Raboin

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Re: Spectrafoo vs Smaart
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2012, 10:50:36 pm »

I use Spectrafoo.  I'm curious what you see Smaart doing that Spectrafoo doesn't.  I have on several occasions had system techs and house guys wish that they could make Smaart look that same as Spectrafoo.  I usually have it set to the highest sampling rate and view the transfer function in 1/12 octave or 1/24th octave.  The color fading based in phase coherence is quite useful as well.

I am using it to tune systems, not to align drivers or roll my own crossover settings.

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Jason Raboin
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Arthur Skudra

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Re: Spectrafoo vs Smaart
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2012, 11:27:47 pm »

Hmmm, here's a few reasons to consider Smaart 7:

48th octave resolution (and even higher resolution from 60Hz up)
Multiple measurement engines (as many as your CPU can handle, which with modern laptops is plenty--I run as many as nine simultaneously, the limitation being the number of inputs on my interface, not the quad core i7)
Live averaging of multiple measurement engines (this is really important to get a representative measurement using spatial averaging)
Live Impulse Response, extremely valuable for setting delays and figuring out where in time you are
Delay tracking, will update the delay time on each measurement cycle, you can move the mic around and it keep updating
Microphone compensation/correction curves (yes, you could use cheapie test mics and leave the M30 at home well protected, heck get a bunch of cheapie test mics, you won't believe how fast and better you can tune and optimize a sound system with multiple measurement engines and live averaging)
Upcoming acoustical measurement tools in the Impulse Response window, shhh, can't say more...
API supporting 3rd party devices and control, an upcoming iPad app allows you to control Smaart remotely
Great support and practical training classes all over the world

Don't get me wrong, Spectrafoo is a fantastic program, and there are a few features that I find attractive, but it's undeniable that as strong as MHLab's focus is on the recording market, Rational Acoustics' focus is on the live sound market.

You can call me biased since I'm an instructor with Rational Acoustics.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2012, 11:30:04 pm by Arthur Skudra »
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Curt Sorensen

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Re: Spectrafoo vs Smaart
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2012, 11:44:07 pm »

I'd be very interested in something a little more than two pictures to substantiate the snark in that message. As the moderator, I feel your response was way too inside. For me, if all I did was tune PA systems [and I don't mean to belittle that in any way], I'd use SMAART. As I do a lot of different kinds of work in audio, I'm very happy with Spectrafoo. Now I'm still interested in learning as much as I can, so if there's a problem with accuracy, or anything else that makes one technically superior to the other, let's hear it. If one is better than the other at certain tasks, that's no surprise. I too have had a number of engineers, many far more talented than I, say that either works well, or that 'foo can do most everything that SMAART can do, and many things SMAART can't. I've never heard either platform's makers disparage the other. Langston, I know you get a lot of respect here, and I'm pretty much a nobody, but please elaborate.
And sorry if I've taken this too seriously,
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Curt Sorensen
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Langston Holland

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Re: Spectrafoo vs Smaart
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2012, 10:17:49 am »

Quote from: Curt
I'd be very interested in something a little more than two pictures to substantiate the snark in that message. As the moderator, I feel your response was way too inside. For me, if all I did was tune PA systems [and I don't mean to belittle that in any way], I'd use SMAART. As I do a lot of different kinds of work in audio, I'm very happy with Spectrafoo. Now I'm still interested in learning as much as I can, so if there's a problem with accuracy, or anything else that makes one technically superior to the other, let's hear it. If one is better than the other at certain tasks, that's no surprise. I too have had a number of engineers, many far more talented than I, say that either works well, or that 'foo can do most everything that SMAART can do, and many things SMAART can't. I've never heard either platform's makers disparage the other. Langston, I know you get a lot of respect here, and I'm pretty much a nobody, but please elaborate.
And sorry if I've taken this too seriously,

I certainly see your point Curt - a poor attempt at humor - I apologize. I really like the picture of the Radio Flyer though. :)

As you know this is an area where you are going to have to do your homework, though once you do, I think you'll find the tricycle vs. Ducati thing not far from the truth. Read the documents in the link provided in that post, there are hundreds of other documents and discussions available about Smaart over the years, but that link and this one will get you far enough to know what's going on. The owner's manual for Spectrafoo is the best and one of the few sources I'm aware of in reference to it.

The differences between the programs, their development background, the number of man hours invested and continuing, the written, online and live training available are world's apart in the favor of Smaart. Spectrafoo is a neat idea that has changed very little over the years from a company involved in other pursuits that live sound represents a small part of. Smaart is a neat idea that changed the world of measurement for people like us, is focused on live sound, somehow bridges the gap between a lot of horsepower and ease of use and has been improved thousands of times from the input of many of the best minds in the business with no end in sight. If you're primarily into live sound and you want to improve what you hear, there is no comparison.

I bought Smaart vSomething and the complete version of Spectrafoo about 5 years ago and gave the latter to a friend after about 6 months. On the point of looking to what others are using in your purchase decision, be careful - I've noticed that many earthlings prefer to feel instead of think. I regularly use Smaart, SysTune, CLIO, ARTA, EASE w/ AURA, and about a dozen other odds and ends, run a small production company, fuss at loudspeaker and amplifier manufacturers*, and sometimes post when I really should get some sleep first.

* Add processor manufacturers.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2012, 01:05:07 pm by Langston Holland »
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Iain.Macdonald

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Re: Spectrafoo vs Smaart
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2012, 11:37:37 am »

Hi There,

I was about to pull the trigger and buy Smaart 7 (for the Mac) but I then I thought I should just check what else was out there before I did so. This lead me to Spectrafoo which seems to be very feature rich.

I was after opinions on what other preferred and why? I plan to use it for live work using FFT, RTA and SPL.

My interface is a Sound Devices USBpre 2 with an Earthworks M30.

Thankyou.

DJ

Dave,

From the replies so far, you can see that people have very firm views. The real problem is, that unless you have some knowledge and experience of acoustic measurement, it's hard to choose the right product and features. Both SysTune and SMAART are really good products, especially if you need simutaneous multi-channel measurements. But there is more to life than staring at an RTA,or phase vs frequency plots. Have a look at REW. Join the forum, and download. This will do just about everything you need. More importantly it's free, and it works. The author provides support through the forum. All you need is the right version of JAVA on your MAC. Using the program will then give you an idea of what you need, and what you don't need. So you can then make a more informed choice between SMAART and SysTune etc.

Iain.

Just so that you know that the author is not some kid in his bedroom. His Linked in profile.

« Last Edit: January 25, 2012, 11:46:53 am by Iain Macdonald »
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Arthur Skudra

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Re: Spectrafoo vs Smaart
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2012, 01:07:46 pm »

For me, if all I did was tune PA systems [and I don't mean to belittle that in any way], I'd use SMAART.
While Smaart is focused on the live sound market, there's no reason why you can't use it for recording studios, cinemas, etc.  You wouldn't believe all the situations I've been using Smaart for!!  It's just a tool, what really matters is what goes on between the keyboard and the back of the chair.

Now I'm still interested in learning as much as I can, so if there's a problem with accuracy, or anything else that makes one technically superior to the other, let's hear it.
An FFT is an FFT, whether it's done by TEF, Smaart, SpectraFoo, Fuzz Measure, SIM, Systune, SatLive, SignalScope, ARTA, CLIO, etc.  It's all the same math, so differences in the data should be very minimal.  Accuracy is only as good as the person running the software.  Interpretation is only as good as the person understanding what is real and what isn't.  Action is only as good as the person's experience.  The differences between the software options out there is primarily how you arrive at getting the results on your screen.  Each has it's own way of doing things, their own algorithms to display the data, you really need to sit down and set up a common test reference and compare how each program presents the data, and how easy/difficult it was to get there.  As a personal bias, I'd say the algorithms Smaart uses to produce the MTW (multi-time-window) is the closest thing to how humans perceive sound that so far has been unmatched by the others, and the user interface is among the most efficient and easiest to learn, and having multiple mic channels running simultaneously has absolutely changed the way I optimize sound systems for the better, what used to take days and hours can be done in a fraction of the time, but that's my humble opinion.

If one is better than the other at certain tasks, that's no surprise. I too have had a number of engineers, many far more talented than I, say that either works well, or that 'foo can do most everything that SMAART can do, and many things SMAART can't. I've never heard either platform's makers disparage the other.
Look at the list I posted previously, and do the research to compare the two programs.  Just sayin'.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2012, 01:12:26 pm by Arthur Skudra »
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Langston Holland

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Re: Spectrafoo vs Smaart
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2012, 03:34:58 pm »

Great replies from both Arthur and Iain, both of whom are in the top 1% of this area IMO.

Iain - I have not looked at REW in a long time and am amazed at what it's become. Just finished reading the v5 manual and the discussion of minimum phase, group delay and what to expect from EQ based on this is among the best I've ever seen. (ppg 50-57).
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ProSoundWeb Community

Re: Spectrafoo vs Smaart
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2012, 03:34:58 pm »


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