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Real-Time Emulation of the Acoustic Violin using Convolution and Arbitrary Equalization

This report describes a real-time audio effects processor that modifies the signal generated by an electric violin to produce a sound that closely resembles the tonal qualities of an equivalent acoustic instrument. The processor convolves the incoming signal with an impulse response measured from an acoustic violin in the far field. This approach is justified if the violin body behaves as a linear system, which is typically a good approximation. Because the processor system can store sixteen such responses, it is ideally suited for listening studies in which the timbres of different emulations are being assessed or compared. The device further incorporates a uniquely adjustable arbitrary equalizer and a blender after the convolution stage, which then allows the performer to modify the instrument voice to match personnel preferences or room acoustics. The system has been evaluated in a blind listening study, in which participants were asked to rank emulations based on a range of violins of varying quality, including Old Italian models. Statistical analysis suggests that high-quality instruments were favored over the raw electric sound and cheap student model. The study confirmed that the improvements in tonal quality were convincing and realistic, thereby conveying many of the tonal nuances of the emulated wooden instrument.

JAES Volume 65 Issue 5 pp. 367-376; May 2017
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AES - Audio Engineering Society