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Old 24th January 2012, 03:19 PM   #1
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Default Simple Idea of "Fully" Digital Microphone and Guitar

I have been having an idea for as full digital approach to everything connected to sound as possible. Hence, I am puzzled why there are still analogue devices. The only reason I can think of is because of the noise and lousy power supplies of standard digital electronics (PC's for example), although I consider the noise is far higher than the audible range. Another reason may be the transients generated by switching power supplies and digital devices (high power processors).

However, there are ways to fight these. Standard filtration and multi capacitor arrays at the power source as well as capacitors spread around the PCB in a "digital electronics" fashion (the other way around: protect the circuit from the coming noise as opposed to protecting circuit from the emitted by an IC noise) with parallel of a few electrolitics, a few tantalums, a few ceramics silver micas and whatever they have there, starting from huge values and decreasing to pF.

There are variations of zeners with various commercial names as mosorbs, etcetera which can be effective in the struggle against transients.

However, the reason for this article is to invoke your conversations in the sense of as early digitization as possible and make you discuss all advantages and disadvantages thereof.

So, the idea is very simple: take any kind of microphone, bring a nice battery; totally disconnected from the noisy world to the microphone; get your pre amplification and amplification there; get a nice ADC and digitize the shite out of the signal; in case so desired, digitally process the signal: filter and protocolise (make a simple transmission protocol to send the signal without too many errors). Filtering is best to be left to the other equipment. Digital compression of the transmitted information may not be necessary because of the low maximum frequency of the audible sound 25KHz. May I, please, suggest 30KHz, so even the poshest violin player in London Philharmonics is happy.

Then send the bits and bytes to the USB and you are in business. Sure Microsoft can do a simple sound processing software as well as many around. Simple and no speed is required.

One way to send the bits and bytes is through nasty and noisy radio transmission, another is through a simple cable (better be coaxial) and, of course, the best way is by light: laser diode and fiber optics cables.

One way to market is to tell the singers there ainít gonna be no cables. They donít care what the sound quality is, definitely not after a few beers when their voices are all over the place and so are their years, not to mention their brains.

Now, the same applies to the guitars. Can you imagine how nice it would be to plug a simple battery(ies) into the guitar and get the digital goiní all over around. Then, with a few clicks of the mouse (usually 1) I can have or synthesise any sound Iíd like. I do not like electronics sounds (meaning the field of music called electronics) but you probably do. However, I like distortion (the guitar effect) and I would definitely use such by clicking the distortion icon.

And all this (software and hardware) is so inexpensive yet so high quality, I can even make a professional CD and try to sell the CD in Londonís subway (The Tube)!

There is one problem though: I will be the only one to purchase this CD. The good news for yíall is: this is the case NOT because of the technical quality of the sound.

May I, please, ask you to comment on the most important question: The advantages are obvious. What are the disadvantages? In case of a lack thereof, why can I not purchase a system alike from the Chinese shop for a dollar or two? (Far more than what the manufacturing price of such a system is.) The sense of this question is why the guitar and microphone manufacturers do not do this on daily basis. Assuming they are stubborn (which they are), why do the Chinese not manufacture standard separate devices for guitar/microphone.

Also, before your human loving angry response to exploitation of inexpensive Chinese labour, take a look around and say how come I can purchase so many complicated things around for a fistful of dollars and I canít get a microphone/guitar digital system whose manufacturing price with brand name components manufactured in Taiwan is 25c?

Volume, youíd recon. You are right. There is a huge demand for this kinda systems. Everyone talks and everyone rocks!

Can I rephrase the main question: Do you see any reason why such a simple system (device) is NOT manufactured?

What say you?
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Old 24th January 2012, 03:29 PM   #2
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To take the idea even higher: someone has buit a laser guitar "hum picker" (convertor of the string vibrations to and electrical signal, now a days a lousy coil) still in prototype phase. Sounded gorgeously but there is a bit more to go. Saw it on the TV played by a pro as well as by a normal person.

The idea would be to do the same for a microphone: a simple membrane and a laser diode and a photodiode to measure the vibrations by the modulation on the laser beam (or a simple displacement thereof). Wouldn't this be nice? Would this be possible, though? Theoretically, yes. Practically, I can't even consider how such a smal movement in such a huge for the reputable mechanical science frequency range of 20Hz to 25KHz (even 20KHz is fine) can ever be detected by something so dumb, they called this thing Laser?
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Old 24th January 2012, 03:34 PM   #3
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Google for Crystal microphone and Gibson guitar.
The Devil is not so terrible as his math model is!

Last edited by Wavebourn; 24th January 2012 at 03:38 PM.
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Old 24th January 2012, 03:48 PM   #4
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Yes, I binged Shaker Crystal 1/4" Harmonica Microphone and more Specialty Microphones at

Ain't saying what they mean by samplin' hope digitisin'.

I have also seen the price of $100 to $500.

Las but not least, the last line of the description says all one needs to know: "Manufactured in the Desert of Arizona".

Wouldn't this make more sense to be manufactured in Mexico?

[ Please, accept all apollogies in case you find this insulting. I have always tried to make a good humour and to make you smile. There is nothing wrong to manufacture anything in the desert of Arizona. Even better: the tax is almost as low as in Texas, I suppose. I have attempted clean humour with a good intention only. ]
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Old 24th January 2012, 03:57 PM   #5
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it is different crystal.
Try links that I provided.
The Devil is not so terrible as his math model is!
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Old 24th January 2012, 04:37 PM   #6
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Here is a nice article on microphones:

I, personally, think there is a lot of bull there. Here is a systematisation of the type of microphones by the type of convertor from mechanical to electrical energy they use (please, be nice, do not use the incorrect word "transducer", use the better word "sensor" in case you do not like convertor):

Electromagnetic (there ain't no nothing dynamic into them): They call these: dynamic (incorrect), ribbon (incorrect: the method is not important as long as the principle is electromagnetic).

Electrostatic or Capacitive: Condenser

Electret: Electret is Electrostatic in principle but with a charge inside (like a magnet iron). I would prefer to be in a different category.


Laser/LED: What they call fiber optics is in fact Laser. What they call laser ain't a microphone on the first place but a simple laser beam. On the second point, what they call laser microphone is a James Bond bull and doesn't exists due to the low sensitivity of the laser beam as a detector of small movements (vibrations), zero or almost zero vibration on the glass mainly the thick one, small size of the windows (no leverage for vibration), quiet sound inside, many other sources of stronger vibration in the same frequency range (trucks, cars, music) which affect the outer (the mainly measured) one window, dust and dirt of the outer window in case they also combine the measurements with the ones of the inner window, double glazing of double windows, wind vibrations, moving dust in the wind, etcetera. There was only one instance to use this "microphone": when Johnny Cash talks inside.

Semiconductor: (they call it MEMS)


Liquid: I doubt this can be used unless one bends over and talks to the desk where this is placed.

The principles of all of these have been known ever since the electricity was invented (or the corresponding effects) for measurement of distance.

Anyways. I am incredibly happy to see a laser microphone (what they call fiber optics) has been manufactured. Now, the question is: HAVE YOU EVER SEEN/HEARD THE SOUND OF ONE?

Can this microphone perform well? Do they transfer the signal to the amplifier by fiber optics, as a light signal, or convert the signal to electrical inside the microphone? Probably by fiber optics because this is the commercial name and there aren't very many places for this name to come from except they may call the laser diode optic system inside the microphone "fiber optics".

Last edited by StevenStanleyBayes; 24th January 2012 at 04:48 PM.
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Old 24th January 2012, 04:40 PM   #7
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Sorry. Didn't see the links in the email. Didn't read the forum, just the email sent automatically when you posted. Now, trying: Crystal? | Optoacoustics
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Old 24th January 2012, 05:05 PM   #8
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Here is an abstract of some of the things on:
Although I have not been able to find a direct statement to say: “The signal from the Laser/LED microphone is delivered to the processing system as light by fiber optics and then converted to an electrical signal by the system…” I believe this is what they do because they say there is a “complete electro magnetic interference immunity”. Unless they are afraid of the light attenuation (and possible distortion ?) in the fiber optics and convert the light signal into an electrical signal at the microphone. Either way, they are ingenious and the product is superb. Being manufactured in the US and one of a kind, however, I seem to think the price may be such, so only Bono can afford this microphone. Perhaps, in a few decades, I can also have one.

Optoacoustics’ award-winning sensor technology uses photonic principles to precisely measure sound, vibration, pressure and other key physical characteristics in locations where conventional sensors cannot be used.

Optoacoustics’ portfolio of patented technologies offers the following advantages:
  • Complete EMI/RFI immunity
  • High signal quality
  • Extremely high sensitivity at very low frequencies
  • Optical data connection over very long distances without signal loss
  • Low total harmonic distortion (THD)
  • Lightweight, designed for custom mounting
  • High signal-to-noise ratio (SNR)
  • Long term reliability and stability

Advanced MEMS Membrane

At the heart of Optoacoustics’ extraordinary fiber optic sensor is our ultra sensitive reflective membrane, a product of advanced micro-electro mechanical systems (MEMS) technology. The active area of this extremely thin membrane is composed of low stress silicon nitride, engineered with numerous circular corrugations to increase its sensitivity. At its center is a tiny gold dot, which serves as the surface that receives and reflects light.
During operation, this gold dot is the pinpoint for all measurements, making it possible to adjust both sensitivity and signal-to-noise response by dynamically changing the intensity of light transmitted by the source LED.
Here also, since no electronic components are used to produce a signal, electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio frequency interference (RFI) are not a factor in sensor performance.
Membrane Linear Response

This proprietary membrane experiences a smooth linear response with a dynamic range of 100 dB. Optoacoustics has designed each of the following critical membrane parameters to optimize sensor performance:
  • Membrane layer materials (Young modulus)
  • Membrane layer residual stress
  • Membrane layer thickness
  • Membrane size
  • Corrugation profile and depth
  • Gold dot reflectivity to IR
  • Gold dot residual stress

Electro-Optic Subsystem

A separate electro-optic unit (EOU) houses the LED and photo detector components, as well as an analog electronic processing circuit.
The electronic circuit is comprised of a trans-impedance circuit and conditioning amplifier and performs all required signal amplification and processing, eliminating the need for additional devices. Our EOU also ensures that sensor performance — including application-critical characteristics such as frequency response and sensitivity — is optimized at all times.
Long-Distance Functionality

Fully utilizing Optoacoustics' core fiber optic sensor technology, the EOU can be located at great distances from the application environment, and so does not pose a safety risk or create a new source for EMI/RFI.
Our comprehensive selection of EOUs offers a wide variety of subsystem capabilities and packaging, adaptable to every application and environment.
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Old 24th January 2012, 05:15 PM   #9
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I've just had a quick glance at: Gibson's new HD.6X-Pro digital guitar hits the market -- Engadget

Would you get a guitar from a company which calls a simple ADC "Magic"?

Most importantly, they use a network cable. Do they mean to create a network for pub musicians?

Jokes aside (not very easy), the argument they have made the implementation of the digital idea possible is superb. I am happy to see this.

However, the price is $4000 and they still use hum buckers as opposed to the same Gibson but analogue for $400 or $1000. Their ADC costs $3000 as opposed to $0.30. What would The Edge say?
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Old 24th January 2012, 05:17 PM   #10
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Anyways, thanks a lot Wavebourn. I got a lot of information. Yes, I do know these are new products, yes, I do know in a few years they will have a normal price.
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