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Thomann's Cool Online Guides: DSP Accelerators

3. Rise, Fall & Resurrection

DSP Accelerators are often mistakenly believed to be a recent addition to the computer studio, when in fact they’re part of what enabled the whole concept of the computer studio to become a reality in the first place. In the early to mid-nineties, the two main computer based recording systems, Digidesign’s Pro Tools and Soundscape’s SSHDR1, provided their own DSP processing outside the computer. Computers at the time were simply not powerful enough to cope with real-time effects processing. Gradually, a few more budget-priced soundcards emerged with DSP built in, providing a suite of good quality effects that could be used alongside existing recording software. The Emu APS and Yamaha SW1000XG are prime examples of DSP soundcards that offered multi-effects to the computer musician, some time before host programs such as Cubase and Sonar were able to provide real-time processing themselves.

The UAD-Xpander is the world's first ExpressCard audio DSP expansion system for Mac OS X and Windows Vista laptops.

When Steinberg introduced their Virtual Studio Technology (VST) in Cubase VST, it gave the increasingly powerful computers of the day the opportunity to run real-time effects plug-ins of their own. These simple effects were useful, but initially had little chance of standing up to the sound of powerful digital multi-effects hardware units, or getting close to matching the quality of professional analogue outboard gear. Meanwhile, at the top end of the market, Digidesign’s DSP Farms were happily running studio-quality professional effects in real-time from the likes of Focusrite and Line 6. The Pro Tools system was exclusively DSP based however, and ignored the potential power of the computer itself.

VST plug-ins soon began to improve as talented programmers and manufacturers got involved, and all the while, computers became ever more powerful and capable of running quite complex effects and synthesis. The explosion of software plug-ins at around the turn of the century seemed to offer the promise that the computer could do anything – just upgrade your CPU and run dozens more effects. The range, diversity and affordability of these plug-ins made DSP based systems seem narrow and limited by comparison, and most were soon discarded in favour of more RAM and faster CPUs.

Over time though, musicians found that the increased complexity of some software effects took large chunks of processing power from their computers, forcing them to find a balance between performance and plug-in counts. This meant that as a project developed, CPU limits would often be reached, and compromises had to be made in what and how many plug-ins could be run in real-time. The promise of endless computer or ‘host’ based effects was not fulfilled, and it wasn’t long before people were asking whether it was possible to get some kind of specialised DSP to run the more processor-hungry effects…

Today’s computer-studios can now benefit from both the enormous power of host-based effects and instruments, and the peace of mind and quality of DSP-based plug-ins.

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Note: Participation in an online competition runs independently from any purchase at Thomann GmbH. The following Competition Rules apply when participating in any online competition run by Musikhaus Thomann:

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DSP Accelerators overview

Toontrack Superior Drummer 3 Upgrade Roland SH-01A gray Toontrack Superior Drummer 3 Varytec LED Theater Spot 100 3000K Digitech SDRUM Strummable Drums Boss Katana Mini Fender Standard Telecaster MN BB Kala Spruce Mahagony Sopran Ukulele Arturia KeyLab Essentials 61 Stairville Octagon 20x6W Tourpack 4 Darkglass Alpha Omicron Bass Distortion Arturia KeyLab Essentials 49
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Toontrack Superior Drummer 3 Upgrade

Virtual Drum Production Studio (Download)Upgrade from Toontrack Superior Drummer 2 to Superior Drummer 3 Based on meticulously recorded samples of high quality drums, Recorded in 11.1 Surround by George Massenburg in the Galaxy Studios, Over 230GB...

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€169
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Roland SH-01A gray

Roland SH-01A gray, sounds of the classic roland sh-101 synthesizer via acb technology; new unison, chord, and four-voice polyphonic modes expand on the original's sound palette; built-in sequencer with 64 patterns; arpeggiator with 3 playback modes, note hold, 3-way transpose...

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€398
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Toontrack Superior Drummer 3

Toontrack Superior Drummer 3 (ESD); virtual drum production studio; extensively produced drum software, based on meticulously recorded samples of high end drums; recorded in 11.1 surround sound at the Galaxy Studios by George Massenburg; over 230 GB of raw, unprocessed...

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€329
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Varytec LED Theater Spot 100 3000K

LED Theatre Spotlights With Fresnel lens and 3000K colour temperature, Replaces conventional stepped lens spotlights of the 500 - 650 W class, Adjustable beam angle via manual zoom, Very quiet temperature-controlled fan for quiet operation, Light source: 100 W...

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€321
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Digitech SDRUM Strummable Drums

Digitech SDRUM Strummable Drums, drum machine in stomp box format, creates drum patterns based on scatches and strums across muted strings, 5 studio quality drumkit sounds, 12 different hats/rides styles, stores up to 36 differents songs, 3 song parts programmable...

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€219
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Boss Katana Mini

Modelling Combo Amplifier for Electric Guitar 3 Basic amplifier types selectable (Brown/Crunch/Clean), Analogue multi-stage gain circuit with 3-Band analogue EQ, Channels: 1, Power: 7 W, Equipped with: 1x 4" speaker, Cabinet construction: Closed, Controls: (Mono): Gain, Volume, Bass, Middle,...

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€98
Recommended
Fender Standard Telecaster MN BB

Electric Guitar Mexico, Alder body, Maple neck, Modern "C" neck profile, Fretboard: Maple, 21 Medium jumbo frets, Nut width: 42 mm, Scale: 648 mm (25.5"), Pickup: 2 Standard Tele Single Coil, 3-Way toggle switch, Volume knob and tone knob,...

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€595
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Kala Spruce Mahagony Sopran Ukulele

Kala Spruce Mahagony Soprano Ukulele, Soprano body size, 348 mm scale, overall length 533 mm, Spruce top, Mahogany back and sides, Mahogany neck, 12 nickel silver frets, Black Walnut fingerboard, Black Walnut bridge, chrome, geared machineheads, Aquila Super Nylgut strings,...

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€78
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Arturia KeyLab Essentials 61

USB MIDI Keyboard 61 Velocity-sensitive keys, 8 Velocity dynamic pads with aftertouch, A Clickable encoder, 9 Rotary control, 9 Faders, 13 Keys, Transport section with 4 function buttons, LCD display, Pitchbend and modulation wheel, Chord Play mode, Mackie /...

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€249
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Stairville Octagon 20x6W Tourpack 4

Stairville Octagon Theater 20x6W 4x Tourpack incl. Flightcase, 20x6W CW / WW / A, Complete Tourpack with 4 pieces Stairville Octagon Theater 20x6W in a stable roadcase. Professional LED Theatre Spot with infinitely adjustable colour temperature. The, Octagon Theatre is...

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€925
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Darkglass Alpha Omicron Bass Distortion

Effect Pedal for Electric Guitar Provides the distortion and flexibility of the alpha-omega in a smaller format, With the two distortions, it offers the same harmonically rich, various sounds as its big brother, Knobs: Blend - mod - level...

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€269
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Arturia KeyLab Essentials 49

USB MIDI Keyboard 49 Velocity-sensitive keys, 8 Velocity-sensitive pads with aftertouch, 1 clickable encoder, 9 Rotary control, 9 Faders, 13 Buttons, Transport section with 4 function buttons, LCD display, Pitchbend and modulation wheel, Chord Play mode, Mackie / HUI...

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€199
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