What is Smaart?
Put simply, Smaart is an analyzer – A dual-channel, FFT-based software platform we use in our work as audio engineers to view the frequency content of signals or measure the response of our electrical and electro-acoustic systems. Much like medical instrumentation for doctors, this tool helps us examine our sound systems in detail and diagnose and solve problems. Because Smaart is a software product, it provides the power of extremely powerful hardware-based analyzers in a package that is affordable by an average audio professional.
As mix engineers, we use Smaart to identify tones/frequencies of interest and help us with tasks like feedback suppression and channel equalization. As system engineers, it assists us in the process of setting up and aligning our speaker systems in our performance environment.
The name Smaart was derived from System Measurement Acoustic Analysis Real-time Tool, but that bit of trivia has been mostly consigned to the island-of-obscure-acronyms.
System Measurement Acoustic Analysis Real-time Tool (SMAART):
System Measurement – This is a dual-channel analyzer. We can look at individual channels and take those signals apart to examine their level, frequency content, duration, etc . . . and we can compare two signals, the “what went in” of a system to the “what came out,” to determine what happened in between. In other words, what our systems (electronics, speakers, acoustical environments) are doing to the signals passing through them (frequency response, impulse response.)
Acoustic Analysis – By doing system measurements in and of acoustic environments (where cool things like shows happen), we can use those measurements to help figure out how we can adapt our sound systems to our rooms, or even vice versa.
Real-time Tool – This extremely powerful analyzer was actually built to be used, not as an academic experiment, but when and where we actually use our sound equipment – real-time in our shops, at our install sites, during our load-ins, and most importantly, in our actual show environments
The significance and genesis of Smaart in professional audio is found in the early-mid 90’s when our choices of sound system measurement tools were limited to some moderately priced RTA’s (Real-Time Analyzers) and a limited number of extremely expensive (hardware-based) dual-channel acoustic analyzers – most of which developed for industries and purposes outside of professional audio. While all of those measurement tools proved helpful in our tool boxes, the substantial cost and educational/technical barriers to implement the dual-channel systems significantly hampered, and often prevented their use in our industry’s everyday practices. By the mid 90’s, however, a new force was beginning to redefine our tool boxes – the personal laptop computer. The processors in our laptops had become strong enough to run the mathematical algorithms that we were using in those expensive hardware / dsp based dual-channel analyzers, and effectively it became possible to create those advanced analyzers in software – and hence, in 1995, Smaart was born and the price barrier fell.
Over the next 17 years, Smaart software continually developed and evolved -reflecting the growth of the computer power, the refinement of our audio gear and expansion of our collective experience, understanding and techniques in applying these measurement technologies in our industry.
In 2008, Rational Acoustics was launched with the specific focus of ensuring the continued development of the Smaart measurement platform, and substantially enhancing the educational efforts and support that back it.
In 2010, Rational Acoustics released Smaart v7, a complete re-write and modernization of the original Smaart codebase.
In 2013 Smaart v.7 Di (Dual Channel Interface) was released to offer a lower-cost, simplified two-channel option for Smaart users.
In 2016 we released Smaart v.8, the most powerful, flexible, and adaptable version of Smaart to date.
In 2017 Smaart Di 2 was released, updating the Di platform to include many of the new features and functionality as developed for Smaart v8.