How to turn my laptop into a spectrum analyzer

Written by zachariah c. miller
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How to turn my laptop into a spectrum analyzer
Computer software can provide advanced sound frequency analysis. (waveform 2 image by chrisharvey from

Well-designed software for analysing audio signals is normally packed with features. These programs can help you visually analyse audio signals and their inclusive frequencies. Visual analysis of audio frequencies can help you determine audio frequency patterns from various audio sources, either in file form or a real-time input source, such as a microphone.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • PC Laptop
  • Spectral analysis software
  • 1/8-inch Microphone, or sound file to analyse
  • 1/8-inch jack adaptor for line-in device

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  1. 1

    Download and install a spectral analysis utility, such as Spectrum Laboratory or Zelscope.

  2. 2

    Decide what audio source you want to analyse. If you want to use a pre-recorded audio file, click "File" and "Open" to locate and load your audio file into the program. Then you can play the file in the program and change between the various displays to analyse different audio aspects.

  3. 3

    Decide which real-time audio source you'd like to analyse. You have two options: either a microphone pickup or a line-in device plugged into the sound card. If you want to use a mic, plug your mic in the "mic in" jack on your sound card's 1/8-inch jack. If you want to use a line-in device, plug the device into your sound card's "line-in" jack.

  4. 4

    Load your analysis program by clicking on its icon. From the "options" menu in the program, select the input source, either "mic in" or "line in." Make noise into the mic to see the signal appear in the program, or play your line-in device to see the frequencies appear in the window. Change the various display modes in the program to analyse various aspects of the audio signal(s).

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