Engineers at the Analog Devices, Inc. booth here at the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show demonstrated yesterday how digital signal processor (DSP) technology helped create a better acoustic guitar.
Using a Blackfin DSP, Fishman Transducers, Inc. found a way to amplify acoustic guitars without compromising their sound quality. The company created an “Acoustic Imaging Blender” that employs a recorded sound image of the guitar and transforms it into a software algorithm. The software algorithm is then stored in a Blackfin processor on board the guitar, to be used when the sound signal is amplified. Engineers demonstrated the amplified guitar at CES yesterday.
“The difference in sound quality is subtle to most of us,” said Denis Labrecque, DSPS marketing programs manager for Analog Devices. “But to a professional, there’s a tremendous difference.”
Labrecque explained the technology offers an advantage over conventional acoustic guitar amplification methods, including microphones and so-called “pick-ups.” Microphones don’t always provide ideal sound quality because guitarists tend to move while they play. Pick-ups, meanwhile, send the sound from the end of the guitar, which is not considered ideal.
Fishman’s new method captures the correct sound quality of the guitar by placing extremely high-quality microphones near the guitar’s bridge pick-up to create the sound image. The company then applies that image to the recorded signals. Using the sound image algorithm, the Blackfin processor re-synthesizes incoming sensor signals into an output signal in real time.
Labrecque said the technique is enabling guitar manufacturers to create products that offer higher quality sound, especially in recording studios.
“All of the effects use DSP,” he said. “Without it, you’d never be able to get world-class recorded quality in an acoustic guitar.”