Sound Analysis Software/Syrinx



A Windows program for spectral analysis, editing, and playback of acoustic signals 

developed by John Burt

John Burt’s home page

Syrinx is a Windows 98/2000/XP sound recording/editing/playback program designed specifically for field and lab research in animal acoustic communication. From the start of its development, the goal of the Syrinx project has been to create a program optimized for field playback and direct-to-disk recording of bird song (live and from tape). Heeding many user suggestions and requests, a number of other editing and analysis features were added that make the program an even more useful tool for visual analysis, printing, and illustration of spectrographs, time/frequency measurements, and real-time automated sound event recording. 

Example Syrinx display:

This figure is an example of the Syrinx display window. Click on the thumbnail image to view a larger picture.

Syrinx was designed for :


Field recording:
With Syrinx, sounds can be recorded efficiently enough that bird song can be stored directly to disk, in the field, on a sound-card-equipped computer with a microphone. Syrinx shows a real-time spectrographic scrolling display during recording so that sounds being recorded are visible. A single key press stores an audio buffer containing the most recent sound to a wave file. This aspect of Syrinx is particularly useful for quickly obtaining birdsong repertoires from the field for playback and analysis.


Lab recording:
Syrinx can be run on an inexpensive, low-powered, PC as an automatic sound detector for laboratory experiments involving continuous monitoring of vocalizing animals over long periods of time. Sound events are stored as a numbered series of wave files (there is also a time/date stamp option to create unique filenames). My colleagues and I have used Syrinx in this capacity to store what would amount to hundreds of hours of raw tape recording as sound files containing only birdsong, all of which fit onto only one or two CDs (650 MB each). The same automated event detector feature can be used to scan audio tapes.


Sound Analysis:
Syrinx allows analysis and editting of sounds as spectrograms. Displays of multiple sounds can be created, an entire display can be saved for later recall, and spectrograms can be printed on a black and white printer with a quality approaching that of a grayscale printer. Spectrograms can also be copied as images from display windows and pasted into drawing programs to make illustrations. With Syrinx's time and frequency cursors, measurements can be taken directly off the spectrogram display and stored in text log files.  Syrinx also has features that allow it to be used to browse long recordings and multi-channel sound files recorded from microphone arrays.


Field Playback:
Syrinx integrates all of the above features for use in playback experiments. In the field, all that is required is a sound-card-equipped notebook computer running Syrinx, microphone, and playback speaker. Onscreen, spectrograms of the playback songs can be displayed, as well as the recorded songs of your subject, and a real-time spectrographic display of what the subject is singing at the moment. This allows instantaneous comparison of incoming song, playback song, and recorded song; also, quick selection and delivery of the next playback song. Syrinx also has a simple behavioral data entry feature that allows programming of the keyboard to store specified behavioral events. Later, a log file of the trial can be retrieved which contains the trial beginning and ending times, what and when the bird sang, and what song was played back.


The current version number is 2.4o

NOTE: There is no Beta version.

The latest version is 2.4o (2005-02-08)

Among the major changes since previous versions:

Bugs fixed:

Fixed problem loading default recording settings.
Fixed several bugs in creating and using annotation links.
Clicking on annotation inside another selects it better than before.
Fixed bug that causes current annotation to be deselected if edited.
Fixed malformed display file bug.
Fixed bug when recording stored - now updates scroll bar correctly.
Fixed: deleted annotation comment doesn't erase.
Fixed: annotation doesn't work if "known file type extensions" hidden.

Features added:

Put input device selector into recording settings dialog.
Can record in stereo (only one channel shown in scrolling display).
Hitting enter when an annotation is selected opens the edit dialog.
Save annotation to sound clip using klipnsave interface.
Del key deletes current annotation.
Ctrl-R/L arrow selects next/prev annotation in channel.
Ctrl-U/D arrow selects channel up/down.
Added loop-mode playback settings button to the playback settings dialog.

The previous version was  2.4i (2005-01-01)

Works with Windows XP/2000/98/ME

Persistent on-screen annotation of series files: uses special linked log file to store annotations.

Improvements to the sound detector.

Faster load time of large recordings and series files.

Fixed perpetual window redraw bug.

If "store buffer when filled" is checked in recording settings, Syrinx will now store sequential chunks of sound seamlessly without losing samples.

Can now auto-create more than just the outer folder in a path.

Multi-row splitter windows now distribute themselves properly.

Rewrote and debugged sound file management code

Added “save all windows” to file menu for quick saving of multiple file editing sessions.

Added a new topic to the help topics menu: “Getting started with Syrinx

Syrinx is available for free, although I do require that you fill out an information form first:

 Download Syrinx

Also, please send any questions or suggestions.

John Burt’s home page

Dr. John Burt
Psychology Department

University of Washington

Seattle, WA 98195

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