What is a Spectrum Analyzer
A spectrum analyzer is an instrument used to convert a signal from the time domain (amplitude-vs-time) to the frequency domain (amplitude-vs-frequency). If you are familiar with an ordinary oscilloscope you know what a time domain display looks like. A frequency domain display is known as a spectrum. Unless you are measuring a single tone, an oscilloscope provides little in the way of frequency information; however, a spectrum analyzer clearly reveals this information. An Audio Spectrum Analyzer, by definition, is limited to processing signals in the audio band. The specific frequency limit is determine by the capabilities of your sound card (see sampling rate for more details).
What Can it Do?
An Audio Spectrum Analyzer is very useful for measuring the fundamental frequency components which are contained in an audio signal. It can accurately measure the frequency of single or multiple tones and the frequency difference between them.
How does it work?
The program works in conjunction with the sound card on your computer. Plug the audio signal to be measured into the Line-In or Microphone jack on the back of the sound card. SpectraPLUS-SC then uses the card to perform an "Analog-to-Digital" conversion on the audio signal. This digitized audio is then passed through a math algorithm known as a Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) which converts the signal from the time domain to the frequency domain. The CPU on your computer is used to perform this transformation.
See also: Application Notes , Performance Issues