I need to do some audio spectrum analysis (basically, listening to a machine and tell if it is properly calibrated).

I will record the sound it makes with a microphone (it sounds differently if it is calibrated correctly than if it is not), and then want to look at the audio spectrum, with plans to automatically tell if a machine is set up correctly (currently, a human operator listens to the machine and does this job manually).

As a first step, this does not need to be real time, i.e., I will just make recordings of the machine (once set up correctly, once not), and compare the audio spectra.

My question is: Aside from the microphone, do I need a hardware spectrum analyzer, or does PC software suffice for this (FFT can of course be done on a computer too...). Particularly, because for a start, I do not need real-time analysis.

I am mainly asking because it seems that spectrum analysers cost quite a lot, and I don't want to purchase such a device if I don't actually need it.

  • What are your concerns with software vs hardware? Do you have the impression that hardware will be more accurate than software? The waveforms of these recordings will never be an exact match, but I assume you are analyzing for patterns rather than matching frequencies and amplitude in an automated comparison.
    – Johannes
    Commented Mar 27, 2018 at 20:20

1 Answer 1


You can obtain very accurate audio spectrum analysis with a software analyzer.

You must nevertheless be aware of the potential distortion brought by your acquisition chain (microphone + preamp) and take that into account in tour analysis.

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