In order to have some way of analysing the tracks in a measurable, comparable way, I will need to use an analyser. Plenty of free plugins are available:
A free spectrum analyser. Customisable slope, amplitude and frequency range, colours, smoothing etc. Able to accept multiple audio inputs so that different sources have their own over-layed spectral display. Very easy to use and not too heavy on CPU.
SSL X-ISM (http://www.solid-state-logic.com/music/X-ISM/)
A free multimeter from Solid State Logic. One of the most accurate available, arguably more accurate than the DAW’s meter. Useful for checking whether the final master output level has any inter-sample peaks. Insert onto the last slot on the master output in the DAW.
BlueCat FreqAnalyst (http://www.bluecataudio.com/Products/Product_FreqAnalyst/)
A free spectrum analyser. Although accurate and detailed, with a range of customisation options, I found this plugi’ns GUI hard to read, and the available colour options didn’t make it any clearer. Although it is just as capable as SPAN (apart from being able to view multile inputs), I decided it wasn’t right for me.
Melda MAnalyzer (http://www.meldaproduction.com/plugins/product.php?id=MAnalyzer
Another freeware spectrum analyser with sonogram. Again, similar feature set to SPAN but not as easy on the eye.
Cubase Channel EQ & Studio EQ Spectrum
Having another analyser on every channel as standard in Cubase 7 meant I always had another reference to hand, this way I could avoid having to look at the analyser on my master buss unless it was necessary, saving me time and mouse-clicks. The reason I couldn’t rely solely on these analysers is because they aren’t as high resolution and there is no way to view the slope setting, change decay times etc. These limitations mean I generally only use these graphs as a rough guide for equalising sounds, for example: spectral bracketing. The same could also be said for the equivalent on Logic’s stock EQ plugin.
RND Inspector (http://rndigital.net/inspector.html)
Another highly recommended spectrum analyser, but currently not available to download. I found out about this on an episode of Pensado’s Place (www.youtube.com/user/PensadosPlace).
Out of these plugins, I have chosen to use Voxengo SPAN and SSL X-ISM, because they are accurate, easy-on-the-eye and low on CPU usage.