Friday, June 26, 2009

"ALGORITHMS: Sharc DSP helps pack audio recording studio into a laptop"

Analog audio effects still rule in professional audio production, but don't fit well with the digital recording technologies. Universal Audio solved that problem several years ago by creating algorithm-based analog effects that mimic the old-school analog equipment that is not even being manufactured anymore. Unfortunately, these computationally intensive algorithms require an Analog Device's Sharc digital signal processor (DSP) that was until now only available for computers with a PCI bus. Now Universal Audio has shoehorned an ADI Sharc onto an ExpressCard that fits into laptop computers, enabling UA's 30,000 users to mix tracks anywhere. R.C.J.

An audio recording studio has been packed into a laptop computer card by harnessing Analog Devices' Sharc floating-point digital signal processor (DSP). Universal Audio's Solo ExpressCard for Mac or PC laptops is intended to unshackle professional recording engineers and producers from the studio, enabling them to mix audio tracks anywhere. The card can mix and master at sample rates from 44.1 to 192 kHz while emulating analog effects from vintage devices made by such companies as Moog, Neve, Roland and SPL. Along with the Sharc floating-point DSP, the card packs a Xilinx FPGA, SRAM, flash and glue logic in a format measuring about 25 x 100 millimeters. The Solo does stick out slightly from a laptop's ExpressCard slot but is small enough to be tucked in a pocket when not in use, according to beta-tester Elliot Mazer who has done mix-downs for such artists as Pink, Switchfoot, Santana, The Who and Neil Young.