Musicians have a fantastic language to describe signals. A sound can be fat, dark, crunchy, punchy — the list goes on. These aren’t very technical terms, but they get the job done. After all, it’s much easier to ask to guitarist for a crisper sound than to ask them to sharpen the edges of the waveform, while amplifying the high-frequency components and attenuating the low-frequency components. Of course, it’s fun to look at signals this way as well, especially when you can correlate shifts in sound quality to changes in the waveform and, ideally, the circuit that produces it.
To undergo such an investigation, [Nash Reilly] has been simulating guitar effects pedals in LTSpice. Able to find most of the schematics he needs online, [Nash] breaks down the function of each part of the circuit and builds a simulation of the entire system. His write-up clearly explains, and often demonstrates, what’s going on inside the box. On the surface, it’s an interesting tour of the inner workings of your favorite effects pedals. Beyond that, it’s an excellent survey of analog design that is well-worth the read for anybody interested in audio, electronics, or audio electronics.
For those interested in taking the physical route rather than the simulated one, we’ve taken a look at pedal design before. Anybody who wants to try their hand at creating simulations can grab a copy of LTSpice, or check out a package called LiveSpice, which lets you simulate circuits in realtime and use them to process live audio — pretty useful for prototyping guitar effects.