Amplification 101

Why Do We Amplify?

As performing guitarists, we amplify sound for two simple reasons:

  1. To Be Heard
  2. To Be Heard Well

To Be Heard

  • To be heard means that everyone in the audience, if they are paying attention, can clearly hear the sound of the guitar, can clearly distinguish the notes, and can hear some of the nuances. This is hearing sound in 2 dimensions.
  • To be heard means that we can hear the music well enough to absorb the basic character of the sounds.
  • To be heard is enjoyable.

To Be Heard Well

  • To be heard well means that the sound of one’s guitar is being heard by an audience in 3 dimensions, which creates a level of sound experience which some audiophiles have accurately termed “a larger than life sound”.
  • To be heard well means that we can be filled up (saturated) with the complete and wonderful character of the sound.
  • To be heard well is mesmerizing.

Humankind has been testing and creating means to amplify music for most of recorded history. Architecture was an early method to amplify sound (acoustic energy). The Greek theatres were designed to help amplify the voice of the actors and chorus. The cathedrals and opera houses of Europe were crafted with the same intention, as are modern concert halls. What these great performance venues do is create a fully 3 dimensional environment for the dispersion of sound, so that the ear can hear in 3 dimensions (to be heard well). Much of the difference between sound in 2 versus 3 dimensions, is the greater amount of overtones in 3 dimensional sound. These overtones provide the richness that can make the natural acoustic sound of guitars so rich and compelling. Good acoustical venues usually have an architecture that supports and amplifies the dispersion of overtone rich acoustic energy across the room. Without good dispersion of the sound energy, the 3D dimension of sound cannot emerge to a level noticeable by the audience.

There have also been many changes to the design of musical instruments to performance at more elevated volumes…. From harpsicords to pianofortes, viola di gamba to modern violin, lutes to electric guitars, etc. But these changes to instruments will be described in further chapters of this discussion. This chapter will focus on the most simple reasons why every guitarist should consider using the2Mic™ with modern electronic amplification.

From a dispersion of sound point of view, modern electronic amplification involves many of the same principles related to acoustic energy as the architecture of performance venues. For poor acoustic quality venues (outdoors, box-shaped rooms… large or small, etc.) high quality amplification can help to overcome the limitations of poor architecture. A well designed PA system can, in theory, effectively disperse sound energy in a room of almost any size or configuration. And the electronic effects on most modern PA mixers allow “adding in” some of the natural overtone qualities found in great acoustical venues….. reverb, echo, etc.

For good acoustic quality venues, such as recital and concert halls, sound amplification further enhances the natural sound dispersion qualities of the room. In theory, with properly scaled amplification applied with discretion and taste, every seat in modern concert hall (even the nosebleed seats), should be able to experience a mesmerizing 3 dimensional quality of sound. Whether one must play in a grand concert hall, or a barn for an outdoor wedding, creating a high quality amplified sound for classical and flamenco guitars starts with using the2Mic™ to record the sound of a guitar in 3 dimensions. the2Mic™ then send this a stable and high quality 3 dimensional electronic signal to a powered PA speaker, or PA mixer and amp; speakers, to reproduce, and permit the audience to hear, the guitarist’s performance on a 3 dimensional level of sound.

The tools now exist for classical and flamenco guitarists to enter the world of modern acoustic amplification, but without compromising any of the fundamental qualities that make classical and flamenco music so very special.  If used wisely, and skillfully, using the2Mic™ with modern powered PA speakers can bring the full glory of classical and flamenco music to a new generation of enthusiastic listeners.