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Fishman Aura Spectrum DI Preamp Acoustic Pedal
Enhance your purchase
- The Aura Spectrum DI features award-winning Aura Acoustic Imaging technology that enables players to mix studio-mic’d sound with the signal from their undersaddle or soundhole pickup
- 128 pre-loaded Images for use with the most popular acoustic instruments
- Instrument preamp with balanced XLR D.I. output
- Built-in chromatic tuner with bypass/mute
- USB interface for Image downloading from Aura Image Gallery (software included)
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From the manufacturer
- Processor: 32-bit processing
- Material: Durable all-metal construction
- Dimensions: 5.6" L x 5.25" W x 2.1" H (142 mm) (133 mm) (53 mm)
- Weight: 1.7 lbs (.77 kg)
- Power: 9-Volt battery (not included) or optional 910R power adapter (ACC-BLE-POW)
- Battery Life: 20 hours
Fishman Aura Spectrum
Acoustic DI Preamp
The complete performance technology solution for acoustic musicians. The Aura Spectrum DI features Aura Acoustic Imaging technology that enables players to mix studio-mic’d sound with the signal from their undersaddle or soundhole pickup.
Housed in a professional quality all-metal case, the Aura Spectrum DI features a 3-band EQ, one-knob compressor, automatic feedback suppression with up to 3 notches, a chromatic tuner, effects loop, plus a high-quality balanced XLR D.I. The included Aura Image Gallery software provides access to an ever-expanding list of instrument Images recorded using our collection of the most sought after microphones.
Aura Spectrum DI is not only incredibly versatile, but it also delivers the most realistic acoustic sound available for stage or studio. Fishman’s Aura Image Gallery software allows users to access Images for hundreds of guitar makes and models through our free Aura Image library. Once installed on your PC or Mac, the software also allows Aura Images to be sorted, managed and grouped. Users can then take advantage of the preamp’s open architecture by loading Aura Images via a USB cable.
The Complete Performance Technology Solution for Acoustic Musicians
- 128 pre-loaded Images for use with the most popular acoustic instruments.
- Instrument preamp with balanced XLR D.I. output.
- Volume, Blend, and Image Select controls.
- 3-band EQ.
- One-knob compressor.
- Automatic anti-feedback with up to 3 notches.
- Automatic D.I. Ground Lift.
- Built-in chromatic tuner with bypass/mute.
- 16 user-configurable Image locations.
- USB interface for Image downloading from Aura Image Gallery (software included).
- Feedback-fighting Phase switch.
Fishman Aura preamps and onboard Imaging systems go beyond modeling to create a spacious sound that is both vivid and natural.
The sound of your acoustic instrument in a room is a combination of time, space and distance, that’s why no matter how great your undersaddle pickup or soundhole microphone sounds — (and they can sound fantastic), there is still something missing — the instrument’s aura. To re-create the sound that naturally surrounds your instrument in a room through an amplifier or PA, we created Aura Imaging technology.
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Aura Spectrum DI is the complete tone solution for the acoustic musician featuring award-winning Aura Acoustic Imaging technology that restores a studio-miked sound to your under saddle or sound hole pickup. Housed in a professional quality all-metal case, Aura Spectrum DI features a 3-band EQ, one-knob compressor, automatic feedback suppression with up to 3 notches, chromatic tuner, effects loop, plus a high-quality balanced XLR D.I. The included Aura Image Gallery software provides access to an ever-expanding list of instruments recorded using world-class studio mics and techniques. Aura Spectrum DI is not only incredibly versatile, but it also delivers the most realistic acoustic sound available for stage or studio. Features: Award-winning Aura Acoustic Imaging 128 pre-loaded Images for use with the most popular acoustic instruments Instrument Preamp with Balanced XLR D.I. out Volume, Blend, and Image Select controls Three band EQ One-knob compressor Automatic anti-feedback with up to 3 notches Built-in chromatic tuner with bypass/mute 16 user-configurable Image locations USB interface for Image downloading from Aura Image Gallery (software included) Feedback-fighting Phase switch Automatic D.I. Ground Lift 9-Volt Battery or optional adaptor operation
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What I've discovered after downloading all the public images from Fishman (a MUST) and trying several dozen images and settings for maybe 3 hours is that a pristine, miked acoustic guitar sound is possible, but getting there requires a lot of experimentation. Consider the variables: Each image is going to shape the sound source according to the microphone and guitar used to create it. Some of the combinations of guitar and microphone have a *dramatically* different effect on the source sound. An important point here is, either find your exact guitar make and model OR use the image wizard tool in the software to get a list of "similar" guitars. If you find an exact match you have an advantage because you just eliminated one of the variables. If not (as in my case - I have a 1984 Alvarez Yairi dred) you must resign yourself to loading several different combinations of guitar/mic images into the Spectrum and doing a lot of A/B comparisons. Other suggestions that may help find that one "sweet spot" image:
1. Eliminate everything else in the signal path. Plug directly into the amp if possible.
2. Keep everything flat, and no effects! Very important - you want to judge the subtle nuances between images on completely uncolored sound.
3. When you find a list of candidate images with the wizard, look up the guitars online and choose the ones that match the wood species of your guitar for back, sides AND top.
4. Understand that if you're playing through an image that doesn't match your exact make & model, your guitar is another variable in the equation that will inevitably color the sound. For example, it you're playing through a Taylor image and your guitar has more depth in the lower notes than a Taylor, the resulting sound might be a bit muddy or boomy, regardless of which mic is used. The trick is to try to match the make/model of the image as closely as possible in woods and acoustics to leave the microphone as the only remaining variable affecting the sound.
I've been working with a few dozen images and I'm only now beginning to zero in on some that sound really nice with my guitar. And when I say really nice I mean REALLY nice. Be patient - this is not an effects pedal or a modeler. It will take some time to get the Spectrum tweaked just right to get that beautiful, natural sound you're looking for, especially if you can't find an exact match to your guitar.
I would give it 5 stars but they did not include power supply.
It drains a battery very fast.
Why are they so cheap not to send power supply?
Batteries are bad for environment
The unit is well made and seems very solid... I'm using it just for recording, so I can't speak for it's capabilities in a live performance situation, but I'm sure it would work well... If you have an older piezo pickup like I have in my classical I would advise using an additional preamp and adjust your trim accordingly on the Fishman... Also try dropping off the bass and treble on the onboard guitar EQ and use the preamps to EQ, you will get a more natural sound...Nice job Fishman !
CONSTRUCTION: This is a beefy and handsome device: heavy duty metal case, nonslip feet, smooth turning dials, sturdy footswitches and simple control layout. The control labels are too small to read while on the floor but no biggie once you memorize the layout. I assumed the image/patch would be displayed on the LCD but, instead, the LCD is reserved for tuner and bypass functions.
SOUND QUALITY: According to Fishman, the Aura makes an under saddle pickup sound like a studio mic. As wonderful as the undersaddle piezo pickup is, it is not exactly natural in timbre or response. It's in the ball park but has definite electronic undertones: a tendency for harshness (piezo quack), increased sustain and electronic coloration. The Aura is supposed to simulate natural acoustic tone by blending an "image" of a mic'd acoustic guitar with the pickup signal. So does it work?
My point of reference is a mix of my Neumann KM184 mic and the Cool Tubes pickup system on my Hirade TH90 and TH8SS classical guitars. Mixed 60/40 pickup and mic this combo is amazing through my Genz Benz acoustic guitar amp. I love this sound but it is a pain to carry around to gigs and it feeds back at even moderate volume. The Aura can be cranked louder than a real mic/pickup blend and, of course, the Aura is easier to transport than a mic and boom stand.
The Aura boasts 128 images, but only 16 of them are for classical guitar. Luckily it has 16 additional user assignable patches. I promply filled them with nylon string images from the Aura Gallery and spend days working through the images. Only a handful of the images sounded decent to my ears. I found the images sounded best mixed between 9:00 (25%) and 12:00 (50%) with the dry signal.
Even sparingly mixed, many of the stock images were overly bright with rolled off bass and lower mids. The best images were the ones I downloaded through the Aura Gallery III application, especially the Ramirez and Buscarino images. I was surprised there were no Takamine or Hirade nylon string images, especially given these are popular instruments for gigging classical guitarists.
After days of knob twisting and auditioning through a Trace Acoustic TA50R and Genz Benz Shenandoah SHEN-CPK-8T I came to this conclusion: the Aura does not make a classical guitar with undersaddle pickup sound like it's mic'd. It also doesn't sound as good as an actual mic/pickup blend. Nevertheless, the Aura does sound different than a bare pickup and, with care, can impart a more realistic timbre while nixing the dreaded piezo quack. The secret is to find an image patch with a timbre close to your guitar and mix it sparingly, e.g., image mix set between 9:00 (25%) and 12:00 (50%) with the dry signal. And herein lies the catch: there is a serious shortage of good classical guitar image patches.
NYLON STRING PATCHES: Most Aura classical guitar images are bright and scratchy, as if a rough fingernail or guitar pick was used. None of the images have the sweet round tone of a classical guitarist. And this bright scratchy timbre was consistent across the board from the budget Yamaha images to high end concert guitars. The resulting mix of dry pickup and image sounded more like a 1960s bossa nova player mic'd with a SM58 (upper mid EQ bump). Of course, finger style jazz players love that tone and it certainly has its place. But I'd be happy with just one great image created with Christopher Parkening or Pepe Romero tone! Please Fishman entice Chris or Pepe into your studio...
TWEAKS: One of the attractive things about the Aura is onboard gain, 3-band EQ, compression and feedback control. Even with the acoustic image feature disabled the Aura makes a fine preamp and direct box (XLR and phone jack output). The EQ implementation is useful and focused towards the needs of acoustic guitarists. The range of adjustment leans towards fine increments so even a 90 degree knob rotation doesn't make a radical difference. These controls are designed for gentle tweaks and not extreme changes of tonal character. And what a great one-knob implementation of compression. The goal is to sound natural so, again, range of adjustment leans towards fine increments. Set from 10:00 to 12:00 just evens up your attack enough to sound smooth without killing off accents or dynamics. You can't really screw it up unless cranked to 11. The feedback feature works okay and I like the ability to notch out multiple tones. However, it can be slow scanning and zeroing in on individual feedback tones. I'm faster manually dialing them out with the notch filters on my Trace Acoustic amps.
I wish Fishman included 16 or so nice hall and room reverb patches. It's a PITA to jack in another device just for a little reverb.
POWER SUPPLY: I don't like relying on batteries for gigs and Fishman should include a wall wart for the 3 benjamins they squeeze out of ya. Better yet, allow the use of phantom power as the majority of acoustic guitarists jack into acoustic guitar amps or mixing boards with phantom power.
TUNER: The Aura has a built-in tuner engaged via dedicated footswitch. Readout appears on a bright 1990s style alphanumeric display. Tuner performance is mediocre, suffering regular misreads of my guitars. The tuner built into my Cool Tubes preamp is faster and nearly 100% reliable. Oddly, the tuner works better with steel-string guitars so I assume Fishman didn't test it with nylon strings. The poor tuner is no biggie since all my preamps have tuners, but a modern LCD with patch ID and ability to save user settings (e.g., fav image, EQ, compression) would be nice. Also, wish the footswitch could be reprogramed for other functions, e.g., bypass or stepping through image patches.
RFI: I live in a city full of radio and TV transmitting towers. Cheap pedals, amps and mixing boards act like radio receivers and it ain't cool to have classic rock stations randomly interrupting sets or tracks. I am happy to say the Aura is well shielded and is reasonably immune to RFI.
LAST BLURB: The concept of blending samples of mic'd acoustic guitars is revolutionary and full of promise. Sadly, image quality and selection of patches are poor for classical guitar. Plus, image selections mainly revolve around differences in wood response and timbre. Sure a cedar top sounds different than spruce. However, Fishman missed the most fundamental and pronounced aspect of tone production: the touch of the human finger. I would rather have a silky toned artist like Manuel Barrueco create an Aura image on a plywood guitar than have a rough fingered dude pluck on a $25,000 Fleta...
This product is optimized for acoustic steel-string players with a nod to gigging classical guitarists. Fishman could make the Aura into a killer processor/preamp for all acoustic guitarists with the addition of better nylon string images, control illumination and a bigger LCD with patch ID and ability to save user settings. Maybe someday Pepe will drop by Fishman with his Fleta and record an image. Until then, I really want to love the Aura Spectrum D.I. but I'll have to settle for the friend zone.
Top reviews from other countries
There is also an on-board tuner and anti-feedback absorber.