Visualization of audio started a lot longer ago than you may think. The first instruments that could visualize audio began with oscilloscopes, and the first oscilloscope-like device was the Rubens’ Tube. Also known as the standing wave flame tube, it was invented in Germany by Heinrich Rubens in 1905. The tube functions as a way to show wave patterns created by audio, and had surprising effects when music was pumped through. It works by having a length of tube with holes in the top. One end is sealed and flammable gas is pumped into the tube. The gas pours out of the holes, and once lit you are left with small flames. When sound in pumped it, it changes the air density in the tube, which in turn lets more or less gas escape through the holes, and produces a wave pattern.
Since then, Rubens’ Tubes have been a popular way to show music equalization in a way that doesn't rely on digital input. The hands-on museum The Exploratory in Bristol, England displayed a Rubens’ Tube from 1987 to 1999, the show Mythbusters demonstrated how to use one, it’s been featured on a number of contest shows and it is a frequent subject of street artists. The Rubens’ tube has gone on to inspire people to try out the effect of sound on other substances, but it all started with being able to see what your ears are hearing, and that’s what equalizer visualization can do. It’s a powerful and pleasing way to connect with your audience.
Making your music into a visual is easy, but it does take practice to find the visualization that works for you. Certain types of music work better with certain types of visualizers, and there is no way to know what you will like without trying out different types of music and different kinds of visualizers. Here are some popular visualizers available for free or cheap.
1. iTunes - Free
iTunes visualizer is one of the most popular available online, mostly because most people already have it! It comes built into the iTunes player and can be activated from the view menu. Several different kinds of visualizations are available and can be changed while the music is playing. Use these hotkeys to change the visualizer (M - change mode; P - change color palette; I - show track info; C - toggle auto cycle; F - freeze the visualization; N - toggle background smoke; L - toggle camera lock)
2. ProjectM - $2.99
In this age of smartphones and mobile devices, it is rare for someone to have their music only on their computers. Most carry their music with them on mobile devices, and that’s where ProjectM brings visualization to your smart phone.
ProjectM is one of the best visualizers available for both iOS and Android. It offers not only a plethora of effects and modes, but even has a live wallpaper function built in, so you don’t even have to boot the app to see visualization on your homescreen. Even if no music or effects are playing on your phone, the app will visualize what your phone hears through it’s microphones. For the small prices of just $2.99, it’s definitely worth a look for the music enthusiast.
3. AudioSurf - $6.99
AudioSurf is a bit more than just a visualizer. It is still a visualizer that changes depending on the music, but it is also a video game, meaning it is an interactive experience. This type of visualizer helps you connect on a deeper level with your music. Users describe the experience as zen-like, and you can find yourself getting into a flow after just minutes of using this program. Even if you are not normally someone who enjoys games, you may consider trying the free demo, just to give it a try.
RENDERFOREST VISUALIZER VIDEOS
Now that you have spent some time with visualizers, you may want to show off how your music looks to your friends and family. That is where Renderforest’s new visualizer templates can help! Launching on Nov. 25, Renderforest will feature three templates for immediate use.
1. Blue Circle
This template features a very clean look, with a simple blue circle with a smoky background. The music is represented by wavelengths that rise out of the circle. This type of visualization fits relaxing music or one with a soft tempo. As with all visualizers, good drops and a nice bassline will be best represented, but if the overall theme of the track is calming, try out Blue Circle.
2. Retro Cassette
Retro Cassette is a more indi take on the visualizer templates. In this template, a cassette pours tape out of the bottom, which morphs and changes depending on the music. While the constant of good baselines still exists, the visuals in this template are suited for indi music, or something more playful. If you think along the lines of Weezer, Sufjan Stevens, or Mumford and Sons, you have the right idea.
3. Dust Equalizer
The last template available starting Nov. 25 is Dust Equalizer: a visualizer that also features an equalizer visualization. This template is characterized by a rainbow color palette and rising particle effects. This is arguably the most complex template from the three, but is also one of the most basic. The music affects this visualizer is a very simple way: it only shows the different levels from the frequencies in the track, but this in and of itself is an attractive way to display music. If you’re looking for a more general take on visualization, Dust Equalizer is a perfect fit for a large variety of tracks.
There are many ways to use equalizer visualizations, and it often takes a degree of experimentation. Once you have the process down, it can be a fun and attractive way to show off a new song, open a video, or simply serve as a centerpiece to a visual presentation. And the new equalizer visualizations are just the first of many to come. Renderforest is committed to giving it’s users the best possible experience and as many options as they can dream of. The new Renderforest is the first step towards that variety, and we hope you will enjoy our new equalizer visualizations.