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Author Topic: Smaart or?  (Read 1138 times)

David Junius

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Smaart or?
« on: September 07, 2020, 10:32:28 pm »

I understand Smaart is probably the most common software everyone is using but I know thereís others out there. Iím hoping to invest in a system once I can start working again, so I figure in the meantime I would research what to buy. I realize thereís a learning curve Iíll have to get over no matter which software I go with. Iíll need a new computer and an interface box, Iíve already got an earthworks mic. So whatís everyoneís favorite FFT software and whoís near Atlanta that can help me learn how to use it?

Thanks,
David
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Chris Grimshaw

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Re: Smaart or?
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2020, 03:06:25 am »

I use REW, but you do have to run sine sweeps to get all the data (harmonic distortion, waterfall, etc). It also has an RTA built-in, but it's single-channel. ie, it'll tell you what's coming in on that input, but the dual-channel FFTs (Smaart etc) will compare that input to another, resulting in a transfer function. In theory, any signal (including, I suppose, the output of the FOH desk) could be used to make that transfer function, which gives additional flexibility.

Chris
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Michael Lawrence

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Re: Smaart or?
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2020, 10:37:06 am »

I understand Smaart is probably the most common software everyone is using but I know thereís others out there. Iím hoping to invest in a system once I can start working again, so I figure in the meantime I would research what to buy. I realize thereís a learning curve Iíll have to get over no matter which software I go with. Iíll need a new computer and an interface box, Iíve already got an earthworks mic. So whatís everyoneís favorite FFT software and whoís near Atlanta that can help me learn how to use it?

Thanks,
David

David -

Full disclosure - I'm a Smaart trainer.

Although each particular software platform has a learning curve, for sure, a lot of the work to be done is learning how to interpret the data (Live Impulse Response, Magnitude, Phase, and Coherence are the mainstays of a modern dual-channel audio analyzer). That data itself is platform agnostic, which means whether I'm looking at Smaart, SysTune, SIM, SpectraFoo, or whatever, I am still more or less parsing the same data the same way as a basis for my decisions. (REW is a little different, in that it's a non-realtime swept measurement platform and so can't produce a coherence trace or Live IR.)

So there is great value in learning the underlying measurement theory concepts regardless of which platform you end up using, and that's all covered in the free Smaart Operator Fundamentals Online webinar series which you can check out here. If you're like me and you prefer reading to watching, the Smaart v8 manual also does a very good job explaining the general concepts as well.

I'll also add that most of the major players in the dual-channel FFT analyzer scene offer free trial periods, so I encourage you to take full advantage of those offers, try a bunch of different platforms and decide for yourself which is the best fit for your needs.
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John Schalk

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Re: Smaart or?
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2020, 11:30:46 am »

If you go to the first link below and select on SOFTWARE in the header, you'll get a pretty comprehensive list of all of the options that are out there.  By selecting one of the options, it will bring up some information about the app and some links.  These pages are a little dated, but the only app that I am aware of that isn't on the list is Open Sound Meter.  REW has a ton of help docs and a very active user forum, although it is heavily weighted to home theater use cases.  From what I have observed, most labsters are Smaart!

http://www.audiomeasurements.com/?p=4048

https://opensoundmeter.com/
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David Junius

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Re: Smaart or?
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2020, 11:44:00 am »

David -

Full disclosure - I'm a Smaart trainer.

Although each particular software platform has a learning curve, for sure, a lot of the work to be done is learning how to interpret the data (Live Impulse Response, Magnitude, Phase, and Coherence are the mainstays of a modern dual-channel audio analyzer). That data itself is platform agnostic, which means whether I'm looking at Smaart, SysTune, SIM, SpectraFoo, or whatever, I am still more or less parsing the same data the same way as a basis for my decisions. (REW is a little different, in that it's a non-realtime swept measurement platform and so can't produce a coherence trace or Live IR.)

So there is great value in learning the underlying measurement theory concepts regardless of which platform you end up using, and that's all covered in the free Smaart Operator Fundamentals Online webinar series which you can check out here. If you're like me and you prefer reading to watching, the Smaart v8 manual also does a very good job explaining the general concepts as well.

I'll also add that most of the major players in the dual-channel FFT analyzer scene offer free trial periods, so I encourage you to take full advantage of those offers, try a bunch of different platforms and decide for yourself which is the best fit for your needs.

Michael,
First off, thanks, your reply makes perfect sense and I didnít think of it like that. Iím basically new to FFT measurements, however Iíve seen Smaart in use before with impulse response measurements for setting up EQís and crossovers but donít feel I could interpret the data it yields by myself. Iím aware of the Smaart free trial but I need to get a new computer and some sort of box for input and outputs. And Iíll definitely check out that link you provided!

I know Iím looking for a program to do impulse response measurements but as far as the live aspect, Iím not as familiar with what data I can view for that and what to do with that data once Iíve got it, but Iím sure once I start learning it will become clear.  So with that being said, I guess my question becomes does a particular software have more of a market place, as in is one brand more popular with the masses of users? My guess is that Smaart would be that choice but the audio folks on my level donít seem to be using measurement software near me so I canít really get a valid answer locally. Thanks again.

David
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David Junius

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Re: Smaart or?
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2020, 11:50:30 am »

If you go to the first link below and select on SOFTWARE in the header, you'll get a pretty comprehensive list of all of the options that are out there.  By selecting one of the options, it will bring up some information about the app and some links.  These pages are a little dated, but the only app that I am aware of that isn't on the list is Open Sound Meter.  REW has a ton of help docs and a very active user forum, although it is heavily weighted to home theater use cases.  From what I have observed, most labsters are Smaart!

http://www.audiomeasurements.com/?p=4048

https://opensoundmeter.com/

Wow John,
Thatís quite a link. I have a feeling Iíll be stuck on that site for awhile! Thanks!

David
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Doug Fowler

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FFT Windowing
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2020, 12:49:59 pm »



Although each particular software platform has a learning curve, for sure, a lot of the work to be done is learning how to interpret the data (Live Impulse Response, Magnitude, Phase, and Coherence are the mainstays of a modern dual-channel audio analyzer). That data itself is platform agnostic, which means whether I'm looking at Smaart, SysTune, SIM, SpectraFoo, or whatever, I am still more or less parsing the same data the same way.......

It's all good until windowing is applied.   SysTune is extremely powerful but the user still has to choose to make a windowed or unwindowed measurement.   And the user must choose the windowing parameters.

A few years back a (very) controlled test was done between five analyzers.  Each produced identical results for unwindowed measurements (I would hope so...) but when windowing is applied, basically five different results are produced. 
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Michael Lawrence

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Re: Smaart or?
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2020, 12:54:07 pm »

Michael,
First off, thanks, your reply makes perfect sense and I didnít think of it like that. Iím basically new to FFT measurements, however Iíve seen Smaart in use before with impulse response measurements for setting up EQís and crossovers but donít feel I could interpret the data it yields by myself. Iím aware of the Smaart free trial but I need to get a new computer and some sort of box for input and outputs. And Iíll definitely check out that link you provided!

I know Iím looking for a program to do impulse response measurements but as far as the live aspect, Iím not as familiar with what data I can view for that and what to do with that data once Iíve got it, but Iím sure once I start learning it will become clear.  So with that being said, I guess my question becomes does a particular software have more of a market place, as in is one brand more popular with the masses of users? My guess is that Smaart would be that choice but the audio folks on my level donít seem to be using measurement software near me so I canít really get a valid answer locally. Thanks again.

David

The mainstays of live sound system alignment work are the frequency-domain data (Magnitude, Phase, Coherence) as well as the live Impulse Response. It is no coincidence that Smaart's Transfer Function view shows all four of these by default.

You should understand (and this is covered well in all the resources I mentioned above) that the frequency-domain data (Magnitude, Phase) and the time domain data (Impulse Response) are literally the same data. The FFT and its brother, the IFFT, are what allows the analyzer to convert the raw measurement data back and forth. It's initially gathered in the time domain (a waveform that you capture with a microphone or an interface is amplitude over time) but the form in which we choose to view the data depends on what we're trying to learn about. Generally speaking, the "bread and butter" of sound system measurement / alignment / optimization work is driven by viewing the data in the frequency domain (Magnitude / Phase), whereas acousticians, who are more concerned with the acoustic properties of the room itself, tend to study Impulse Response data which allows them to see how the energy decays with time. But, the power of a modern audio analyzer means we don't usually have to pick and can indeed view the same data both ways, in some cases simultaneously.

All that is likely putting the cart a bit before the horse, but the takeaway is that as you learn how to interpret the different types of measurement plots and understand what they mean, you will be able to choose what you need to accomplish the task at hand. (In other words, an analyzer is not just a single tool, it's more like a tool kit, it does lots of things, and the key is knowing what particular tools you need for what you're trying to accomplish.)

The most three common measurement platforms you're likely to encounter on a show site would probably be Smaart, SysTune, and Tuning Capture, in that order, but I don't have nearly enough "drive time" with the latter two platforms to make any helpful statements. To quote bassist Victor Wooten, "gear is like clothing. Use what's comfortable." You're pulling out an analyzer on site to get the answer to a question, so ultimately I would say it's about choosing a tool that has the capability to answer that question, andbecoming good enough at using the tool to get results in a timely fashion. That's where workflow, featureset, etc come into play. The underlying math that drives these analyzers is 200 years old, so in the general sense there's nothing newfangled or proprietary happening. All of these tools will give you pretty much the same answer if you ask the question properly.
The only caveat would be that a swept measurement system tends to be a bit less than optimal for our uses in the live sound world, primarily due to the inability to take a real-time measurement using any source material. I would also posit that customer support and training may well factor into your cost/benefit analysis, particular as a new user.
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Michael Lawrence

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Re: FFT Windowing
« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2020, 12:56:40 pm »

It's all good until windowing is applied.   SysTune is extremely powerful but the user still has to choose to make a windowed or unwindowed measurement.   And the user must choose the windowing parameters.

A few years back a (very) controlled test was done between five analyzers.  Each produced identical results for unwindowed measurements (I would hope so...) but when windowing is applied, basically five different results are produced.

For sure, Doug. Add into the equation that most modern dual-channel platforms are using some form of Fixed-PPO, plus the variation of averaging, smoothing, and banding algorithms and you are very well down the path of why certain platforms "feel" different. And the real fun begins once you allow for the fact that smoothing in the frequency domain can use used to give the same result as windowing in the time domain.... :o
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Mark Wilkinson

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Re: Smaart or?
« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2020, 01:31:13 pm »

I use Smaart and REW both, quite a bit really, as a system tuner and avid DIY speaker builder.
Also spent a little time with Systune and ARTA.

Michael's comments are spot on imo, regarding the value in learning the underlying measurement theory concepts.
All the manuals for the products I just mentioned are great resources for that.
For me, the Smaart manual, and the REW help files have been my go-to sources of info. 
Would also add I've taken three Smaart training sessions, and could no doubt use at least three more  ;)
I think the recently produced Smaart youtubes are an awesome and generous resource.

Many folks start with REW because it is donate-ware and has a big group of users in home-theatre and DIY. 
And it's quite good with an array of "bench-type" testing and analysis capabilities, like harmonic distortion, CEA2010 max SPL testing. Also has very useful trace arithmetic, and a number of other assorted features.

For me, there is a huge difference in a single channel program like REW, and a dual channel like Smaart.
The biggest pluses to me are real time measurements, temporal and spatial averaging, and coherence as already mentioned.

Here's an example of how that helps....
As I type this, I've got a new speaker project out on my deck overlooking a large lake.  There is so much dang noise you'd think it would be impossible to make any measurements.  Boats, jetskis, waves slapping the shore...and circadias about as loud as anything. Heck, next door neighbor is mowing grass and reads 80dB at my test mic.

But look at the magnitude trace of a high frequency driver under test.  It is repeatable without significant variation despite all that noise.
The key being the 2 second temporal averaging.
I'd never try to use REW is this noisy situation....the sine sweep can't average.

Another cool thing about real time, is that you can see effects of EQ as you "twist knobs".  Single channel demands you make changes, check them, make changes again, check again...etc etc.

Anyway, all that said about a strong preference for dual channel, it still comes down to what are you trying to do....
Good luck !

edit:  my dumb ass forgot to include attachment
« Last Edit: September 08, 2020, 01:46:44 pm by Mark Wilkinson »
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Re: Smaart or?
¬ę Reply #9 on: September 08, 2020, 01:31:13 pm ¬Ľ


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