A Closer look At The Fishman Aura Spectrum Acoustic Guitar DI


When it comes to acoustic guitar gear, few companies are as well-known and respected as Fishman Transducers. With over 30 years of experience, their products have helped amplify and shape the tone of professionals and weekend warriors alike. I've taken a look at a few of their pickups in the past and came away impressed. So with that in mind, I wanted to take one of their pedals for a spin. Specifically, the Fishman Aura Spectrum DI, a versatile preamp, DI, EQ and acoustic imager with one simple goal -- to give your acoustic guitar the same pristine tone you get from a studio mic anywhere, even live on stage. Keep reading to see what the Fishman Aura Spectrum DI is all about.

The Features Of the Fishman Aura Spectrum DI

At its core, the Aura Spectrum is a high-quality acoustic guitar DI box but that description alone would severely underplay what this little box can do for your sound. For example, it offers a chromatic tuner, automatic feedback suppressor (with three different notch filters), a universal compressor, three-band EQ, an effects loop with an automatic ground lift (to fight against 60 cycle hum), as well as a mute/bypass switch. And if that weren't enough, then there's Fishman's impressive Acoustic Imaging Technology -- arguably the best feature of the entire pedal.

Aura Spectrum DIFishman Aura Spectrum DI @ $349.95

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 undersaddle or soundhole 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.


Acoustic Imaging In A Nutshell

We all know that there's a huge difference between the sound you get when recorded through a nice, professional mic in the studio and the sound you get while playing straight through a PA or amp. Crowd noise and room acoustics aside, there are just certain special details and subtle qualities that only mics are capable of bringing out of a guitar. The main mission of the Aura's Imaging feature is to bring those special tonal qualities with you, in the studio or on stage.

In order to create these images, Fishman recorded several acoustic guitars using some of the best modern studio mics and recording techniques around. This allowed them to create several sonic blueprints /algorithms of what a natural guitar recorded in a studio environment should sound like. The Aura Spectrum them blends this blueprint with your acoustic signal in order to produce a rich, natural and impressively accurate recreation of the studio-miked sound.

It should be said that this technology was developed with piezo undersaddle pickups in mind, such as the Fishman Acoustic Matrix pickup. This is because other types of acoustic guitar pickups -- specifically soundboard-mounted pickups, bridge-plate pickups, multi-sensor pickups or microphone -- tend to capture resonances that can mess with the Aura's image processing algorithms.

The Aura Spectrum In Action

Even if you were to take the audio imaging tech from the Aura Spectrum, it would still be a great DI box. The feedback suppressor is surprisingly effective once you play around with it for a minute and get a hang of how it works, the compressor works wonders at allowing your tone to be a bit more balanced or cut through a mix, and the three-band EQ is perfect for smoothing out any rough edges in your sound. But once again, it's the Acoustic Imaging that really takes the Aura Spectrum to the next level.

In order to get the best sound from the Aura Spectrum, you need to find an image that matches your acoustic guitar as close as possible. This is done through Fishman's Aura Image Gallery software (available for both PC and Mac) which features a library of over 700 images. All you have to do is select your guitar's body type and tonewoods and the software will prepare a list of compatible images. After that, you can then download those images straight onto the Aura Spectrum. It should also be noted that the Aura Spectrum isn't limited to the acoustic guitar -- you can find compatible images for other stringed instruments as well including the violin, ukulele, mandolin and more.

Check out the video below to hear the Aura Spectrum DI in action for yourself:

Final Thoughts ...

Leave it to one of the best in the business to create one of the most impressive pieces of acoustic guitar gear that I have used in a very long time. More than just a fully featured DI box, it is an acoustic guitar tone workhorse that will give you the same great studio-miked sound anywhere. If you're serious about your acoustic guitar tone, then there's nothing left to say except go get the Fishman Aura spectrum right now!