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Analog To Digital Conversion Of Audio Essay

3713 words - 15 pages

Digital signals have transformed the world today, and in few areas is it as prevalent as it is in the music industry. Today’s analog-to-digital converters allow us to accurately store the physical, analog phenomena of sound as digital data, with high fidelity and perfect reproduction quality [1]. Digital audio storage is far more practical than analog audio storage for both the consumer and the professional alike. Digital audio is not vulnerable to noise, unlike analog audio where noise is not only prevalent but machine-indistinguishable from the original message [NEED CITE]. Additionally, digital audio is compressible, meaning that we can reduce the amount of data needed to represent the audio signal if we value data storage space over sound quality [2]. We see the natural result of this convenience in the massive spread of digital sound devices both in our portable music players, and in more inconspicuous locations such as the audio tracks to DVDs and the pre-recorded dictations in our GPS systems.
The most important component of any system that stores analog sound waves as digital data is the analog-to-digital converter (ADC). Analog signals by nature have no defined behavior, but digital signals are rooted in the concept of patterns and numeric, mathematical representation [3]. The conversion from an analog signal to a digital signal is therefore the part of our system that will most determine the quality of the digital data that we obtain from our analog signal [3]. Preferably, digital audio should have high fidelity and perfect reproducibility. High fidelity means that our system is capable of accurately reproducing the digitally recorded analog signal without being noticeably different to the original sound wave [1]. Perfect reproducibility means that once we have used an ADV to digitally store our sound wave, we can repeatedly produce an identical analog output from our digital signal [1]. In order to faithfully create digital representations of our analog signals, we need to understand how our electronics interpret and store analog sound waves as digital data.
It is worth noting that we will approach this topic primarily from the standpoint of interpreting music as digital audio, though interpreting other forms of audio is an almost identical process and digitally interpreting other analog phenomena shares many of the same techniques as digitally interpreting audio.
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A. Basics
The fundamental principle behind converting analog audio into binary digital data revolves around the ideas of sampling and quantization. Analog sound waves are continuous, maintaining smooth transitions and never jumping from one value to another without occupying every value in between [3]. This implies that our analog data contains an infinite number of values both on the time scale and the displacement scale (with a possibly, but not necessarily infinite range).
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