2.1.2 weirdness with spectral selection

You can enable Spectral Selection in Spectrograms Preferences, but I agree that is not all that obvious or convenient.

At its simplest, it’s just an overlay of two small numbers, like showing the name of the Audio Track in the waveform, but less obtrusive.

If we wanted it to be interactive it could incorporate a control that did something, such as change to Spectrogram view.

Look at the menu bar. It says Tracks (plural). The Audio Track Dropdown Menu is per-track, though I would be very much happier if the Spectrograms Settings it opens also let you change global Spectrograms settings (so we get rid of the duplicated interface in Spectrograms Preferences). I know Steve violently disagrees, despite some OS’es do likewise. :wink:


I’m not keen on driving blindfolded either.

I have made many suggestions for how to make spectral selection more useful and intuitive, but they have not been welcome, so I’ll stay out of it for now.

The problem here is that enabling spectral selection doesn’t automatically turn on that “widget”.

The user has to know (or infer or intuit somehow) separately that they would probably benefit from turning on the “Spectral Selection Toolbar” from the View menu.

And its not that “Peter does not want to use it” - as I, personally have no use for spectral selection and manipulation - it is other users, especially novices and non-experts that I constantly think about.


I feel exactly the same way about the many suggestions I’ve made. :wink:

Remind me what your suggestions are.

Why don’t we solve first problems first? Provide an easier way to turn spectral selection on for the track? Or turn it on by default then provide a split waveform / spectrogram view so you can select time only in the waveform but see the spectrogram?


Don’t we all … :astonished:

Same goes for scrubbing too :confused:


But as I said, many sighted folk don’t want enabling spectral selection to turn on Spectral Selection Toolbar because of the screen estate it takes up.

The opposite should happen, though. Enabling Spectral Selection Toolbar should turn Spectral Selection on.


Yes, but you can then always turn it off it offends you - at least you know there is such a tool in the tool-box if it’s presented to you that way

Ooh, not sure about that - but I remain open minded and open to convincing.

This kind of implies that the presence of the Toolbar is the switch to enable spectral selection - but thta flies in the face of your stement immediately above about sighted folk not wanting to waste screen real estate on it.


Especially if Spectral Selection is not on by default, it would soon get very annoying :smiling_imp: to have to go into View > Toolbars to turn off Spectral Selection Toolbar every time you turned on Spectral Selection for a track.

The advantage (some may say disadvantage) of the high/low frequency numbers in the waveform is that you could then, if you wanted, apply spectral selection effects to all selected tracks irrespective of their track view. I understand Paul would prefer that. To me that makes more sense, given we store the frequency selection in the project, not per track.

How useful do you think it is for a visually impaired person to set a track to Spectrogram view, enter the frequencies in Spectral Selection Toolbar, open a spectral effect then receive an error message?

No, as I have said repeatedly on Bugzilla and elsewhere, enabling Spectral Selection Toolbar should turn on Spectral Selection, but there should be some other easy way to turn it on globally.

For example if we could get at that global setting from Spectrograms Settings in the Track Dropdown Menu it would be easier. Naive users just see “Spectrogram Settings…” in that menu. That sounds like a global setting to me. Unless user renamed the track it is not that obvious that the settings dialogue is only for the track. If user gets the impression that the dialogue is global, “Use Preferences” is ambiguous.

If removing Spectrograms Preferences is too controversial then why not put a Spectral Selection button in Edit Toolbar?


Who are these “many sighted folk”? We’ve never had it that way have we, so I don’t see how many sighted folk can have objected.

On a standard laptop display with Audacity full-screen, the Spectral Selection Toolbar takes up no additional screen estate because it it fits in the empty space at the end of the Selection Toolbar. Even on a 1024 x 768 monitor, it only takes up addition screen estate if one of the very long time units is being used, but in most cases it fits in the empty space.

We could solve the “problem” for 1024 x 768 monitors by putting the project rate into a separate toolbar (on by default) and allowing it to be hidden, but as Peter wrote, the user can hide the Spectral Selection Toolbar if they wish. What is being suggested is that ‘by default’, the Spectral Edit Toolbar opens when Spectral Editing is enabled. This makes the Spectral Edit Toolbar far more discoverable, and is more convenient for the vast majority of Audacity users that have displays with a width of 1280 pixels or more.

Yes of course some users may want to use Audacity windowed rather than full-screen. That’s their choice, but if they want the maximum amount of track area, then they need to run Audacity full-screen.

Theoretically I see no problem with that, but in practice, why would someone chose to edit something they can’t see? Would you decorate a room at night with the lights off? Personally, I’d turn on the lights - that is, I’d allow myself to view what I’m doing.

I agree that is not user friendly, but displaying the upper and lower frequencies in the waveform view does nothing to help.

Personally I can’t see the spectral selection properly even in the spectrogram view, because of the colours chosen and the pattern shifting when there is a selection. :wink: Pretty, but not accurate.

Aside from that, I think it might help users who prefer the greater familiarity of the waveform. After all if you apply EQ or Bass and Treble, you can’t actually see the frequencies you are changing in waveform view, but I bet few users change to Spectrogram to use those effects.


I have had quite a bit of off-list feedback (and some on feedback@ too, IIRC) since Spectral Selection Toolbar was introduced that it is “un-necessary” and “too large” and that it would be better to display the low/high/centre frequencies of the spectral selection in the Spectrogram track.

Also they want a mouse pointer readout of frequency and amplitude when in Spectrogram view.

It seems to me we are turning it on not because it is necessarily needed by sighted users of spectrograms, but because we are afraid of indicating the presence of a spectral selection somewhere in/on the waveform track.

Looking at it the other way, do we need to worry about indicating the presence of a spectral selection in waveform tracks by any method? The current spectral effects won’t run on waveform tracks.

If more mainstream effects become spectrally aware, then they could show the spectral selection if there is one and give a way to ignore it. That would be more obvious at the point that matters (running the effect) that there is a spectral selection.


Obviously not. So let’s make enabling Spectral Selection Toolbar turn Spectral Selection on, but because that toolbar is primarily an accessibility feature, provide some obvious button/switch to turn Spectral Selection on for those who don’t want or can’t find the toolbar.


It’s only un-necessary if you’re not using Spectral Selection

And I’ve never thought of it too large - Paul chose to put in the Lower Toolbar Dock Area to give him the height that he needed - and the space was going spare (so he occupied currently empty/unused real estate).

If you want it displayed closed to the Spectrogram track you can always undock it and drag it up there. Writing the nubers on the track itself could prove troublesome given the colorways currently deployed.

For my money the presence/absence of the Toolbar is an excellent on/off switch_. I see no real need for a secondary “obvious button/switch” - even though a long while back I was asking for just such a thing but never got it …_


It’s not necessary if you are using it.

I don’t use Spectral Selection much myself so have no drum to beat. I am just repeating what has been said to me, unprompted.

The numbers would be optional, and obviously could change colour per the background they are against, or have their own boxed background.

That has two major disadvantages. First it forces Spectral Selection Toolbar on for everyone using Spectral Selection, despite the feedback I’ve had that suggests some may not want that. Of course we can risk it and see how many people actually complain.

Second, given Spectral Selection Toolbar won’t be on to begin with, we still have the problem that there is no obvious reason to go into View > Toolbars to look for it as the way to turn global Spectral Selection on. So we are still hiding it very effectively, unless you realise Preferences is the place to look for it (which new users may not even think of given the Spectrogram Settings in the Track Dropdown Menu).

Remind me why we need to indicate presence of a spectral selection when in waveform views, given what I said about the use effects currently and might make use of that selection.


Well for my money I’d

a) have the Spectral Selection Toolbar “on” by default - as that makes the spectral stuff more “discoverable” (and advert if you like) - abd i’s so easy to turn it off if you really don’t want it.

b) Rather than have teh Toolbar as the switch - I would have a big readily discoverable swich somewhere in the GUI to turn Spectral editing on and off (off by default). That is what I asked for amny times in the past and never got.

c) I’m unsure that we need the additional complication of individual spectral on/off switching in individual tracks.

Because when you switch from Spectrogram view with a spectral selction made to one of the waveform views - the spectral selection remains lurking and invisible - ok so many effects may well ignore it but some may not - you can’t tell as none of them advertise the absence or presence of a spectral selection - it’s Steve’s analogy of decorating a room in the dark …

I really don’t like GUI’s that hide things (remember my watchword “does what it says on the tin”)


I see some sense in an advert but suggest that could be a Spectral Selection button in Edit Toolbar (which would have a tooltip).

I would expect support requests if Spectral Selection Toolbar was on by default. There is nothing to say what it is and it would appear to naive users to do nothing (aka “broken”).

OK but that still means VI users have to find where to turn spectral selection on. If enabling Spectral Selection Toolbar turned Spectral Selection on as I suggest, then when Spectral Selection Toolbar appears, any Spectral Selection button would engage if it wasn’t already engaged.

I’m unsure too.

Please name the non-spectral effects that act on spectral selections so we can put that on Bugzilla, just like we prevented Noise Reduction acting silently on spectral selections. In other words, there should not be any such effects.


Looking at this another way, this issue is only really a problem for “one click” effects.

We can’t do this yet in Nyquist plug-ins because it would require an extension to the Audacity/Nyquist interface, but it can be done for built-in effects, and could be done in Nyquist plug-ins if the Audacity / Nyquist interface is extended.
Rather than only taking frequencies from the spectral selection in “spectral” effects, just make the effect “frequency selection aware”. That is, if a frequency selection exists, then the plug-in can use that as a hint for the default settings of its frequency controls. If no spectral selection is specified, then the effect would fall back to its “last used” settings, and if there is no “last used” setting then it falls back to the factory default.

As an example, perhaps something like this:
fullwindow-Frequency Band Filter-000.png

Oh, yes it does!

In my case, the “spectral view toolbar” wasn’t enabled and I had to look for it. Precisely manipulating the selection would be far easier if the frequency was shown next to the selection lines in the waveform.