I'm looking for a program (preferably free) that can open audio files and display the results of a Fourier transform for a user-selected duration within the file. Ideally, this program would also mark the standard note frequencies on the frequency axis of the FFT plot so the user could quickly check which note a given peak might represent.

I've done a bit of googling but most of the programs I found would be overkill for this task. Also, I didn't find any that mark note frequencies on their FFT plots.

Worst case I can write a MATLAB script to do this, but I'd be surprised if a program with these capabilities didn't already exist. Any recommendations are appreciated.

  • Not a full answer, as I have not tried it, but you might consider Audacity (free) plus a plugin: wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/… - perhaps someone who knows this combination better could write it up as a new answer? Oct 19, 2014 at 16:49
  • Thanks for the suggestion. I actually use Audacity a fair bit as an audio editor. The problem with basic pitch detection (such as that provided by the Pitch Detect plugin) is that it isn't very useful when trying to figure out chords and it can have trouble with harmonics. The ability to manually examine the FFT plot alleviates most of these issues (although as I noted below it's not as useful as I expected). Oct 19, 2014 at 16:56

2 Answers 2


I found a program called Transcribe! that includes this functionality (it's not free, but it has a month-long trial period).

Unfortunately, I didn't find the FFT to be as useful as I expected; simply transcribing by ear seems quicker and less nebulous. However, the link's above in case someone else comes across this question and wants to try the program.


There is a simple command line tool that converts music to FFT images and back: http://arss.sourceforge.net/.

It has quite a few options and a good help page, but the output is a primitive PNG.

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