An oscilloscope is a device that show electrical signals visually and illustrates how they change over time. It does so by connecting to a sensor, which is a device that generates an electrical signal in reaction to stimuli like sound, light, or heat. A microphone, for example, is a sensor that transforms sound into an electrical signal.
Nowadays, they are available as both hardware devices and audio plugins, and are frequently utilized in music production to help with dynamics processing and sound creation. Here we will take a look at some of the greatest Oscilloscope VSTs out there at the moment and best of all, they are free.
Signalizer is an all-in-one signal visualizing program with a number of distinct features, including real-time audio visualization with optimized 3D GPU graphics, gridless scalability and zooming, and arbitrarily precise settings and display.
The user interface of Signalizer is outstanding in nearly every way, for a start. Signalizer’s graphical user interface is entirely configurable in terms of colors, and the visuals are all vector-based, so it will appear sharp and sleek across a wide range of screen resolutions. The controls are very straightforward. They are designed to be as user-friendly as possible.
All you need are the two mouse buttons and the scrolling wheel to zoom, pan, freeze, and drag the display. Zooming in with the mouse wheel and panning across the screen using click + drag both seem extremely natural, and I’m still not sure why developers still use those archaic +/- buttons and scrollbars in current user interfaces.
It comes with three views. These are vector scope, oscilloscope and spectrum analyzers.
Here are the features of each:
- Time is the z-axis in this “3D representation” of a waveform.
- Rendering in lines or points
- Displays in the Lissajous- or “polar” coordinate system
- Balance and phase-correlation meters with auto-gain that may be toggled
- FFT that is both precise and conventional
- Resonating filter bank with constant-Q behavior and windows, custom made.
- Window functions, including none, are selectable and adjustable (rectangular)
- Two-size non-power (freely scalable)
- DSP windows, interpolations, and other parameters are all tunable.
- Phase cancellation.
- Modes of spectrogram or spectral view
- All axes are freely zoomable.
- Linear and logarithmic modes
- Different types of inter-sample interpolation, include fluid lanczos
- Zero-crossing, spectrum harmonic analysis, peak/enveloping, and timing windows are among the triggering mechanisms available.
- Time, cycles, or beat/tempo mode are all options.
- Scopes for each channel can be overlaid or independent.
- With per-sample in-phase accuracy, waveforms may be painted spectrally with unique colors for each band.
- Density-adjustable adaptive grid
- You can zoom in and out as much as you like.
All in all it’s a fantastic 3 in 1 tool that is essential for any music producer. It’s so great that a tool like this is completely free.
Download: Janus Lynggaard Thorborg’s portal
Wave Observer is a time-domain audio analysis oscilloscope and monitoring plug-in. It offers a variety of unique features that visually enhance mixing, mastering, and sound design. As a result, it is handy for monitoring the master channel, as well as individual tracks and audio busses.
Some of its features include:
- Input signals are presented in a smooth, continuous manner (left, right and stereo)
- A large time span (from one millisecond up to four seconds)
- Single waveforms on screen are stabilized using a stabilization technique.
- The option to browse through history is included along with its freeze function.
The option to “freeze” the oscilloscope display and browse through history is maybe the most intriguing feature. This allows the user to examine the audio waveform in the time domain and identify any potential transient problems.
Enable Wave Observer’s “waveform mode” and adjust the zoom to freeze a single waveform on the screen. This mode can be used to isolate a certain part of the signal. When mixing a drum set, for example, it may be helpful to pay attention to the snare drum or kick drum while tweaking the compressor and EQ plugins.
It also has two observation modes to accommodate different tracking times for audio signals. Long sweep times are suitable for analyzing signal dynamics when using the envelope mode, commonly known as “Mode Envelope.”
It comes with a peak signal meter, compatibility for high-resolution displays, and a customizable graphical user interface (resizable interface and color-themed customization).
This plug-in could be quite helpful for individuals who are just starting out in music production and learning about compression. To observe how your audio signal changes while it is compressed, you can use Wave Observer, a Compressor, and another Wave Observer in a track.
This one is available for both Mac and Windows, which means most people can get a hold of this one.
Download: Press Play
s(M)exoscope is a long time, highly respected VST plugin. It was made by Bram de Jong, and Sean Evans designed it.
It was put out in 2003 under the GNU General Public License. s(M)exoscope soon became an indispensable part of many software studio setups, both on PC and Mac, after being consistently rated as the best freeware oscilloscope plugin on the market.
The oscilloscope display is controlled by both of these knobs.
The amount of pixels in each sample is controlled by the ‘Time’ parameter. The smaller the number, the finer the waveform’s resolution. To depict each sample, the lowest option is 31.62 pixels, and the highest setting is 0.001… indicating that each pixel of length represents 1000 samples.
The color of the waveform will change depending on whether it is above or below 1 sample per pixel. A grey waveform display with a Time of 1 or lower signifies that each pixel contains more than one sample. A blue waveform shows that its resolution uses more pixels to render each sample when Time is set greater than 1.
The amplitude of the waveform in the display is controlled by amp. It’s as simple as that: if your waveform is too narrow, turn it up! Is your display window cut off at the top and bottom? Reduce the volume.
S(M)exoscope features four modes (notice that the plugin’s modular version includes five).
The default is free mode, which means that when the waveform reaches the right side of the display area, the display never erases and instantly begins writing again from the left.
The Internal Trig Speed knob controls how often the display is retriggered in internal mode. Retrigger rates range from as little as 0.441 Hz to as much as 139.4 times per second, and are measured in Hz. If you simply want to examine a portion of a waveform, this mode is ideal.
When a waveform peak climbs over a specified level, rising mode retriggers the display. To adjust the retrigger level above or below the zero crossing, drag the level slider (to the left of the display). The white line indicates the retrigger level.
The display retriggers once the waveform drops past the retrigger level in Falling mode, which is the equivalent to Rising mode.
External is the fifth mode of s(M)exoscope, which is only accessible in the modular version.
In this mode, the display retriggers anytime the plugin’s trigger input receives a trigger — that is, a sample value of 1.
The Retrigger Threshold knob controls how quickly the display may be retriggered after the last trigger in all modes. A lot of samples are taken to determine this threshold. If the Retrigger Threshold is set to 450, for example, the display will not retrigger until 450 samples have gone through it since the last retrigger. If you need to view a specific amount of samples in your waveform before it refreshes, this option is useful. 1 sample is the minimum, while 10,000 samples is the maximum.
The s(M)exoscope also has a waveform analysis function.
Unfortunately, when an increasing number of customers upgraded their DAWs to 64-bit operating systems, this 32-bit only VST plugin began to show its age. Thankfully, Armando Montanez has converted the plugin’s source code to the cross-platform JUCE framework, allowing us to create 32-bit and 64-bit compatible versions of s(M)exoscope. This is fantastic news for any s(M)exoscope fans (such as myself and others) who have been unable to run their preferred oscilloscope plugin in a 64-bit DAW.
The new JUCE ported 64-bit version of s(M)exoscope is nearly identical to the original plugin, with the exception that it has a slightly faster frame rate, resulting in a smoother waveform presentation. As a result, rather than being a 1:1 cross-platform transfer, it may be considered an improvement in certain ways.
The new 64-bit s(M)exoscope is available for download for free. It may be used with 32-bit and 64-bit digital audio workstations as a VST or VST3 plugin. The new version is now available on Smartelectronix’s official website for both Windows and Mac.
Top Free Oscilloscope VST Plugins, Final Thoughts
You might well have handled an oscilloscope as a producer, DJ, or sound engineer at some time in your life. This is due to the oscilloscope’s capacity to provide a window into the audio that goes beyond what the human ear can hear.
It could be used to detect the volume of different frequencies and to identify how loud or quiet a sound is at any particular moment. It can also be used for spectrum analysis.
Oscilloscopes VSTs are used by recording engineers to identify high frequencies that aren’t present in other equipment like microphones or analog to digital converters.
One of the biggest advantages is that it removes human error caused by misreading or mishearing audio signals.
The fact that the free ones are absolutely fantastic means that downloading them is a no-brainer for anyone wanting to get an in depth analysis of the frequencies occurring throughout a track or song. Get downloading!