Have you ever wondered how manufacturers of audio equipment get the sound just right without any distortion? Some equipment, such as loudspeakers and microphones are a challenge to test as they emit their signals through the air, so how do the makers achieve the right balance? They use audio analyzers, which test the audio performance of electronic and electro-acoustic devices. There is more to testing audio than the level of noise the equipment is producing. Frequency response, the relative phase of signals and intermodulation distortion are just three of the many things that an audio analyzer will be testing.
Development or Production?
So, when would they use an audio frequency analyzer, at the development or production stage? The answer is both. A development engineer would find it very useful to help determine a refined product performance, where a production engineer will want to know that the equipment meets the required specifications. Testing of the equipment being produced is on-going from the start to finish of the product.
As they can be used in all testing situations for all audio equipment and are small and light enough to be very portable, they are ideal for moving to different parts of the production line and even taking out on the road if necessary. Most of them will fit into a standard laptop carrying case.
Easy to Use Controls
No one wants a complicated piece of equipment that makes it awkward and difficult to configure. Audio analyzers do not fit that remit. They have controls that are easy to use, can be directly adjusted and will provide visual feedback. No computer, keyboard or mouse is needed to achieve testing of the highest standard.
As they have no fan, they operate very quietly, so there is no noise from them that could interrupt listening tests.
Expanding with the Company’s Needs
A good quality audio analyzer will expand as the manufacturer’s needs grow. They will have plugins and modules that allow them to add more channels and new features as and when they need them. As technology advances, so will their audio spectrum analyzer, saving them the cost of constantly reinvesting in new testing equipment. This ultimately keeps the prices lower for the consumers purchasing the products, as well as making sure they have equipment that gives them the best possible sound reproduction.
The Development of Audio Analyzers
Before 1939 there was no such testing equipment on the market, Hewlett-Packard being the first company to produce one. They were very limited in their capabilities to start with but did allow testers to check the harmonic distortion and noise levels.
They were improved over the following years but were still quite large and bulky. It was the late 1980’s before they were made smaller and more compact. Their capabilities have also increased to such a level that they can now be used for all the parts of audio testing that a manufacturer could require.
Without audio analyzers, the makers would have to trust people’s ears to test the quality of sound, and as we all have differing levels of hearing, that would be very hit and miss.