How to visualize alarm sound


I am new in dealing with sounds. I am not very sure if I am asking the right question, but I will try to explain what I am looking for.

I want to be able to distinguish and visualize a specific alarm sound (Fire alarm for example) from the environment. I want to be able to just visualize the sound coming from the alarm device in a room where some other sounds are part of the environment (People speaking or birds chirping).

Is it possible to do that, and if so, how to do it?


Posted 2014-08-26T00:37:44.137

Reputation: 131



If I'm understanding you correctly the best way is to view the sound as a spectrogram:

enter image description here

I just found that image online, but shows a series of tones descending in pitch. Looking at the left axis, you can see the frequency range.

Depending on how noisy your background sound is you should be able to easily identify a sound with such a specific signature as an alarm. One of the best tools for this is also free - sonic visualiser( which allows a range of different overlays for analysis, is very accurate and allows simple image export.

I don't know the reasons for your interest in this, but if it's a research topic you may be interested to know that there is a field of study focusing the relationship we have with our sonic environment called acoustic ecology, where you could find a useful framework for analysing sound recordings. I can provide further links if that's of interest.

Mark Durham

Posted 2014-08-26T00:37:44.137

Reputation: 4 445

Sonic visualizer is good but the problem is that the input sound is not a recorded file, it is a live audio coming from Microphone. I could not find support for live audio input in Sonic. – user2324189 – 2014-08-27T01:04:55.550

Yes I am a research student and looking for this feature in my research project. However, I am not sure if it is related to acoustic ecology. The research project is not about the sound analysis itself, just a small part of it requires me to visualize the live sound input and find out if there is a specific visual pattern for some specific sounds. – user2324189 – 2014-08-27T01:13:46.997

The only way to do this that I know of is using Max/MSP: It does an awful lot more than this, but you will just need two objects - Ezadc~ and Spectroscope~. 30 day free trial, but you can make the patch into an application (mac or pc). The scopes are not as pretty as Sonic Visualiser, but it runs live. If you want to go down this route I can help you further. Might even be easier if I just make the app for you. Let me know. There are also probably other scientific tools which do this job that I am unaware of, approaching a university which studies acoustics..

– Mark Durham – 2014-08-27T08:09:34.847

..might be the way to go. – Mark Durham – 2014-08-27T08:10:18.067

Thanks for pointing me to Max. I have tried to use ezdac and Spectroscope but I could not limit the spectroscope to only visualize a range of frequency. Can you suggest what attributes needs to be changed. For example if I want to be able to only visualize 2000-2200 Hz sounds. – user2324189 – 2014-08-28T03:36:24.860

I don't think that's possible. So maybe you need to look elsewhere. Izotope Insight has some amazing visualisation options: I've not used it before, but they claim "Perform detailed inspections with Freeze and Zoom modes" so seems promising. Expensive though, and you would have to run it inside a DAW. Maybe some other options here:

– Mark Durham – 2014-08-28T07:14:44.133

I have tried Magic ( It provides the visualization of specific frequency range. – user2324189 – 2014-08-29T00:33:02.213