A Guide To Digital Signal Processing For Newbies

You may have heard of DSP at some point. Short for digital signal processing, this term refers to the various techniques employed by sound engineers, communications experts and others for the purposes of improving the quality, clarity and reliability of all digital communications.

These techniques are somewhat complex, but in layman’s terms digital signal processing aims to clarify or standardise the various states of any given digital signal. The clever thing about DSP technology is that it can differentiate between the sounds that we humans make (i.e. talking, laughing, singing and so forth) and background noise.

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Why do we need digital signal processing?

There is a simple reason why we need digital signal processing, and that is to get rid of any unwanted noise! Let’s say that you make a telephone call to someone who is perhaps located in another part of the country, or the world.

Imagine how annoying and frustrating it would be if all you could hear is background noise caused by interference on the line; you simply wouldn’t be able to communicate with the person at the other end of the line!

Telecommunications companies employ different types of DSP devices to help keep any line noise to a minimum, and stop things like line echo from affecting the quality of the lines that it provides to its customers.

Further, broadband services such as ADSL and FTTC (fibre-to-the-cabinet) rely on minimal line noise to provide the highest amount of bandwidth (i.e. download and upload speeds) possible to its customers.

Are there any limits to what DSP technology can do?

As with any technology, there are certainly some limitations to the scope of benefits that digital signal processing can provide. For example, if there is too much background or line noise, the positive effects of digital signal processing can be negligible, and it is often easier to simply find a better route between the two points of transmission rather than continuing to improve an untenable situation.

What other examples of DSP technology are there?

Digital signal processing technology can also be utilised for audio processing purposes.

Applications where DSP technology is used range from the near-perfect transmission of analogue and digital sound over radio waves to studio processing; for example, removing any unwanted background noise in recordings such as feedback or even other people talking in the background.

Sometimes, the technology is employed when converting analogue sound waves to digital sound waves and vice-versa; this is typically used in settings such as television and radio stations, for example.

Digital signal processing is a type of technology that, like most technologies in use, in the 21st century, we really could not do without. Most of us would not be able to have clear telephone conversations with each other for a start, and any music that we listen to would sound really mediocre!

So in short, digital signal processing is a well relied-upon but often unknown electronic miracle maker that is used a number of things we use and listen to each day!


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