Audio feedback

Audio feedback (also known as acoustic feedback, simply as feedback, or the Larsen effect) is a positive feedback situation which may occur when an acoustic path exists between an audio input (for example, a microphone or guitar pickup) and an audio output (for example, a loudspeaker). In this example, a signal received by the microphone is amplified and passed out of the loudspeaker. The sound from the loudspeaker can then be received by the microphone again, amplified further, and then passed out through the loudspeaker again. The frequency of the resulting howl is determined by resonance frequencies in the microphone, amplifier, and loudspeaker, the acoustics of the room, the directional pick-up and emission patterns of the microphone and loudspeaker, and the distance between them. The principles of audio feedback were first discovered by Danish scientist Søren Absalon Larsen, hence the name Larsen effect.

Block diagram of the signal-flow for a common feedback loop.[1]:118

Feedback is almost always considered undesirable when it occurs with a singer's or public speaker's microphone at an event using a sound reinforcement system or PA system. Audio engineers typically use directional microphones with cardioid pickup patterns and various electronic devices, such as equalizers and, since the 1990s, automatic feedback suppressors, to prevent feedback, which detract from the audience's enjoyment of the event and may damage equipment or hearing.

Since the 1960s, electric guitar players in rock music bands using loud guitar amplifiers, speaker cabinets and distortion effects have intentionally created guitar feedback to create different sounds including long sustained tones that cannot be produced using standard playing techniques. The sound of guitar feedback is considered to be a desirable musical effect in heavy metal music, hardcore punk and grunge. Jimi Hendrix was an innovator in the intentional use of guitar feedback, alongside effects units such as the Univibe and wah-wah pedal in his guitar solos to create unique sound effects and musical sounds.


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This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Audio feedback, and is written by contributors. Text is available under a CC BY-SA 4.0 International License; additional terms may apply. Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.