By Teja Gerken
Fishman’s line of Aura products has proven the company’s ability to replicate professional sounding “images” of acoustic instruments, but the new Aura Spectrum DI combines some of the best features from pedals past and incorporates some exciting new elements that improve flexibility for the user.
What Is Acoustic Imaging?
The Aura Spectrum is an instrument preamp and direct-input pedal with balanced outputs that can be used with acoustic instruments on stage or in the studio. At the heart of this multifunction box is Fishman’s Aura Acoustic Imaging Technology, which provides an “image” of an acoustic instrument that has been miked (recorded using world-class microphones and techniques) in a professional recording studio setting. You can “blend” this Aura image with the direct signal from your instrument’s pickup to achieve realistic-sounding microphone-style tones.
The Spectrum features 128 preloaded Aura images that can be accessed with a central selector knob and slider, and blended with your direct signal using the blend knob. A volume control, trim knob, clip/battery light, and phase switch give you flexibility for level adjustments, and a 1/4-inch input and 1/4-inch or XLR DI outputs provide connectivity between your instrument and amp, mixer, PA, or recording gear. The pedal also has a three-band EQ, one-knob compressor, automatic feedback suppression, a chromatic tuner, and a 1/4-inch TRS-style effects loop insert jack, making it versatile in a variety of settings and applications. In addition, the unit is equipped with a USB port for connecting to your computer, and software that allows users to download additional images (from over 500 available) in the Aura Image Gallery, and store up to 16 as presets in the “user images” selector bank.
Useful Onstage & in the Studio
While this well-built pedal can be put to use as a stompbox onstage or in a live performance setting, it’s equally useful in the studio. The chromatic tuner and anti-feedback footswitches, along with the brightly lit LED display, come in handy when used on dimly lit stages, although finding and adjusting the rotary knobs in dim light is a little harder to do. While most users might only utilize a moderate blend of the Aura image signal in live settings, the Spectrum opens up a vibrant world of tones and sound coloration in the studio, where it can be used like an instrument “modeling” effects unit and pushed all the way to 100 percent of the Aura image signal.
Pristine Sound Quality
Although the majority of the Spectrum’s settings are most fitting for guitar players, it works well with other acoustic stringed instruments like violin and viola. The bluegrass bank of images even features several “fiddles” that were recorded with an impressive array of top-quality microphones. When used with a piezo-style pickup on a violin in the bluegrass settings, the results are pristine, clean, clear, and bright sounding tones.
When the violin’s signal is blended with some of the larger-body-style guitar settings, the Spectrum provides depth and brought a pleasing texture and presence to an otherwise flat-sounding pickup.
This pedal offers a lot of value for acoustic players who use a pickup, but are interested in achieving more of a microphone-style tone.
• 128 preloaded images
• Instrument preamp with balanced XLR DI output
• Volume, Blend, and Image Select controls
• Three-band EQ
• One-knob compressor
• Automatic anti-feedback with up to three notches
• Built-in chromatic tuner with bypass/mute
• USB interface for image downloading from Aura Image Gallery (software included)
• Feedback-fighting Phase switch
• Automatic DI ground lift
• Nine-volt battery or optional adaptor operation
• 1/4-inch mono input and output with input trim control
• Balanced XLR DI output
• 1/4-inch effects loop
• 24-bit A/D/A conversion
• 32-bit processing
• Durable all-metal construction
• 5.6 x 5.25 x 2.1 inches (L x W x H)
• Nine-volt battery or optional adaptor power
• Battery life: 20 hours
• Clean, clear, and bright miked sound and tone quality
• Aura Image Gallery Software works with PC computers only (Mac not supported currently)
Price: $509.95 (MSRP), $329.95 (street)