Quality Factor (Q) Next  |  Prev  |  Up  |  Top  |  Index  |  JOS Index  |  JOS Pubs  |  JOS Home  |  Search

Quality Factor (Q)

The quality factor (Q) of a two-pole resonator is defined by [21, p. 184]

$\displaystyle Q \isdef \frac{\omega_0}{2\alpha} \protect$ (C.7)

where $ \omega_0$ and $ \alpha$ are parameters of the resonator transfer function

$\displaystyle H(s) = g\frac{s}{s^2 + 2\alpha s + \omega_0^2}. \protect$ (C.8)

Note that Q is defined in the context of continuous-time resonators, so the transfer function $ H(s)$ is the Laplace transform (instead of the z transform) of the continuous (instead of discrete-time) impulse-response $ h(t)$. An introduction to Laplace-transform analysis appears in Appendix B. The parameter $ \alpha$ is called the damping constant (or ``damping factor'') of the second-order transfer function, and $ \omega_0$ is called the resonant frequency [21, p. 179]. The resonant frequency $ \omega_0$ coincides with the physical oscillation frequency of the resonator impulse response when the damping constant $ \alpha$ is zero. For light damping, $ \omega_0$ is approximately the physical frequency of impulse-response oscillation ($ 2\pi$ times the zero-crossing rate of sinusoidal oscillation under an exponential decay). For larger damping constants, it is better to use the imaginary part of the pole location as a definition of resonance frequency (which is exact in the case of a single complex pole). (See §10.6 for a more complete discussion of resonators, in the discrete-time case.)

By the quadratic formula, the poles of the transfer function $ H(s)$ are given by

$\displaystyle p = -\alpha \pm \sqrt{\alpha^2 - \omega_0^2} \isdef -\alpha \pm \alpha_d . \protect$ (C.9)

Therefore, the poles are complex only when $ Q>1/2$. Since real poles do not resonate, we have $ Q>1/2$ for any resonator. The case $ Q=1/2$ is called critically damped, while $ Q<1/2$ is called overdamped. A resonator ($ Q>1/2$) is said to be underdamped, and the limiting case $ Q=\infty$ is simply undamped.

Relating to the notation of the previous section, in which we defined one of the complex poles as $ p\isdef \sigma_p+j\omega_p$, we have

$\displaystyle \sigma_p$ $\displaystyle =$ $\displaystyle -\alpha$ (C.10)
$\displaystyle \omega_p$ $\displaystyle =$ $\displaystyle \sqrt{\omega_0-\alpha^2}.$ (C.11)

For resonators, $ \omega_p$ coincides with the classically defined quantity [21, p. 624]

$\displaystyle \omega_d \isdef \omega_p = \sqrt{\omega_0^2 -\alpha^2} = \frac{\alpha_d}{j}.

Since the imaginary parts of the complex resonator poles $ \pm\omega_d$, the zero-crossing rate of the resonator impulse response is $ \omega_d/\pi$ crossings per second. Moreover, $ \omega_d$ is very close to the peak-magnitude frequency in the resonator amplitude response. If we eliminate the negative-frequency pole, $ \omega_d/\pi$ becomes exactly the peak frequency. In other words, as a measure of resonance peak frequency, $ \omega_d$ only neglects the interaction of the positive- and negative-frequency resonance peaks in the frequency response, which is usually negligible except for highly damped, low-frequency resonators. For any amount of damping $ \omega_d/\pi$ gives the impulse-response zero-crossing rate exactly, as is immediately seen from the derivation in the next section.


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``Introduction to Digital Filters with Audio Applications'', by Julius O. Smith III, (August 2006 Edition).
Copyright © 2007-02-02 by Julius O. Smith III
Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA),   Stanford University
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