A technique of sample manipulation. In spectral editing, a sample is processed to produce a visual spectrogram, a sort of graph with time along the horizontal axis and frequency on the vertical axis. At each frequency, the spectrogram indicates how much energy ("information" or "musical content") is present at that frequency, by means of light-dark shading or using different colors. The interface allows the user to select certain frequency and time ranges by drawing or placing shapes on the spectrogram.
When the sample is played, as the time line advances, it plays the frequencies contained within the drawn shapes, and suppresses others. (Or vice versa -- the implementation may allow the sense to be inverted so that the shapes act as frequency masks.) The editing can drastically alter the sonic characteristics, rendering the original sample unrecognizable.
Because a good implementation requires a significant amount of software and processing power, spectral editing is a technique currently found only in soft synths. As of early 2014, among the soft synths implementing the technique are Izotope's Iris and Camel Audio's Alchemy.