We've struggled for years producing a quality acoustic guitar sound in the house. This has singlehandedly taken care of the issue and given our guitar players a tuner on board their DI!
We've struggled for years producing a quality acoustic guitar sound in the house. This has singlehandedly taken care of the issue and given our guitar players a tuner on board their DI!
I've had my Fishman Aura Spectrum for 3 years now. It is the next best thing to mic'ing the guitar (which isn't always possible) that I've found. The EQ and compression along with the blend mode make customizing sounds easy for the acoustic guitar. I play a Martin D-28 and a Taylor sinker redwood GS through it and it does justice to them both. This is the best solution to under saddle pick-ups that I've found. The D-28 has a Fishman Matrix Natural (active) and the Taylor has a K&K mini (passive). Great sound is easy to make on either. This DI is well worth the money and an essential part of my studio.
I bought the Aura Spectrum DI to use on nylon string guitars. There are not a lot of settings for nylon, but enough to make it sound the way I want it to. As others have stated, it doesn't take a lot of blend. I'm running around 10:00 o'clock on the blend knob, also running the compressor around 10:00 o'clock too. I leave the EQ set at the default notch (neutral) on all three bands. I have not had an occasion that I've needed to use the anti-feedback. I find the tuner to be in agreement with my Snark. This is a nice unit that can be used to help you shape//refine the sound that you want, but it's also a DI box that sometimes one tends to overlook.
Quite a bit more than one needs in some ways. Fishman makes a slimmer model with less bells and whistles, but unfortunately lacks the balanced DI. Has an insert style effects loop. Great idea but can pose a problem if your pedal board is tight for space. Finding a short insert cable cable made of instrument cable gauge wire is difficult. Finding one with 90 degree connectors is impossible. I had one custom made (Sweetwater can do this for you). The Aura would be particularly usefull in a studio as samples of literally hundreds of guitars are available to program into it.
I play a Taylor 214ce with a fishman 220sa amp and with the new aura pedal it sounds great,I can make it sound like a recording.
I don't really use this much, because I usually play short open-mic type sets where the setup time has to be measured in seconds. But... I have this Martin Cowboy mini guitar, all laminates, that generally sounds like crap. I bought a cheap Lawrence pickup for it (A-300), plugged it into this thing and then into a random amp, and after about a minute fiddling with the settings.. presto! I was Ed Sheeran. Only better sounding... SO if this can make that guitar sound great (and rescue if from abandonment), what can it do for one of my better instruments? We shall see...
I use this as a DI/tuner for my Taylor 814CE as well as a DI for my piezo pickups in my electric guitars. It's a wonderful unit. The tuner is the best tuner I've ever found for acoustics and it's silent and the imaging is great - especially for piezo equipped guitars.
...this thing is awesome. I have to admit, for whatever reason, I kind of didn't want to like this product. The whole concept seemed a little....I don't know.....unnatural to me. I wanted to hear my guitar, not a recording of a similar guitar laid on top of my signal.
I play a Guild F50R Jumbo, which has nice, rich, deep tones, and I wanted to translate that well when amplified through a system. My guitar came with a Fishman Matrix undersaddle transducer, which I wasn't in love with, so I went looking for something better. After a decent amount of research I chose an LR Baggs Anthem, which is a combination microphone/undersaddle pickup. This was a big improvement over my previous pickup (see my review for the Anthem).
However, at my church, where I regularly play music, we bought a few different DI boxes, including the Aura Spectrum, so I was able to try out several different setups for my guitar. The Anthem pickup in my guitar has a knob that allows you to select the blend between microphone and undersaddle pickup, and it generally sounds best with as much mic as you can give it before getting any feedback (which I've never had a problem with, so I always use 100% mic). Well, one day I decided to do some comparisons, so I switched my pickup to 100% undersaddle (the Aura Spectrum doesn't work as well with a microphone pickup) and went through the Aura. Fortunately my guitar is one of the options in the guitar list (which is pretty extensive) along with four different microphones used for recording (which are surprisingly different). After a few minutes of testing the different microphone options and the blend of the image and the original signal, I found myself with a stunningly rich, warm, and most important NATURAL sound that just blew my Anthem microphone out of the water. I asked a couple friends to listen to the Aura Spectrum versus my mic pickup through a different preamp, and they were similarly stunned by the difference.
I still really like the sound of the Anthem pickup (and I left a positive review for it), but the Aura Spectrum wins hands down, however unnatural the process is. If you find yourself playing lots of different venues, where you might not always have access to an Aura Spectrum, it may still be worth the money to get a nice pickup with a microphone and an undersaddle (like the Anthem). But if you play in a single venue a lot, like a church, and will almost always have access to an Aura Spectrum, you can probably get away with a plain old undersaddle pickup.
Now, not everyone may be as fortunate as I was to have several different microphone recordings for their actual guitar pre-programmed in the Aura, but I bet it will still work well for most people. I have found, though, that the closer you get to your actual guitar - in body style, wood, etc. - the better the Aura Spectrum sounds. If they have your actual guitar - even better. I'm not really a fan of the tuner, but I don't really care about that.
One last random note - I found myself listening to Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds from Radio City a while back, and I noticed that Tim's guitar just sounded richer and more natural than Dave's to me. I did a little research to find out what gear Tim uses, and......you guessed it....he uses an Aura Spectrum.
Bought this to use with my Godin Multiac - guitar out, by itself, or when using my GR33. Was able to get this guitar to sound almost like my Martin HD28 SE (miced), using this DI. Compared tuner to my boss tuner, it was right on.
So far I've used it with fiddle, dobro, and mandolin. It didn't take a lot of effort to get a good tone. I have a Barcus-Berry fiddle and it sounded especially sweet through an amp.
A great piece of gear, solidly built, nice features, and sounds great. Worth the extra bucks.
I play a variety of acoustic stringed instruments, but guitar is my focus. Since I got my Aura Spectrum DI, I've played small duo gigs and loud full band country rock gigs in big rooms and never sounded better. That applies to my D28, Hummingbird, and Dobro, whether I'm using a SoloAmp (I like that too) or plugging into the house PA. I tried with a cheaper Crate acoustic amp that I keep in my trunk as a backup, and it even made that sound pretty good.
I'm very particular - I play nice instruments that are well set up with good pickups, but the Aura imaging adds a dimension of detail that I've never been able to get live. And I've owned a TON of gear over the years. I tried it as a direct box in the studio with guitar and mandolin, and it really shines. We miked the same instruments and it was very difficult to tell the difference between the miked and direct signals, which was very surprising. I probably won't bother miking acoustic instruments at home anymore because the sound quality is so good.
The Aura feature is great, but I'd probably buy it for the rest of the DI functions anyway. The eq is simple and stage friendly, the compressor is very sweet and doesn't "pump", and the tuner and anti feedback feature are spot on. A really well designed piece of pro gear and worth every penny. I'd buy a replacement in a heartbeat if mine was stolen.
I play rhythm guitar in church with praise band and I wanted my Martin OOOCXE to have a fuller sound going through the church P A and it made the guitar sound amazing. I've only used the Spectrum for a few weeks but I am very pleaswed with the outcome and our sound tech is also very impressed.
Excellent for live and studio. Very versatile and the ability to download guitar specific presets is a great plus. anti feedback is amazing. So many uses, so little time.
Excellent item. This is the EQ and sound control we have needed for years on the acoustic guitar. The tuner is an added bonus.
Having struggled for years with achieving a natural sound for acoustic guitar in a gig situation I am extremely pleased with the results from the Aura Spectrum.
I play bluegrass, old time, and traditional music - my guitars are a Bourgeois Country Boy - with a Sunrise Mag Soundhole Pickup and Sunrise preamp and a Moll Small Jumbo fitted with a Baggs M1A. I typically run these into a Bose system or an Acoustic Image Combo amp.
Finding good sounds:
Though the Spectrum is supposed to work best with an undersaddle pickup I had little difficulty finding very usable sounds with my mag/hole pickups. The issue is that you do need to take some time and experiment with the Images, balance, EQ and compression.
I found that of the sounds preloaded there were a few in the dreadnought bank that were pleasing when used with my dread, and a few in the grand concert bank for my small jumbo.
I also found several good sounds from exploring sounds in the image database on the Fishman website.
It’s critical when exploring sound to test the balance between 100% pickup and 100% unit as the balance is extremely interactive and an image used at 60% pickup and 40% unit may sound bad but 40% / 60% may sound great.
Unit features a 3 band fixed EQ, Compression, Tuner, Anti Feedback (which is easier to set up then it seems), phase switch, volume, input trim, battery (backup) or external power. ¼ or XLR out (nice feature)
I find this unit to be easy to set up in a live setting. Takes me about 10 minutes to dial in the right sound on the unit and since I play a lot of weddings with my acoustic and my archtop the volume control on the Spectrum made it easy for me to balance the volume between my 2 guitars.
The ONLY thing I would add to the unit would be the ability to sweep the midrange frequencies. (perhaps a 3 band parametric EQ is in my future).
I did experiment with the global EQ vs pickup only EQ setting and kept it at the factory setting of PU only.
I find that live I add enough of the unit to the sound to get a bit of the airy mic’ed sound to “naturalize” the sound and let the pickup do about 60% of the work.
The ability to get pretty close to a mic’ed guitar sound without having to deal with all the other problems of a microphone in a live setting more than justify the cost of the unit.
Recording acoustic instruments can be hard in any noisy environment and the equipment to make those high quality recordings are really expensive.(If you're serious about choosing preamps, mic's and so on). I've got an Ibanez steelstringed acoustic in my studio that's equipped with an L.R.Baggs iBeam active undersaddle microphone thats really great. When I bought the Fishman Aura Spectrum DI I couldn't believe my ears !! At last I've found an easy way to achive those proffessional recordings in a minute! It's such a high quality preamp that even if you don't like the images you could just leave "blend" at 0 and it's still worth the price of such a good preamp! For me though, the image #4 in the orchestra bank does it for me. I'm in guitar heaven ! This is some serious studiogear from Fishman ! I recommend it highly, but let the compressor knob stay at around 12 o'clock and blend at max 70% for most natural sound and dynamics for recording.
Of course I bought it to make my acoustic sound more acoustic when I'm playing solo. And to manage my signal routing better to the soundboard when playing with a full band. Those things it did excellently, though at first I had to do some guess work. Though it has sound images from many popular guitars, my late 1970's model Yamaha L-5A was not one. But, there are options in the sound editor to pick your guitar's wood selection and body style, and eventually I got a real close sound.
I rarely used the compressor early on, but when I added a mandolin to my rig, my sound guy said I had to use a compressor because of the volume spikes on those high doubled strings. The comp worked wonders in managing the PA volume of my mandolin - plus I used the sound editor again to dial in a the best image for the mandolin.
I also love it for recording - I have a noisy project studio in my home, so instead of miking the guitar, I'll cut my parts with the DI, then I''ll route the track out into the pedal, dial up the perfect eq, mic selection and image, and back into a new second track for a fully affected sound.
There are only two minor reasons this box got 4.5 instead of 5 stars. 1) It's a battery hog - it will kill a new battery in one 3 hour gig - get real power. 2) the knobs (not the pots) are cheap and the set screws come loose periodically. Keep a micro size Allen wrench handy.
I play a Taylor 414CE in the Praise Band at church and though I have been extremely satisfied with my live amplified sound, I wanted a more natural sounding tone. This pedal will enhance the sound of any guitar and allows you to blend your sound to taste. I have also used this pedal with great results on my other acoustic guitars with far less sound quality pick-up systems. It has features like balanced output, compression, a tuner, a feedback eliminator, and you can also add more images via the internet. In my opinion, this is one of the best tools for an acoustic/electric player that has ever been built.
I've been using the Aura Spectrum DI for about two years, I migrated from the dreadnought 16 aura pedal. This preamp sounds fantastic, is very durable and reliable, and has everything you could need on a gig.
I have used it with a variety of quality guitars, mandolins, and dobros. It sounds great on everything, though it takes a few minutes of auditioning sounds to find the magical one. One of my gigs is in a duo with a guitarist who has the LR Baggs Venue DI. While that is a nice unit, I feel it is made more for 'hiding' the unwanted characteristics of a piezo undersaddle pickup, where the Spectrum fixes it.
The EQ is great and very flexible, I use it to EQ the piezo signal only, to blend some low end with the Aura tone. The aura is very accurate to a mic'ed tone, so it's nice to be able to add some low end to it. The compressor is very transparent, it can be easy to overuse it. The effects loop is a great feature, I use a boost and loop station there when needed and it works great. I don't find much of a need to use the feedback filter, usually flipping the phase takes care of any issues.
I also use it occasionally to record, although not in the studio. It doesn't beat an acoustic in a great room with great mics, but it works very well for home recording and demos, and live it can't be beat. Every now and then I do a gig without it because I'm lazy and enjoy the easier set-up. I always regret it. It has set a new standard for how I expect my guitars to sound live, I can't live without it.
The only thing I don't love is the tuner, it isn't very fast reading notes, and it isn't bright enough to read easily on outdoor gigs. If you are a little patient it is very accurate though.
As a gentlemanly box in a studio with good lighting and low energy (as in dry hands) it works well but you have to work around a couple of things when in a poorly lit, high-energy performance situation. The knobs are not knurled or textured but smooth milled metal, which makes them less easy to grab than with most boxes, and the settings are too small to read. Basically, you set your instrument type, and then turn the IR knob until it sounds right. If you are running two different sounding guitars and have to A/B it, you need to take a sharpie and mark the positions for the two tones. Big, bold numbers on the face, an etches stripe on the knob, and a proper readout would make a big difference.
As for the IRs available, they cover a limited number of instrument models and in dreadnoughts they tend to favor Taylors, but they do have a handful of 5 and 12 string Martins, among others. If you have a more exotic guitar such as a Yairi, you will have to make do with what they provide online, finding what you like and downloading them into the box. If none of them sound quite right, you can send Fishman your guitar and they will create an IR especially for your instrument.
Note that in some situations, a guitar manufacturer may create a custom IR for various guitars but they copyright them, which means they aren't available for all. If you want to precisely mimic the sound of your specific guitar, you might want to send it in and have them create a custom IR.
If you want beautiful, acoustic tones from your piezo pickup, this is your solution. Many presets to choose the tone-wood configuration of your guitar, and virtual microphone choice, and the tone is very true to life.
I have a Seagull Performer guitar, with maple back/sides & spruce top. Using the supplied Image Gallery software, I was able to create a bank of presets specific to my guitar, using several virtual microphones for varied tones. Effects loop allows inserting my reverb &/or chorus pedals simply and easily. Can power all with a single One-Spot power supply, or use 9V battery.
The output on max volume is pretty low, so if you play directly into the board, you need to coax your sound person to increase the pre-amp gain significantly over most line-level outputs.... this was disappointing.
Good quality build, seems very solid. Pretty expensive indeed, but sometimes you get what you pay for.
Wanted to get this pedal for a long time. Finally decided to get it and am very glad that I did. It is so flexible,and the true bypass is just that.
Overall I really am pleased with this product. Not only does it have great guitar emulations, but you can actually emulate some other instruments as well, if you have the right kind of guitars to do so. Some of the Ukulele and mandolin sounds really work with classical electric and mandola styled instruments and a capo. The only thing I wish it had were separate tone controls for the dry and processed signal.
I was looking for something that would give my amplified Taylor 615ce a more natural sound when playing with the church choir. I fingerpick most songs. I run the Fishman Aura into the house system. I was a little wary about spending the money on the Aura after reading a couple of reviews regarding Taylor and Aura but my initial experience would disagree with the naysayers. The Aura gives the Taylor 635ce a great natural sound. The Aura is easy to use and the Aura library was easy to download. I've tried numerous methods to amplify an acoustic guitar to keep up with a choir and keyboards and this is the best. The tuner is not impressive. My overall rating will probably go higher with more experience with the Aura.
I work in technology and love technology. All of my modeling pedal ventures of the past ended with disappointment.
I have had it a little over a month and have been testing different scenarios.. From my studio monitors to my large PA to my small PA. It really sounds fantastic through my studio monitors. Regardless of what Piezo pickup I plug into it, it always sounds better. Through my PA, systems, well, I find I have better luck following the concept "Less is more" with the blend feature.. I find I usually blend at about 30% when not using Fishman pickups. I will say though that I have a Martin 12 string with a simple Fishman Transducer and I am always able to get a better sound regardless of PA or studio monitors. IN fact, when plugging the 12 string in and finding my appropriate sound, I am finding success with %80 mix.
Just as impressive, I have a Yamaha Guitalele (small 6 string uke) that I put a simple piezo transducer on the soundboard. I switched the knob to "Nylon" string and was able to find a preset that made that cheap little uke with cheap pickup sound like a studio mic'd koa wood uke. This, I was amazed by..
The features are great! The tuner is decent, the EQ being able to be pre or post effect is fantastic and the compressor is great. I have never been a huge fan of Feedback filters but I actually found this one useable. Most of them scoop way to much of the sound to be useful but this one seem to have a narrow enough bandwidth to not do that. Built in DI, Effects loop and regular line out.. Well thought out!! As well, Standard Power plug, Thank you Fishman!
The Construction is completely outstanding. The metal that body and heavy aluminum faceplate ensure a lasting product. The knobs are even super quality. It is indeed grade A construction.
As well, it should have enough images and spaces for custom images to give you more than you need.
I ran out of this device into my Boss AD-3 Acoustic Pedal (which provides me with some decent Reverb and chorus). I am once again loving my sound.
I must admit, I was skeptical, but in the end, I am sold!!
Just as well, I am totally sold on Sweetwater sound. This is my second purchase from them and I have to say that they do an amazing job of personalizing sales through the internet. My sales person Robby Resnick, has been absolutely fantastic in dealing with and I believe they will be on the top of my list for future purchases!!
I've been trying to find the right pre-amp for an acoustic guitar for some time and have tried many of the different models and brands, as well as pickups. The Aura Spectrum DI gives a lot of acoustic options so you can balance the sound of the guitar to the room more easily as well as control the EQ. You can download different models from a broad selection in order to match virtually any guitar to your own. Good unit.
I use this pedal with my Ko'Aloha 'ukulele and Fishman undersaddle pickup for live performance and recording. The unit is very user friendly and the imaging sounds are diverse ranging from plucky and bright to full body and warm tones.
I find the tuner to be unreliable as it usually reads a half to whole step off from the desired note.
The tone it will give your guitar is fantastic.
It can sound a little synthetic at times.
Not always- but a small digital/ synthetic buzz comes through when you fret out or tack on. Kinda unnatural for an acoustic.
It doesn't scratch well. Actually it doesn't capture scratching across the strings at all. I play with my fingers without a pic and it doesn't do well capturing subtleties or finesse of playing. Finally, I find the choices of guitar profiles kinda limited. I play a Gibson J45 rosewood and a Martin J40 Jumbo. Neither guitar is available as a profile. I don't find either to be that rare. I really wanted it for my J45 but it can't seem to emulate a similar sound. For the money I should have bought a nice condenser mic. Not bad, but really not for me.
My favorite thing about this pedal was the compression knob. It added fantastic punch and brightness. Everything else in my opinion was average. The tuner was a pain, and the actual images were decent. If your playing a cheap guitar with cheap electronics, this pedal will greatly enhance your sound. However, don't waste your time with these images if you play a nice guitar with a solid pickup system. In my opinion, the images don't do much for me.
All in all, construction is fantastic, quality is amazing, but perhaps more than you need.
A really good pedal. It's doing everything I was hoping for.
We have a Demo model available for just $314.95. Learn more
Sweetwater's Sales Engineers are regarded as the most experienced and knowledgeable professionals in the music industry, with extensive music backgrounds and intense training on the latest products and technologies. They are available to offer you personalized product advice any time you need it.