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Tips: A Few Basics about Digital Signal Processors (DSPs)

Today digital signals are part and parcel of all data networks, and this includes audio-visual networks, which are quickly going digital. A basic understanding of how digital signal processors (DSPs) work is critical, because they play an important role in simplifying AV networking and also in achieving greater audio-video clarity.

Put simply, as AV moves to networks it also needs to move from Analog-to-Digital technologies, which makes DSPs virtually indispensable.

A beginners guide to digital signal processing

This article from Analog Devices provides beginners with a simplified explanation of how digital signal processing works. This includes a description of the key ‘components’ of a DSP — which include Program Memory, Data Memory, the Compute Engine and Input/Output elements.

It defines digital signal processors (DSPs) as devices that take real-world signals like voice, audio, video, temperature, pressure, or position that have been digitized and then mathematically manipulate them. A DSP is designed for performing mathematical functions like “add”, “subtract”, “multiply” and “divide” very quickly.

Real-world AV benefits – like audio clarity

The article says…“A DSP’s information can be used by a computer to control such things as security, telephone, home theater systems, and video compression. Signals may be compressed so that they can be transmitted quickly and more efficiently from one place to another (e.g. teleconferencing can transmit speech and video via telephone lines).”

As an example, consider the use of DSP in professional audio-visual applications. There is need for audio clarity in meeting or event environments — especially when larger groups are participating in same-room conferences or making video calls to remote locations. Poor audibility can get in the way of meeting effectiveness because microphones can’t pick up what some people say, or because people can’t hear clearly in sections with poor audio coverage or too much background noise.

According to Analog Devices, DSP enables this because, “Signals may also be enhanced or manipulated to improve their quality or provide information that is not sensed by humans (e.g. echo cancellation for cell phones or computer-enhanced medical images). Although real-world signals can be processed in their analog form, processing signals digitally provides the advantages of high speed and accuracy.”

In conclusion, from an AV room design perspective, Digital Signal Processors (DSPs) are a really useful tool which allows more sophisticated manipulation of the sound for echo cancellation, noise reduction, filtering etc, than a previous generation analog systems would.

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