2.1.2 weirdness with spectral selection

You mean effects without a GUI? Yes that would be a problem without an indication of a spectral selection in waveform views.

Perhaps we could put the high/low frequencies in the menu item for that effect, and perhaps the space to left of the menu item could be a checkbox. Untick it and the frequencies in the menu item would disappear.

But really I don’t see the deal with a couple of numbers in the waveform. If Spectral Selection Toolbar is on, hide the numbers.


Yes, effects without a GUI. At present that is only “Spectral Edit Multi-Tool”.

Rhetorical question - why do we want “Spectral Edit Multi-Tool” without a GUI?
Answer, because we want to be able to quickly and easily, spot a frequency band by eye, select it with the mouse, then (ideally with a keyboard shortcut) apply the effect. This provides a fast way of working for tedious tasks such as filtering clicks from a recording. The only way that we can use this effect as intended, is in a spectrogram track view with spectral editing enabled. In a waveform view, it not only becomes unpredictable and dangerous without a visual readout of the selected frequencies, but it loses all the benefits of being a “one click” effect because we can no longer make the selection with a single mouse gesture.

I would therefore suggest that Spectral Edit effects without a GUI should only be available when the track is in spectrogram view (and spectral editing is enabled), and that spectral edit effects that do have a GUI should have frequency controls so that:
a) The current spectral selection, if it exists, is clearly visible in the GUI that the user is looking at.
b) If a frequency selection does not exist, the effect may still be used by manually selecting the upper and/or lower frequency bounds.
c) The effect is accessible for blind and partially sighted users.
d) The effect can be used in any track view with no ambiguity regarding the frequency selection.
e) The effect may be used with or without the Spectral Selection toolbar being open.
f) There is no need to “clutter” the audio track with additional widgets.

For GUI spectral edit effects, this gives the best of both worlds - the ability to mouse select the frequency range in a spectrogram, and the ability to define the frequency bounds if they are not visible for any reason (whether due to blindness, being in a waveform view, or any other reason).

It has been suggested that in the future we may have the ability to make other “shapes” of spectral selection, which may include such things as:

  • Multiple selected regions
  • Non-rectangular regions
  • “Harmonic” selections
  • Selections that follow the contour of note

In these more advanced cases I don’t see any practical alternative to using a spectrogram view.


For which at the moment, the user has to be able to find how to turn spectral selection on.

Instead of yet another circular 100 posts topic, it might be an idea to fix that problem and fix the problem so that enabling Spectral Selection Toolbar enabled spectral selection. I have made numerous suggestions about that. :bulb:

The user can see the values of selected frequencies in Spectral Selection Toolbar in waveform view and should IMO be able to see those values in waveform view (when Spectral Selection Toolbar is off) or in the Effect Menu as I described (for one-click effects).

VI users cannot use mouse gestures at all, nor motion impaired people.

That happens now.

OK. I suggested frequency controls in effects myself a long way way back in this thread, when I questioned what the effective issue really is with a waveform track containing a hidden spectral selection.

Add to the above: g) it becomes slightly less important finding where you can turn on Spectral Selection, but I still say that one must be fixed.

Do you agree that when any existing built-in effects become spectrally aware, they have frequency controls and operate as per GUI spectral edit effects?

The remaining difference then is what to do with one-click effects that work on spectral selections. VI users and users who want to cross-check with waveform view may not appreciate your restricting them to spectrogram view with spectral selection on. If you want to do that then please let’s fix both the issues I referred to at the start of this reply.

Is an overlay of three numbers on the waveform (when Spectral Selection Toolbar is off) so terrible that it forces one-click spectral effects to have the restriction you want?

With the welcome ability of spectral GUI effects to work on any track, would the restriction you want be user-obvious?

I suppose some aspects of those might have an accessible interface like some kind of table?

Regardless (as always) we are trying to make new features as intuitive as possible, and cyrano for example has demonstrated the current feature is not fully so.


I have also made numerous suggestions for making spectral editing more user friendly, but I’m not the developer that needs convincing. I like the idea of spectral editing but I don’t think that its implementation is at all user friendly. It seems that everyone in QA and support agrees on that point.

Of course. Any features / tools that are dependent on mouse gestures are by their nature unsuitable for these users. For these users we should provide accessible alternatives.

I absolutely agree. Some possible solutions that come to mind (nothing new here):
a) Adding a button to turn spectral selection on/off (as we do for Sync-Lock)
b) Adding a Spectral Selection Tool (F1 key gives temporal selection, F7 key gives spectral selection)
c) Add a checkbox to the Selection Toolbar: “Enable Spectral Selection”
d) A checkbox in the Edit menu: “Enable Spectral Editing”
e) Some other equally simple and easy to find alternative.

Paul IIRC is strongly against a Tool mode for spectral selection. I’m not keen either.

“Somewhere” on Bugzilla I thought Paul had agreed with me in principle that a) enabling Spectral Selection Toolbar should enable Spectral Selection globally, and b) enabling Spectral Selection Toolbar should not be the only way to enable Spectral Selection globally (which means the method of turning it on now is too hard to find).

I can’t find Paul’s comment now - it must be in a not-directly-related bug.

Do you (Steve) agree with either a) or b)? I think those need one (or two) bug entries but they don’t directly have them now.

How would a) work? Does it enable Spectral Selection in Spectrograms Preferences? Or is it a “state” only, like Sync-Lock, and we remove Spectral Selection from Spectrograms Preferences and from the per-track Spectrograms Settings?

I think if enabling Spectral Selection Toolbar turns on Spectral Selection but is not the only method to do so, then enabling Spectral Selection Toolbar should depress a button “somewhere” that is visible at all times irrespective of current track view. If that button was already depressed when Spectral Selection Toolbar was enabled, then closing Spectral Selection Toolbar does not release that “button”.

I do agree it would be “simpler” if Spectral Selection Toolbar was the only way to enable Spectral Selection. The complaints seem to be less about the toolbar’s screen estate than it suggests a missing feature of showing spectral selection frequencies in the track.

As you say, if we go for selecting advanced shapes in the Spectrogram then at least some of these may have to be mouse-created, and will to my mind cry out for numbers in the spectrogram. For simpler selections perhaps there would be a preference to display frequencies in Spectral Selection Toolbar or the Spectrogram, and if so we still need another way to enable Spectral Selection.

If for now Spectral Selection Toolbar was the only way to enable Spectral Selection, we still need a more obvious way to turn spectral selection (and its toolbar) on.


if it were down to me, there would be a Spectral Selection draw tool, and a Frequency Selection toolbar.
By default, if not in a spectrogram view, selecting the Spectral Selection draw tool or opening the Frequency Selection toobar would pop up a message to say that these tools require a spectrogram track view, and offer to switch the current track to spectrogram view. The message box would have a “don’t show again” option. I think that covers it. Simple and easy to use, but I guess not acceptable to you or Paul (definitely not acceptable to Paul because he has said so). Looking to the future, I’m betting that if spectral selection is developed further so that we can have arbitrary shapes, then we will need to have a “draw tool” for the job.

Yes, but surely we can vote on Audacity Team to resolve such disagreements as to how things should be implemented.

It should not just be down to the individual developer to make the call - QA (the “customer-facing” part of Team) should have some input too - otherwise we’re wasting our time.

We did all (developers and QA) spend some considerable time working on the Phase-2 proposal (albeit without any involvement or engagement from the original developer of the technology)


Do-ocracy rather means that Paul’s view about not wanting a Spectral Selection tool carries above average weight. Most of that argument seems to rest on the fact that some multi-tool functionality can still be used when in Spectrogram view.

That forces VI users to use Spectrogram view when that is an un-necessary step for them.

If Frequency Selection Toolbar when enabled is persistent across sessions (as now), then that would seem to force the track view to Spectrogram when it might absolutely not be wanted.

I much prefer the flexibility of allowing any effect that is spectrally aware to make a spectral selection if none exists. Perhaps as an option, selecting frequencies in the effect would switch to spectrogram view if not already in that view. Or, a control in the effect might toggle spectrogram view on and off, and that view persists after closing the effect.

Perhaps, but IIRC we have draw tools in MIDI tracks without making them into a separate Tools Toolbar tool.

For now, it looks like we won’t get an easier way to enable Spectral Selection globally without creating a P2 bug for it. I think we agree on having that bug, correct?

And we all agree that turning on Spectral Selection Toolbar should enable Spectral Selection. Correct? If we made that P2 too, we might get some developer discussion about how to make it easier to enable Spectral Selection globally, and whether we really need Spectral Selection per track. Does anyone use that feature, e.g. duplicating a track in Spectrogram view then making time-only selections in one of the copies?


That is not excluded by the scheme that I suggested. I like the idea of doing that as it seems much more user friendly and convenient that throwing an error if spectral selection is disabled.

The Draw tool currently does nothing in Note tracks. I’d guess that eventually Roger would like to use it for drawing notes.

Yes we could use the existing “Draw” tool in Spectrogram view to “draw” a spectral selection, rather than using the “Selection” tool or adding a new tool. Currently the Draw tool does nothing in Spectrogram view.

Well I would certainly support that - much more discoverable and much more convenient than hiding it away in preferences - and makes it easier to turn on and off readily.

And I would be in favour of seeing a P2 to provide focus and wider discussion about this - btw does “fixing a P2” trump “doocracy” … :wink:

And as I said before I would be totally in favour of having Spectral Selection Toolbar “on” by default in the interests of discoverability and exploration - it is extremely easy for those that don’t want or need it to turn it off - and it remains off (unless turned on again or preferences are reset).

And let us cast our mind back to the original post in this long thread where cyrano was totally confused about spectral selection - and couldn’t “discover” easily how to work it - I feel we really should do something about this, as otherwise we are potentially wasting a valuable Audacity feature.

Actually I did recently when I was bug testing - it was quicker to turn it on for the track I was testing rather than faff around in Preferences - and then have to go back to Prefs later and unset it :ugeek: :sunglasses:

However, that is extreme usage - I certainly don’t envisage per-track spectral on/ff to be useful in Real-Life editing situations. For a start it overcomplicates the issue and furthemore it makes the documentation more complex, I’m not sure I really understand the interaction between the setting in TCPs and the setting in Preferences.

So I would would be strongly in favour of removing the invidual track on/off switch for “Enable Spectral Selection” in the Track Control Panel dropdown menu.

I sometimes have two tracks with the same audio, one set to waveform view and the other one to spectral view. That’s useful for me to try and understand what spectral view is showing.

I’m so used to work with amplitude vs. frequency that I get lost in spectral view. Somehow it doesn’t seem to compute in my brain.

I do agree that it’s pretty weird use.

OK but I don’t like Spectral Selection Toolbar or some button that turns spectral selection on forcing the track view.

As I recall it, EXPERIMENTAL_SCOREALIGN enables tools that can be used in Selection Tool without changing Tool.


I agree. If we had a split view I think it would be reasonable for spectral selection to be always on in Spectrogram tracks. Personally I would expect it to be on by default.


Having Spectral Selection Toolbar enable spectral selection is still only half of the puzzle. It is not at all obvious to look in View > Toolbars to enable spectral selection, any more than it is to look in Preferences when there are already “Spectrogram Settings” in the Audio Track Dropdown Menu.

I am still not very keen. It adds what will look like a non-functional toolbar to those who never move out of waveform view. And given we agree enabling that toolbar will enable spectral selection, then spectral selection will be on by default. With no obvious and easy means to toggle spectral selection on and off, and no split waveform/spectrogram view, this will presumably annoy those trying to use spectrograms to select clicks in order to brute force delete them.

I could probably live with an off-by-default button that turned on Spectral Selection Toolbar and so turned on Spectral Selection, though I think forcing the toolbar on in order to use Spectral Selection would annoy some people.

Even if the control to turn on Spectral Selection does not turn on Spectral Selection Toolbar, we still have to answer the question I posited… should this control enable global spectral selection in Spectrograms Preferences (if that is where it must be shown)? Or do we make this a state instead like Sync-Lock, and remove the checkboxes for spectral selection from Spectrograms Preferences and Spectrogram Settings?

Have you raised that on -quality in any of the long topics about spectral selection? If not, perhaps do so. Perhaps Paul has a case for per-track spectral selection we have not thought of.


Personally I think that putting it in Preferences is a good way to hide it - and NOT to to be recommended or desired.

And if you are not going to like using the Spectral Selection Toolbar as the on/off switch Gale - then what do you suggest as a swich? A big button in say the Edit Toolbar (but I thought you said Paul was against that)?

Yes I do seem to remember discsussing this previously - particularly when I got tangled up and confused when I was testing and documenting it.

But I seem to recall that in the end I was just basically ignored (but that does’nt make the curren 2 sets of swiches right though …)


One of the bugs (if it was open) says that it is too hard to turn spectral selection on and off globally.

UPDATE: Peter: I meant to say NOT to be recommended - cirrected now, sorry for the confusion …

You may want to do that “on the fly” because you just edited a spectral selection and now want time-only selection in Spectrogram view. Preferences is a long way away. Open Preferences, navigate to Spectrograms, navigate to the bottom of that pane.

I do like Spectral Selection Toolbar as a switch. I am dubious it should be the only switch.

And yes as I proposed somewhere back in this thread, I think a button for Spectral Selection in Edit Toolbar is a good answer to it. It would be like Sync-Lock (the Enable Spectral Selection checkboxes in Preferences and Spectrogram Settings would go, unless Paul makes a strong case to keep the checkbox in Spectrogram Settings).

Then we decide if pushing this Edit Toolbar button turns on Spectral Selection Toolbar, or not.

  • If the user turns on Spectral Selection Toolbar from View Menu, this engages the Spectral Selection button in Edit Toolbar.
  • If the user presses the Q shortcut (Edit > Select > Spectral > Toggle Spectral Selection) when spectral selection is off, I suggest this engages the Spectral Selection button in Edit Toolbar.

Q “would” actually be useful, if you could discover it in that long breadcrumb, except as of now it has no effect by default because the Spectrogram Settings in the Track Dropdown Menu default to Spectral Selection being off. I think it would be better if Q was the global switch, and we got rid of the Enable Spectral Selection checkbox in Spectrogram Settings too. If Paul and others disagree, then Q would not affect the suggested Spectral Selection button in Edit Toolbar.

I was not aware Paul opposes a button in Edit Toolbar. He opposes a button in Tools Toolbar which would mean Spectral Selection was unavailable in Multi-Tool.


He was opposed to it when I suggested it.

How does that follow? If we use some tool other than the normal (temporal) selection tool, why does that prohibit the Muti-Tool? Isn’t the Multi-Tool a context sensitive tool that does different things according to where it is being used?

What’s wrong with the idea of using the Draw tool to draw spectral selections when in a spectrogram view (rather than the Selection tool)? That would then allow a “normal” (time) selection to be made without the need to turn off Spectral Editing in spectrogram views.

Ok so it seems that in QA we seem to agree:

  1. we want a switch (afaict we’ve always wanted a switch),

  2. hiding that switch away in Preferences is NOT a good idea.

    3)two options are suggested for the replacement switch:

3.1) the presence/absence of the Spectral Selection Toolbar,

3.2) a button in the Edit toolbar.

I greatly favour the “button in the Edit toolbar” - if we did this would turning it on automatically turn on the Spectral Selection Toolbar, maybe not?

4) I think we are agreed that the additional switch for individual tracks in the Track Control Panel should be removed.

Have I got this summary right?


Do you recall why, perchance? How does he propose to make it easier to find global spectral selection?

Didn’t you want F7 for Spectral Selection Tool? Then you cannot be in Multi-Tool, but see below.

I’ve not really considered that, myself. I guess my main qualm is that it might not be obvious that Draw Tool would do that in Spectrograms. Everyone who currently uses Draw Tool knows it is zoom level dependent, but drawing spectral selections isn’t so dependent.

When you are in Multi-Tool, what discoverable modifier do you suggest to drag a frequency and time selection?

ASIDE: I forgot that Q doesn’t actually do what one reading of the label “Toggle Spectral Selection” suggests it might. It “changes between selecting a time range (and hence all the frequencies in that range) and selecting the last selected spectral selection in that time range.” When Q toggles off there is no grey selection, but Spectral edit effects won’t work just as when the selection is entirely grey (time only).

A new selection will still have a spectral selection with Q toggled off, so that discounts Q as currently envisaged enabling global Spectral Selection.

How useful would Q be if we could select frequencies in effects and toggle spectral selection on and off in the effect as has been proposed?