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Old 23rd March 2010
Gear Guru

No single smoothing choice will suit all purposes. Thus the choices.
I regard smoothing as similar to zoom tools in a DAW or Sketchup. Zoom out for perspective, to see an overall picture, zoom in to ferret out some little anomaly. At LF it is necessary to use little or no smoothing in order to fully see the peaks and dips. At HF, the same setting results in an almost unviewable mess with hundreds of dangerous looking black lines. Not realistic. Use whatever smoothing delivers the most informative view. Ditto the frequency extents. There is little point in viewing modal activity over say 300Hz on a Waterfall.

A perspective comes to mind, how does this picture relate to the sound, the tonality, how does that sound look, or how does that picture sound.
The ear has a finite resolution. Like pixels in a picture. Nothing smaller than a pixel can be distinguished. Subject to ongoing review, but historically and with good reason, this has been regarded as one third of an octave. I use 1/3 view to get a sense of the tonality of the room. Flat would be quite harsh. A nice downward slope towards HF works well in a small dead non diffuse room. Without smoothing these trends are not easily visible.
Also, without smoothing we can see all sorts of spectacular anomalies, e.g. vicious looking comb filter dips. These often have extremely narrow bandwidth, rendering them relatively insignificant. In that case I regard a smoothed view as closer to audible reality.
But obviously if I were chasing the source of the combing I would turn off the smoothing and use graphical zooming to completely over emphasise the anomaly I am working on. A magnifying glass.