top of page

Understanding RTA Measurements: Why Pink Noise Instead of Sine Sweep?

May 17, 2024

When it comes to audio analysis and optimization, Real Time Analyzer (RTA) tools are widely used for measuring the frequency response of a sound system. There are various methods to stimulate a system for RTA measurements, with pink noise and sine sweeps being the two most popular. But why do audio engineers often choose pink noise over sine sweep? Let's explore the key differences and advantages of using pink noise in RTA measurements.

Pink Noise vs Sine Sweep: What's the Difference?

Pink noise is a random signal with equal energy per octave, meaning it has a balanced frequency spectrum. This type of noise closely resembles the characteristics of sounds we encounter in everyday life, such as music and speech. Pink noise is continuous, making it an ideal stimulus for RTA measurements with quick results.

On the other hand, a sine sweep is a steadily increasing single-frequency signal that sweeps through a range of frequencies. This method can achieve higher resolution measurements. However, it takes a longer time to complete the sweep, and the signal can be easily affected by room noise during the measurement.

Advantages of Pink Noise in RTA Measurements

  1. Faster Results: Pink noise includes all frequencies at once, allowing RTA tools to analyze the audio system in real-time. Sine sweeps, conversely, require a longer time to analyze each frequency point, which may result in slower measurements.

  2. Realistic Audio Stimulus: Since pink noise closely mimics the spectral balance found in music and speech, it provides a realistic test signal for evaluating the audio system's performance in actual usage.

  3. Better Room Noise Immunity: Pink noise's continuous nature and higher energy content enable the RTA tool to receive a more robust signal. This can help minimize the impact of background noise during the measurement, yielding more accurate results.

  1. Minimized Auditory Fatigue: While sine sweeps can be unpleasant and fatiguing to the human ear, pink noise is less harsh and more bearable during extended measurement sessions.

  2. Simpler Equipment Setup: Using pink noise Simpler Equipment Setup: Using pink noise reduces the complexity of the measurement process, as it does not require special hardware like loopback channels or synchronization mechanisms typically needed in sine sweep measurements.

In conclusion, pink noise is a preferred method for RTA measurements mainly due to its faster results, realistic audio stimulus, better room noise immunity, and minimized auditory fatigue. While sine sweeps may offer higher resolution measurements, pink noise's balanced frequency spectrum and ease of use make it a go-to choice for audio engineers around the world.

bottom of page