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System Identification of Nonlinear Audio Circuits
Abstract and Figures
Digital systems gain more and more popularity in todays music industry. Musicians and producers are using digital systems because of their advantages over analog electronics. They require less physical space, are cheaper to produce and are not prone to aging circuit components or temperature variations. Furthermore, they always produce the same output signal for a defined input sequence. However, musicians like vintage equipment. Old guitar amplifiers or legendary recording equipment are sold at very high prices. Therefore, it is desirable to create digital models of analog music electronics which can be used in modern digital environments. This work presents an approach for recreating nonlinear audio circuits using system identification techniques. Measurements of the input- and output-signals from the analog reference devices are used to adjust a digital model treating the reference device as a ‘black-box’. With this technique the schematic of the reference device does not need to be known and no circuit elements have to be measured to recreate the analog device. An appropriate block-based model is chosen, depending on the type of reference system. Then the parameters of the digital model are adjusted with an optimization method according to the measured input- and output-signals. The performance of the optimized digital model is evaluated with objective scores and listening tests. Two types of nonlinear reference systems are examined in this work. The first type of reference systems are dynamic range compressors like the ‘MXR Dynacomp’, the ‘Aguilar TLC’, or the ‘UREI 1176LN’. A block-based model describing a generic dynamic range compression system is chosen and an automated routine is developed to adjust it. The adapted digital models are evaluated with objective scores and a listening test is performed for the UREI 1176LN studio compressor. The second type of nonlinear systems are distortion systems like e.g. amplifiers for electric guitars. This work presents novel modeling approaches for different kinds of distortion systems from basic distortion circuits which can be found in distortion pedals for guitars to (vintage) guitar amplifiers like the ‘Marshall JCM900’, or the ‘Fender Bassman’. The linear blocks of the digital model are measured and used in the model while the nonlinear blocks are adapted with parameter optimization methods like the Levenberg–Marquardt method. The quality of the adjusted models is evaluated with objective scores and listening tests. The adjusted digital models give convincing results and can be implemented as real-time digital versions of their analog counterparts. This enables the musician to safe a snapshot of a certain sound and recall it anytime with a digital system like a VST plug-in or as a program on a dedicated hardware.
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