How to choose between Spike2 and Signal

There are many similarities between these two. Both can be installed as either 64-bit or 32-bit Windows applications, capable of driving the Power1401, Micro and 1401plus, and signal conditioners such as the CED 1902 and the Axon CyberAmps in multi-channel data acquisition. Analysis tools for both programs include averaging and FFT (multi-channel). Both programs have comprehensive menu commands and a powerful script-driven mode of operation.

The differences are firstly in the type of data acquisition, secondly in the specialised features.

Data acquisition

Spike2 is designed to collect continuous data: waveforms, digital events and markers, like a very intelligent chart recorder. Waveforms can be captured at independent sampling rates. This enables the system to record experiments that involve low frequency signals such as respiration as well as high frequency signals like nerve activity into a smaller file size than would otherwise be possible. Spike2 is able to produce complex outputs as a combination of waveform and events. These could control switches and motors in, say, a long term behavioural experiment. Video channels can be captured and linked to the data files.

Signal is designed to capture triggered or un-triggered episodic waveform data, like an oscilloscope. The program provides the fastest multi-channel signal acquisition with data throughput up to the full speed of your 1401 ADC, not limited by the interface or disk speeds. All waveform channels share the same sample rate. With the built-in outputs dialogue it is possible to easily set up protocols to output stimulus trains and waveforms with changing amplitude and duration for such experiments as evoked response and Voltage Clamp. The output protocol can also be modified while recording.

Specialised features

Spike2 has spike shape recognition, spike clustering, digital filtering and many time domain analysis tools, which are useful for analysing and displaying spike trains. Spike2 also features a comprehensive feature detection system which is useful for finding and measuring waveforms such as ECG complexes.

Spike2 has a Talker interface, that allows software working with external equipment to supply data to Spike2 for integration into Spike2 files at respectable rates.

Signal has built-in multi-channel analysis and waveform manipulation functions. Feature detection cursors and associated trend plot views enable fast generation of measurements such as slopes and peaks of field potentials. Curve fitting for single or multiple frames of data is also built-in. Signal includes single channel patch clamp acquisition and analysis in addition to the current and voltage clamp capabilities. Dynamic clamping using up to 15 independent models is supported at good rates with the Power1401-3.

See more information about Spike2; more information about Signal.
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Privacy policy

CED, through this site, does two things that relate to privacy. We would like to explain them.

Emails from down-loads

We offer free down-loads of many files on our site, from test programs to complete install files for updated versions of major packages like Spike2 and Signal.

When customers wish to take a down-load of a major package, we ask a few questions, including their name, email address, the serial number of the software for which they seek an upgrade and whether they would like an automatic email whenever we update the product. This information is emailed back to CED when they access the final down-load screen. Within this email, your browser transmits the type and version of browser you are using, and the screen resolution you are running.

The reasons why we take and keep this information are that it is useful for our software development team to know who has taken the latest versions, and it is useful for our web site development team to know which browsers people are using to view our site, and what resolution they have their screens set to.


When people down-load a major package, we try to write a cookie, a small file in your computer, that records your name, serial number of the software package, and the version you are down-loading. These files have a lifetime of one year.

The reasons for storing this information are firstly that if you ask for another down-load some other time, your details are read from the cookie and are pre-written into the form, to save you looking them up again. The other reason is that next time you access our site, your browser looks through your CED cookies and compares the versions down-loaded with the latest version numbers read from our site. If there is a later version of a product you have already down-loaded, we tell you on the home page screen, so you know that it is worth going to the down-load page again.

None of this information is ever given to anyone outside CED. ×