Sound Analysis Software
Software for bioacoustics

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This is a compilation of WEB addresses that provide software and information for bioacoustics: as freeware, shareware, commercial trial versions, or commercial software. There is a wide variety of software available, and I outline a good number of sources on these pages, with annotation.

My effort is meant to be in a spirit of information-sharing. I am not trying to promote any particular system, just outline what is available. What I suggest is people check out what is offered to see how it serves their needs, hardware, and pocketbooks. I might be able to answer questions if you respond directly. Also, a brief caveat: You get what you pay for. For a lot of these free- and shareware programs, what they will accomplish is limited. Their development is not necessarily with a particular goal or application, and the ability to perform complex analyses is often limited by the simpler programs. Further, the graphics capabilities may not be top quality. However, many of these programs often offer rather straight-forward options for several things and, if you are not engaging in full-time or data-intensive work, and select carefully, they can perform remarkably well at a lot of tasks. As the price increases so does the quality. A small investment would likely be rewarding as these mid-priced commercial programs provide considerable flexibility. Perhaps most important, particularly if you are not as comfortable doing the trouble-shooting, is that the commercial companies provide technical support! Finally, the best systems are, logically, the more expensive, but their overall performance is the very best.

For people trying to decide on a system or software my suggestion would be to clearly answer three main questions: First, what exactly is my research question, and what type(s) of procedures will I need a system to perform? Second, what hardware do I currently have, and what might I need to change/add/upgrade? (most of the software listed below will work with a wide variety of sound cards). Third, what am I willing/able to pay? Having balanced those three major variables in the equation is probably the best starting point. Having answered those questions, you can then look for resources that address particular needs. Or select a few that seem reasonable, and e-mail specific questions to whomever hosts the site.

For those who need a opening primer of computer-sound hardware and software I suggest you begin with the first few links listed under Resources and Utility Programs below. These give a good introduction to the hardware involved in sound acquisition and replication, and introductory information for related topics.

For those interested in recording equipment, I've added a section on companies specializing in recorders, microphones, etc. under the recording equipment section.

Also, web-related software has been placed on a separate page

The information presented here is mostly PC-based, as that is the platform I mostly use, and what seems to be widely available. I've included a section on Mac-specific systems, and many of the multi-listing pages have lots of information on what is available.

Various Bird Songs

General Bioacoustics Listings
Animal-specific systems
General Signal-analysis Programs
Speech Research Resources
Web-related software
Automated sound monitoring and detection
Resources in other Disciplines
Resource and Utility Sites
Mac Platform
Unix Platform
Recording Equipment

Animal-specific systems and programs

A number of companies and individuals offer systems specifically designed for animal research. Some are commercially available, some are research-developed, and available for free. The main consideration for these systems is that the designer(s) were operating within a framework of animal-related research, whether particular groups, or animal vocal systems in general. Most were developed within an academic context.

General Bioacoustics Listings

There are several sound/software link listings related specifically to animal bioacoustics, and they offer a lot of links to various sources of software. Many of the sources I have listed below can be found at these sites. There are a number of general animal/sound/software related pages, and I begin with those. These are places much like this, and good places to find longer descriptions and reviews, etc. of software and systems.

General Signal-analysis Programs

There are a good number of acoustic/signal analysis programs not specifically designed with animal work in mind, but for general scientific signal analyses. Consider that sound can be viewed as a subset of any signal, whether brain-waves, seismic waves, or sound, and these systems have features or tools that would suit our purposes. Many can be "customized" for partucular needs.

  • Spectra-Plus is a flexible system that does a lot of signal analysis. They have a 30-day trial download.

  • National Instruments: Science Instrumentation including LabView

  • Dadisp: A "signal management" program with a lot of options: filtering, editing, analyses: They have a "student" version available for download.

  • Sigview: real-time spectral analysis software with various analysis and imaging tools. 21-day download available.

  • Micro LAB is a bundled software package with Real Time Stereo Spectrum Analyser, Oscilloscope and Signal Generator (PC platform).

  • Scope DSP and Scope FIR: Two programs for F/T analysis and filtering (FIR). Shareware/with trial downloads . Doesn't have A-to-D input; utilizes existing digital files. Student (limited) and Pro versions.

  • ParEq: A real-time parametric equalizer.

  • DAQARTA! commercial company offering I/O equipment: Data AcQuisition And Real-Time Analysis system

Speech Research Resources

The area of speech research has a LOT to offer, but it requires a bit of background/familiarity, and not designed for animal work per se, although most will do many of the things we require. Animal research has benefitted a great deal from the development of instrumentation in Speech Research, particularly in software systems. Many of them do the types of analyses we desire (file manipulation, waveform editing, synthesis, graphics), and often offer tools not familiar to or infrequently used by most animal researchers (e.g. LPC, cepstral analysis and various types of pitch/formant tracking).
The Comp-speech page provides a general listing of software and information and is a useful place to see what is out there. In addition I list a few particular examples of software systems available in both the research and speech therapy arenas, as well as some information pages from speech research groups.

Speech-oriented software systems:

  • PRAAT speech analysis software. Excellent general program that does analyses, good graphics, and statistical analyses. Available in PC, UNIX, LINUX and MAC platforms. Recommended.

  • GSU Praat Tools is an integrated package of scripts for the Praat software, with manual. Free!

  • SIL International: Several speech-related programs for both PC and MAC systems. Free downloads.

  • WaveSurfer: Nice self-contained system, designed for speech, but with lots of options. Windows, Linux and Macintosh.

  • Sensimetrics' SpeechStation2: speech-oriented sound analysis system.

  • TF32: is a speech analysis package. Demo version allows analysis of existing files and commercial version allows acquisition with real-time spectrogram or pitch trace recording.

  • Sonogram Visible Speech: Java-based sonogram program for speech analysis: sonograms, cepstral analysis, FFT and LPC.

  • SFS: A free research developed Speech Analysis Program Download

Web-related software

There are potentially lots of basic programs available in this arena, including some very flexible editors-- worth exploring. The sites change often, so I list just a few notable ones here. If you have any others to suggest, let me know.
Many of the web-related programs are designed for music or web-site sound effects or the like.

  • Adobe Audition (formerly Cool Edit). A nice sound manipulation and analysis package. Very easy to use, and quite flexible in applications. Does simple spectrograms and FFTs, waveform manipulations and editing, synthesis, and various sound "effects". Excellent little package-- recommended.

  • Goldwave. Very similar to Cool Edit (previous listing).

  • Wave Flow Simple and inexpensive (shareware) wave file editor, with filtering.
    Spanish Version Available.

Automated monitoring and detection

New programs are emerging for automatic remote monitoring of animal populations by sound, and software for automatic detection/recognition of certain signals within recordings.

  • Wildlife Acoustics offers package systems both for monitoring animal populations by sound, and for identification of signals.

  • SoundID has a software package for sound detection and recognition.

  • The Batcorder is a recorder for automatic detection of bat calls. Screens out non-bat calls.

  • Acoustimetrics offers The Acousonde, an automated underwater acoustic and ultrasonic recorder.

  • PAMGUARD is an open-source program for the detection of cetaceans at sea.

  • AUSOMS is for underwater sound monitoring.

  • REAL (Remote Environmental Assessmant Laboratory) is a research program that is conducting lage-scale acountic monitoring of animal populations. Their site offers information and archives.

Resources in other Disciplines

There are additional resources available in research/academic areas outside of animal-related areas, and many have software that might suit our purposes.

  • The SETI league (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) is a source for various software, and they have a signal-processing listing. Mostly signal/noise extraction programs, signal detection. Slightly different focus, but likely some interesting potential applications here.

  • CERL: Computer Music Site at University of Ill.

  • Pro-tools 24: Music-oriented editing and signal manipulation program. Versions for Mac, and PC systems.

Resources and Utility Programs

Mac Platform
(Also note above listings for other programs designed to run on both PC and Mac platforms.
There are several in the
Speech Research Resources)

  • Canary- From the bioacoustics Group at Cornell. Probably the most widely used MAC animal-sound system.

  • Wild Spectra: Research developed real-time spectrogram program from University of North Carolina

  • BSound: is a utility program for sound designed to run with Igor Pro. Also has Real Time acquisition.

  • Signalyze: Developed as a speech-analysis system, but performs a variety of signal analysis procedures.

  • Soundscope: Another Speech-based system, similar to previous. Also Superscope, for waveform analysis.

  • Sound Studio 3: Mac Audio Editor

  • SoundHack. Music-developed editing and FFT-based analysis. Download available.

  • Lemur software: for MAC Interesting-looking sinusoidal-modeling based analysis system developed by the CERL Group

Unix Platform

Recording Equipment

I have a page devoted to recording resources:
Recording Equipment

Here is the contact information for the 2 main bioacoustics suppliers in the U.S.:

If you find any links you think should be included here, please e-mail me! Also, I don't necessarily keep up to date on whether these links are outdated; if you find any that no longer work, let me know. Or, if I've mis-represented something, please inform me.

In addition, and most important, if you should try some of the software I've listed here and can add information on it's applicability to animal-related research, please drop me a note about it, particularly if the application is novel or interesting.

Finally, I can answer simple questions and make recommendations: Please give me brief answers to the 3 questions I've listed above.

Comments to: Steven L. Hopp

Bird Songs


Steven Hopp
Updated 28-Mar-2010