Spectral Layers – New App Like Photoshop For Audio

Can editing audio visually open up new possibilities for sound design?

That’s the promise of a new app, Divide Frame’s Spectral Layers.

Spectral Layers analyzes audio and creates a graphic interface for editing the sound. On the horizontal axis, Spectral Layers represents time. On the vertical axis, it displays the audio spectrum.

Spectral Layers isn’t the first app to explore the idea of ‘Photoshop for audio’. Photosounder is an older app that brings new meaning to ‘photo synthesis‘ – acting as a bridge between the worlds of audio and images.

What makes Spectral Layers interesting, though, is its unique set of tools for working with the audio.

Check out the video demo above for an introduction to the application, its tools and their potential – and let us know if you’re interested in using Photoshop-like tools with audio. 


  • Advanced audio editor based on spectrum
  • Accurately analyze, extract and transform any audio datas using layers and tools in a fully visual approach.
  • Extract and transform voices, instruments, noises or any kind of sound
  • Reconstruct, enhance and create new effects and raw materials.
  • Analyze
    • High-quality 32-bit float spectrum
    • Realtime transforms and 3D display
    • Surround project support
  • Extract and Transform
    • Non-destructive layer system
    • Additive and substractive layer compositing
    • Local tools and filters to transfer and modify spectral datas

Tech Specs:

  • Cross-platform Windows/Mac OS X
  • Open project format
  • SDK for custom file formats, devices, tools and filters

More information on Spectral Layers is available at the developer’s site. Availability and pricing is to be announced.

via Peter Kirn at CDM, who features some interesting comments from the developer; see also the developer’s channel on Vimeo for a video tutorial on Spectral Layers.


12 thoughts on “Spectral Layers – New App Like Photoshop For Audio

  1. Looks a touch gimmicky to me, but could definitely be a great tool for cleaning up unwanted harmonics and/or final mixes.

  2. Looks to be a bit more involved than Izotope RX. I personally think this is the future of audio editing. The fact that it provides a ery versatile non-destructive approach to editing will make it almost essential for things lik remixing and vocal extraction. Excellent stuff.

  3. I'm just thinking about the many possibilities of this musical layering… Think about NORMAL, MULTIPLY, HARD LIGHT, SUBTRACT, DIVIDE… and all those things you can do with layers on photoshop!!!

  4. I've just viewed the more detailed videos on Vimeo. This is amazing! Sampling will never be the same again. Apart from Karaoke, imagine being able to listen to all those great hit records minus some whiney vocalist.

  5. So, these sorts of tools already exist as one part of several other editors, and there are other stand alone competitors. This might be more feature rich than some of those, but not all. It's cool stuff, but the price will have to be like $50 or less to be viable as a stand alone purchase. Otherwise you might as well spend the money towards the full deal.

  6. Interesting. I think I'd find a use for it, but unfortunately for me, the amount of time lost to dicking around with every minute aspect of a sample will just add to the creative downtime (creating patches, learning PureData and Max, Reaktor). I'm bad at balancing creating actual MUSIC vs. micro managing sound design. I'm sort of with Eno on the "limited options" mentality. This is one to watch though.

  7. Wow!

    This one has the potential of becoming a bedroom producer's dream tool for extracting vocal tracks from songs. Long gone will be the times when we used to rely on phase cancellation in order to get our bootleg remixes going.

    If this one has some sort of MIDI note extraction, it will surely become a must-have software.

    However, I really do hope the price tag will remain close to the 100€ mark.

  8. Could you edit mp3s (for example) this way or does it require the audio to first be recorded in a special format?

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