Resources

Sound Recording Terms 

This is a comprehensive but not exhaustive list of terms.You will  become familiar with many of them during the course.

 


Absorption

Short for the term Acoustical Absorption (quality of a surface or substance to take in, not reflect, a sound wave).

AC
1)  Abbreviation for alternating current.
2)  An abbreviation of the term Alternating Current (electric current which flows back and forth in a circuit; all studio signals running through audio lines are AC).

Acoustic/Acoustical
Having to do with sound that can be heard by the ears.
Acoustics The behaviour of sound and its study. The acoustics of a room depend on its size and shape and the amount and position of sound-absorbing and reflecting material.

Acoustic Amplifier
The portion of the instrument which makes the vibrating source move more air or move air more efficiently; this makes the sound of the instrument louder. Examples of acoustic amplifiers include:
1) The body of an acoustic guitar,
2) The sounding board of a piano,
3) The bell of a horn and
4) The shell of a drum.

Acoustic Echo Chamber
A room designed with very hard, non-parallel surfaces and equipped with a speaker and microphone; dry signals from the console are fed to the speaker and the microphone will have a reverberation of these signals that can be mixed in with the dry signals at the console.

Action
In guitar playing, action refers to how far the strings sit off of the guitar neck. When strings are close to the neck, it is referred to as “Low Action”. When the string sit far above the neck, it is called “High Action”. Guitars with low action are easier to play, but make sure they are not too close, or it could causing buzzing.

Active Crossover
Uses active devices (transistors, IC’s, tubes) and some form of power supply to operate.

Active/Inactive Microphones
Scientific definitions aside, active microphones generally sound better than inactive ones, but they generally cost more. They also require the use of either a battery or phantom power while inactive mics need only be plugged into the mic cord in order to work. In most playing situations, the subtle improvement in sound quality from an active mic isn’t worth the extra cost and hassle. One possible exception it the headset mic. Put simply, inactive headset mics just plain suck. Active headset mics put out a much stronger signal and feed back much less.

A/D
An abbreviation of Analog to Digital Conversion (the conversion of a quantity that has continuous changes into numbers that approximate those changes), or Analog to Digital Converter.

ADAT
A trademark of Alesis Corporation designating its modular digital multitrack recording system released in early 1993.

ADSR
The letters A, D, S &R are the first letters of: Attack, Decay, Sustain and Release. These are the various elements of volume changes in the sounding of a keyboard instrument.

AES
An abbreviation of Audio Engineering Society.

AES/EBU
Professional Interface A standard for sending and receiving digital audio adopted by the Audio Engineering Society and the European Broadcast Union.

Aliasing
A sampler mis-recognizing a signal sent to it that is at a frequency higher than the Nyquist Frequency. Upon playback, the system will provide a signal at an incorrect frequency (called an alias frequency). Aliasing is a kind of distortion.

Alternating Current
Electric current which flows back and forth in a circuit.

Ambience
The portion of the sound that comes from the surrounding environment rather than directly from the sound source.

Ambient Field
A term with the same meaning as the term Reverberant Field (the area away from the sound source where the reverberation is louder than the direct sound).

Ambient Micing
Placing a microphone in the reverberant field (where the reverberation is louder than the direct sound) so as to do a separate recording of the ambience or to allow the recording engineer to change the mix of direct to reverberant sound in recording.

Amp
1) An abbreviation of the term Amplifier (A device which increases the level of an electrical signal.
2) An abbreviation of Ampere (the unit of current).
3) An abbreviation of amplitude (the height of a waveform above or below the zero line).

Amplifier (Power amp, Head)
It’s the part of the sound system that actually magnifies or “amplifies” the sound. In other words, it makes stuff louder.

Ampere
The unit of current, abbreviated Amp.

Amplification
An increasing of signal strength.

Amplifier
A device which increases the amplitude (level) of an electrical signal (making it louder).

Amplifier
Sound equipment that converts the low voltage, low current signal from a tape deck, mixer etc. into a higher current signal suitable for driving speakers. See Power Amplifier, Crossover.

Amplitude
The height of a waveform above or below the zero line.

Amplitude
The strength of a vibrating wave; in sound, the loudness of the sound.

Amplitude
The extreme range of a signal. Usually measured from the average to the extreme.

Analog (Analogue)
Representative, continuous changes that relate to another quantity that has a continuous change.

Analog Recording
A recording of the continuous changes of an audio waveform.

Analog To Digital Converter
The device which does the conversion of a quantity that has continuous changes (usually of voltage) into numbers that approximate those changes.

Arc
The visible sparks generated by an electrical discharge.

Attenuator (Pot)
The electronic dohickey under the knobs that increases or reduces the strength of the signal running through it. When these get old and dirty, they can make popping noises or rumbles in your PA (As in “my pots are dirty”).
Assign Tochoose to which place an output is going to be sent.

Assistant Engineer
A less elevated version of the term Second Engineer. Experienced seconds often place microphones, operate tape machines, break down equipment at the session end and keep the paperwork for the session.

Atom
The smallest particle which makes up a specific substance. It’s composed of a center around which electrons revolve.

Attack
The rate the sound begins and increases in volume.

Attenuation
A making smaller: reduction of electrical or acoustic signal strength.

Audio
Most often referring to electrical signals resulting from the sound pressure wave being converted into electrical energy.

Automatic Gain Control (Automatic Volume Control)
A compressor with a very long release time used to keep the volume of the audio very constant.

Automation
In consoles, a feature that lets the engineer program control changes (such as fader level) so that upon playback of the multitrack recording these changes happen automatically.

Aux Send
Short for the term Auxiliary Send (a control to adjust the level of the signal sent from the console input channel to the auxiliary equipment through the aux buss.

Auxiliary Equipment
Effects devices separate from but working with the recording console.

Auxiliary Input or Return
A route back into the sound desk for a signal sent to a piece of outboard equipment via an auxiliary send.

Auxiliary Output or Send
An additional output from a sound desk that can be used for foldback or monitoring without tying up the main outputs. Each input channel will have a path to the Aux buss. Also used for feeding a signal to an effects processor. See Auxiliary Return.

Axis
A line around which a device operates. Example: In a microphone, this would be an imaginary line coming out from the front of the microphone in the direction of motion of the diaphragm.

Baffles
Sound absorbing panels used to prevent sound waves from entering or leaving a certain space

Balance
1) The relative level of two or more instruments in a mix, or the relative level of audio signals in the channels of a stereo recording. 2) To make the relative levels of audio signals in the channels of a stereo recording even.

Balance Control
A control on a stereo amplifier that when moved clockwise will make the right channel louder (and the left channel softer) and will do the reverse when moved counter-clockwise.

Balanced
1) Having a pleasing amount of low frequencies compared to mid-range frequencies and high frequencies. 2) Having a pleasing mixture of the various instrument levels in an audio recording. 3) Having a fairly equal level in each of the stereo channels. 4) A method of interconnecting electronic gear using three-conductor cables.

Balanced input/output
A “balanced” connection is one that has three wires to move the signal. One is a ground, and the other two (called conductors) carry signals of equal value. This is why they are called balanced. Low Z cables and connections are the most common example.

Balls
1) The depth and thickness of a sound, usually on the bottom end of the EQ (as in “needs more balls”). 2) The strength of the voice on the mic (as in “check it like you have some balls”).

Band Track
1) A mixdown of a song without the lead vocal or without the lead and background vocals.
2) A term with the same meaning as the term Rhythm Track.
3) The recording of the rhythm instruments in a music production.

Bandwidth
1) The range of frequencies over which a tape recorder, amplifier or other audio device is useful. 2) The range of frequencies affected by an equalization setting.

Bank
1) A collection of sound patches (data as to the sequence and operating parameters of the synthesizer generators and modifiers) in memory.
2) A group of sound modules as a unit.

Bar
A term meaning the same thing as the term Measure (the grouping of a number of beats in music, most-often four beats).

Barrier Micing
A method of placing the head of a microphone as close as possible to a reflective surface, preventing phase cancellation.

Basic Session
The First session in recording an audio production to record the Basic Tracks.

Bass
1) The lower range of audio frequencies up to approximately 250 Hz.
2) Short for Bass Guitar.
3) Lower end of the musical scale. In acoustics, the range (below about 200 Hz) in which there are difficulties, principally in the reproduction of sound, due to the large wavelengths involved.
4) The lower frequencies.
5) On the soundboard this should refer to the bass guitar channel, not the bass drum.
6) The lowest frequencies of sound. Bi-Amplification uses an electronic crossover or line-level amplifiers for the high and low frequency loudspeaker drivers.

Bass Roll Off
An electrical network built into some microphones to reduce the amount of output at bass frequencies when close-micing.

Beat
1) The steady even pulse in music.
2) The action of two sounds or audio signals mixing together and causing regular rises &.falls in volume.

Beats Per Minute BPM
The number of steady even pulses in music occurring in one minute and there fore defining the tempo of the song.

Bi
A prefix meaning two.

Bi-Amplification
1) A way of optimizing the efficiency of a speaker system by separately amplifying the High Frequency (HF) and Low Frequency (LF) portions of the sound signal and sending them down two pairs of cables to the speaker. Multipin Speakon connectors have been developed to do this.
2)The process of having of having low-frequency speakers and high-frequency speakers driven by separate amplifiers.

Bi-Directional Pattern
A microphone pick up pattern which has maximum pick up directly in front and directly in back of the diaphragm and least pick up at the sides.

Binary
A numbering system based on two. In binary there are two symbols used (“l” and “0”).

Bit
The smallest unit of digital information representing a single “0” or 1.

Blending
1) A condition where two signals mix together to form one sound or to give the sound of one sound source or one performance.
2) Mixing the left and right signal together slightly which makes the instruments sound closer to the center of the performance stage. 3) A method of panning during mixing where instruments are not panned extremely left or right.

Boom
1) A hand-held, telescoping pole used to hold the microphone in recording dialogue in film production.
2) A telescoping support arm that is attached to a microphone stand and which holds the microphone. 3) Loosely, a boomstand.

Boom Stand
A microphone stand equipped with a telescoping support arm to hold the microphone.

Boost
To increase gain, especially to increase gain at specific frequencies with an equalizer.

Bottom
The bass frequencies (as in “needs more bottom end”).

Boundary Mic
A microphone mounted on a flat plate that acts as a reflective surface directing sound into the mic capsule. Used for general pick-up over a large area. See PCC, PZM.

Bridge
The bridge assembly, or just “bridge” is an area on the face of the guitar where the string meet or are connected to the face.

Board
1) Another, less formal, term for Console.
2) A set of controls and their housing which control all signals necessary for recording and for mixing.
3) A slang shortening of the term Keyboard Instrument.

Bouncing
Alternate name for Ping-Ponging (playing several tacks with sync playback through a console to mix them together and record them on an open track).

BPM
An abbreviation of Beat Per Minute (the number of steady even pulses in music occurring in one minute and therefore defining the tempo).

Bulk Dump
Short for System Exclusive Bulk Dump (a method of transmitting data, such as the internal parameters of a MIDI device to another MIDI device).

Buss (Bus)
A wire carrying signals to some place, usually fed from several sources.

Byte
A grouping of eight information bits.

Cable, 1/4 inch
An unbalanced cable most often used for instruments and patch cords. Commonly referred to as “guitar cords”.

Cable, TRS
A less common balanced cable that has 3 different contacts on its 1/4 inch connectors. Most headphone jacks are a good example of a TRS (Tip-Ring-Sleeve) connector. These are sometimes used instead of the more common XLR connection.

Cable, XLR
A balanced cable used for low impedance microphones and sometimes for connections between some parts of the PA. Commonly referred to as a “mic cord”.

Cancellation
A shortening of the term Phase Cancellation (the energy of one waveform significantly decreasing the energy of another waveform because of phase relationships at or close to 180 degrees).

Cardioid Pattern
A microphone pick up pattern, which has maximum pick up from the front, less pick up from the sides, and least pick up from the back of the diaphragm.

Capacitance
That property of a capacitor which determines how much charge can be stored in it for a given potential difference between its terminals, measured in farads, by the ratio of the charge stored to the potential difference.

Capacitance
The property of being able to oppose a change in voltage or store an electrical charge.

Capacitor
1) A device consisting of two or more conducting plates separated from one another by an insulating material and used for storing an electrical charge. Sometimes called a condenser.
2) An electronic device that is composed of two plates separated by an insulator.

Capo
A clamp-like device that is placed vertically across the guitar neck. It is used to change the pitch of the guitar, acting as a moveable nut.

Capsule
1) The variable capacitor section of a condenser microphone.
2) In other types of microphones, the part of the microphone that includes the diaphragm and the active element.

Cascade
To set and interconnect two mixers so that the stereo mixing buss(es) of the first mixer feeds the stereo buss(es) of a second mixer.

CD (Compact Disc) :
1) Digital sound storage medium. Provides a high quality source of music, sound effects etc. Also used as a playback medium for sound effects etc. by large theatres with long running shows, although CDR (Recordable CD) is becoming more affordable by the day.
2) An abbreviation of the term Compact Disc (a small optical disk with digital audio recorded on it).

CD-ROM
An abbreviation of the term Compact Disc, Read Only Memory (A Compact Disc used to store digital data, such as large programs, that can be read by a computer).

Channels
These are divided into two separate categories. Input channels are those channels coming into the soundboard such as microphones and direct lines. Output channels are those leaving the board such as monitor and main outputs.

Chorus
Common type of effect that makes sounds fuller and thicker.

Clean
Describes a distortion free sound with few effects.

Clipping
Distortion of a signal by its being chopped off. An overload problem caused by pushing an amplifier beyond its capabilities. The flat-topped signal has high levels of harmonic distortion which creates heat in a loudspeaker and is the major cause of loudspeaker component failure.

Compander
Outboard sound equipment. Combination of a Compressor and an Expander.

Compressor
1) Effect used to squash the sound together. Used properly, it can take the edge off or your sound. Used improperly, it can take the life right out of your system and make it sound like an MTV mix.
2) A piece of sound processing equipment that ensures all wanted signals are suitably placed between the noise and distortion levels of the recording medium. It evens out the unwanted changes in volume you get with close-miking, and in doing so, adds punch to the sound mix. A Limiter is used to stop a signal from exceeding a preset limit. Beyond this limit, the signal level will not increase, no matter how loud the input becomes. A Limiter is often used to protect speaker systems (and human ears) by preventing a system from becoming too loud.

Condenser Mic (Capacitor Mic)
A microphone that uses the varying capacitance between two plates with a voltage applied across them to convert sound to electrical pulses. Condenser microphones need a power supply to provide the voltage across the plates, which may be provided by a battery within the case of the microphone, or it may be provided from an external phantom power supply. A condenser mic is more sensitive and has a faster reaction to percussive sounds than a Dynamic mic and produces a more even response. See Electret Mic.

Cord (Speaker, Mic, Instrument)
Used to connect a sound system together. Each type of cord is made for a specific purpose and should not be used in place of another type of cord, not even if they look alike. Also see “cable”

Crisp
Describes a good clean high midrange sound. It can be good or bad depending on the look on the face of the guy who said it.

Crossover, Active
A rack mountable unit used to separate frequencies leaving the soundboard into high’s, mids, and lows with different outputs for each.

Crossover, Passive
Used inside of full range speaker cabinets to separate highs, mids, and lows and send them to their respective speakers within the each cabinet. These are not as efficient as active crossovers because they require all frequencies to draw from the same source of amplification.

Crossover
1) A route leading from one side of the stage to the other, out of the audiences view.
2) An electronic filter in a sound system that routes sound of the correct frequency to the correct part of the speaker system. Different speakers handle high frequencies (tweeters) and low frequencies (woofers). Sometimes known as a crossover network. An active crossover splits the signal from the mixing desk into high, mid and low frequencies which are then sent to three separate amplifiers.
3) An electrical circuit that divides a full bandwidth signal into the desired frequency bands for the loudspeaker components.

Centre Frequency
The frequency of the audio signal that is boosted or attenuated most by an equalizer with a peak equalization curve.

Central Processing Unit
1) The main “brain” chip of a computer that performs the calculations and execution of instructions.
2) The main housing of a computer that contains the “brain” chip as opposed to other pieces of the computer system such as keyboards, monitors, etc.

Chamber
1) An Echo Chamber (a room designed with very hard, non-parallel surfaces equipped with a speaker and microphone so that when dry signals from the console are fed to the speaker, the microphone will have a reverberation of these signals that can be mixed in with the dry signals at the console).
2) A program in a delay/reverb effects device that simulates the sound of an Echo Chamber.

Chase
The automatic adjusting of the speed of a recorder (or sequencer) to be time with another recorder.

Channel
1) In multitrack tape machines, this term means the same thing as the term Track (one audio recording made on a portion of the width of a multitrack tape).
2) A single path that an audio signal travels or can travel through a device from an input to an output.

Charge
The electrical energy of electrons. The energy is in the form of a force that is considered negative and repels other like forces (other electrons) and attracts opposite (positive) forces.

Chip
1) A slang term with the same meaning as the term IC (a miniature circuit of many components that is in small, sealed housing with prongs to connect it into equipment).
2) The thread cut away from the master lacquer to make the groove, while disc recording.

Chord
Three or more musical pitches sung or played together.

Chorus
1) The part of The song that is repeated and has the same music and lyrics each time; the chorus will usually give the point of the song.
2) A musical singing group that has many singers.
3) A delay effect that simulates a vocal chorus by adding several delays with a mild amount of feedback and a medium amount of depth.
4) A similar effect created in some synthesizers by detuning (reducing the pitch of, slightly) and mixing it with the signal that has regular tuning and with a slight delay.

Chorusing
1) A term meaning the same thing as Chorus (Definition 3 or 4).
2) In some delay effects devices, a term used to mean the term Depth (the amount of change in the controlled signal by the control signal).

Circuit
1) One complete path of electric current.
2) Similar to definition 1, but including all paths and components to accomplish one function in a device.

Clicking
Pressing and immediately releasing the switch on a computer’s mouse.

Clip
The action of deforming a waveform during overload.

Clock Signal
The signal put out by a circuit that generates steady even pulses or steady codes used for synchronization.

Close Micing
A technique of placing a microphone close to the sound source (within one foot) in order to pick up mainly the direct sound and to avoid picking up leakage or ambience.

Coax
Two-conductor cable consisting of one conductor surrounded by a shield.

Coincident Microphones (Coincident Pair)
Two microphones whose heads are placed as lose as possible to each other so that the path length from any sound source to either microphone is for all practical purposes, the same.

Comb Filter
1) The frequency response achieved by mixing a direct signal with a delayed signal of equal strength especially at short delays.
2) Loosely used to also describe effects that can be achieved with comb filtering as part of the processing.

Compact Disc CD
A small optical disk with digital audio recorded on it.

Compact Disc, Interactive CDI
A Compact Disc, usually containing audio, video, and text, which the user can interact with in that the display or playback changes after the user performs some action.

Compact Disc, Read Only Memory CDROM
A Compact Disc used to store digital data, such as large programs, that can be read by a computer.

Compact Disc Recordable CDR
A blank Compact Disc that can be recorded on one time.

Compander
1) A two section device that is used in noise reduction systems. The first section compresses the audio signal, before it is recorded, and the second section, expands the signal after recording.
2) In Yamaha brand digital consoles, a signal processing function that applies both compression and expansion to the same signal.

Compression Ratio
How many dB the input signal has to rise above the threshold for every one dB more output of a compressor or limiter.

Compression Driver
The unit that feeds a sound pressure wave into the throat of a horn (in a horn loudspeaker).

Compressor
A signal processing device that does not allow as much fluctuation in the level of the signal above a certain adjustable or fixed level.

Condenser
An older term meaning the same thing as Capacitor (an electronic device which is composed of two plates separated by an insulator and can store charge) but sill in common use when referring to a microphone’s active element.

Condenser Microphone
A microphone which converts sound pressure changes into changes of capacitance. The capacitance changes are then converted into electrical voltage variations (an audio signal).

Console
A set of controls and their housing, which control all signals necessary for recording and mixing.

Consumer Format (Consumer DIF)
A standard adopted by IEC for sending and receiving digital audio based on The AES Professional Interface.

Contact Microphone
A device that senses vibrations and puts out an audio signal proportional to the vibrations.

Controller
1) In MIDI, a device that generates a MIDI signal to control synthesizers, sound modules or sample playback units.
2) A remote control unit for a multitrack tape machine which controls transport functions as well as monitor selection switching functions and record ready/safe status of each track.
3) Any device generating a control voltage or signal fed to another device’s control input.

Corner Frequency
Same as Cut-Off Frequency (the highest or lowest frequency in the pass band of a filter). (NOUN)

CPU
Abbreviation of Central Processing Unit (The main “brain” chip of a computer or the main housing of a computer that contains the “brain” chip).

Critical Distance
The point a distance away from the sound source where the direct sound and the reverberant sound are equal in volume.

Crossover (Crossover Network)
A set of filters that “split” the audio signal into two or more bands (two or more signals, each of which have only some of the frequencies present).

Crossover Frequency
1) The frequency that is the outer limit of one of the bands of a crossover.
2) In the Lexicon 480L delay/reverberation effects unit, the frequency at which the bass frequency reverb time is in effect rather than the mid frequency reverb time.

Crosstalk
Leakage of an audio signal into a channel that iris not intended to be in, from an adjacent or nearby channel.

Cue
1) The signal fed back to the musicians through headphones.
2) To set the tape or disc so that the intended selection will immediately play when the tape machine or player is started.
3) A location point entered into a computer controlling the playback or recording of a track or tape.
4) In MCI brand tape machines, a term meaning the same thing as Sync Playback (where the record head is used as a playback head for those tracks already recorded).

Cue Send Control
A control that will adjust the amount of signal sent to a cue buss from a console channel.

Current
The amount of electron charge passing a point in a conductor per unit of time.

Cut
1) One selection (one song) on a pre4ecorded music format.
2) A term with the same meaning as Mute (to turn off a channel or a signal).
3) To reduce gain of a particular band of frequencies (with an equalizer).
4) To not pass a particular band of frequencies (said of a filter)

Cut-Off Frequency (Turnover Frequency)
1) The highest or lowest frequency in the pass band of a filter.
2) The highest or lowest frequency passed by an audio device (the cut-off frequency is usually considered to be the first frequency to be 3 dB lower than a reference frequency in the middle of the bandwidth of the device)

Cut-off Rate (Slope)
The number of dB that a filter reduces the signal for each octave its frequency past the filter’s cut-off frequency (outside of the pass band).

Cycle
1) An alternation of a waveform which begins at a point, passes through the zero line, and ends at a point with the same value and moving in the same direction as the starting point.
2) On a Solid State Logic Console, a command to have the console computer control the tape machine to play and replay a certain section of the tape.

Cycles Per Second
A unit used in the measure of frequency, equivalent to Hertz. Cycles Per Second is an outdated term replaced by Hertz in 1948.

Cyclic Redundancy
Checking Code

dB
See Decibel

DC
Abbreviation for direct current.

Decibel (dB)
1) Relative measurement for the volume (loudness) of sound. Also used to measure the difference between two voltages, or two currents. See Zero dB.
2) A numerical expression of the relative loudness of a sound. The difference in decibels between two
sounds is ten times the common logarithm of the ratio of their power levels.

Delay
Outboard sound equipment that can momentarily stores a signal being sent to part of a P.A. system so that delayed reinforced sound reaches the audience at the same time as live sound from the stage.

Delay (Digital, Analogue)
1) Effect used to create echo…echo…echo…echo…echo…
2) In more advanced systems used in very large venues, delay can be used to time the arrival of the signal to the speakers in the back of the room so that people in the back hear the sound coming from those speakers at the same time that the sound coming from the speakers in the front of the room arrives.

Diaphragm
A thin flexible membrane or cone that vibrates in response to electrical signals to produce sound waves. Distortion is usually referred to in terms of total harmonic distortion (THD) which is the percentage of unwanted harmonics of the drive signal present with the wanted signal. Generally used to mean any unwanted change introduced by the device under question.

Digital Recording
1) ADAM : (Akai Digital Audio Multitrack). 12 track recording onto Video 8 tape. 16 bit, 44.1 or 48 kHz sampling rate.
2) DAT (Digital Audio Tape) Cassette-like system which has much higher quality than standard audio cassettes. Widely used in gathering sound effects, for news gathering, and for playback of music.
3) DCC (Digital Compact Cassette) Rival to DAT which also plays standard audio cassettes.
4) MiniDisc : Uses computer disk technology, rather than tape. A laser heats an area of magnetic disk which is then written to by a magnetic head. When cooled, the magnetic information is read from the disk by laser. Tracks can be named, and are instant start. Very theatre-friendly system.
5) Direct to Disk : Uses the hard disk present in most PCs as the recording medium.

Diffraction
The breaking up of a sound wave caused by some type of mechanical interference such as a cabinet edge, grill frame, or other similar object.

Direct box
Used in line to convert a high impedance signal into a low impedance signal.

Distorted
The way your PA sounds just before it blows up. Fuzzy and scratchy. If you hear this, it either means you have something hooked up wrong, or something in the system is going bad. It could be anything from your super expensive soundboard to a five dollar patch cord.

Distortion
Usually undesirable result of overloading sound equipment. Reducing the levels can remedy the situation.

Dolby
Trade name for a series of noise reduction systems that have become standard on many tape playback machines. Many film soundtracks are produced using this process. Different varieties are found from Dolby B on most personal cassette players, to Dolby SR and Digital, the current state of the art for cinema.

Driver
See transducer. Dynamic Range – The range between the quietest and the loudest sounds a device can handle (often quoted in dB).

Dry
Describes a sound coming from the PA with no effects on it.

Dynamic Mic
Robust type of microphone which picks up the sound on a diaphragm connected to a coil of wire which moves within a magnet. An alternating current is induced into the wire which provides the electrical output. Most dynamic mics have low output impedance of 200 Ohms. See Condenser Mic.

Early Reflections
The first echoes in a room, caused by the sound from the sound source reflecting off one surface before reaching the listener.

Earth
The British version of the term Ground (In electronics, a place that has zero volts).

Echo
1) One distinct repeat of a sound because of the sound reflecting off a surface.
2) Loosely, used to mean reverberation (the continuing of a sound after the source stops emitting it, caused by many discrete echoes closely spaced in time).

Echo Chamber
1) A room designed with very hard, non-parallel surfaces and equipped with a speaker and microphone.
2) Any artificial or electronic device that simulates the reverberation created in a room.

Echo Return
An input of the console, which brings back the echo (reverberation) signal from the echo chamber or other echo effects device.

Echo Send
The output of a console used to send a signal to an echo chamber or delay effects device.

Echo Send Control
A control to send the signal from the input module to the echo chamber or effects device via the echo buss.

Edit
A switch that does different things depending on the operational mode that the machine is in:
1) If a computer-controlled transport is in “Stop,” pushing the “Edit” switch deactivates the computer-controlled tension system and allows the reels to be moved by hand to find the exact spot desired on the tape.
2) If the machine is in “Play”, the “Edit” switch makes the take-up reel cease taking up the tape and it falls to the floor.
3) If the machine is in a fast-wind mode, the tape lifters are defeated so the tape is in contact with the reproduce head and the engineer can hear where the selections begin and end.

Editing
1) Changing the sequence of a recording by cutting the recording tape and putting the pieces together in the new sequence with splicing tape.
2) Punching in and then punching out on one or more tracks of a multitrack tape recorder to replace previously recorded performances.
3) Changing the sequence of a digital recording’s playback by computer program.

Effects
Electronic boxes (usually rack mounted) added to a PA system to subtly change and enhance the signals going through it. Examples include; Reverb, Delay, Compressor, Chorus.

Effects
1) Various ways an audio signal can be modified by adding something to the signal to change the sound.
2) Short for the term Sound Effects (sounds other than dialogue, narration or music like door closings, wind, etc. added to film or video shots).

Effects Track
1) In film production audio, a recording of the mixdown of all the sound effects for the film ready to be mixed with the dialogue and music.
2) In music recording, one track with a recording of effects to be added to another track of a multitrack recording.

Efficiency
The acoustic power delivered for a given electrical input. Often expressed as decibels/watt/meter (dB/w/m). ESL – Abbreviation for electrostatic loudspeaker.

Electret Mic
A condenser microphone where the capacitor plates are given a charge during manufacture which they retain, therefore requiring no external power supply.

Electret Condenser
A condenser microphone that has a permanently polarized (charged) variable capacitor as its sound pressure level sensor.

Electric Current
A more formal term meaning the same as the term Current (the amount of electron charge passing a point in a conductor per unit of time).

Electric Instrument
Any musical instrument that puts out an electrical signal rather than an acoustic sound.

Electricity
Electrical current (the amount of electron charge passing a point in a conductor per unit of time) or voltage (the force pushing electrons to obtain electrical current).

Electromagnetic Field
Magnetic energy put out because of current travelling through a conductor.

Electromagnetic Induction or Pick Up
The generation of electrical signal in a conductor moving in a magnetic field or being close to a changing magnetic field.

Electromagnetic Theory
A statement of the principles behind electromagnetic induction: When a conductor cuts magnetic lines of force, current is induced in that conductor.

Electronics
1) On a tape machine, the housing for and the channel circuitry which processes the signal to be fed to the heads, provide bias, and playback.
2) The branch of science dealing with the behaviour of electrons/charges in vacuums, gases, semiconductors and special conductors.

Electrons
Negatively charged particles, which revolve around the centre of atoms. The movement of such electrons down a conductor causes electrical current.

Electrostatic Charge
The excess or deficiency of electrons in a given area.

Engineer
1) A technician in charge of a recording session; Also called Recording Engineer.
2) A person with an engineering degree.
3) A person with sufficient experience in the field to be equivalent to the education one would receive earning an engineering degree.

Envelope
1) How a sound or audio signal varies in intensity over a time span.
2) How a control voltage varies in level over time controlling a parameter of something other than gain or audio level.

Equalizer (Parametric, Graphic)
This is used to filter out and adjust specific frequencies in the PA. This is the part of the PA where you have the most control over the band’s overall sound. It is also the number one weapon against feedback.

Equalization
1) The process of adjusting the tonal quality of a sound. A graphic equalizer provides adjustment for a wide range of frequency bands, and is normally inserted in the signal path after the mixing desk, before the amplifier. See Feedback.
2) Any time the amplitude of audio signals at specific set of frequencies are increased or decreased more than the signals at other audio frequencies.

Equal Loudness Contours
A drawing of several curves showing how loud the tones of different frequencies would have to be played for a person to say they were of equal loudness.

Equipment Rack
A cabinet with rails (or free standing rails) that have holes to accept screws at standard spaces and used to house outboard gear.

Error Concealment
Putting replacement information bits into a digital audio signal to replace lost bits when the digital recording or processing system cannot verify whether the lost bits were l’s or 0’s but can make a good guess by comparing the known bits that were close in position to the lost bits.

Error Correct
Exact replacement of lost information bits in digital audio.

Error Detection
The process of discovery that sonic information bits have been lost in digital audio.

Error Message
A prompt on a computer screen telling the operator that an error has occurred.

Expander
A device that causes expansion of the audio signal.

Expansion
The opposite of compression; for example, an expander may allow the signal to increase 2 dB every time the signal input increased by 1 dB.


Face

The front or body of the guitar.

Fade
1) A gradual reduction of the level of the audio signal.
2) A gradual change of level from one pre-set level to another.

Fader
A control to control the gain of a channel on the console, thereby determining the level of the signal in that channel.

Far Field
The area from 3 feet away from the sound source up to the critical distance.

Fat
Having more than a normal amount of signal strength at low frequencies or having more sound than normal (by use of compression or delay).

Feed
To send an audio or control signal to.

Feedback
1) The delayed signal sent back to the input of a delay line, used in repeat-echo effects.
2) The pickup of the signal out of a channel by its input or the howling sound that this produces.
3) In an amplifier, the phase reversed output signal sent back to its input, reducing gain but also distortion and noise.
4) This occurs when the sound coming out of the speakers goes back into the microphones, then back out the speakers, then back into the mics…and so on. This can build very quickly to a point where everyone in the room is holding their ears and screaming at you. It can also cause damage to the PA.

Feedback Control
The control on a delay line or delay effects device that controls the amount of feedback.

Fidelity
The recording or reproduction quality.

Field
1) In video, one half of a frame.
2) In computer-controlled devices a window display with functions and choices that the operator can make

Figure Eight Pattern
Another name for Bi-directional Pattern (microphone pickup pattern picking up best from the front and back of the diaphragm and not picking up from the side of the diaphragm).

File
A collection of digital data stored in a computer’s memory bank or on a floppy disc.

Filter
1) A device that removes signals with frequencies above or below a certain point called the cut-off frequency.
2) An equalizer section, used in this sense because filters are used with other components to give an equalizer its frequency response characteristics.
3) The action of removing signals of some frequencies and leaving the rest.
4) A mechanical device to smooth out speed variations in tape machines called a Scrape Flutter Filter- more usually called a Scrape Flutter Idler

Final Mix
The two track stereo master tape which was mixed from the multitrack master.

First Generation
A descriptive term meaning original (as opposed to a copy).

Flamenco
A style of music with roots in Spanish and Arabic culture.

Flange
An effect caused by an approximately even mix of a modulated (varying) short delay with the direct signal.

Flat
1) Lower in musical pitch.
2) A slang term used to describe the sensitivity to frequency of a microphone, amplifier, etc., as being even at all frequencies, usually within 2 dB.
3) Refers to the frequencies on the EQ when they are arranged in centred neutral positions.

Fletcher Munson Effect
A hearing limitation shown by Fletcher Munson Equal Loudness Contours (as music is lowered in volume, it is much more difficult to hear bass frequencies and somewhat harder to hear very high frequencies).

Floor
1) An alternate tam meaning Range (a limit on the amount the signal is reduced when the input signal is low by an expander or gate).
2) A shortening of the term Noise Floor (the level of the noise).

Floor Toms
The large toms to the right of the drummer.

Floppy Disk (Floppy Disc)
A round flat object (usually housed in a protective sleeve) coated with material that can be magnetized in a similar manner to tape.

Flutter
1) High-frequency variations in pitch of a recorded waveform due to fast speed variations in a recorder or playback machine.
2) Originally, and more formally, any variations (fast or slow) in pitch of a recorded tone due to speed fluctuations in a recorder or playback unit.

Fly In
1) To add sounds into a mix or recording that have no synchronization.
2) An application of this where a performance from one part of a tune is recorded and then recorded back into the recording at a different time in the recording.

FOH (Front of House)
Refers to the speakers that face toward the audience. Also called the “main” speakers.

Foldback
A European term for the signal sent to the stage monitors in a live performance.

Folded Horn
A speaker design where the speaker points back into the cabinet and bounces around finally coming out large ports in the front. It is intended to maximize low frequencies in a relatively small cabinet.

Foot (Foot Drum)
Another name for Bass Drum (the largest drum in the Drum Kit which puts out bass frequencies and is played with a foot pedal).

Foot Pedal
1) An effects device where the amount of the effect can be controlled by a musician with his foot.
2) The beater mechanism of a foot drum that is activated by the drummer’s foot to play the drum.
3) Any device, like a volume control, that can be operated by the foot.

Foot Switch
A switch placed on the floor and pressed by a musician to do various functions.

Formant
An element in the sound of a voice or instrument that does not change frequency as different pitches are sounded.

Format
1) The number of tracks, their width, spacing and order for tape recording.
2) To prepare a digital storage medium so that it will accept and store digital information bits.

Frets
Vertical metal wires which sit vertically on the guitar neck.

Fret Buzz
A buzzing sound made when a note is not properly fretted. Common with cheap guitars or beginning guitar players.

Frequency
Practically speaking, high frequency means high pitch and low frequency means low pitch.

Front Loaded
A speaker cabinet where the speaker faces out toward the front.

Frame
1) A division of one second in synchronization and recording coming from definition two.
2) The amount of time that one still picture is shown in film or video.

Frequency
The number of cycles of a waveform occurring in a second.

Frequency Range
The range of frequencies over which an electronic device is useful or over which a sound source will put out substantial energy.

Frequency Response
How sensitive an electronic device (mic, amplifier, speaker, etc.) is to various frequencies; often communicated with a graph.

Frequency Shift Key / FSK
The full name for FSK (A simple clock signal that can be used to run a sequencer in time with an audio tape).

Full
A quality of the sound of having all frequencies present, especially the low frequencies.

Full Range
Describes a sound which covers all audible frequency ranges. As in “full range speaker cabinets.”

Full Step
A change in pitch that occurs when moving up or down two piano keys

Fundamental
The tuned frequency and (almost always) the lowest frequency that is present in the sounding of a pitch by a musical instrument.

Gain
1) Knob usually found at the top of each input channel on the soundboard. Used to set input levels of the separate channels to relatively equal positions.
2) The amount of increase in audio signal strength, often expressed in dB.

Gain Control
A device that changes the gain of an amplifier or circuit, often a knob that can be turned or a slide that can be moved up arid down.

Gain Reduction
The working of a limiter or compressor reducing gain during high-level passages.

Gain Structure
The way in which the gain varies in the stages or sections of an audio system.

Gate
A dynamic processing device that turns a channel off or down when the signal drops below a certain level.

Generating Element
The portion of the microphone that actually converts the movement of the diaphragm into electrical current or voltage changes.

Generation
A term used to describe the number of times that the recorded audio signal has been copied.

Golden Section
A ratio of height to width to length of a room to achieve “good acoustics” and first recommended by the ancient Greeks. The ratio is approximately the width 1.6 times the height and the length 2.6 times the height

Ground
In electronics, a place (terminal) that has zero volts.

Ground Adapter Plug
Adapts a three pronged electrical plug to a two pronged wall outlet. This bypasses the ground and may create a hum in the system. A lack of a good ground can cause mild electrical shock when touching a microphone.

Graphic Equalizer
An device with several slides controlling the gain of audio signal present which is within one of several evenly spaced frequency bands (spaced according to octaves).

Ground Lift
A switch that breaks the connection between the ground point in one circuit and the ground point in another circuit.

Ground Lifter
An adapter that takes a three prong power cord and plugs into a two prong outlet, used to disconnect the third (ground) pin of the power outlet. WARNING: It can be VERY DANGEROUS to have no ground connection to the case by using a ground lifter and not grounding the unit by other means.

Ground Loop
A double grounding of a line or electronic device at two different “ground” points of differing voltage.

Group
1) A number of channels or faders that can be controlled by one Master VCA slide.
2) A shortening of the term Recording Group (a buss or the signal present on a buss).

Group Faders
The VCA faders of individual channels that are all controlled by a Group Master Fader (a slide control used to send out a control voltage to several VCA faders in individual channels).

Group Master
A slide control used to send out a control voltage to several VCA faders in individual channels, thus controlling the gain of several channels.

Grouping
1) Controlling the gain of several individual channels with a Group Fader.
2) The mixing together of several individual audio signals to send a mixed signal out of the console to record a track on a multitrack tape machine.

Guitar Controller
An electric guitar or device played like an electric guitar that puts out MIDI signals that can be used to control synthesizers and sound modules.

Guitar Processor
A unit that will add effects to a direct guitar signal, including a simulated instrument amplifier sound and (often) delay and reverb effects.

Haas Effect
Simply stated, a factor in human hearing where delay has a much bigger effect on human perception of direction than level does.

Half Step
A pitch difference of the amount that is present between adjacent keys on a piano.

Hall
A large building designed for concerts; also called a concert hall.

Hall Program
A setting of a digital delay/reverb effects unit that approximates concert halls. Hall programs are characterized by pre-delay of up to 25 ms.

Hard Disk (Hard Disc)
A storage unit for digital data that has rigid disks coated with magnetic material in a housing that includes the drive mechanism.

Hard Disk Recording
The recording of digital audio onto a hard disc.

Harmonic Distortion
The presence of harmonics in the output signal of a device which were not present in the input signal.

Harmonics
Integer multiples of a fundamental frequency, the fundamental itself being the first harmonic, its first overtone the second harmonic, etc. Attributing to instruments, voices, etc. their distinctive timbre.

Head
1) In tape recording, the transducer (energy converter) that changes the audio energy from electrical energy to magnetic energy and back; also the devices that apply magnetism to the recording tape for other purposes such as in the erase head.
2) The part of a device that immediately includes the transducer to change sound or audio signals from one energy form to another.

Head Amp
British name for Preamplifier (A low-noise amplifier designed to take a low-level signal, such as the output of a tape head, and bring it up to normal line level).

Headphones
Devices that can be worn on the head with small speakers that fit over the ears (or sometimes into the ears).

Headroom
1) The level difference (in dB) between normal operating level and clipping level in an amplifier or audio device.
2) A similar level difference between normal tape operating level and the level where the distortion would be 3%.
3) The difference, in decibels, between the peak and RMS levels in program material.

Headstock
The area of the guitar at the end of the neck where the strings are tuned.

Hearing Limitation
An inability of the ear to hear important characteristics of sound under certain conditions. Characteristics that can be affected include pitch, level, clarity, presence and direction.

Hertz
The unit of frequency. Equivalent to cycles per second. Abbreviation: Hz.

High Frequencies
The audio frequencies from 6000 Hz and above.

High Hat
A double cymbal on a stand which can be played with a foot pedal or by the top cymbal being hit with a stick.

High Impedance
Impedance of 5000 or more ohms.

High Impedance Cord (High Z)
A big word for instrument cable. These cords generally have quarter inch male ends. they tend to loose signal strength at lengths longer than 25 feet.

High Impedance Mic
A microphone designed to be fed into an amplifier with input impedance greater than 20 k ohms.

High-Pass Filter
A device that rejects signals that are below a certain frequency (called the cut-off frequency) and passes signals with frequencies that are higher.

Highs
Short for the term High Frequencies (the audio frequencies from 6000 Hz and above).

Hi-Z
An abbreviation of the term High Impedance (Impedance of 5000 or more ohms).

Horn
1) The part of the speaker that emits midrange and higher range frequencies.
2) A speaker or speaker enclosure where sound waves are put into a narrow opening (by a speaker cone or driver) and the narrow opening flairs out to a larger opening.

House Sync
A synchronization signal such as SMPTE time code that is used by all recorders in the control room.

Howlback
British term for the term Feedback (the pickup of the signal out of a channel by the input of the channel or the howling sound that this produces).

Hum
The 60 Hz power line current accidentally induced or fed into electronic equipment.

Humbucker
Pickups that are coupled together to get a certain sound.

Hybrid
A product created by the marriage of two different technologies. Meant here as the combination of a dynamic woofer with an electrostatic transducer.

Hypercardioid Pattern
A microphone pick up sensitivity pattern where the least sensitive pick up point is more than 90 degrees but less than 150 degrees off axis (usually 120 degrees).

Hz (Hertz)
1) An abbreviation for the term Hertz (the unit of frequency).
2) Unit of frequency equivalent to the number of cycles per second.

IC
Abbreviation of Integrated Circuit (A miniature circuit of many components that is in small, sealed housing with prongs to connect it into equipment).

Icon
A visual picture or symbol on a computer screen that represents a file, program or disc that can be used.

ID
An index signal (digital data that gives the machine information of where selections start, their selection number, etc.) on a DAT or CD.

IM Distortion
An abbreviation of the term Intermodulation Distortion (Distortion caused by one signal beating with another signal and producing frequencies that are both the sum and the difference of the original frequencies present).

Images
The squaring of the waveform that happens in the conversion of digital audio bits into analog signals.

Imaging
To make a representation or imitation of the original sonic event.

Impedance
1) A term for the electrical resistance found in a/c circuits. Affects the ability of a cable to transmit low level (e.g. sound) signals over a long distance. Measured in Ohms. Speakers are rated according to power handling capabilities (Watts, W) and impedance (Ohms).
2) The total opposition offered by an electric circuit to the flow of an alternating current of a single frequency. It is a combination of resistance and reactance and is measured in ohms. Remember that a speaker’s impedance changes with frequency, it is not a constant value.
3) The opposition to alternating current.

Impedance Matching
Having or converting the output impedance of a device so that it matches the impedance of the input it will feed.

Inductance
The property of an electric circuit by which a varying current in it produces a varying magnetic field that introduces voltages in the same circuit or in a nearby circuit. It is measured in henrys.

Inductor
A device designed primarily to introduce inductance into an electric circuit. Sometimes called a choke or coil.

In
Short For “in the circuit,” in other words “active.”

In-Line Console
A console with modules that have controls for all console sections in one long strip.

In Port
A jack on a MIDI device or computer that will accept an incoming data signal.

Infinite Baffle
A baffle so large that the sounds coming from one side do not reach the other side.

Infinite Repeat
A function on some delay lines that establish enough feedback so that the repeat echo will last forever, but not so much as to cause a howling sound.

Information Bits
The bits in the digital signal that make up actual values or commands being communicated as opposed to bits that are used for checking & correcting data or other purposes.

Initialize
To prepare a digital storage medium (like a floppy disk) so that it will accept and store digital information bits.

Input
1) The jack or physical location of where a device receives a signal.
2) The signal being received by a device.
3) The action of receiving a signal by a device.

Input Impedance
The opposition to current flow by the first circuits of a device.

Input Monitor
A switch position and operational mode of the electronics of a tape machine where the signal at output of the electronics will be the same as the signal coming into the electronics. In this mode, the tape machine’s meter will read the input signal.

Input/Output Module
A set of controls, on one housing, for an in-line console that has two channels (one for recording and one for monitoring) and has controls for all console sections.

Input Overload
Sending too high of a signal level into a device so that the first amplifier of the device overloads.

Insert
1) A punch in of the all of the tracks being recorded in a recording session.
2) On Solid State Logic consoles, placing an outboard piece of gear in the channel by patching and activating a switch.

Instrument Amplifier
A device that has a power amplifier and speaker in a case (or in separate cases) to reproduce the signal put out by an electric instrument (such as an electric guitar) and to allow the instrument to be heard.

Instrument Out Direct
Feeding the output of an electric instrument (like an electric guitar) to the recording console or tape recorder without using a microphone.

Insulator
A substance such as glass, air, plastic, etc., that will (for all practical purposes) not conduct electricity.

Integrated Circuit (IC)
A miniature circuit of many components in a small, sealed housing with prongs to connect it into equipment.

Interface
Any device that allows one unit to work, drive or communicate with another unit when they cannot do so by just feeding each other often because the units are manufactured by different companies.

Intermodulation Distortion
Distortion caused by one signal beating with another signal and producing frequencies that are both the sum and the difference of the original frequencies.

Inverse Square Law
Simply stated, the fact that in an un-obstructed area (like an open field) the sound pressure level will drop to half-pressure (-6 dB) every time the distance to the sound source is doubled.

I/O
Short for “Input/Output’ and referring to:
1) An in-line console module that contains controls for the input section, output section and monitor section.
2) A module in electronic gear containing input and output amplifiers for the device.
3) A digital port (connector) able to both receive digital data and output digital data.

Isolation
A containing of the sound wave in a certain area so that it will not leak into other areas and/or unintended mics.

Isolation Booth/ Isolation Room
A room that prevents loud sounds from other instruments from leaking in: an isolation booth is usually a smaller room that could be used for only one musician.


Jack

1) Anywhere you plug something in.
2) Segmented audio connector. Mono Jacks have two connections – tip and sleeve, and are unbalanced. Stereo jacks have three connections – tip, ring and sleeve. B-type jacks (also known as Bantam jacks) were originally designed for use in telephone exchanges and provide a high quality (and expensive) connection in jackfields. A-type jacks are cheaper and more common, but more fragile. A type jacks are available in 2 sizes : quarter inch and eighth inch.
3) A connector mounted on the case of a device or on a panel.

Jack Bay
A series of jacks which have connections for most of the inputs and outputs of the equipment in the control room.

Jam Sync
A generation of new SMPTE according to the input SMPTE signal

Joystick
1) A quad pan pot which distributes what percentage of on signal is sent to each of 4 outputs.
2) A control that is separately controlling two functions at one time.

Layering
The recording (or playing) of a musical part with of several similar sound patches playing simultaneous.

Lead
The musical instrument that plays the melody of the tune, including the vocal.

Lead Sheet
A written chart showing the melody, lyrics and chords of a tune with full musical notation.

Leakage
Sounds from other instruments and sources that were not intended to be picked up by the microphone.

LED
A light that allows current to flow in one direction only and emits light whenever a voltage of a certain level or beyond is applied to it.

LFO
Low-Frequency Oscillator (an oscillator that puts out an AC signal between .1 Hz and 10Hz used for a control signal).

Level
The amount of signal strength; the amplitude, especially the average amplitude.

Level
Sets output volume of individual PA input channels. Usually positioned as sliders at the bottom of the soundboard.

Librarian Program
A computer program allowing the storage of the parameters of sound patches outside of a synthesizer.

Lift
1) To boost gain of audio at a particular band of frequencies with an equalizer.
2) An elevation device in the star trek series of TV programs.

Light Emitting Diode
A light that allows current to flow in one direction only and emits light whenever a voltage of a certain level or beyond is applied to it.

Limiter
A device which reduces gain when the input voltage exceeds a certain level.

Line
1) Short for line level.
2) A cable.

Line In (Input, return)
Where a signal enters the board or component.

Line Input
An input designed to take a line level signal.

Line Level
1) An amplified signal level put out by an amplifier and used as the normal level that runs through the interconnecting cables in a control room.
2) A low level signal such as the signal in a guitar cord. Most parts of a PA require a line level signal. Remember, however, that speaker outputs are not line level. Plugging speaker outs into line ins will result in damage to the equipment

Line Out (Line Output)
Any output that sends out a line level signal, such as the output of a console that feeds a recorder.

Linear
The condition of obtaining a change at the output of the device which is proportional to the change occurring at the input.

Line Out (Output, Send)
Where a signal leaves the board or component.

Linearity
The extent to which any signal handling process is accomplished without amplitude distortion.

Link
(Said of compressors and dynamic processing units.) To combine the control input signals of two channels of a compressor (or dynamic processing unit) so that both channels always have the same gain and are triggered to change gain by either channel’s signal.

Listen Circuits
A type of solo circuit that allows listening to a channel before the fader or after the fader.

Live
1) Referring to the sound by instruments during a performance to an audience.
2) Having a large portion of reverberant or reflected sound.

Live Recording
1) Recording where all the musicians are playing at once and overdubbing is not done.
2) A recording with a lot of natural reverberation.

Load
1) The opposition to the audio output signal of a device by the input of the device being fed.
2) A resistor that would have the lowest impedance the device was designed to feed into used during testing of a device.
3) To copy the digital data off a storage medium into the RAM of a computer.
4) To put the tape on a tape machine and activate the computer-controlled constant tension system.

Load Impedance
The opposition to output current flow caused by the input that it feeds.

Local On/Off (Local Mode On/Off)
A switch or function in a synthesizer that connects (“On”) or disconnects (“Off”) the keyboard control of the synthesizer’s sound module.

Locate
A tape machine transport controller where the machine will go to a preprogrammed position on the tape.

Long Delay
Delay times above 60 ms.

Loop (Effects Loop)
A signal path separate from the main signal paths where a line signal is routed out of the mixer through a series of effects units, and then returned back to the mixer. The electronics within the mixer can then be used to individually control the effects on each input channel.

Loop
1) A term meaning the same as Anti-Node (the points of maximum displacement of motion in a vibrating stretched string).
2) A tape (or magnetic film) recording where the ends of the tape are spliced together in such a manner that the tape will continually repeat.
3) A repeating of an audio sample with no gap in between.

Loudspeaker
Device for converting the electrical signal from an amplifier back into sound waves, most commonly by vibrating a paper cone. Most speaker systems are composed of a number of sources – each designed to handle a specific range of frequencies. See Tweeters and Woofers, Bi-Amplification.

Low Impedance Cord (Low Z)
A big word for mic cable. These cords lose very little signal over distance, and can thus be made very long. PA snakes are constructed mostly of Low Z cords because of their need to be lengthy.

Lo-Z
Abbreviation for the term Low Impedance (Impedance of 500 ohms or less).

Loudness
1) How loud something sounds to the ear.
2) Causing equal volume changes at all frequency ranges including frequency response changes at lower operating levels to compensate for the Fletcher Munson effect.

Loudness Control
A knob that changes the level and adjusts the frequency response of the circuit controlling the speakers to compensate for the inability of the ear to hear low frequencies and extreme high frequencies at low volumes.

Low End
A slang term for bass-frequency signals (below 250 Hz).

Low Frequencies
1) Any audio or audible frequency below 1kHz.
2) The range of bass frequencies below approximately 250 Hz.

Low Impedance
Impedance of 500 ohms or less.

Low-Pass Filter
A device that rejects signal above a certain frequency and passes signals that are lower in frequency.

Lower Toms
The large toms (up to approximately 20′ diameter heads) mounted on metal feet to sit on the floor.

Machine Head
The pegs located at the headstock which are used to tune the guitar. the Machine Heads have gears, which when turned, can tighten or loosen the string.

Magnetic
1) Putting out magnetic energy.
2) Able to be magnetized.

Magnetic Lines of Force
The magnetic field that exists between poles of a magnet.

Magnetic Tape
Recording tape consisting of a plastic strip to which magnetic materials, usually in form of finely ground iron oxide (rust) particles, are adhered.

Magnetism
A natural attractive energy of iron based-materials for other iron-based materials.

Mains
The speakers facing the audience along with the system of amps equalizers and effects attached to them.

Margin
The amount of dB between the highest peak level of the program and the overload point.

Masking
The characteristic of hearing by which loud sounds prevent the ear from hearing softer sounds of similar frequency.

Master
1) A control to set the level going out of the console, especially the stereo output to the two track machine in mixdown.
2) A term with the same meaning as Sub Master (a control that adjusts the level of a signal mixed together and being sent out to one track of a multitrack recorder).
3) A term with the same meaning as VCA Master (one slide that controls the control voltage sent to several VCA faders).
4) The machine that will be used as a speed reference when synchronizing two or more machines to run together; if the master tape transport changes speed, the other machines synced to it will change speed.
5) The original recording, used for making copies.
6) To make an original recording which will be used to make commercial copies, especially making a master lacquer (for record manufacturing) or a master compact disc.

Master Fader
1) The fader which controls the main output(s) of the console during mixdown.
2) In some consoles, faders which control the outputs to the multitrack tape recorder during recording.
3) Occasionally used to mean a VCA master (one slide that controls the control voltage sent to several VCA faders).

Matrix Output
Set of outputs on a mixing desk which allows the user to preset a number of output configurations. e.g. on a 8 x 8 matrix, each of the 8 group outputs from the channels can be routed to any or all of the matrix outputs.

MDM
Short for Modular Digital Multitrack: A multitrack digital recorder with (usually) 8 tracks than can be run in synchronization with other machines (of the same type) to attain more tracks. ADAT brand recorders are an example.

Measure
The grouping of a number of beats in music.

Medium Delay
Delay times of 20 ms. – 60 ms.

Meg/Mega
1) A prefix for 1,000,000.
2) An slang abbreviation for megahertz (1,000,000 Hertz) or megabytes (1,000,000 Bytes).

Memory
The components in a computer (or a device that can be connected to a computer) that store digital data.

Meter
A device which measures or compares the electrical signal/signals; often used to read the voltage level of audio signals.

Metronome
A device which makes a clicking noise in adjustable intervals. Used in guitar practice to improve timing.

Microphone
A transducer which converts sound pressure waves into electrical signals.

Mic
An abbreviation for microphone.

Microphone
Device for converting sound into electrical pulses which can then be amplified or recorded onto tape. Signals from a microphone are very low level and are amplified in the mixing desk to line level. See Dynamic Mic, Condenser Mic, Phantom Power, Pick-up, Radio Mic.

Mic Gain Control
A level control on a microphone preamplifier that sets gain and is used to prevent overload of that preamplifier.

Mic Input
The input of a console or other device that a microphone can be plugged into.

Mic Level
The very low audio voltage level that comes out of a studio microphone.

Mic Level Signal
Low level audio signal produced by circuitry in microphone. Needs boosting either by a pre-amp or a mixing desk before it can be amplified. Susceptible to interference over long cable runs.

Mic/Line Switch
The selector switch on the input of a console channel that chooses what input jack will feed the console.

Mic Pad
A device that reduces the level of the signal and is placed just before a microphone preamplifier to prevent overload of the preamplifier.

Mic Preamp
An amplifier to boost the low-level audio signal out of a microphone up to line level.

Microprocessor
One I/C which performs the core of activities in a computer.

Midrange
The middle frequencies where the ear is the most sensitive.

Mid-Range Frequencies
The audio frequencies from about 250 Hz through 6000 Hz.

MIDI
Short for Musical Instrument Digital Interface; a digital signal system (a system of number signals) used to communicate performance information to and from musical instruments making music.

MIDI Channel
A grouping of data about the performance of one synthesizer or device, separate from data for other synthesizers/devices.

MIDI Clock
Time data in the MIDI signal that advances one step each 1/24 of a beat and can be used to sync two sequencers together.

MIDI Clock with Song Pointer
A MIDI clock signal (time data in the MIDI signal that advances one step each 1/24 of a beat) which also has a number signal for each measure to indicate the number of measures into the tune.

MIDI Controller
A device that can be played by a musician and puts out MIDI signals to control synthesizers or sound modules.

MIDI Echo
A function in a synthesizer that causes the output of a sequencer to send a MIDI signal out the out port which matches the MIDI signal coming in for the track being recorded.

MIDI Interface
A device that converts a MIDI signal into the digital format of a computer so that the computer can store and use the MIDI signal.

MIDI Patch Bay
A device that has several MIDI inputs and outputs and allows any input to be routed to any output.

MIDI Sample Dump
The copying of a digitally recorded sample without converting it to analog between different storage units or sound modules thru a MIDI transmission.

MIDI Sequencer
A computer that can record and playback MIDI data in such a way to control the performance of MIDI controlled musical instruments or devices in a series of timed steps.

MIDI Time Code
All of the information of SMPTE time code that has been converted into part of the MIDI signal.

Mike
1) An abbreviation of Michael – an incorrect abbreviation for microphone.
2) To place microphones for recording.

Milli
An prefix meaning 1/1000.

Mini Disk (MiniDisc)
A small compact disc that can be recorded on by general consumers; introduced by Sony at the end of 1992.

Mix
1) To blend audio signals together into a composite signal.
2) The signal made by blending individual signals together.
3) A control or function on a delay effects/reverberation device which controls the amount of direct signal that will be mixed into the processed signal.

Mixer
1) A console, or other device that blends audio signals into composite signals and has a small number of outputs.
2) A section on a console that does this function.
3) In Europe, a fader.
4) An engineer or technician who mixes, especially a live sound mix at a performance.

Mixdown (Mix Down)
Combining the signals from the tracks of a multitrack tape onto a master tape; reverberation/other effects may be also added.

Mixing Console
A device which can combine several signals into one or more composite signals, in any desired proportion.

Mixing Desk
A British name for console.

Mixing Solo
A button that turns off all other channels, allowing the signal to be heard in the stereo perspective and level used in the mixdown, and with the reverberation being used.

Mixdown
The process during which a multitrack recording is balanced and transferred to two tracks (stereo) for playback or reproduction.

Mixer
A desk comprising a number of input channels where each sound source is provided with its own control channel through which sound signals are routed into two or more outputs. Many mixing desks can also change the quality of the sound (see Equalization). A Powered Mixer has an amplifier built into it. Sound sources of varying levels are accepted which can be amplified if necessary. (See Line Level, Gain).

Monitors
The speakers facing back onto the stage and the system or amps, equalizers, and effects attached to them.

Monitor Mixer
Larger systems often use a completely separate mixer for the monitors that only adjusts the sounds that are heard on the stage.

Modem
A device that allows digital data to be sent and received over telephone lines.

Modular Digital Multitrack
A multitrack digital recorder with (usually) 8 tracks than can be run in synchronization with other machines (of the same type) to attain more tracks. ADAT brand recorders are an example.

Modulation
The control of one signal by another AC signal.

Modulation Noise
Noise that is present only when the audio signal is present.

Module
A group of circuits and controls that are mounted on a removable housing; often on consoles, all of the controls and circuits for one or two channels.

Monitor
1) In audio, to listen.
2) To indicate with a meter or light the conditions in a circuit, especially level and overload.
3) A device to listen or observe.

Monitor Channel (Monitor Path)
An audio channel (a single path that an audio signal travels or can travel through a device) used to listen to the signal fed to or received back from one track of a multitrack tape recorder.

Monitor Mixer
1) A console or other device that blends audio signals into composite signals and has a small number of outputs.
2) The section of the console which is used to do a rough mix so the engineer can hear what is being recorded without effecting the levels being fed to the multitrack recorder.
3) The audio technician who mixes the signals sent to the stage monitor speakers.

Monitor Pot
A rotary control used to set the level of the track signal in the monitor (the signal to or the signal back from one track of a multitrack tape recorder).

Monitor Section (Monitor Mixer Section)
The section of the console which is used to do a rough mix so the engineer can hear what is being recorded without effecting the levels being fed to the multitrack recorder.

Monitor Selector
1) On consoles, a switch which allows you to hear various things over the control room monitor speakers such as the main console outputs (for mixing), the monitor mixer section (for recording and overdubbing), the disc player, tape machines and other devices.
2) On tape machines, a switch that (in one position) sends the signal from the tape to the meters and the output of the machine’s electronics or (in a second position) sends the input signal being fed to the machine to the meters and the output of the electronics.

Mono
Shortened from Monophonic and meaning that there is only one sound source or the signal was derived from one sound source.

Monophonic
1) More formal term for Mono and meaning that there is only one sound source or the signal was derived from one sound source.
2) In synthesizers, a term meaning that only one pitch may be sounded at a time.

Mounted Toms
An alternate name for Rack Toms (the smaller toms, as small as approximately a 10″ diameter, mounted above the foot drum in a drum kit).

Moving Coil Microphone
A term with the same meaning as the term Dynamic Microphone (a microphone in which the diaphragm moves a coil suspended in a magnetic field to generate an output voltage proportional to the sound pressure level).

Moving Fader Automation
In consoles, a feature that lets the engineer program fader level changes so that these changes happen automatically upon playback of the multitrack recording because the fader positions actually change. (The faders are diven by motors).

Ms
An abbreviation for milli-seconds (1/1000th of a second – usually not capitalized)

MS Micing
A method of stereo microphone placement where one microphone, with a cardioid pattern, points directly at the middle of the area to be miked and a Bi-directional microphone is as close as possible to the first mic with its rejection pointing the same way as the axis of the first mic.

MTC
Short for MIDI Time Code (All of the information of SMPTE time code that has been converted into part of the MIDI signal).

Muddy
Describes a low end muffled sound lacking highs and mids, and possibly having too much effects.

Multi/Multi Jack
Short for Multiple Jacks or Multiple Jack and meaning: 1) a jack at the output of a device which is not normalled so that plugging into the jack will allow the output to be sent to a different input and the output will also feed the normal place it feeds. 2) A set of jacks (or one of a set of jacks) with each terminal wired to a corresponding terminal of another or other jacks.

Multitasking
The running of more than one program at the same time by a computer.

Multitimbral
Able to send out several signals of different sound patches (and often playing different parts) by one synthesizer; having several sound modules in it (said of a synthesizer).

Multitrack Recording
1) A technique of recording various instruments separately on different portions of the same tape, in time with each other and so that final balancing of the sound may be accomplished later.
2) A technique of digitally recording various instruments onto a hard disk in different data files so the may be played in time with each other and final balancing of the sound may be accomplished later.

Multitrack Tape
A piece of magnetic tape which can be used to store two or more discrete signals, in time with each other.

Musical Instrument Digital Interface
A digital system (a system of numbers) used to communicate, to and from musical instruments, data regarding the performance of the instruments making music. Abbreviation: MIDI.

Mute Switch
A switch which turns off a channel, takes out a track signal from the monitors, or which turns off the entire monitor signal.

N.A.B.
An abbreviation for the National Association of Broadcasters

Nano
A prefix meaning one-billionth.

Nano-Webers Per Meter
The standard unit in measuring the amount of magnetic energy.

Narration
The spoken word from a person not seen on the screen that gives various information.

Narrow Band Noise
Noise (random energy) over a limited frequency range.

National Association of Broadcasters
An association that has adopted standards, including the standardization of the record equalization used in tape recording.

Near Field
The area up to one foot from the sound source.

Neck Width at Nut
The width of the neck where the nut is located. This area is where the neck is at its shortest width.

Negative
The opposite of positive.

Negative Feedback
A portion of the output signal that is feed to the input (of an amplifier), out of phase.

Noise Gate
A piece of sound processing equipment that reduces background noise by muting a sound signal when it falls below a certain level, restoring it when the level increases again. Must be used on vocal microphones with care, because it may cut the signal off, although the vocalist is still singing quietly. Also known as an Expander.

Noise
1) A random energy that contains energy at all audio frequencies.
2) Any unintentional or objectionable signal added to an audio signal.

Noise Filter
A filter used which passes only signals with the intended audio frequencies thus eliminating noise signals at other frequencies.

Noise Floor
The level of the noise, in dB, below the signal.

Noise Gate
A gate used to turn off an audio channel when noise but not signal is present.

Noise Reduction
Any device to remove noise in a device or system.

Non-Directional
Used with microphones to mean the same thing as the term Omni-Directional (picking up from all directions).

Non- Destructive Editing
The action in Digital Disk Audio Recording, where the playback of the digital audio is programmed to play certain portions and not others.

Non-Linear
The condition of obtaining a change at the output of the device which is not proportional to the change occurring at the input, causing distortion.

Normals
Switches on the patch jacks that connect certain jacks together until a patch cord is inserted.

Normalize
1) To provide normal switches on a jack.
2) To reset a synthesizer, sound module or sample playback unit to the original settings that were present from the factory.
3) To adjust the level of a selection so that the highest peak is at the maximum recording level of the medium.
4) In computers, to format a floppy disc.

Normalizing Jacks
Switches on the patch jacks that connect certain jacks together until a patch cord is inserted.

Notch
A narrow band of audio frequencies.

Notch Filter
A device that rejects signals that have frequencies within a narrow band of audio frequencies and passes all other signals.

Nut
The point on the guitar neck where the strings touch the neck and join the headstock.

Null
1) A condition of zero energy or movement.
2) In console automation, the placement of the slide of a fader to the exact point that was originally used to make the automated mix.

NW/m
An abbreviation of Nano-Webers Per Meter (the standard unit in measuring the amount of magnetic energy).

Nybble
One half byte, 4 information bits.

Nyquest Frequency
The highest frequency that can be recorded and reproduced properly by a particular sampling rate (a frequency that is one-half the sampling rate).

Nyquest Rate
The lowest sampling rate that can be used to record and reproduce a given audio frequency.

Octave
A difference of pitch where one tone has a frequency that is double or one-half of the frequency of another tone.

Off Axis
1) Away from the front or axis of the mic, measured in degrees.
2) 180 degrees from the front.

Offset (Offset Time)
1) The SMPTE time that will trigger a MIDI sequencer to begin.
2) The amount of position difference needed to get two reels to play the music in time.

Ohm
The unit of opposition to current flow.

Ohm’s Law
The mathematical relationship between voltage, current and resistance. >>> explanation

Omni
A prefix meaning All.

Omni- Directional
1) In microphones, picking up evenly from all directions.
2) In speakers, sending out evenly in all directions.

Omni Mode
Recognizing and responding to all MIDI Channels.

On Axis
The position of directly in front of the diaphragm of a microphone, in line with its movement.

On Line
1) Video editing done by a computer controlling tape machines according programmed instructions and used for the final editing of video recording.
2) A status that means that the device is ready to receive input.

Op Amp
Short for Operational Amplifier (an amplifying circuit used in most audio devices).

Open
Short for the term Open Circuit.

Open Circuit
1) Having a break in a conductor or, for another reason, not having a complete path for electrons to flow.
2) Said of an amplifier, having nothing feeding the input.

Open Track
A track on a multitrack tape which has not yet been recorded on.

Operating Level
The maximum level that should not be exceeded in normal operation.

Operational Amplifier
An amplifying circuit used in most audio devices.

Oscillator
1) A device that puts out test tones at various frequencies to align a tape machine or for other testing purposes.
2) A device generating a tone in a synthesizer

Out Of Phase
1) Being similar to another signal in amplitude, frequency and wave shape but being offset in time by part of a cycle.
2) 180 degrees out of phase or having opposite polarity.

Out Port
A jack which puts out digital data in a computer or digital device.

Outboard Equipment
Equipment that is used with, but is not a part of, a console.

Output
1) The jack or physical location of where a device sends out a signal.
2) The signal put out by a device.

Output Impedance
The opposition to current flow by the output circuits of an amplifier (or other device).

Output Level
The signal level at the output of a device.

Output Selector
The switch on a tape machine which allows the VU meter and audio output of the tape machine electronics to monitor and send out of the machine either the input signal to the rape machine, the playback of what was being recorded or the level of bias current being fed to the record head.

Overdrive
Taking the signal and breaking up the harmonics.

Overdubbing
1) Adding additional musical parts on a track of a multitrack tape.
2) Sending a previously recorded signal through a console and mixing it with the audio from a new sound source, recording onto another tape.

Over Easy
DBX’s trademark for the gradual change of compression ratio around the threshold making it difficult to detect when compression is taking place.

Overload
To put too much signal level into thereby causing distortion

Overload Indicator
An LED on a channel of a console that shows that the input or other part of the circuit is receiving an overload.

Oversampling
A process where the analog audio (or the digital audio for playback) is sampled many times more than the minimum sampling rate.

Overtones
The harmonics of an instrument’s sound minus the fundamental frequency.

Pad
1) An attenuator usually used to prevent overload of amplifier that follows.
2) A device with a surface that can be hit by a drum stick; hitting the pad produces an output signal pulse (or MIDI command) that causes a drum machine or synthesizer to sound a drum sound.

Pan (Balance)
Knob on the mixer that adjusts the relative volume between left and right (or A and B) in a stereo setup. Just like the stereo in the living room.

Panpot (Pan Pot)
An electrical device that distributes one audio signal to two (or more) channels or speakers.

Parallel
1) A circuit interconnection in that the source feeds several branch circuit components and interruption of current flow in one component does not stop current flow in another.
2) A method of sending data where each digit of a digital word is sent at the same time over separate wires/connections.

Parallel Jacks
Several jacks that are wired so that each connection is wired to the corresponding connection of other jacks.

Parallel Port
A jack that sends out or receives digital data where several bits are being sent/received at the same time though different pins.

Parameter
Each adjustment that is possible to change in a device.

Parametric EQ
An equalizer in which all of the parameters of equalization can be adjusted to any amount including: a) center frequency; b) the amount of boost or cut in gain; and c) the bandwidth.

Partial
1) In acoustical instruments, a term with the same meaning as overtone.
2) In synthesizers literally “part of a sound patch;” circuitry in the synthesizer that generates and/or modifies elements of the sound to give timbre to the particular tone.
3) The sound element generated by #2.

Pass Band
The frequency range of signals that will be passed, not reduced, by a filter.

Passive Device
A piece of signal processing gear or other device that does not use an amplifier as part of its design.

Patch
1) To route or reroute the signal in an audio system (such as a console) by using short cables with plugs inserted into jacks.
2)The routing or rerouting of the signal accomplished by #1.

Patch Bay
A Series of jacks with connections for most of the inputs and outputs of the console, console sections, tape machines and other pieces of equipment.

Patch Cord
A cable with two plugs on it to interconnect two patch jacks in the patch bay.

Patch Editor
A computer program allowing the creation or the changing of parameters of sound patches thereby creating or modifying a specific synthesized sound outside of a synthesizer.

Patch Field
A series of jacks which has connections for most of the inputs and outputs of the console, console sections, tape machines and other pieces of equipment.

Patch Librarian
A computer program allowing the storing of sound patches outside of a synthesizer.

Patch Panel
A series of jacks which has connections for most of the inputs and outputs of the console, console sections, tape machines and other pieces of equipment.

Patch Point
One jack in a patch bay.

Path
Short for Signal Path, the way in which current does or may travel in a circuit or through a device.

Pause
The button or control mode where the tape machine is paused but with the drive mechanism ready for an instant start.

Passive Crossover
Uses no active components (transistors, IC’s, tubes) and needs no power supply (AC, DC, battery) to operate. The crossover in a typical loudspeaker is of the passive variety. Passive crossovers consist of capacitors, inductors and resistors.

Patch Cord
A very short high Z instrument cable.

Patch Panel
A board consisting of rows of sockets into which plugs can be connected to route sound signals or power for lighting circuits.

PCM
An abbreviation for the term Pulse Code Modulation (the use of amplitude pulses in magnetic tape to record the digital information bits of digital audio).

Peak
1) The highest point in the audio waveform.
2) Short for Peak Detecting (responding to the peak) or Peak Indicating (showing the peak).
3) Having a frequency response that would draw something similar to a mountain peak on a frequency response graph.

Peak Detecting
Recognizing and responding to peak values of a waveform rather than average values.

Peak Indicating Meter
A meter which reads the absolute peak level of the waveform.

Peak Level
A term with the same meaning as Peak Value (the maximum positive or negative instantaneous value of a waveform).

Peak Responding
Recognizing and responding to (or indicating) the peak value rather than the average or effective value.

Peak Response
1) A term with the same meaning as Peak
2) Raising or lowering of the amplitude of signals at the center frequency more than signals at any other frequency.

Peak Value
The maximum positive or negative instantaneous value of a waveform.

Peaking Filter
An EQ circuit which has a peak response (raising or lowering of the amplitude of signals at the center frequency more than signals at any other frequency).

Peak-to-Peak Value
The difference in amplitude between positive and negative peaks. Equal to twice the peak value for a sine wave.

Pedal Board
A board with several guitar pedals attached and inter-connected so that a guitar player can conveniently use several effects at the same time or one after another.

PFL
These buttons allow you to boost or isolate individual channels in the headphones.

Phantom Power
1) When this is turned on in the soundboard it will power the active microphones in the system. It should be turned off when no active mics are hooked up.
2) Some condenser microphones require a power supply in order to operate. If this supply is not from a battery within the microphone body, it is known as a phantom power supply. It is usually 48 Volts DC (can be 9 – 52 volts from most mics), and is supplied either by a separate battery pack, or by the sound desk. The supply is termed “phantom” because it is “invisibly” carried down the same microphone cable as the sound signals.

Phantom Powering
A system used to supply condenser microphones with power; to eliminate the need for external power supplies.

Phase
1) The amount by which one sine wave leads or lags a second wave of the same frequency. The difference is described by the term phase angle. Sine waves in phase reinforce each other; those out of phase cancel.
2) A measurement (expressed in degrees) of the time difference between two similar waveforms.

Phase Addition
The energy of one waveform increasing the energy of another waveform because the two waveforms have similar phase relationships.

Phase Cancellation
The energy of one waveform decreasing the energy of another waveform because of phase relationships at or close to 180 degrees.

Phase Distortion
A change in the sound because of a phase shift in the signal.

Phase Distortion Synthesis
A method of altering a wave shape to add harmonics by a phase shift while a cycle is being formed.

Phase Linear
The quality of not having phase shift.

Phase Lock
1) In the control of tape machines, a method of keeping machines synced together by sensing phase differences in the playback of pilot tunes by the two machines and adjustment of speed to eliminate the phase difference.
2) In synthesizers, the control of one tone generator so that it begins its waveform in phase with the signal from another tone generator.

Phase Reversal
A change in a circuit to get the waveform to shift by 180 degrees.

Phase Shift
A delay introduced into an audio signal measured in degrees delayed.

Phase Sync
1) A term with the same meaning as the term Phase Lock.
2) A method of keeping machines synced together by sensing phase differences in the playback of pilot tones by the two machines and adjustment of speed to eliminate the phase difference.

Phasing
An effects sound created by variable phase shift of an audio signal mixed with the direct signal.

Phon
1) A unit of equal loudness for all audio frequencies.
2) The phon is numerically equal to dBspl at 1000 Hz but varies at other frequencies according to ear sensitivity to frequency.

Phone Plug (Jack)
A plug (or its mating jack) with a diameter of 1/4 inch and a length of I 1/4 inches used for interconnecting audio.

Phono Cartridge
1) The device that changes the mechanical vibrations stored on records into electrical signals.
2) A transducer changing sound stored as mechanical vibrations to sound in the form of electricity.

Phono Plug
1) A term with the same meaning as RCA Plug.
2) The common audio connector round on most stereo systems with a center pin as one connection and an outer shell as the second connection.
3) An unbalanced audio connector used for connecting line-level equipment together (e.g. CD player, tape recorder). Unsuitable for professional use due to lack of durability.

Photoelectric Cell
A device that generates a small current when it receives light.

Pick
Usually a small piece of plastic, which is held usually within the thumb and index finger to strike a string or strings on the guitar to produce a sound.

Pick Guard
Usually a piece of plastic that sit on the face of the guitar to protect the face of the guitar from scratches caused by picking.

Pick Up Pattern
The shape of the area that a microphone will evenly pick up from, giving similar but less detailed information than a polar pattern.

Pick-Up
1) Device which, when attached to an acoustic musical instrument, converts sound vibrations into an electrical signal.
2) A way of describing the directional sensitivity of a microphone. An Omni directional microphone has equal pick-up from all around, a Cardioid microphone is more sensitive from the front, a Hypercardioid has very strong directionality from the front. A figure-of eight microphone picks up front and rear, but rejects sound from the sides.

Pickup
1) A device on an electric guitar (or other instrument) that puts out an audio signal according to the string motion on the instrument.
2) A device that puts out an audio signal according to the vibration of something; this term means the same thing as a contact microphone.
3) A Pickup is a magnet wrapped in wires which sits on the face of an electric guitar, underneath the strings. When the strings move, it interferes with the magnetic field of the pickup and that impulse is sent to the amplifier. The impulse is then modified at the amplifier.

Pilot Tone
1) Same as Neo-Pilot Tone.
2) A system of recording a 60 Hz tone, used for syncing on a 1/4 inch tape, developed by Nagra.

Pin Plug
1) A term with the same meaning as RCA Plug.
2) The common audio connector found on most stereo systems with a center pin as one connection and an outer shell as the second connection.

Pinch Roller
A rubber (or plastic) wheel which pinches the tape between it and the capstan, allowing the capstan to pull the tape.

Ping-Ponging
Playing several recorded tracks with sync playback through a console to mix them together and record them on an open track.

Pink Noise
Noise which has equal energy per octave or portion of an octave.

Pitch
1) The perception of frequency by the ear (a higher or lower quality of music).
2) A control on a tape transport which adjusts the speed slightly up or down, changing the pitch and time of the music.
3) The spacing of the grooves in a phonograph record.

Pitch Bend
1) Making, in a synthesizer, the pitch smoothly glide up slightly.
2) Also the wheel controller or MIDI command that will allow this.

Pitch Change
1) A characteristic of human hearing where bass frequencies sound lower in pitch at high sound pressure levels; an error of as much as 10%.
2) A function of a delay effects device where the output signal’s pitch is different than the input signal’s pitch.

Pitch Ratio
The percentage change in pitch in a pitch change program of a delay line.

Pitch to MIDI Converter
A device that will change an audio signal into MIDI information.

Pitch to Voltage Converter
A Device that will convert the frequency changes of an audio signal into proportional control voltage changes.

Pink Noise
A random noise used in measurements, as it has the same amount of energy in each octave.

Plate
1) A type of reverb device where a large metal sheet is suspended on spring clips and driven like a speaker cone.
2) An electrode in a tube that receives the electrons.

Plate Program
A setting in a digital delay/reverb effects device that simulates the plate reverberation sound.

Playback
1) The reproduction of recorded audio.
2) In motion picture or video production, the reproduction of the music over loudspeakers so that the performers/musicians can perform in time to the music for the camera.

Playback Equalization
A reduction of the amplitude of signals with high frequencies during playback of a tape to compensate for the Record Equalization.

Playback Engineer
The audio technician who plays back music over loudspeakers for motion picture/video production so that performers can perform in time with the music for the camera.

Playback Head
A transducer (energy converter) which converts magnetic flux recorded on tape into an audio signal.

Playback Level
1) A term with the same meaning as Reproduce Level.
2) A control that determines the output level of signals played back from the tape by the reproduce head.

Playback Mode
A connection of the console’s monitor mixer inputs to the tape machine outputs for a quick playback of the multitrack master.

Playback Monitor
A position of the switch on a tape machine which allows the VU meter and sound output of the tape machine electronics to monitor the playback of what is actually recorded on the tape.

Playlist
A series of computer commands to a disk recording of digital audio where the playback of the digital audio is to play certain portions and not others.

Plug
A connector, usually on a cable, that mates with a jack.

Pitch Control
Facility on some sound playback devices for changing the speed of playback, and thus the pitch or frequency of the sound, to match an existing sound, or to fit a particular timeslot. Some Professional CD players have tempo controls which speed up the playback, and then compensate for the resulting increase in frequency using a pitch change. This results in the ability to match the beat of a CD in a disco situation, without the “Pinky and Perky” effect.

Polarity
1) The condition of being positive or negative with respect to some reference point or object.
2) The direction of flow of electricity either negative to positive or positive to negative. Matching polarity between different amplifiers can greatly reduce hum and the risk of elictrical shock. Most amps come equipped with a “polarity switch”.

Potentiometer (Pot)
See “attenuator”. For our purposes, they are the same.

Power Strip (six way)
Allows you to plug a lot of things into one power outlet.

Power Supply
Basically, a rack mountable power strip that costs a whole lot more, but hey, some of them have cute little lamps that light up the face of your rack.

Power Amplifier
Converts sound signals of line level (approx. 1 volt) into tens of volts, with currents of around 1 Amp to drive speakers.

Pre-Fade Listen
Often shortened to PFL. Control on a sound mixing desk which allows the user to check the presence of a signal, and its quality before bringing up the fader. Also vital for fault-finding, where the route of a signal can be PFL’ed around the desk until the point where the fault occurs. Also known as Check and Cue.

Prefade/Postfade
An output from a sound desk is said to be prefade if it is independent of the channel fader. If it is postfade, the level of the output is relative to the channel fader.

Point Source
A design in speaker systems, where separate speakers (reproducing different frequency ranges) are made so that the sound appears to come from one place.

Polar Pattern
1) For microphones, a graphic display of the audio output levels caused by sound waves arriving at the mic from different directions.
2) In speakers, a graphic display of the speaker’s dispersion.

Polarity
The direction of current flow or magnetizing force.

Polarizing Voltage
The voltage applied to the plates of the variable capacitor in the condenser microphone capsule.

Pole Pieces
Iron or other magnetic material that conducts magnetic force to where it can be used in transducers like record heads, playback heads, microphones, etc.

Pole Mode
In MIDI, a mode which allows the voices of the controlled synthesizer to be assigned polyphonically by incoming keynote numbers.

Polyphonic
Able to play more than one pitch at the same time, in synthesizers.

Ponging
Playing several recorded tracks with sync playback through a console to mix them together and record them on an open track.

Pop Filter
A device that is placed over a microphone or between the microphone and singer to prevent loud “pop” sounds by the singer.

Port
1) An opening in a speaker case or in a microphone case, just behind the diaphragm.
2) A jack accepting or sending digital data.

Portamento
1) A pitch change that smoothly glides from one pitch to another.
2) The synthesizer mode or MIDI command that allows or causes this to happen.

Ported-Case Microphone
A microphone with at least one port (opening behind the diaphragm) in its case.

Post
1) A position of a send control (or other control) after the main channel fader.
2) Short for the term Post-Production.

Post Echo
A position of an echo send control after the main channel fader.

Post Production
Production done after a film or video is shot including the recording of replacement dialogue, adding sound effects and the mixing of dialogue, effects and music for the production.

Post Roll
The amount that the tape machine will play past the desired end point.

Pot
1) Short for the term Potentiometer.
2) A device that outputs part of the input voltage according to the position of the control’s knob.

Potentiometer
A device that outputs pan of the input voltage according to the position of the control’s knob.

Power
1) The measurement of the ability of an electrical current to produce light, produce heat or do other work.
2) A similar measurement of another energy form to do work.
3) The name of the switch which turns on a device.

Power Amplifier
A device that takes a line level signal and amplifies it to be able to drive a speaker.

Power Supply
An electrical circuit which supplies voltage and current for devices to operate.

Pre-Amp
A low-noise amplifier designed to take a low-level signal and bring it up to normal line level.

Pre/Post Switch
A switch on the input module, which determines whether the echo send control comes before or after the main channel fader.

Pre Delay
Delay circuits at the input of a reverberation device causing a delay before the reverberation is heard.

Pre Echo
1) A repeating of the sound before the reverberation is heard used to simulate reflections caused by a stage.
2) In Tape Recording, a low-level leakage of sound coming later caused by print through.
3) In Disc Recording, a similar sound caused by a previous groove deforming a later groove.
4) A placement of an echo send control before the main channel fader.

Pre Emphasis
A boosting of high frequencies during the recording process to keep the signal above the noise at high frequencies.

Pre Fader
A placement of a send control (or other control) before the main channel fader.

Pre Fader Listen
A solo circuit that allows a channel signal to be heard (and often metered) before the channel fader.

Pre-Mix
1) Another term for ponging (playing several recorded tacks with sync playback through a console to mix them together and record them on an open track).
2) To mix together the audio of several devices before sending the composite mix to the main console.
3) The composite mix of #1 or #2.

Precedence Effect
A factor in human hearing where delay has a much bigger effect on the human perception of the location of the sound source than level does.

Presence
The quality in sound of the instrument (or sound source) being right there next to you.

Presence Frequencies
The range of audio frequencies between 4 kHz and 6 kHz that often, when boosted, increases the sense of presence, especially on voices.

Preset
1) A program of a sound done at the factory by the manufacturer.
2) A set of factory set parameters to give one effect on a signal processing device.

Pressure Gradient Microphone
A microphone whose diaphragm is exposed front and back and diaphragm movement is caused by the pressure difference between its front and back.

Pressure Microphone
A microphone where the diaphragm moves because of the pressure of the sound wave having one side of the diaphragm working against the normal or controlled air pressure inside the microphone case.

Pressure Operated Microphone
A term meaning the same thing as the term Pressure Microphone. See the preceding entry.

Pressure Sensitivity
The feature in a synthesizer or Keyboard Controller of After Touch (a control or operational function of a synthesizer where pressing a key after it has been pressed, and before it is released, will activate a control command that can be set by the player).

Pressure Zone Microphone
The full name for PZM (trademark), Crown’s barrier microphone (a microphone with the head attached closely to a plate, designed to be attached to a larger surface, and which has a half-Omni pickup pattern).

Preview
1) To play the edit in a digital audio editing system before committing to save it.
2) In a computer assisted punch in, to have the computer play over the area while switching the monitoring so that the effect of the punch in can be heard before it is performed.
3) Short for preview signal (a signal in disc recording that matches and is earlier than the signal being recorded).

Preview Head
An extra reproduce head on a tape transport used in disc recording that the tape reaches before the regular playback head

Preview Signal
A signal in disc recording that matches and is earlier than the signal being recorded.

Print
1) The action of a Print Through (unwanted transfer of magnetic flux from one layer of tape to another).
2) To record (slang definition).

Print Through
The unwanted transfer of magnetic flux from one layer of tape to another.

Processing
1) A computer performing tasks as programmed.
2) Short for Signal Processing (changing the sound of the instrument or other sound source with equalizers, limiters, compressors and other devices thereby “processing” them to be recorded onto a master).

Processor
The part of a computer which actually performs task/calculations.

Producer
The ‘director’ of an audio recording project responsible to get a final product of desired quality within a budget.

Production
1) A recording of a tune, collection of tunes, video or film performance.
2) The action of directing an audio recording project to get a final product of desired quality within a budget.

Production Studio
A recording studio that specializes in the assembly and mixing of commercials and radio programs from pre recorded music and effects with newly recorded dialogue.

Program/Programme
1) The instructions, the action of instructing, or the action of recording instructions for a computer or computer controlled device to perform certain functions.
2) A Sound Patch, the sequence of tone generators and modifiers in a synthesizer to obtain a particular sound.
3) The settings (especially those set at the factory) that will obtain a certain effect in an effects processor.
4) One selection of recorded music on a CD or DAT.
5) The audio that is recorded in general.

Program Number
The number of the pre-recorded selection in a CD or DAT.

Program Change
A MIDI message for the receiving device to change presets.

Program Disc
In a computer, the floppy disc that holds the program (to tell the computer how to process and store digital information).

Program Equalization
Changing the level of any signal in a certain range of frequencies to accent (or de-emphasize) certain frequency elements of an instrument or sound source and change its tone.

Program Mode
An operational mode of a monitor section of a console where the monitor inputs are connected to the console outputs feeding the multitrack tape machine (used during the recording session).

Program Switch
A switch which activates the Program Mode (Record Mode) of the monitor section connecting the monitor inputs to the console outputs feeding the multitrack tape recorder (used during the recording session).

Program Time
In DAT recording, the time indication from the top of one selection.

Programmable
Able to have the parameters changed by the user, especially in a computer controlled device.

Prompt
A set of instructions for the user to follow, which appears on a computer screen.

Proprietary
Describing a function, feature or characteristic owned by one company and available only in units manufactured by that company.

Protocol
A system of digital data where the positioning of the data, and what each bit in the data stream signifies, is according to a standardized format so all devices can properly interpret the data.

Pro Tools
A trade name of Digidesign for a hard disk digital audio recording system

Proximity Effect
In directional microphones, the boost in the microphone’s output for bass frequencies as the mic is moved closer to the sound source.

Psychoacoustics
The study of how things sound to individuals because of mental or emotional factors.

Puck
Any circular piece of metal, fiber, rubber, etc., which drives something from a rotating power source.

Pulse
A rise and then fall in amplitude, similar to a square wave but staying up for less time than staying down.

Pulse Code Modulation
The use of amplitude pulses in magnetic tape to record the digital information bits of digital audio.

Pulse Wave Modulation
Moving smoothly from a square wave to pulse wave according to a control voltage input (usually from a LFO).

Pulse Width
The amount of time that a pulse is at maximum voltage.

Pumping Breathing
The sound of the noise changing volume as the limiter or compressor works.

Punching In and Out
Putting the recorder in record on a previously-recorded track while the tape is playing in sync playback and the singer or musician is singing or playing along is called Punching In.

Pure Tone
A tone without harmonic frequencies except for the fundamental frequency and with a sine wave shape.

PZM
A trademark belonging to Crown for their barrier microphones (a microphone with its head attached closely to a plate, designed to be attached to a larger surface, and which has a half-Omni pickup pattern).

Q
The sharpness of the peak response in an equalization circuit.

Quad (Quadraphonic)
A system of four channel sound where the channels are designated as left front, left back, right front, and right back.

Quadrophonic
A sound system which uses four independent speakers (or sets of speakers). The fore-runner of today’s Surround Sound. See Stereophonic.

Quality Factor
The ratio of reactance to resistance in a coil which affects Q.

Quantize
The conversion of the values of an analog wave or random occurrence into steps.
Quantization A quantizing (see above).

Quantization Distortion/Quantization Error
A modulation noise (also perceived as a distortion) that occurs in digital processing/recording caused by the sample levels being altered to conform to standard Quantization levels.

Quantization Levels (Quantizing Levels/increments)
A standard level that can be recognized by a digital recording system.

Quantization Noise
A modulation noise (also perceived as a distortion) that occurs in digital processing/recording caused by the sample levels being altered to conform to standard Quantization levels.

Quarter Track
A format in tape recording where each track takes up 1/4 of a quarter inch tape width.

Rack
A cabinet of standard width (19″) into which various components can be bolted. Racks are ideal for touring equipment, are neat, and they allow easy access to the rear and front panels.

Rack Ears (Rack Flanges)
Mounting brackets that can be attached to equipment to make the equipment able to be housed in a standard equipment rack.

Rack Mount
To mount in an equipment rack.

Rack Space
A standardized size of the front mounting plate in outboard gear equal to approximately 1 3/4″ tall by 19″ wide.

Rack Toms
Small to medium-size drums (usually 10 – 14 inch diameter) that are mounted to a rack over the foot drum in a drum kit.

Radiation
The angle and pattern of coverage of a speaker.

Radiation Pattern
A drawing of the coverage of speaker using a polar graph.

Radio Frequencies
Frequencies higher than 20,000 Hz (usually above 100 kHz).

Radio Mic
Device consisting of a microphone head, transmitter pack with batteries, aerial and mains receiver unit which allows actors and singers to be amplified with no visible means of connection. Almost universally used in musicals where the singers have to be amplified to be heard over the orchestra/band. Used in non-musical shows for sound reinforcement.

RAM
Shortened from the first letters of Random Access Memory (memory stored in the computer and immediately available for use and updating).

Ramp Wave
A waveform that is similar to a sawtooth waveform but different in that it starts at zero level and gradually rises to its peak level and then instantly drops back to zero level to form one cycle.

Random Access Memory
Memory stored in the computer and immediately available for use and updating.

Random Note Generator
A device that generates unpredictable pitches at a set rate, used in synthesizers.

Random Phase
The presence of many signals (or reflections) where some of the signals are in phase and some out of phase and overall having the effect of being between in-phase and out-of-phase.

Rap
To perform a spoken rhythmic part to a music or percussion performance.

Rarefaction
The air particles being spread apart in the formation of a sound pressure wave.

Rated Load Impedance
The input impedance (opposition to current flow by an input of a device) that a piece of equipment is designed to feed.

RCA Plug (jack)
The common audio connector found on most stereo systems.

R-DAT
Short for the name Rotating Head Digital Audio Tape, a standard format of recording digital audio on a very small tape cassette, using a rotating head.

Reactance
Opposition to the flow of electrical current which changes with the frequency of the current.

Read
The retrieval of information bits from a storage device; equivalent to reproduction of digital signals.

Read Head
The digital audio reproduce head in a digital recorder or a similar device that converts magnetic pulses on a storage medium to voltage pulses.

Read Only Memory
A memory IC that has digital data on it that cannot be erased/rewritten by the user.

Ready
A control state of one track of a multitrack tape recorder where the track will go into record when the record function of the tape recorder is activated.

Recognize
To be able to take in and respond to (incoming digital control data).

Record
The switch, which activates the electronics of the tape, machine to record.

Record Calibration Control
A tape machine electronics’ control that matches the signal level monitored in the input position of the output selector switch to that of the signal recorded and played back from the tape.

Record Equalization
The increase in amplitude of signals, in a tape machine’s electronics, at the high frequencies as a tape is recorded to keep high-frequency signals recorded above the tape noise.

Record Head
A device that changes electrical current to magnetic energy; the changes of the magnetism match the wave shape of the audio signal fed to the head.

Record Level
A control, which determines the amount of magnetic flux recorded on the tape.

Record Monitor
On some tape machines, the switch position on the electronics which allows the VU meter and sound output of the tape machine electronics to monitor the input signal to the tape machine.

Record Ready
A control state of one track of a multitrack tape recorder where the track will go into record when the record function of the tape recorder is activated.

Recording Buss
A Buss (a wire carrying signals fed from several sources to a destination) that sends mixed signals from the console channels to the multitrack recorder.

Recording Chain
All of transducers and changes of energy form in a recording and reproducing system, listed in order.
Recording Group Another term for Recording Buss or the signals present on the buss.

Recording Session
Any period where music is being recorded, especially the first such period where the rhythm instruments are being recorded.

Recording Solo
A switch (or function) where the signal of a channel is routed to the monitor system by itself, yet the signals out of the console to the recorder are not interrupted.

Recordist
A person operating recording equipment as a hobby or non-professionally.

Reel
1) The hub and flanges that hold tape and which tape can be spooled onto or off of.
2) The amount of tape that fits on a Reel (definition 1).

Reel Lock
The device that secures the reel to the turntable in a transport.

Reel Motor
The motor that turns the platter holding the reel on a tape transport.

Reference Level
1) A standard value used to describe how much level is present in dB above or below this reference.
2) A term with the same meaning as the term Operating Level (the maximum average level that should not be exceeded in normal operation).

Reference Tones
A term with the same meaning as the term Test Tones (a recording of several single-frequency tones at the beginning of a tape reel at the magnetic reference level that will be used to record the program).

Reflected Sound
Sound that reaches a microphone or listener after one or more reflections from surrounding surfaces.

Re-Generation
1) A term with the same meaning as the term Jam Sync (a generation of a new SMPTE time code signal according to the input SMPTE signal, giving an identical SMPTE signal out as came in).
2) Feedback, especially around a delay line.

Register
A user modified program (with changed parameters) which is stored in the memory of an effects unit, or sound module.

Regulated Power Supply
A device to supply power to electronic equipment whose output voltage will not fluctuate when more equipment is turned on, or if there is a change in voltage of the power line.

Relay
An electric switch, when a control voltage is applied to the device, two terminals are connected (or disconnected).

Relay Rack
An older term for the term Equipment Rack, a cabinet with rails (or free standing rails) that have holes to accept screws at standard spaces and used to house outboard gear.

Release
The rate that the volume of a synthesizer drops to no-sound once the key is released.

Release Time
The time it takes for a dynamics processing device to change gain when the input signal crosses the threshold level while decreasing.

Reluctance
Opposition to the flow of magnetism.

Remixer
A mixing engineer who specializes in Re-mixing (the mixdown of other versions of a song, often adding additional parts and/or samples).

Re-Mixing
1) A seldom-used alternate term meaning the same thing as the term Mixdown (combining the signals from the tracks of a multitrack tape onto a two track master tape).
2) The mixdown of other versions of a song, often adding additional parts and/or samples.

Remote
1) The controls that will control a tape machine with the operator at a distance from the machine.
2) The recording at the sight of a performance rather than in a recording studio.

Repeat Echo
An echo effect caused by discrete repeats of a program source by using a long delay time and feedback on a delay line. Also called Space Echo.

Replacement Dialogue
Dialogue recorded for a film after the film is shot to replace poorly recorded dialogue, or to change dialogue text.

Residual Magnetization
The amount of magnetism left in a magnetic material after the magnetizing force is removed.

Residual Noise
The noise level left on recording tape after it has been erased.

Resistance
1) That property of a conductor by which it opposes the flow of electric current, resulting in the generation of heat in the conducting material, usually expressed in ohms.
2) Opposition to the flow of current in one direction or which does not represent different opposition for signals of different frequencies.

Resistor
1) A device used in a circuit primarily to provide resistance.
2) A device which opposes the flow of electrical current and does so evenly at all frequencies.

Resonance
1) The effect produced when the natural vibration frequency of a body is greatly amplified by reinforcing vibrations at the same or nearly the same frequency from another body.
2) The prolonging of the sound at a certain frequency and the tendency of something to vibrate at a particular frequency after the source of energy is removed.

Resonant
1) Tending to pass signals of a certain frequency or narrow range of frequencies more than signals of other frequencies.
2) Physical properties that tend to reinforce the energy at certain frequencies of vibration.

Resonant Frequency
The frequency at which a physical item tends to vibrate after the source of energy (causing the vibration) is removed.

Resonate
1) To vibrate at the resonant frequency.
2) To linger on, as in reverberation, said of sound in a room or used to describe a room/area that has reverberation with a long reverb time.

Returns
Short for the term Echo Return or Auxiliary Return (the input of the console which brings back the effects signal from the echo chamber or other reverberation effects device).

Reverb (Reverberation)
1) A shortening of the term Reverberation (the persistence of a sound after the source stops emitting it).
2) Effect which may be added to sound effects during recording or to a voice during performance. Sustains the sound longer than normal, as if the sound was reverberating around a large building (e.g. cathedral). Persistence of sound after the source has ceased.
3) Adding the acoustics of a concert hall.
4) A most basic and necessary effect. Think of it like this. If you stand in a big empty warehouse and shout, “Hey!”, you will hear a sort of “reverberation” surround you. It’s sort of like an echo, but not exactly. Think of it as audio afterglow.

Reverb Time
The time it takes for the reverberation or echoes of a sound source to decrease 60 dB, after the direct sound from the source stops.

Reverb Time Contour
A graph of reverberation time for signals of different audio frequencies.

Reverberant Field
The area, away from a sound source, where reverberation is louder than the direct sound from the sound source.

Reverberation
The persistence of a sound after the source stops emitting it, caused by many discrete echoes arriving at the ear so closely spaced in time that the ear cannot separate them.

Reverberation Chamber
A device built to simulate room reflections.

Reverberation Envelope
Literally the attack, decay, sustain and release of the reverberation volume; in other words, how fast the reverberation reaches peak level and its rate of decay.

Reverberation Time
The amount of time it takes for reverberation to die down.

Rewind
Movement of the tape quickly from the take up reel to the supply reel (the direction opposite of play).
RF Abbreviation for the term Radio Frequencies (frequencies higher than 20,000 Hz – usually above 100 kHz).

RF Interference
The induction (generation of current by magnetic lines of force cutting a conductor) of RF signals (usually broadcast by television and radio stations) into audio lines causing noise, buzz and static. Also see the term TV Interference.

Rhythm Section
The musical instruments, especially the first instruments recorded in a tune that play rhythmic parts rather than melody parts.

Rhythm Track (Rhythm Tracks)
The recording of the rhythm instruments in a music production.

Ribbon Mic
Delicate mic not suitable for high sound pressure levels. Consists of a corrugated conductive foil strip suspended between opposing magnetic poles which is excited by pressure differences between the front and rear of the microphone and induces a current.

Ribbon Microphone
A microphone with a thin conductive ribbon as both the diaphragm (device that moves because of the sound pressure wave) and the generating element (the device that generates the electricity).

Riding Faders
Adjusting up the faders for low passages so the signal will be recorded well above the noise and taking the faders back down during loud passages to prevent distortion.

Riff
A short melody repeatedly played in a tune (sometimes with variation) often between vocal lines.

Ring Out A Room
A testing, often done at the set-up of a sound system for performances, where pink noise is sent through the speakers and the microphones are turned up until feedback occurs.

Ringing
An undesirable resonance at the cut off frequency of a filter that has a high rate of cut-off.
Rise Time How fast an audio waveform makes a sudden increase to a higher level.

Roll-Off
The reduction of signal level as the frequency of the signal moves away from the cut-off frequency, especially when the cut-off rate is mild.

ROM
Abbreviation for Read Only Memory.

Room Equalization
An equalizer inserted in the monitor system that attempts to compensate for frequency response changes caused by the acoustics of the room.

Room Sound
The ambience of a room including the reverberation and background noise.

Room Tone
The background noise in a room without people speaking or music playing.

Root Mean Square
The effective average value of an AC waveform, abbreviated: RMS.

Rotary Control
A level or other control in a device that has a circular movement rather than moving in a straight line.

Rotating Head
A circular head with two (or more) gaps that rotates against the direction of tape motion at a slight angle to the tape travel.

Round Sound
A pleasingly balanced sound (having a pleasing mixture of high frequency to low-frequency content).

RMS
1) Abbreviation for root mean square. The effective value of a given waveform is its RMS value. Acoustic power is proportional to the square of the RMS sound pressure.
2) The effective average value of an AC waveform.

RMS detecting
A control circuit that recognizes and responds to the effective average, the RMS level (see preceding entry) rather than to the peak level.

RT
An abbreviation of Reverb Time (the time it takes for the reverberation or echoes of a sound source to decrease 60 dB, after the direct sound from the source stops).

Ruggedness
Ability to withstand a lot of use, rough use or abuse.

Rumble
A low-frequency noise, especially that caused by earth/floor vibration or by uneven surfaces in the drive mechanism of a recorder or playback unit.

Run
To perform a function or command (said of a computer).

Run Down
Musicians playing the tune before recording so that the engineer can get levels and check the sound quality.

Run Off
A quick reference mix recorded on cassette (or other format) after a multitrack recording or overdubbing session, so the client can listen to what was recorded.

Safe
An operational status of a track in a multitrack tape recorder where that track will not go into record when the record button is pushed for the machine.

Safe/Ready Selector
A two or more position switch, which is usually included on a tape machine and which, determines if each track will be able to go into record.

Sample
1) In digital recording, to measure the level of a waveform at a given instant.
2) To record a short segment of audio for the purpose of playback later.
3) The short recording (made per definition 2).

Sample and Hold
In digital recording, to measure the level of a waveform at a given instant and then convert it to a voltage at that level which will be held until another sample is taken.

Sample Dump
The copying of a digitally recorded sample without converting it to analog between different storage units or sound modules thru a MIDI transmission.

Sample Playback
The reproduction (in analog signal form) of a recorded sample controlled as to pitch and sustain (by a MIDI signal).

Sample Rate
In digital recording, the number of times per second that samples are taken.

Sample Rate Conversion
The conversion of digital audio at one sample rate to digital audio at a different sample rate without first converting the signal to analog.

Sampler
A device that records and plays samples, often with features to edit and store the samples.

Sampling
The technique of recording a sound digitally (translating the analogue audio waveform into a series of electrical ons and offs that can be manipulated by a computer) for subsequent processing, editing and playback.

Sampling Frequency
Same as Sample Rate (the number samples taken per second).

Sampling Synchronization
Signal Synchronization pulses that are generated by a digital audio tape recorder, are recorded onto the tape and then used as a clock signal to time the sampling of the sampling circuits.

Saturation
The point at which the tape is fully magnetized and will accept no more magnetization.

Save
To put onto a permanent storage device (such as a floppy disc) the digital data in the RAM.

Sawtooth Waveform
A waveform that jumps from a zero value to a peak value and then gradually diminishes to a zero value for each cycle.

Schematic Diagram (Schematic)
A diagram that shows the signal paths and electronic components of a device.

Scratch
1) A descriptive term meaning “temporary”.
2) A scratch vocal is a vocal done during a basic recording session to help the musicians play their parts. At a later date the final vocal track is overdubbed.
3) The action of a musician or disc jockey quickly moving a record back and forth with a phono cartridge reproducing the stylus motion to create a rhythm pattern of sound.

Scrub
The action or function of shuttling (moving the sound track) usually of digital audio, either forward or backward when a control is moved off a center point either left or right.

Sealed Case
The enclosure of a microphone diaphragm so that the back cannot receive sound pressure changes.

Second
Short for Second Engineer (Assistant Recording Engineer) and used to describe the action done by a second engineer.

Select
1) A switch which controls where an input receives its signal from.
2) The action of choosing where an input receives its signal from.

Semi-Pro
A class of recording equipment where professional or near-professional performance can be obtained but the equipment is not built to withstand the amount of continuous use that professional equipment would be expected to receive and sometimes is missing features needed in a professional installation.

Semiconductor
1) A material which conducts more than an insulator but less than a conductor.
2) Any device, such as a transistor, which is mainly made from semiconductor material.

Send
A control and buss to feed signals from the console channels to some outboard device such as a reverberation effects unit.

Send Level
A control determining the signal level sent to a send buss (see preceding entry).

Sensitivity
1) Volume of sound delivered for a given electrical input.
2) In microphones, the output level produced by a standard amount of sound pressure level.

Separation
A term used to describe the pick up of a desired signal compared to the pick up of an undesired signal.

Sequence
1) A playing of musical events (such as pitches, sounding of samples, and rests) automatically by some device, in a step by step order.
2) The action of programming a computer to play musical events, automatically, in a stepped order.
Sequencer A computer which can be programmed to play a stepped order of musical events (playing of pitches, sounding of samples, and rests).

Serial Data
Digital data where all of the bits are transmitted one after another over a single wire/connection.

Serial Interface
A plug and cable for a computer that sends/receives data one bit after another.

Serial Port
A jack that sends out or receives digital data one bit after another, through a single pin.

Series Connection
Connecting devices (especially circuit elements) so that the electrical signal flows from one thing to the next, to the next, so forth.

Servo-Controlled
In motors, using a control circuit where the actual speed of a motor is sensed and compared to a reference (like a pulse timing signal).

Set Up
1) To place microphones, instruments and the controls on recorders/consoles, etc. for recording.
2) The way in which the microphones, instruments and the controls on recorders/consoles, etc. are positioned for recording.

Shelf
A frequency response of an equalization circuit where the boost or cut of frequencies forms a shelf on a frequency response graph. A High-Frequency Shelf control will affect signal levels at the set frequency and all frequencies higher than it; a Low-Frequency Shelf control will affect signal levels at the set frequency and all frequencies lower than it.

Shelf Filter
A name for the circuit in an equalizer used to obtain the shelf.

Shield
1) The outer conductive wrapping around an inner wire or inner wires in a cable.
2) To protect the inner wire or inner wires in a cable from pick up of energy given off by such things as florescent lights.

Shielded Cable
Cable that has a shield around an inner conductor or inner conductors.

Shock Mount
An elastic mount for the microphone that reduces movement of the microphone when the stand moves (because of floor vibrations from footsteps, etc.).

Short (Short Circuit)
A direct connection between two points in a circuit that (usually) should not be connected.

Short Delay
Delay times under 20 milliseconds.

Shortest Digital Path
The routing of the digital audio signal so that there is a minimum amount of D/A conversion, A/D conversion or Sample Rate conversion.

Shortest Path
A technique in recording that routes the signal through the least amount of active (amplified) devices during recording.

Shotgun Microphone
A microphone with a long line filter (a tube that acoustically cancels sound arriving from the side) to make the microphone pick up much better in one direction than in any other direction.

Shuttle
1) A technique of stopping the fast winding (either fast-forward or rewind) of tape in older tape machines where the engineer put the tape machine in the opposite fast mode and pressed stop after the machine just started to reverse direction.
2) Moving the reels by hand so that the tape moves past the desired point first in one direction, then in another direction, back and forth.
3) A control, which moves the sound track either forward or backward when the control is moved off a centre point either, left or right.

Sibilance
Energy from a voice centred around 7 kHz caused by pronouncing “s”, “sh” or “ch” sounds.

Sidechain
The control circuit of a dynamics processing device.

Signal
1) In audio, an alternating current (or voltage) matching the waveform of, or being originally obtained from a sound pressure wave.
2) Also in audio, an alternating current (or voltage) between 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz.
3) A digital audio bit stream.

Signal Flow
The path that a signal moves through an audio system such as a console.

Signal Generator
Same as Audio Oscillator (a device which puts out test tones at various frequencies for testing purposes).

Signal Path
The way in which current does or may travel in a circuit or through a device.

Signal Processing
Changing the sound of the instrument or other sound source with equalizers, limiters, compressors and other devices thereby “processing” them to be recorded onto a master.

Signal-to-Error Ratio
The level difference between the signal and the noise and distortion caused by converting analog audio signals into digital audio and then back into analog.

Signal-to-Noise Ratio
The amount of dB lower the noise is as compared to the signal.

Sine Wave
The waveform that would be obtained from a vibrating source that was vibrating at just one frequency (making a pure tone).

Single-D
A term that is short for Single Port Distance, and describing a microphone where there is one distance between the port and the diaphragm.

Slap Echo
One distinct repeat added to one or more instrument sounds in the mix which creates a very live sound similar to what you would hear in an arena.

Slate
1) The voice recorded onto the beginning of a master tape to identify the tune and take, or the action of making it.
2) The circuit or control which allows you to slate masters.
Slave The transport, which adjusts speed to be in time with the master transport when two machines are synced together.

Slide
A control that has a knob which moves in a straight line and which outputs part of an input voltage according to the position of the knob.

Slider
Usually found on an EQ of a soundboard. These turn things up or down by a “sliding” movement rather than the rotary movement employed by knobs.

Smart FSK
An FSK (Frequency Shift Key) sync signal where the beginning of each measure has an identification message giving the measure number.

SMPTE
1) Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, a professional society.
2) A term loosely used to mean SMPTE Time Code.

SMPTE Time Code
A standardized timing and sync signal specified by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.

Snake
In large systems, this long bundle of cords connects the things on the stage (amps, mics…) to the things at the sound booth (mixer, effects, EQs etc).

Snare
1) Short for Snare Drum, the medium size drum directly in front of a sitting drummer which has metal strands drawn across the bottom head which rattle when the drum is hit.
2) The metal (or animal gut) strands stretched across the bottom head of the snare drum.

Sock Cymbal
An alternate name for High-Hat (a double cymbal on a stand which can be played with a foot pedal or by the top cymbal being hit with a stick).

Soft Key
Short for Software Key; another name for a function key, (a key which has a different function depending on the programming of a computer and as shown on a menu screen) especially when it is a button on a device that has an internal computer.

Soft Knee
Generic name for dbx Corporation’s registered trade name of “Over-Easy.” (named for the gradual change of compression ratio around the threshold making it difficult to detect when compression is taking place).

Soft Knob
Short for Software Knob; a knob used in computer-controlled devices which has a different function depending on the programming of the computer.

Soft Sound Source
A low-volume instrument such as an acoustic guitar.

Software
Digital data and commands that tell a computer what functions to do, often stored on a floppy disc called a program disc.

Solder
A soft mixture of metals used to make a bond between two metal surfaces by melting. In audio work the mixture is usually tin and lead which is used in permanently connecting wires to terminals.

Soldering
The action of making connections with solder (a soft mixture of metals used to make a bond between two metal surfaces by melting).

Solid State
In electronics, using transistors and semiconductor devices rather than tubes.

Solo
1) A circuit in a console that allows just one channel (or several selected channels) to be heard or to reach the output.
2) In music, the instrument or segment where an instrument is the featured instrument for a short period, often playing a melody.

Solo Switch
A switch that activates the solo function (allowing just selected channels to be heard or to reach the output).

Song Pointer
Short for MIDI Clock With Song Pointer (time data in the MIDI signal that advances one step each 1/24 of a beat – used to sync two sequencers together and which also has a number signal for each measure indicating the number of measures into the tune).

Song Position Pointer
The full name for Song Pointer.

Sound
1) Moving pressure variations in air caused by something vibrating between 20 times a second and 20,000 times a second or similar variations in other substances like water.
2) Loosely, any audio signal regardless of its energy form.

Sound Absorption
Same as Acoustical Absorption (the action or quality of a surface or substance to absorb sound rather than reflect it).

Sound Blanket
A thick blanket that can be put on floors or hung to help prevent sound reflections.

Sound Check
A thorough test of the sound system before a performance. This will include checking each speaker cabinet individually, and each playback device. In the case of a live concert, this is the session when each instrument is played in turn for the sound engineer to check and fine-tune the sound.

Sound Effects
Sounds like door closings, wind, etc. added to film or video shots; sounds other than dialogue, narration or music.

Sound File (Soundfile)
A digital audio recording that can be stored in a computer or on a digital storage medium (such as a hard disc).

Sound Level
A shortening of the term Sound Pressure Level (a measure of the sound pressure created by a sound).

Sound Level Meter
A device that measures the sound pressure levels.

Sound Module
The signal-generator portion of a synthesizer or a sample playback unit that sends out an audio signal according to incoming MIDI messages and does not have keys to play it.

Sound Patch
Full name of the term Patch

Sound Pressure Level (SPL)
A measure of the sound pressure present; dB above the Threshold of Hearing (.0002 Microbars).

Sound Pressure Wave
Alternate compressions (compacting together) and rarefactions (spreading apart) of air particles moving away from something that is vibrating between 20 and 20,000 times a second or a similar occurrence in another substance (such as water).

Sound Quality
A microphone characteristic of how well the diaphragm movement matches the pressure changes of a sound pressure wave reaching it, especially sudden changes.

Sound Reinforcement
Amplifying a voice just enough so that it can be heard, without the audience being aware that it is being amplified (ideally!)

Sound Source
Something that vibrates between 20 times a second and 20,000 times a second and therefore makes a sound pressure wave.

Sound Tools
A trademark of DigiDesign for a digital audio editing system.

Sound Track
The audio recording, especially the audio recording on film or video tape.

Sound Wave
Short for Sound Pressure Wave (a wave of pressure changes moving away from something that is vibrating between 20 times a second and 20,000 times a second).

Source
Input mode on a tape machine where the meters and the output of the machine’s electronics will be the signal arriving at the input connector.

Space Echo
An effect of repeating echoes of a sound.

Spaced Cardioid
A far-distant micing technique of placing cardioid microphones a distance apart (usually about 6 inches) pointing away from each other by 90 degrees.

Spaced Omni
Placing two microphones with omni directional patterns 4 to 8 feet apart where one microphone picks up the left side and one microphone picks up the right side.

Spaced Pair
Any two microphones spaced to get a stereo pickup especially using the Spaced Omni or Spaced Cardioid techniques.

SPDIF
Shortened from the first letters of Sony/Phillips Digital Interface, a standard for sending and receiving digital audio signals using the common RCA connector.

Speaker
1) A device that changes electrical signals to sound which can be heard; a transducer changing the electrical audio signal into a sound pressure wave.
2) The part of the system that physically produces the sound.

Speaker Cabinet
The box that holds the speakers.

Speaker Out
A high power signal leaves the power amp through this jack on it’s way to the speaker.

Speaker Out Direct
Feeding the signal from the speaker output of an instrument amplifier to the recording console without using a microphone.

Speakon Connector
A type of shielded, locking multipin speaker connector which can safely carry the high currents from an amplifier needed to drive large speaker systems. Available in 4- or 8-way types, and ideal for bi-amplified systems. The cable version of the connector is male, and the panel mount connector is female.

Speed of Sound
The wave velocity (the time it takes for one point of the waveform to travel a certain distance) of a sound pressure wave, 1130 feet per second at 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Spin Control
A British term for Feedback Control (a control that determines the amount of delayed signal sent back to the input of a delay line, used in repeat echo effects).

SPL (Sound Pressure Level)
1) An abbreviation of Sound Pressure Level, referring to a pressure of .0002 microbar, considered to be the Threshold of Hearing (lowest level where people begin hearing sound).
2) A measurement of the loudness of a sound.

Splice
1) To assemble previously cut pieces of recording tape with special tape on the back side.
2) An edit so done.

Splicing Block
A device that holds tape to cut it to make splices.

Split Keyboard
A set up where some of the keys of a synthesizer (or keyboard controller) will play one sound and others will play a second sound.

Spot Erase
The action or function of erasing a very small segment of one track (or several tracks) of a multitrack recording by disengaging the normal tape drive system while the machine is in record; the engineer moves the tape by hand or by using a shuttle control.

Spring Reverb
A device that simulates reverberation by driving a spring (driving it like a loudspeaker cone) and picking up the spring’s vibrations with a contact microphone (device that changes physical vibrations into audio signals).

Square Wave
A wave shape where the voltage rises instantly to one level, stays at that level, instantly falls to another level and stays at that level, and finally instantly rises to its original level to form each cycle.

ST
An abbreviation used by an engineer for noting a Safety Take, indicating a take done after a take of acceptable quality had been recorded.

Stage
1) In Reverberation Effects Devices, an echo added before the reverberation to simulate echoes that would come from a concert stage.
2) In amplifiers, one section of components that has a particular function.
3) The partially enclosed or raised area where live musicians perform.

Stage Monitor
The speaker, on stage, for the performers to hear themselves and to hear what the other musicians are playing on stage – the equivalent of a cue system for performers.

Standard Operating Level
An Operating Level (the maximum average level that should not be exceeded in normal operation) which is widely used or widely referred to.

Standing Wave
An acoustic signal between two reflective surfaces with a distance that is an even multiple of one-half of the wavelength of the signal’s frequency.

Stator
The fixed part forming the reference for the moving diaphragm in a planar speaker.

Step Program (Step Mode/Step Time)
To program a sequencer one note (or event) at a time with the rhythm that the time value of one step is set to.

Stereo
A recording or reproduction of at least two channels where positioning of instrument sounds left to right can be perceived.

Stereo Image
The perception of the different sound sources being far left, far right or any place in between.

Stereo Micing
Placement of two (or more) mics so that their outputs give a stereo image.

Stretched String Instruments
Instruments that use stretched strings to generate the tones such as guitars, violins and pianos.

Strike
To put away equipment and clean-up after a session.

Stylus
The needle part of the phonograph cartridge that is in contact with the grooves of the disc.

Sub-bass
That part of a speaker system designed to extend the low frequency range of the system.

Subcode
Control information bits that are recorded along with digital audio and can be used for control of the playback deck (functions as program number, start ID’s, skip ID’s etc.).

Subframe
A unit smaller than one frame in SMPTE time code.

Submaster (Sub-Master)
The fader which controls the level of sound from several channels (but not usually all channels) during mix down or recording.

Submaster Assignment (Sub-Master Assignment)
The choosing of what buss (and therefore what sub-master) the console channel will feed to; usually accomplished by pressing a button in the Switch Matrix.

Submix
1) A mix of audio signals that is treated as one channel or two channels (for a stereo image) in a mix.
2) Used on larger mixing boards when selected channels are assigned to specific sub-channels before their signals reach the main slider. For Example, you could assign all the drum channels to one submix (all on one slider) so that you could turn them all up or down at the same time.

Subtractive Synthesis
The generation of harmonically rich waveforms by various methods and then filtering those waveforms to remove unwanted harmonics to create the sound.

Sum
A signal that is the mix of the two stereo channels at equal level and in phase.

Sum and Difference Signals
When the two stereo channels are mixed at equal levels and in phase, the sum signal is created.

Super Cardioid Pattern
A microphone pattern with maximum sensitivity on axis and least sensitivity approximately 150 degrees off axis.

Surround Sound
A technique of recording and playback of sound used in film where the sound has a front to back quality as well as side to side perspective.

Sustain
1) A holding out of the sounding of a pitch by an instrument.
2) The level that a sound will continue to play at when a synthesizer key is held down.

Sweetening
Musical parts that are overdubbed to complete the music of the recording, especially the melodic instruments such as strings and/or horns.

Switch
A device that makes and/or breaks electrical connections.

Switch Matrix
A series of switches, usually arranged in push button rows and columns, which allow any input module to be connected to any output buss.

Switchable Pattern
Microphone A microphone which will have more than one directional pattern depending upon the position of the pattern switch.

Sync
1) The circuits in a multitrack tape recorder which allow the record head to be used as a playback head for those tracks already recorded.
2) The running of two devices (such as two tape decks) in time with one another.

Sync Box
A slang name for Sync Conversion Unit.

Sync Conversion Unit
A device which takes several different kinds of sync signals and puts out several kinds of sync signals, allowing a device (like a sequencer) to be driven by a sync signal it doesn’t recognize.

Sync Level (Sync Gain)
A control on a multitrack tape recorder to adjust the reproduce level when the machine is in the sync playback mode (using the record head as a reproduce head for tracks already recorded).

Sync Pulse
A pulse (a rise and then fall in amplitude) that is used for synchronizing two tapes or film and audio tape, especially those recorded by the sync head of a Nagra tape recorder.

Sync Word Bits
A series of bits in the SMPTE time code to identify the end of a frame.

Synchronization
The running of two devices (such as two tape decks) in time with one another.

Synthesizer
A musical instrument that artificially (using oscillators) generates signals to simulate the sounds of real instruments or to create other sounds not possible with real instruments.

System Exclusive
A number of bits in a MIDI transmission allowing data to be transmitted that will only be recognized by a unit of a particular manufacturer.

System Exclusive Bulk Dump
A System Exclusive Bulk Dump is the transmission of internal synthesizer settings as a manufacturer specified system exclusive file from a synth to a sequencer or from a sequencer to a synth.

Tablature
Sheet music for stringed instruments that uses numbers to designate where on the neck of the guitar the fingers are placed.

Tach
Abbreviation of the term Tachometer (a device that puts out pulses as the tape moves in a tape deck).

Tach Roller
An idler (rotating tape guide) that drives the Tach mechanism.

Tach Signal
The pulses from the tach, caused by the tape moving on the tape deck.

Tachometer
A device that puts out pulses as the tape moves in a tape deck.

Tails Out
A way of winding tape so that the end of the last recorded selection is at the outside of the reel.

Take
The recording that is done between one start and the following stop of a tape recorder.

Take Notation
Writing down the takes of the tune being recorded on a take sheet or on the track log with comments.

Take Sheet
A sheet used to note how many takes were made on each tune with comments.

Take-Up Motor
A motor, which drives the take-up turntable fast during the fast modes and slowly during the play mode, to take-up, the tape driven by the capstan.

Take-Up Reel
The reel that the tape is wound onto in the play mode.

Take-Up Tension
The force applied by the take-up reel motor of a tape machine during the play mode so that the tape is evenly wound on to the take-up reel.

Take-Up Turntable
The round disc platter which holds the take-up reel and reel lock and which is driven by the take up motor.

Talk Box
A guitar effects unit that allows a voice to modulate (control) a guitar signal by a vocalist talking with a tube in his/her mouth.

Talkback
The system which allows the engineer to talk into a microphone in the control room and have his voice come over the studio monitors and/or headphones so he can talk to the musicians.

Tangency
The centering of the gap in the angle formed by the tape as it bends around the head.

Tap
A connection in a coil of a transformer.

Tape
Short for the term Magnetic Tape (recording tape consisting of a plastic strip to which magnetic materials, usually iron oxide particles, are adhered so that the magnetic impulses put out by the record head are stored).

Tape Cartridge
A loop of recording tape wound onto a hub and enclosed in a plastic shell often used in broadcasting to record short segments of audio (like commercials).

Tape Delay
A delay signal that is obtained by the time difference between the record and reproduce head in a tape machine.

Tape Guide
Any stationary or rotating device, which directs the tape past the heads or from one reel to the other on a tape machine.

Tape Hiss
The noise of recorded tape.

Tape Loop
A length of tape with the ends spliced together so that the recording will continuously play.

Tape Machine
A machine for the recording and/or playback of tape.

Tape Operator
A Second (Assistant) engineer who loads, unloads tape on the machines, operates the tape machines and keeps track of the paperwork showing what is recorded on what reel.

Tape Recorder
A machine for the recording and playback of tape.

Tape Switch
A switch which activates the Playback Mode of a console’s monitor section; this connects the monitor inputs to the tape-machine outputs, allowing a quick playback of the multitrack master.

Tapeless Studio
A digital recording system/workstation that includes console-type controls (faders, equalizer controls, signal processing controls) and records onto a digital storage medium such as hard disc or optical disc.

Telephone Filter
A filter used to simulate the sound in telephones by removing signals at frequencies below 300 Hz and above 3500 Hz.

Telephone Jack
The full and more formal name for the term Phone Jack (a jack taking a plug with a diameter of 1/4 inch and a length of 1 1/4 inches; used for interconnecting audio).

Tempo
The rate at which the music moves measured in Beats Per Minute (how many steady even pulses there are in the music per minute).

Tempo Mapping
Programming a sequencer to follow the tempo variations of a recorded performance.

Tension
The force applied by the reel motors of a tape machine during play mode so that the tape is evenly wound on to the take up reel (take up tension) and so that the tape is held against the heads (hold back tension from the supply reel).

Tension Switch
A switch that reduces torque to the reel motors for small reels and allows full torque for larger reels.

Terminal
1) A point of connection between two wires including a device on the end of a wire or cable that allows attachment and the accepting point on a case of the equipment.
2) A computer keyboard and monitor that allows access and entry of information into or from a computer.

Terminate
To have an amplifier feed a resistance (usually a resistor) that matches the output impedance of the amplifier.

Test Lacquer
A term with the same meaning as the term Reference Lacquer (a recording disc that is an aluminium disc coated with a lacquer coating where grooves moving according to the audio waveforms have been cut into it by a disc recording machine and that can be played and inspected before the final lacquer master is cut).

Test Oscillator
A device that generates audio waveforms at various frequencies for testing purposes.

Test Pressing
One of a few initial phonograph record copies pressed from the first stamper made, which is listened to and visually inspected to approve the quality before production copies are made in volume.

Test Tape
1) A less formal name for Alignment Calibration Tape (a test tape with tones of various frequencies all precisely recorded at a specified magnetic recording level used for tape machine alignment).
2) One of a few initial tapes made with high-speed duplication, and is listened to for approving the quality before production copies are made in volume.

Test Tones
A recording of several single-frequency tones at the beginning of a tape reel at the magnetic reference level that will be used to record the program.

THD
An abbreviation for Total Harmonic Distortion.

Thin Sound
A quality of sound of not having all frequencies present especially a deficiency in low frequencies.

Three Track
A multitrack tape machine that had three tracks (usually on half-inch wide tape).

Three Track Stereo
A stereo recording or reproduction where there are three separate tracks (left, centre and right) and designed to be reproduced with three speakers.

Three To One Rule
The rule states that the distance between microphones must be at least three times the distance that either microphone is to its sound source.

Three Way Speaker
A speaker system that has separate speakers to reproduce the bass, mid-range and treble frequencies.

Threshold
The level at which a dynamics processing unit will begin to change gain.

Threshold Control
A control on a dynamics processing device that adjusts the threshold level (the level at which a dynamics processing unit will begin to change gain).

Threshold of Feeling
The sound pressure level at which people feel discomfort 50 percent of the time.

Threshold of Hearing
The sound pressure level at which people can hear only 50 percent of the time.

Threshold of Pain
The sound pressure level at which people feel actual pain 50 percent of the time.

Throat
The small opening in a horn or in a driver through which the sound pressure wave passes from the driver to the horn.

Throw
In speakers and in microphones, the amount of movement that the diaphragm can make (without restriction) to produce or pickup the sound wave.

Thru Box
A unit with one MIDI In Port and several MIDI Out Ports; each MIDI Out Port has the same signal as the MIDI In Port but with a delay of the signal (usually about 4 ms).

Thru Port
A connector that puts out a MIDI signal that is the same as the Input MIDI signal.

Tie Lines
Cables with connectors at both ends, usually run through walls or floors, so that a signal can be sent or picked up from some remote location.

Tight Sound (“Hyped” Sound)
The sound obtained by close-micing, well isolated instruments.

TIM
Abbreviation for transient intermodulation distortion. (See Distortion)

Timbre
The timbre of the instrument is what makes an instrument sound like that instrument and not another, even though the other instrument may be playing the same pitch.

Time Base
The number of pulses/advances per beat in a simple clock signal.

Time Code
Short for SMPTE Time Code (a standardized timing and sync signal specified by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers).

Time Code Generator
A unit that generates SMPTE time code signals.

Time Compression/ Expansion
The speeding up or slowing down of an audio recording without pitch change.

Time Constant
In a circuit that has reactance, the time it takes for the current or voltage to substantially stabilize in the circuit when the voltage or current is changing.

Timing Clock
1) An even pulse signal used for sync.
2) Same as MIDI Clock (time data in the MIDI signal that advances one step each 1/24 of a beat and can be used to sync two sequencers together).

Timing Tape
Plastic leader tape with marks every 7.5 inches used to edit silence between selections.

Tinny
Used to describe a sound with too many highs and mids and not enough lows.

Tiny Telephone Jack/Plug
A smaller version of the phone jack/plug (.173 inch diameter instead of .250 inch), used in many patch bays.

Toms
The small drums (as little as 10 inch diameter) that mount on racks above the foot drum and the large drums (as big as 20 inch diameter) that sit on metal feet on the floor to the right of the (right-handed) drummer.

Tone
1) One of several single-frequency signals at the beginning of a tape reel at the magnetic reference level that will be used to record the program.
2) Any single-frequency signal or sound.
3) The sound quality of an instrument’s sound relative to the amount of energy present at different frequencies.
4) In some synthesizers, a term meaning the audio signal that will be put out by the unit which would be similar to the sound of an instrument.

Tone Arm
The pivoting arm mounted to the base of a turntable to hold the phono cartridge and allow it to advance across the phonograph record during playback.

Tone Generator
1) A device, which puts out test tones at various frequencies to align a tape machine or for other testing purposes.
2) The circuits in a synthesizer that make the audio signal that is put out by the unit and which would be similar to the sound of an instrument.

Tonguing
Controlling the start of a note in a brass or woodwind instrument with the tongue.

Torque-Limit Switch
A switch that reduces torque (rotational force) to the reel motors for small reels and allows full torque for larger reels.

Touch Sensitive
Capability of a synthesizer keyboard to generate a velocity MIDI signal. Not all synthesizer keyboards are touch sensitive.

Track
1) One audio recording made on a portion of the width of a multitrack tape.
2) One set of control commands in a sequencer recorded in a similar manner to an audio track and often controlling one synthesizer over one MIDI channel.
3) A term with the same meaning as the term Band Track (the part of a song without the lead vocal or without the lead and background vocals).
4) A section of the magnetic surface of a disc consisting of a circular band at a fixed distance from the centre.

Track Log (Track Assignment Sheet)
A sheet of paper kept with a multitrack tape which tells which instrument was recorded on each track.

Track Signal
The signal sent to or coming back from one track of a multitrack tape recorder.

Tracking
Recording the individual tracks of a multitrack recording.

Tracking Error
The difference in movement of a playback stylus across the face of a phonograph record compared with the cutting stylus on the disc recording machine.

Trailing Edge
The edge of the gap last contacted by the tape, which is the place on the record head where the recording actually takes place.

Transcription
A disc recording (usually on a 16 inch lacquer) of a radio program.

Transducer
1) A device which converts energy from one medium to another.
2) Any of various devices that transmit energy from one system to another, sometimes one that converts the energy in form. Loudspeaker transducers convert electrical energy into mechanical motion.

Transfer Curve
A graph of the energy supplied verses the energy stored by a storage medium (often magnetic tape).

Transformer
An electrical device that has two coils that are magnetically coupled.

Transformer Matrix
A device which uses transformers to take two audio channel inputs and change them to a sum signal (a mix of the signals on the two channels) and a difference signal (the mixture of the two signals with one channel phase reversed so that any signal exactly the same in both channels will be cancelled).

Transient
1) Applies to that which lasts or stays but a short time. A change from one steady-state condition to another.
2) The initial high-energy peak at the beginning of a waveform, such as one caused by the percussive action of a pick or hammer hitting the string, etc.

Transient Response
Response to signals whose amplitudes rise very quickly, such as drum beats and waveforms from percussive instruments.

Transmit
In MIDI, to send a MIDI command to another device.

Transpose
The act of changing the musical key of an entire piece of music by an interval.

Trap
A filter designed to reject audio signals at certain frequencies.

Trash Can
A place in a computer program where digital information can temporarily be stored before it is discarded.

Transport
The portion of a tape machine, which moves the tape from the supply reel, past the heads, to the take-up reel.

Transport Controls
The tape machine controls to activate or stop tape movements.

Treble Frequencies
The higher audio frequencies.

Tremolo
1) An even, repeated change in volume of a musical tone.
2) The tremolo is a bar connected to the bride of the guitar. By moving the tremolo bar up or down, you can move the bridge, thus changing the pitch.

Triangular Wave
A waveform that looks triangular.

Trigger
1) The signal or the action of sending a signal to control the start of an event.
2) A device, which puts out a signal to control the start of an event, including a device that puts out such a signal when struck.

Trim
1) Same as “Trim Control” (see below).
2) To make a small adjustment to any control.

Trim Control
A device that reduces the signal strength in an amplifier, often over a restricted range.

Trim Status
Solid State Logic’s console-automation mode that operates as follows: When a slide is at its trim point, the gain variations (fader movements) last programmed in the computer will be in effect. When the slide is moved from the trim point, gain or loss is added to or subtracted from the program.

Tripe (bundle)
Bunch of cables tied or taped together into a single unit.

Troubleshooting
In audio equipment servicing, the act of locating the source of the trouble in a malfunctioning device or system.

Truncation
The editing of a sample playback so that just the desired portion of the sample is played by moving the start and end point of the sample playback.

Truss Rod
A metal rod within the neck of the guitar which can be adjusted. Used to straighten the neck.

TT
A trademark of Switchcraft and meaning Tiny Telephone Jack/Plug (A smaller version of the phone jack/plug).

Tube
A shortening of the term Vacuum Tube (an amplifying device that has elements to send and control current through a vacuum in a glass or metal tube).

Tuned
Regarding a circuit or device, which is most sensitive to a certain frequency.

Tuned Cavity
A cavity that, because of its physical dimensions, will resonate at a particular frequency (tend to reinforce the energy at certain frequencies of vibration).

Tuned Pipe Instrument
An instrument that uses a pipe of certain dimensions as a sound generator.

Tuning Fork
A metal fork with two prongs that tend to vibrate and put out a fairly pure tone of one frequency.

Turntable
1) A device to support and rotate a phonograph record during playback.
2) One of the round disc platters that holds a reel and reel lock and is driven by a reel motor.

Turnover Frequency
A term with the same meaning as Cut-Off Frequency (the highest or lowest frequency in the pass band of a filter).

TV Interference
The induction (generation of current by magnetic lines of force cutting a conductor) of RF signals broadcast by television stations into audio lines causing hum and buzz.

Tweak
A slang term for calibration (a setting of all operating controls and adjustments for optimum performance of a device) especially very precise calibration.

Tweeter
1) A speaker designed to reproduce the higher frequencies only.
2) A small driver unit designed to produce only high frequencies.
3) Part of a speaker system designed to handle the high frequency part of the signal.

Two Way Speaker
A speaker system with separate speakers to reproduce the lower frequencies (woofer) and to reproduce the higher frequencies (tweeter).

m
1) This is the Greek letter “mu”, which is actually a forerunner of the English “M”, however, the lower-case “u” is often used in place of it because of it’s similar appearance.
2) This symbol is used for micro- (one millionth).
3) m s means two microseconds which is 2/1,000,000 of a second.

Unbalanced
A method of interconnecting recorders, amplifiers and other electronic gear using two-conductor cable.

Undo
A command in some computer software that reverses the last command entered.

Uni
A prefix meaning One.

Unidirectional
A pick-up pattern which is more sensitive to sound arriving from one direction than from any other.

Unison
Several performers, instruments or sound sources that are sounding at the same time and with the same pitch.

Unity Gain
No increase or decrease in signal strength at the output of an amplifier or device compared to the signal strength at the input.

Update
By Absolute Solid State Logic name for re-writing the settings for an automated console control.

Update Mode
A mode of operation of console automation allowing modification of the programming of a channel of a console so that when the slide of the fader is at a predetermined point (usually the point marked “0”) the gain variations (fader movements) last programmed in the computer will be in effect, but when the engineer moves the slide up or down from this point gain or loss is added to or subtracted from the programmed level.

Upper Midrange
The frequencies between 2 kHz and 6 kHz.

Upper Toms
Another name for rack toms (small to medium-size drums usually 10 – 14 inch diameter, that are mounted to a rack over the foot drum in a drum kit).

Vacuum Tube
An amplifying device that is a tube.

Vacuum Tube Volt Meter
A device that measures the electrical voltage and uses a vacuum tube to drive the indicator so that testing the circuit does not load the circuit.

Vamp
The repeating part of a tune at its end, usually the chorus or part of the chorus.

Vamp and Fade
A method of ending a recording of a tune where the music has a repeating part and the engineer reduces volume until the music is out.

Vari-Speed
A Control on a tape machine that changes the play speed.

Variable-D
A patented invention (and trademark) of Electrovoice where several port are put down the case of the microphone. The ports are less and less sensitive to high frequencies as they are further away from the diaphragm, reducing proximity effect.

VCA
Abbreviation for Voltage Controlled Amplifier (an amplifier that will change gain according to the level of control voltage sent to it).

VCA Automation
A system of computer control of channel gain (or other functions) by use of voltage controlled amplifiers that change gain according to the level of control voltages sent to them by the computer.

VCA Fader
A fader with a VCA in its case arranged so that in manual operation the slide of the fader controls how much control voltage is sent to the VCA and therefore controls the channel gain.

VCA Group
Several VCA faders that are fed control voltages from a group master slide.

VCA Master
One slide feeding control voltages to several VCA’s to control the gain in several audio channels.

VCA Trim
One control in an audio system (such as a console) which can adjust the control voltage feeding all VCA’s, usually with limited range.

VCO
An abbreviation for:
1) Voltage Control Oscillator (an oscillator that generates an AC control voltage, usually a low-frequency oscillator putting out a signals between .1 Hz and 10 Hz).
2) Voltage Controlled Oscillator (an oscillator that changes its frequency according to a control voltage feed to its control input).

Velocity
Message In synthesizers and keyboard controllers, a MIDI message giving data on how hard the key was struck.

Velocity Microphone
Another name for Pressure Gradient Microphone (a microphone whose diaphragm is exposed front and back and its movement is caused by the small pressure differences between the front and back of the diaphragm).

Velocity Sensitive
A term with the same meaning as the term Touch Sensitive (capability of a synthesizer keyboard to generate a MIDI velocity message, giving data on how hard the key was struck).

Vertical Interval Code SMPTE
Time code that is recorded as part of the video signal (in the black area between picture frames) so that the time code numbers can be displayed on screen during editing.

VGD
An abbreviation of “very good take”, used when writing down the takes recorded on a tune.

Vibrato
A smooth and repeated changing of the pitch up and down from the regular musical pitch, often done by singers.

Virtual Tracking
Having a MIDI sequencer operate in sync with a multitrack tape and controlling the playing of synthesizers along with the recorded parts.

Vocal Booth
An isolation room used for the vocal so that other instruments in the studio do not leak into the vocal microphone or to reduce ambience and reverberation in the vocal recording.

Vocoder (trademark)
An effects device that will modulate (control) one signal with another.

Voice
1) In synthesizers, a pitch that can be played at the same tine as other pitches are sounded.
2) In Yamaha synthesizers, a term meaning the same thing as Sound Patch (one sound that can be created by the synthesizer).

Voice Over
The recording of vocal announcements over a bed of music in commercials.

Voc
An abbreviation for Vocal used on track sheets.

Volatile Memory
Computer memory that will be lost when the computer is turned off.

Volt Meter
A meter that can test the level of voltage.

Voltage
The electrical force pushing electrons to obtain electrical current.

Voltage Control Oscillator
An oscillator that generates an AC control voltage, usually a low-frequency signal between 1Hz and 10 kHz.

Voltage Controlled
A device that will change its output according to the amount of control voltage sent to its control input.

Voltage Controlled Amplifier
An amplifier that will change gain according to the level of control voltage sent to it.

Voltage Controlled Attenuator
Similar to a voltage controlled amplifier except that the amplifier will, with no control voltage sent to it, have no gain and no loss; as an increasing control voltage is sent to it, the amplifier reduces gain (causing a loss of signal strength).

Voltage Controlled Fader
Full name for VCA Fader (a fader with a VCA in its case arranged so that in manual operation the slide of the fader controls how much control voltage is sent to the VCA and therefore controls gain.

Voltage Controlled Filter
A filter (especially a low-pass filter) that will change its cutoff frequency according to a control voltage fed to its control input.

Voltage Controlled Oscillator
An oscillator that changes its frequency according to a control voltage fed to its control input.

Volume
1) A common, non-technical term meaning Sound Pressure Level, and loosely applied to also mean audio voltage level.
2) Short for the term Volume Control (a gain control of an amplifier).

Volume Control
A gain control of an amplifier.

Volume Envelope
How a musical instrument sounding a pitch changes in volume over time.

Volume Unit
A unit that is designed to measure perceived loudness changes in audio. The unit is basically the decibel change of the average level as read by a VU Meter. The movement of the VU Meter is designed to approximately match the ear’s response to changes in level. Abbreviated VU

Volume Pedal
A guitar pedal used to change the volume of an instrument (or a similar device used with other instruments, such as an organ).

Vox
An abbreviation meaning Vocal, used on track logs.

VSO
An abbreviation of the term Vacuum Tube Volt Meter (a device that measures the electrical voltage and uses a vacuum tube to drive the indicator so that testing the circuit does not load the circuit.

VU
1) Short for the term Volume Unit (a unit that is designed to measure perceived loudness changes in audio).
2) A meter that reads audio voltage levels in or out of a piece of equipment and is designed to match the ear’s response to sudden changes in level.

VU Meter (VU – Volume Unit)
Pointer and scale meter which indicates the average level of a signal. Misses any transients and spikes that lead to a clipped signal. See PPM.

Wah Wah (Wah)
A changing filter giving more and less filtering of harmonics of an instrument’s sound.

Watt
1) Unit of electrical power.
2) Unit of electrical power derived from the current (or “quantity” of electricity) multiplied by the voltage (or “pressure” at which the current is delivered). Stage lighting equipment is rated in Watts (or Kilowatts – 1 kW being equal to 1000W). This refers to the amount of power required to light the lamp. A higher wattage lamp requires more power and gives a brighter light output.

Wave
A continuous fluctuation in the amplitude of a quantity with respect to time.

Wave flank
A term with the same meaning as Bank (a collection of sound patches in memory).

Wave Velocity
The time it takes for one point of the waveform to travel a certain distance.

Waveform
The shape made by the fluctuations of a quantity over time.

Waveshape
The shape made by the fluctuations of a quantity over time.

Wavelength
1) The length of one cycle (in feet, inches, etc.)
2) The distance measured in the direction of progression of a wave, from any given point characterized by the same phase.

Weber
A unit that describes a number of magnetic lines of force and is used in the measurement or statement of magnetic flux density (the strength of magnetism).

Weighting
An equalization curve used in audio tests that compensates for the Fletcher Munson Effect at various levels.

Wet
Having reverberation or ambience.

Whammy Bar
See Tremolo

White noise
1) A random noise used in measurements, as it has the same amount of energy at each frequency.
2) A random energy where there is an energy distribution so that the amount of energy is the same for each cycle, causing the noise level to increase with frequency.

Wide Band Noise
Noise that has energy over a wide range of frequencies.

Width
Another term for Depth (the amount of change in the controlled signal by the control signal).

Wild Sound
Sound recordings that are done completely separate from the master recording (or picture recording) and therefore can not be synched to the master recording.

Wind
On some tape machines, the wind control moves the tape to the take-up reel faster than the play mode but slow enough to give the tape a smooth packing onto the reel.

Window
A portion of a file shown on a screen, usually appearing as a menu on top of the current page of data.

Windscreen
A device that reduces or eliminates wind noise from the microphone being moved or from wind blowing into the microphone on remote location recordings.

Wireless Microphone
A microphone with an FM radio transmitter inside of its case that transmits a signal to an FM receiver off of the stage area.

Woodwind Controller
A device that plays like a woodwind instrument that puts out a control voltage or MIDI command to control a sound module.

Woofer
1) A speaker that is designed to reproduce bass frequencies only.
2) A drive unit operating in the bass frequencies only. Drive units in two-way systems are not true woofers but are more accurately described as being mid/bass drivers.
3) Part of a speaker system designed to handle the low frequency parts of the signal.

Word
A shortening of the term Digital Word (a number of information bits that w communicate one value).

Workstation
A device that controls a variety of functions, designed to be operated by one person.

Wow
A low pitch change that happens because the recorder or playback machine fluctuating in speed slowly.

Wrap
The angle formed by the tape as it bends around the head.

Write
To record digital data onto a digital recording or into computer memory.

Write Head
The device in a digital audio tape recorder that records the bits of digital information onto the storage medium.

Write Mode
A mode of operation of an automated console where the engineer is in control of channel gain and the computer is storing changes in gain caused by the engineer over time.

Write Protect
A tab on a floppy disc or a function in a unit which protects recorded or stored data from being damaged or erased by writing over it.

XLR Connector
1) A common 3 pin connector used in balanced audio connections.
2) A microphone Cable.

XY Micing
A method of placing two cardioid microphones for stereo pickup, with the two microphone heads as close as possible without touching, pointing 90 degrees to each other and also pointing 45 degrees to the center of the sound source.

XLR
Multipin metallic audio connector. (3 pin for normal sound use, 5 pin for DMX, Colour Scrollers etc.). Sometimes called Cannons after the original manufacturer. See balanced line. The UK standard for wiring the 3 pin connector is as follows: Pin 1 (Screen), Pin 2 (+ve / “hot”), Pin 3 (-ve, “cold”). (Xternal, Live, Return).

Y-Cord
A cable with three connectors so that one output may be sent to two inputs.

Zenith
The tilt of the tape head in the direction perpendicular to the tape travel.

Zero dB
The common reference point when discussing sound levels. Levels above 0 dB are expressed as positive (+5dB) and those below as negative (-20dB).