Visualising your signals – be it individual sounds, tracks or an entire mix – can be an expensive business. But it’s often worth it as a way of ‘looking’ at your mix in a new way, especially when judging how awesome (or not) your current mix is turning out. Here’s where the good old oscilloscope comes in, which you probably remember from your school physics lesson aged 14. A new software tool called XXY Oscilloscope has just been launched that’s accessed via your browser. It displays the signal coming from either imported audio or from a microphone input. Our colleague Marcus couldn’t get it to work on his iPhone, though, so I’d expect this to be designed for desktop browsers.
So what do I need an oscilloscope for? It’s used in studios to check phase correlation in mixes, or to visualise the audio coming from any piece of equipment, like a tape machine, synth or whatever. Here‘s some more in-depth description on this gear and what you can use it for by Gearslutz regular Ethan Winer. Not sure if all the features and use cases he talks about are supported, but if you’ve ever wanted to get a grasp of the basics, this seems a good point to start.
Quite apart from the scientific interest, which musician or engineer hasn’t wanted to get a microphone out and start feeding the audio through an oscilloscope to get some crazy patterns? Careful, though, this thing gets quite trippy… There probably are some tools in your DAW that do something similar, but this has a nice retro-style GUI. And you can also change the colour from the traditional green to any other. It’s also got a signal generator section, but I couldn’t get it to produce any sensible sounds, just a bit of crackle.
Neil Thapen’s XXY Oscilloscope is available now in your browser, and it’s completely free of charge. If you find you’re having performance issues, you might want to disable the upsampling feature. I didn’t run into any problems playing about with it on a Surface running Opera and Firefox. Doesn’t look like it supports iOS versions of Safari, though, but it might work on Android. If you can get it to work on that platform, let us know.
Access your free oscilloscope here.