Sound installation, handmade 8-bit DA converter on a breadboard
This project is focused on exploring technology and pushing my boundaries to delve deeper, rather than relying on readily available equipment that can be easily purchased on Amazon.
The primary technology employed in this project is known as R-2R DAC (R-2R Digital-to-Analogue Converter), utilizing predominantly passive components to construct the Digital-to-Analog converter (DA converter). The DA converter plays a crucial role in determining the sound quality we perceive, regardless of the source, whether it be music or other audio. While some may liken the DA converter to a musical instrument, suggesting that its quality determines the quality of the result, it’s important to note that the technology, whether in software or hardware, bridging the gap between the DA converter and the computer, does not require training and does not alter the expression of the resulting sounds—contrary to the nuanced adjustments made by musicians.
While researching and experimenting with this low-tech handmade DAC converter, I discovered that the inherent instability of this handmade DAC adds a more human-like expression during the conversion of digital signals. The typical human expression in music is often conveyed through techniques such as adjusting vibrato, pitch bend, rubato, and dynamics. In the case of this converter, it is influenced by subtle changes such as temperature, humidity, and the surrounding electromagnetic field (EMF), resulting in a distinctly human-like expression.
This is intriguing and differs from setting up a sensor and programming a code to arbitrarily reflect on the data the sensor receives. The handmade DAC operates more like a living entity. It has a purpose, receives ‘feed,’ and generates outputs meant to reflect its experiences through the environment, much like all human artists do.