What is DSP

What is DSP?

DSP is not a new technology but it is one that many of us are not familiar with or do not fully understand. It is one of the more complex technologies you will come across in audio and other media. We will answer the question – what is DSP? 

DSP is an acronym for the term – digital signal processor. In simple terms, it takes in digital signals and allows them to be processed according to needs or requirements. It is used on video, audio, and voice signals but can also be used to process other signals such as pressure and temperature.

It makes use of mathematical functions which will allow you to uses these inputs, process them, and manipulate them when and how wanted.

The answer is in the name, it is a processor of digital signals. It works in much the same way as the processor on your computer, laptop, or mobile device.  

Music, voice, and sound are analog by nature. We use equipment that converts these analog signals into digital signals. DSP is the technology that allows us to manipulate the data for greater effect, benefit, and enjoyment. 

Digital music allows for greater fidelity and reduced system complexity. Adding a feature such as DSP allows for a host of benefits and one can really take advantage of the digital nature of recorded music.  

Where do you find DSP technology?

It is fast becoming more popular and is now found in many top-end audio devices. It is built into the Amazon Echo speakers, the  Sony’s 360 Reality Audio, as well as the  Apple AirPods Pro, among other devices. It is a hardware feature so the device needs to come with DSP in order to benefit from the technology. 

Many older devices have DSP chips but they are not all created equal. Some perform better than others. Think of it as the processor in your computer. Some are faster, more efficient, and simply better.

Price is a major factor so budget devices will have very basic DSP chips. The more expensive and sophisticated equipment will feature processors with multi-channel capabilities that are fast, powerful, and effective. 

These devices can perform complex algorithms that will enhance the audio procession. They can do it faster and also use less power to operate. 

DSP is also found in most smartphones. It uses the technology to perform active noise-canceling, bass boosting, and simply to decode and play the various music formats (eg. MP3). It is also essential for voice recognition and Bluetooth conversions. 

It is also a common feature in modern amplifiers, headphones, and speakers. It allows for fast and efficient processing of digital signals (music, audio, etc.) which has become the standard format for most people. 

Without quality DSP you will not be able to enjoy perfect clarity and accuracy of the audio, surround sound will be of a lower quality, and many features will not be available to you. Quality DSP is also important to prolong the battery life of your devices as it consumes less power. 

Wherever digital signals needed to be processed, DSP is required. 

Final thoughts

DSP is an essential technological component of any modern audio system. Given that we consume our audio in a digital format, most of the time, it is important to have DSP. It is the driving force behind the audio that the system can deliver. 

This article was last updated on April 11, 2021 .