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Advanced Audio Recording

Introduction to Echo Cancelling

In modern music and recording studios, there is always the problem of disturbing reflections of the primary sound source created by walls, the floor and the ceiling. Certain reflections do accumulate to steady waves causing an unbalanced sound field making it hard to judge the true sound of a recording. To lower this problem a DSP can be used to analyze the reflections and introduce a compensation signal with inverted phase to null the reflection possibly.

Silencing a Recording Studio by Echo Cancelling

The technique of echo cancelling in order to obtain a more clear signal is known from various applications in industrial signal processing. Last but not least, one can observe this at it's very best with internet data, where nowadays 100MBit most probably would not be possible to achieve without echo treatment.


In 1997 some tests had been done with a TMS320-System from Texas Instruments which also is used for my other audio applications. A high speed DSP system nowadays is able to reduce reflections in video streams, so for the slow audio signals and their reflections, this should be done with current DSPs easily. The "only" 44100 samples per seconds require a resolution of about 10us -typically delays of 1ms to 30ms will behave to be processed. RAM seems to be the only problem at the first sight.

A simple program was designed to acquire the incoming data from a Omni microphone, apply a kind of equalizer to met damping over distance and delay the signal appropriately to be able to replay it the inverted way. To distinguish incoming from replayed sound, another microphone was introduced performing common mode analysis with delayed signal (auto correlation filter). In this way the echo of the echo was also cancelled away from the primary echo, not to cause a kind of delay loop which leads to unwanted reverb effects.


 Echo Canceling by Signal Processing


Signal treatment chain of the echo cancelling algorithm. Delays are adjusted according to mic position and wall distances.


Silencing a Mixing Room by Echo Cancelling


The subsequent logical step is to eliminate more than one reflection at different positions in a room making it possible to silence mixing rooms. Concentration has to be done on taking the characteristics of the used microphones into account in terms of the applied equalizer settings. The wall's reflections have to be pre calculated and in inverted way sent into the echo chain. A room analysis helps to gain the reflections of the given walls.


Conclusion and Summary

 DSPs can be used to lower the problem of reflections during recording situations and also mixing.


 See the former article about Echo Treatment


 You may also want to have a look at the article Studio Design  



© 2004 J.S.