What does SignalScope X offer that our other apps don’t?

Now that SignalScope X has been announced as a successor to five of our other apps (SignalScope, SignalScope Pro, SignalSuite, IOScope, and RoomScope), it’s time to discuss what SignalScope X offers that the others don’t. Here is a list of some major features that are new to SignalScope X.

Independent operation of each tool

In SignalScope and SignalScope Pro, only a single analysis tool can be running at a time. Switching to another tool while analysis is running automatically stops the previous tool and starts the new one. In SignalScope X, each tool can be run independently of the others and multiple tools can be run at the same time. The tab bar shows which tools are running.

Optional background operation

The previous apps automatically stop what they’re doing when you return to the home screen. SignalScope X allows you to choose the same behavior or to keep measurements running in the background while performing tasks in other apps. SignalScope X also supports the latest iPad multitasking features, such as Split View.

Better file handling

SignalScope X supports loading compatible files from other apps. This means you can browse to an audio file or one of SignalScope X’s exported data files in another app, such as Files, and use the action button to bring up a menu which will allow you to copy the file to SignalScope X. You can also export files from SignalScope X to another app, such as Files, Numbers, or Dropbox, using a similar menu. SignalScope X supports audio files (.wav, .aif, .caf), it’s own data files (.txt, .csv, .mat), and frequency response data files (.frd).

Input channel selection

In the previous apps, input channel selection was performed for all tools in the Input Channels submenu of the I/O Configuration menu. SignalScope X offers a new user interface for independently selecting input channels in each tool that supports real-time input. This includes selecting up to 8 channels from a multi-channel device.

Output channel selection

The new input channel selection menu can also include output channels. For the stereo Signal Generator, this means you can select which two channels of a multi-output device you want to use for the left and right signals. It also means that analysis tools can select those same output channels for direct analysis of the Signal Generator’s output.

More responsive FFT analysis

It takes time to gather enough data to compute an FFT, so for longer FFT’s the spectrum
analyzer will typically update less frequently as it waits for data to be gathered for each FFT. Overlap processing allows the spectrum analyzer to be updated more frequently, which makes for a smoother response. In the FFT and Dual FFT Analyzer tools, the overlap percentage can be manually specified with one of the fixed values (50% overlap means the analyzer will be updated twice as often and 90% overlap will produce updates 10 times as often). When Overlap % is set to Max, SignalScope X will automatically compute an overlap percentage that optimizes the spectrum analyzer’s update rate for the selected sample rate and frequency resolution.

Dual plots in the Dual FFT Analyzer tool

The Dual FFT Analyzer in SignalScope X now displays any two of the available device/system measurements on the screen at the same time, in separate plots. For example, this means you can monitor frequency response magnitude and phase, or phase delay and coherence, at the same time. Phase delay is also a new measurement available in the Dual FFT Analyzer.

Enhanced Signal Generator tool

SignalScope, SignalScope Pro, IOScope, and RoomScope all had a built-in signal generator to produce excitation signals for different kinds of measurement and analysis tasks. However, SignalScope X’s stereo signal generator includes the full functionality of SignalSuite, which supports two independent periodic waveform generators with a user-defined phase relationship between them as well as user defined sequence lengths for pseudorandom noise sequences and frequency sweeps. The Dual FFT Analyzer also includes its own, dedicated periodic excitation signal generator to facilitate high-signal-to-noise-ratio measurements with little or no averaging.

 

New tools

The three new tools that have already been introduced for SignalScope X are the XY Plotter, multi-channel Data Recorder, and MultiTool. The MultiTool, in particular, greatly enhances the value of SignalScope X when used as a configurable host and project manager for the other tools.

A note about SignalScope X’s auto-renewable subscriptions

SignalScope for iOS was fortunate enough to be one of the relatively few apps that could be found in the iPhone App Store on its opening day in 2008. Since then we have received tremendous feedback and support from SignalScope users. This note is in part addressed to those long-time (and not-so-long-time users) who we would like to keep on board with us as we continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible in acoustics-related analysis and measurement on iOS devices.

I thought it would be worth taking some time to present some of the benefits of adapting a subscription-based software business model, at least in our case. In discussing these benefits, some of the challenges we have faced with iOS App Store distribution may become apparent, as well as some of the trade-offs that must be made in any case from both our perspective as well as that of the end user.

I am aware that not everyone is a fan of software subscriptions, and that some, in fact, strongly dislike them. The decision to embrace subscriptions with SignalScope X was not one made lightly.

With the App Store as it is, we cannot offer an elegant solution to continue to fully monetize our development efforts otherwise (i.e. there is no proper way to offer paid upgrades for existing products). This is a decision 10 years in the making and Apple has now given clear signals that subscriptions are the preferred model going forward.

So, what follows are some benefits of subscriptions, at least as we see it.

  • Subscriptions make a better SignalScope. With subscriptions, it makes sense to consolidate all our analysis tools into a single app. App consolidation allows us to put a powerful set of tools in a single app and focus our efforts on that one app, instead of five in this case. This means new tools and features can be delivered more quickly and robustness of the app can be more easily assured.
  • Subscriptions make it simpler for the user to be sure they have the latest and greatest that SignalScope X has to offer. We have used in-app purchases in other products to effectively charge for upgraded tools or features. However, it becomes a hassle, both for the user and for us, to keep track of multiple in-app purchases.
  • Subscriptions help us stay focused on what matters most. If we were to continue to add new in-app purchases to monetize our ongoing development efforts, the apps would continue to become more cluttered over time. The clutter adds a burden to the user and dulls the quality experience we prefer to provide in our products. To one degree or another, this would also increase our support and project maintenance burden and ultimately diminish our ability to focus on providing the best tools available.
  • Subscriptions help us stay in business. Subscriptions cover the costs of continually updating our software to account for new versions of iOS (which sometimes unexpectedly change audio input/output behavior) and new hardware from Apple and others. We are pleased to ship our software with built-in nominal sensitivities for each of Apple’s iOS devices, to facilitate reasonably accurate acoustical measurements “out of the box,” but this comes at a significant cost in hardware and time (e.g. we have to measure actual iPhone and iPad microphone sensitivities).
  • Subscriptions help us serve our current customers better. Subscriptions provide greater monetary incentive to meet the needs of our current (subscribing) customers. With the previous arrangement (i.e. no paid upgrades), once an app (or in-app purchase) is paid for, there may be no expectation of future monetization of ongoing development efforts from that customer. We’re pleased with the upgrades we’ve been able to offer, particularly in SignalScope and SignalScope Pro, over the last 9+ years, but we’ve effectively been giving away major upgrades for free for many app users during that time. Generosity is laudable but not inexhaustible. We need and want to be able to continue to generate a profit as well as a sense of pleasure in serving our customers.
  • Subscriptions make powerful tool sets more accessible. With a single subscription (the Pro Tool Set), SignalScope X replaces everything previously found in SignalScope, SignalScope Pro, SignalSuite, IOScope, and RoomScope. That means software tools previously costing $300 (plus several powerful new tools and features) are now accessible for $20 for 1 month. It should be noted that for all 3 subscription levels in SignalScope X, an annual subscription offers a 25% savings versus a 1-month subscription over a 12-month period. Specific pricing information can be found on SignalScope X’s product page.
  • Subscriptions offer a free trial. This is the first time we’ve been able to offer a proper trial of our iOS software tools to prospective customers before they make a monetary commitment.

For those who have purchased any of the apps now being replaced by SignalScope X, you will be able to keep using those apps as long as you run them on a device with a compatible version of iOS (currently iOS 8 through 11). They will continue to receive maintenance updates and be listed for sale on the App Store for a limited time.

We have big plans and high hopes for the future of SignalScope X. Thank you for taking time to read this and give it your consideration.

Sincerely,

Ben Faber

Faber Acoustical Releases SignalScope X for iOS as a Free Download

Faber Acoustical’s SignalScope X brings powerful new tools for dynamic signal analysis and data acquisition to iOS and replaces all the functionality currently found in SignalScope Pro, SignalSuite, IOScope, and RoomScope with subscription-based tool sets. For the first time ever in an iOS app from Faber Acoustical, SignalScope X may be downloaded for free. The user can then start a 7-day free trial of the Pro Tool Set Subscription. Without a subscription, the user is free to continue to use SignalScope X’s multi-channel Oscilloscope tool. SignalScope X is available for download on the App Store, now.

The original SignalScope and SignalSuite for iPhone were available for download on the opening day of the iPhone App Store. Now, after nearly 10 years of iOS development, SignalScope X offers a clearer expression of Faber’s vision for the future of acoustics-related signal analysis, data acquisition, and measurement on mobile devices.

Screenshot of SignalScope X's MultiTool hosting 4 other tools on iPad Pro Screenshot of SignalScope X's MultiTool hosting 4 other tools on iPad Pro Screenshot of SignalScope X's MultiTool hosting 6 other tools on iPad Pro

The most powerful addition to SignalScope X is the new MultiTool. SignalScope X’s MultiTool acts as a project manager and host for the other tools in SignalScope X. On iPhone, up to 2 other tools (subtools) may be added to the MultiTool at one time. iPad models support up to 4 subtools, except for iPad Pro models with 10.5-inch or larger displays, which support up to 6. Besides the obvious benefit of being able to see and interact with multiple subtools, simultaneously, the MultiTool can save its current subtool configuration under a user-defined name. Any of the saved configurations can then be selected for immediate application in the MultiTool. This allows for different configurations to be saved for different projects or jobs. For example, one configuration might include an Oscope and FFT Analyzer and another might include an Octave Analyzer and a Data Recorder. On iPad, one configuration might include all 4. Even when using just a single subtool, the MultiTool allows multiple configurations of that tool (e.g. a unique configuration of the Dual FFT Analyzer for each of several different measurement types) to be saved and recalled at will.

SignalScope X’s new Data Recorder tool supports real-time continuous streaming of up to 8 channels to an audio file. Along with the audio file, SignalScope X can save an “info” file, which contains metadata including date, time, location (if enabled), input channel details, and sensitivity calibration information. This metadata will also be embedded within the audio file, itself.

The new real-time XY Plotter allows the user to immediately visualize time, frequency, and amplitude relationships between two signals, or even create visually appealing images such as Lissajous curves.

Other significant features new to SignalScope X include optional background operation, independent/simultaneous operation of all tools, and independent input/output channel selection in each tool. It is also now possible to directly analyze the output of the signal generator in any of the real-time analysis tools. SignalScope X also makes it much easier to move data files in and out of the app via Files (iCloud Drive), Dropbox, or other apps on a user’s device that can load or export compatible files.

SignalScope X offers in-app subscriptions for Basic, Advanced, and Pro tool sets that can automatically renew at monthly or annual intervals. Subscriptions give users access to updates, new features, and new tools within the subscribed tool set. Subscriptions also cover ongoing hardware support, such as periodically updated nominal microphone sensitivities for built-in microphones on Apple devices, updated nominal voltage sensitivities for select audio input devices, and automatic calibration for audio input devices that include built-in sensitivity information.

The Basic Tool Set includes the Oscope, FFT Analyzer, 2D Real-time Spectrogram, and XY Plotter tools.

The Advanced Tool Set includes the basic tools as well as the 3D Real-time Spectrogram, Octave Analyzer, Level Meter, Data Recorder, and Stereo Signal Generator tools.

The Pro Tool Set includes the basic and advanced tools, plus the Dual-channel System Analyzer (Dual FFT), Room Acoustics Analyzer, and MultiTool.

The existing SignalScope, SignalScope Pro, SignalSuite, IOScope, and RoomScope apps will receive maintenance updates and remain available for sale on the App Store for a limited time for the benefit of those who need access to their respective tools on iOS 8 and 9.

SignalScope X requires iOS 10 or 11 and is designed to take full advantage of the iPhone X’s 5.8” screen.

Links

SignalScope X Product Page

Press Release

An update regarding the iPad microphone with iOS 9.3+

The Faber app updates released this week address the issue with the built-in iPad microphone input gain. In short, with the release of iOS 9.3.1, Apple chose to change the input gain range for the built-in microphone on iPad, which meant that apps such as SoundMeter needed to either adjust input gain or input sensitivity in order to continue to allow for reasonably accurate sound level measurements. Unfortunately, iOS versions 9.3.1 through 9.3.4 contain a bug that causes the previous input gain range to be applied after a microphone is connected to the headset jack and then removed.

The following Faber apps have been updated with a built-in workaround to properly apply the appropriate input gain on each version of iOS:

Each app has also been updated to support iOS 10 when it is released later this year.

A caution regarding the iPad microphone with iOS 9.3+

Some of you may have already discovered that if you use one of our apps on an iPad running iOS 9.3.1, the built-in microphone does not work as expected. For example, if you run SoundMeter and press start, you see a reading of “-inf” rather than something more reasonable, like “52.5 dB”.

You may have also noticed that if you set the mic input gain to Mid, rather than Low, that you get a reading, but it is very low, like “-22.0 dB”. If you keep the input gain set at High, then you should see similar results to what you saw before the recent updates to iOS.

We have recently discovered that, while running SoundMeter, if you then connect a headset microphone and disconnect it, the built-in microphone readings will behave just as they have since the introduction of iOS 8.0. In other words, connecting and disconnecting a headset microphone returns things to normal for the built-in mic.

If you rely on SoundMeter, or one of our other apps, for regular sound level measurements, you might want to consider holding off on updating iOS until a solution is available. For those who have already updated, the workaround of connecting and disconnecting a headset microphone offers a solution for continuing to work with the built-in microphone as before.

Because of the change in input signal level that occurs with the built-in microphone with the connection and subsequent disconnection of a headset microphone, this is a problem that we cannot fix with an update to our apps. It must be corrected by Apple (we have already filed a detailed bug report with Apple). It does not just affect our apps, but potentially any audio app that uses the built-in microphone with the input gain set to anything less than the maximum value. (We have verified that measurement apps from other developers that rely on the iPad’s built-in microphone can also be affected by this.)

We have recently verified this issue, and the workaround, with 5 different iPad models and believe it to be of general concern for all iPad models that support iOS 9.3. We are not aware of any similar issues with iPhone or iPod touch.

SoundMeter 8.3 offers more powerful data logging

SoundMeter 8.3 and SoundMeter Pro 4.3 can now log sound levels at user-defined intervals for an arbitrarily long period of time. Each includes a new option to automatically export logged measurement data when the measurement duration is reached. If Auto Stop is disabled, SoundMeter will continue to save the current logged data to a new data file each time the duration is reached. This new Auto Save option has been added to both the Meter and Octave tools.

Data logs can be automatically saved to CSV, TXT, or MAT files.

MeterLogOptions Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 11.08.26 AM

Also new in SoundMeter:

  • When logging, Leq, Lp_max, and peak sound levels can be reset each time they are logged. With this option, it is possible to log a short Leq of 0.1 seconds for up to 8 hours. With the new Auto Save feature, the logging can be extended indefinitely.
  • When logging Lx values in the Meter tool, the user-defined percentile value will be fixed at the time logging starts. It is still possible to view different user-defined percentile values in the live meter display while the fixed percentile values are being logged.
  • A bug has been fixed which could cause errors in the Octave data when logging was enabled.
  • The formatting of the HTTP file server pages has been improved.
  • Audio input management has been improved to avoid the potential for transient noise from the hardware when a new measurement is started.
  • SoundMeter Pro uses much less memory when exporting data logs to CSV and TXT files.
  • The Octave log surface plot uses much less memory when viewing large data sets.
  • Other cosmetic enhancements and stability improvements.

In SoundMeter, the new features will require the purchase of one or more upgrades, which are available via in-app purchase. They are included in SoundMeter Pro.

SoundMeter 8.3 and SoundMeter Pro 4.3 are now available for download on the App Store.

SignalScope and SignalScope Pro updated for iOS

SignalScope 7.2.1 and SignalScope Pro 6.2.1 for iOS are now available for download on the App Store. These maintenance releases include the following improvements:

  • When the minimum frequency (Fmin) in the FFT analyzer was set to a value larger than 0, autoscale did not behave correctly. This has been fixed.
  • High frequencies were sometimes displayed incorrectly in the FFT analyzer when Fmax was set to a value higher than half the sample rate and smoothing was turned off. This has been fixed.

(In the standard version of SignalScope, setting Fmin and Fmax requires the Data Acquisition Upgrade, available via in-app purchase.)

Download SignalScope Pro 6.2.1

Download SignalScope 7.2.1

 

Set arbitrary frequency limits in SignalScope Pro 6.2

The FFT-based spectrum analyzer in SignalScope Pro 6.2 allows arbitrary upper and lower frequency bounds (Fmax and Fmin) to be specified for the spectrum display. The cursor peak track function will operate only within the specified frequency bounds. The hardware sample rate may optionally be automatically adjusted to best match the specified value for Fmax.

FFT_Plot_Limits     FFT_Options

FFT_Plot_Limits_2

An example:

A typical minimum sample rate of iOS hardware is 8 kHz. If a frequency resolution of 1 Hz is used for the spectrum, and values of 10 and 400 are specified for Fmin and Fmax, respectively, the data between 10 and 400 Hz will be plotted and the plot will be scaled to extend only from 10 and 400 Hz. If the cursor peak track function is enabled, the cursor will find the frequency of the highest magnitude between 10 and 400 Hz.

If the option to automatically adjust the sample rate based on Fmax has been selected, the hardware sample rate (Fs) will automatically be reduced to the minimum rate required to acquire data up to 400 Hz. In the case of typical iOS or USB audio input hardware, this rate would be 8 kHz. Since FFT data would then include values between 0 and 4 kHz, an additional option allows either all data (0 to 4 kHz) or only data from 10 to 400 Hz to be exported when saving FFT data to a CSV, TXT, or MAT file. Note that the DC term may be omitted from exported data when FFT data is displayed on a logarithmic frequency scale.

Also new in SignalScope Pro 6.2:

  • When “cpm” is selected for units of frequency, exported data files will include frequencies specified in cpm.
  • The nominal microphone sensitivity is properly set on the new iPhones.
  • Other bug fixes/stability enhancements, including iOS 9 compatibility.

Similar improvements have been added to version 7.2 of SignalScope. Specifying values for Fmin and Fmax in SignalScope require the Data Acquisition Upgrade, which is available via in-app purchase.

Download SignalScope 7.2

Download SignalScope Pro 6.2

 

SoundMeter updated for iPhone 6S and iOS 9

SoundMeterProIcon76@2xSoundMeter 8.2 and SoundMeter Pro 4.2 are now available for download on the App Store. Each new version includes proper handling of the built-in microphone on iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus devices and minor changes in iOS 9.

Unfortunately, the new iPhones do not support analog input gain selection for the built-in microphones as previous iPhone models did. The fixed input gain of the iPhone 6S/Plus matches the “Mid” input gain setting in the iPhone 5C, 5S, and 6 models. This means that the peak sound level that can be measured using the built-in microphone of the new iPhones is nominally 116.5 dB. Previous iPhones, on their lowest input gain setting, could measure nominal peak levels of 136 dB.Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 2.56.19 PM

The SoundMeter apps now allow mixing audio with other apps. This means that it is possible to play music from the Music app while performing measurements with SoundMeter or SoundMeter Pro. It is also possible to mix the output of the signal generator with the audio output from another app.

Also new in each app, when using an iPhone or iPad that has multiple built-in microphones, the unique name of the selected microphone is displayed (e.g. “Bottom Microphone” or “Right Microphone”).

Download SoundMeter

Download SoundMeter Pro

 

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