LINGUIST List 10.1573

Wed Oct 20 1999

Sum: Macintosh Speech Analysis Software

Editor for this issue: Lydia Grebenyova <>


  1. Rob Pensalfini, Macintosh Speech Analysis Software

Message 1: Macintosh Speech Analysis Software

Date: Thu, 21 Oct 1999 13:24:21 +1000
From: Rob Pensalfini <>
Subject: Macintosh Speech Analysis Software

Thanks to everyone who responded to my query about speech analysis software
for the Mac, perticularly Charles Reiss, Ken Hyde, David Nash, Marjorie
Meechan, Chris Manning, Bruce Connell, Lynn Santelmann, Bill Idsardi and
Aaron Drews (and apologies if I forgot anyone).

Here's a summary of the results.

* The most highly recommended alternative to Signalyze was Praat:
Praat is shareware, developed by developed by Paul Boersma and David
Weenink at the Institute of Phonetic Sciences of the University of

* SIL makes MacCecil, which isn't up
to everything yet, but is ok. There's a companion Windows version.

* Macquirer is far superior for pitch extraction and especially
spectrographic analysis. Signalyze can do things Macquirer cannot, but
from what you say you don't need those aspects. NB Macquirer doesn't handle
many sound formats, which can be a problem if you're using already
digitized material; if so, it would be worthwhile investigating whether
File Converter is available separately; I suspect it may be, as shareware.

MacQuirer, developed I believe, in conjunction with
(or at least used by), some of the people at UCLA
Powerful stuff. You can download a demo. MacQuirer (and PCQuirer, the PC
version) sell for US$495.

* Another possibility, though more expensive, is using a combination of
SoundEdit 16 for recording and editing files and Soundscope for
spectrograms. The first is kind of expensive and the second has some
quirks. Soundscopeis from GWInstruments in Kendall square. SoundEdit 16 is
from Macromedia.
You need version 2 if you have a G3 Mac.

* You can also download a demo version of Signalyze:
Regarding the problems I noted with Signalyze, almost everyone said they
had experienced the 'clicking' I spoke of, though one person said that
turning off virtual memory fixed this. Signalyze comes with software that
will transfer file formats, so that is apparently not a problem. And the
restriction on number and size of files is entirely dependent on RAM, since
it records to RAM.

In summary, and note that this is prior to testing any of this software, it
seems that Signalyze is not as problematic as I had been led to believe,
but that Praat and MacQuirer generally out-perform it.



Rob Pensalfini
Lecturer in Linguistics
Department of English
The University of Queensland
Brisbane, Qld 4072
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