Why linear waveform display is problematic, and how to improve it


(I’m still on Cubase 10, so if that has been “invented” since then, apologize for the spam)

When editing audio events, the traditional wave drawing seems to assume linear scale - i.e., a signal that is 6dB louder would look 2X higher. That also means that soft sounds “disappear” very easily as they become too small to be displayed - especially when one looks at many tracks at the same time (in the project window). Well, people are used to that for many years… But, how about introducing a more logarithmic-oriented drawing, such that softer sounds would still be reasonably visible? This would make my life much better (well, I speculate this would make many people life better). Obviously, with such a feature in-place, we’ll invite some issues with background noise/hiss becoming too visible. With some smartness this could be avoided/minimized (if it is of interest I would be more than happy to suggest few “mathematical” techniques to still show the signal logarithmically, while making a too-soft signal part to go away).

That would be a killer feature for me (-:


Yeah, -6dB at 1/2 of the display feels a bit odd sometimes.
That reminds me of waveform displays of old AKAI samplers where waveform were drawn in logarithmic scaling. It was surely very useful to find transients and trim samples. I remember I made a request to have such option decades ago. However it looks odd in many cases like when you want to differentiate transients, etc. So that scaling also not is perfect.

In the meantime, have you tried to zoom in the waveform itself (not track height but waveform height, graphically)? It now has a set of KC entries since a version or two ago, too. It helps and works in most of the desired cases for me.

Hi yes, I’m zooming in all the time… Unfortunately, I’m mainly working in the project window, so zooming in one track screws up another track (as not all tracks have the same level). Clearly there are cases where linear view makes more sense. I kind of imagine a “logarithmic” slider (like the zoom-in one) where I could morph between linear and logarithmic. Getting rid of the too-soft (e.g., hiss) stuff could be done by applying a “downward-expander”-like element to the drawing algorithm. I tend to believe it “looks odd” because we are so used to the linear view. Interestingly, if we think as human-brains and less as DSP-brains, we might actually find dB-scaled view more natural. I am not talking out of experience here, as my old samplers were EMU and not AKAI…