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Sound Engineering and Production:
Revised Concepts Glossary
Iain S T Massey
Learning and Teaching Scotland gratefully acknowledge this contribution to the National
Qualifications support programme for Music.
First published 2005
© Learning and Teaching Scotland 2005
This publication may be reproduced in whole or in part for educational purposes by
educational establishments in Scotland provided that no profit accrues at any stage.
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
Access 3
Intermediate 1
Intermediate 2
Advanced Higher
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
Introductory note
Headwords in these five sets of glossary
listings from Access 3 through to
Advanced Higher are given in bold
type. The explanation or definition of
each headword is given in ordinary
type. Within the explanation crossreferences to other headwords are
shown in italic type.
A cumulative index at the end of the
pack lists all the headwords and shows
their level (pp 53–6).
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
acoustic – The ‘sound’ of a room or space. The acoustic of any space is
defined primarily by its size and the types of surfaces therein. These
two characteristics in turn determine how a sound wave is dispersed
within the space. A church, for example, is generally a large space
with hard surfaces on the walls, ceilings and floors. A sound wave
therefore takes a long time to disperse in such a space as the hard
surfaces absorb very little of the wave’s energy and reflect it back into
the room. But a domestic living room is a much smaller space and
will have soft furnishings, curtains, etc., that will absorb more quickly
the energy of the wave. See also reverb and ambience.
acoustic guitar – A six-string or twelve-string guitar that produces
sound acoustically without the aid of electronics; although some may
have pick-ups attached or built in. Acoustic guitars may have either
nylon or steel strings. In the case of classical, or ‘Spanish’ guitars, the
strings are nylon and give a much softer sound than steel-strung
guitars which tend to be used more for rock, pop, jazz and folk
acoustic screen – A large panel of absorbent material that can be
positioned to provide separation between musicians recording with
microphones within the same space. This minimises leakage between
instruments and microphones.
amplifier – Electronic device designed to take a very small-level signal
and increase it to an audible level. See also pre-amplifier.
arrangement – The instruments used, the parts they play and the
structure of a song or piece of music. A skilful arranger can take any
piece of music and totally change its feel or tone by adjusting these
variables and the piece’s tonality.
audio – Electronically produced or reproduced sound.
backing vocals – Vocal lines in an arrangement that are secondary to,
but support and enhance, the lead vocal.
bass – The lower range of audible frequencies: nominally between about
20 Hz and 320 Hz.
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bass guitar – Originally devised as an electric double bass from which it
takes its open-string tunings (EADG), the bass guitar has become an
instrument in its own right providing the bass parts in rock, pop and
occasionally jazz music. While the standard instrument is four
stringed, it is not unusual to see five-string basses with an additional
lower (C or B) string, or even six-string instruments with an
additional lower and upper string. Most bass guitars are active in that
they require battery power for a circuit that controls the tone of the
cardioid/uni-directional – The predominant
pick-up pattern of microphones. Cardioid
or uni-directional microphones typically
have a heart-shaped pick-up pattern (from
Greek ‘cardia’ = heart) and are sensitive in
only one direction. This means they have
less sensitivity to instruments to the side
or behind them. In studios this means that
The ‘cardioid’ pattern
they pick up best the instrument they are
pointing directly at and are less sensitive
to other instruments in the room. In a live situation this means the
same, with the additional benefit that being less sensitive to the
outputs from loudspeakers means they cause fewer problems than
other types of microphone with regard to feedback. See also hypercardioid and super-cardioid.
CD – Compact Disc. The standard optical, read-only format of consumer
digital audio devised in the 1980s by Sony and Philips. A CD has a
continuous track of digital data represented by pits burned into the
surface of the disk read by a laser. A CD can hold up to 750 MB of
information which equates roughly to 74 minutes of stereo audio at a
sampling frequency of 44,100 Hz and a bit depth of 16. These
standards for audio reproduction via CD are called the red book
channel – On a mixing desk the channel is the series of electronic
circuits designated to an input source. This is then duplicated a
number of times to accommodate more inputs. A 16-channel desk
therefore has 16 sets of the same circuitry to accommodate 16
different input sources.
chorus (song structure) – The part of a song that is normally repeated
a number of times within the song. The chorus of a song may also
contain the hook.
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circuit breaker – Electrical safety device that automatically switches off
the power supply as soon as it detects a problem or fault. Modern
circuit breakers feature a trip switch which can be simply reset once
the fault or problem has been rectified.
connector – The plug or termination at either end of a lead or cable. A
number of different connectors exist in sound engineering, the most
often encountered being the jack plug for general connections, the
XLR for microphone and professional connections, and the phono or
RCA plug for Hi-Fi, S/PDIF and non-professional connections.
control room – In a recording studio, the room where all the
equipment and the engineer is situated.
count-in – The beats before the song or piece of music starts, to give
the performers the start point and tempo. Like the click track
(which may incorporate the count-in) this should be eliminated from
the final mix.
distortion – The rasping, grating sound generated when an incorrect
(too high) setting is used. While generally it is an undesirable effect,
on some instruments, the electric guitar and the organ, for example,
it has become a standard creative effect. See also overload.
drum kit – The group of drums and cymbals that have been pieced
together and standardised over the years to create a drum kit
includes a bass drum, snare drum, usually 2–4 tom-toms, a pair of hihats and at least one crash and one ride cymbal. Rock and fusion
drummers have managed to take this to extremes, however, and it is
not unusual to find kits that incorporate two bass drums, two snares,
countless toms and cymbals, a gong and various other bits of kitchen
dry – A signal that has had no effect added to it.
echo – The physical reflection of a sound wave from a reflective surface
which diminishes gradually in energy, thus getting quieter. Sound
travels at roughly 340 meters per second (mps), so for a naturally
occurring echo to be 1 second, the surface off which the original
sound wave was reflected would have to be 170 metres away (170 m
there and 170 m back).
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electric guitar – A version of the acoustic guitar which derives its
signal entirely electronically from a series of pick-ups positioned close
to the steel strings (nylon strings won’t work due to the use of the
electromagnetic principle – see dynamic microphones and pick-up).
While electric guitars have jack sockets, their output is more like that
of a microphone; therefore, when recording there are three
preferred techniques:
positioning a microphone in front of the amplifier speaker
plugging the guitar into a DI box
using a guitar pod/processor which fulfils the roles of both the
amplifier and the DI box.
fade in – When a track or piece of music increases in volume gradually
from silence.
fade out – The opposite of a fade in – when a track or piece of music
decreases in volume gradually to silence. This has become a
widespread practice in mixdown technique as a tidy way of ending a
gain – Amplification. Gain is determined by the amount an electronic
circuit amplifies the input signal. The gain control on any device is
therefore, very, very important. Setting a gain too low will mean the
engineer has to compensate for low-level signals by increasing output
volumes. This results in increased noise levels. Too much gain, and
the signal will overload the input circuitry and result in distortion.
All recording devices have a gain control as part of the pre-amplifier.
It makes sure the signals from all the different sources are at a
suitable level for the following electronics as mic-level sources
generally have a much lower output signal than line-level sources.
The gain control evens them out.
headphones – A small stereo loudspeaker system that can be worn on
the head or in the ears to allow isolated monitoring of signals. May be
referred to as ‘cans’.
hiss/white noise – Electronically generated high-frequency noise. All
audio devices will generate a small amount of hiss. It is the sound
engineer’s job, through correct operation, to minimise this at all
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hum – Electronically generated low-frequency noise. Hum is usually the
result of interference from mains cables or poorly earthed or
grounded equipment. It is worth noting that only faulty or
incorrectly wired equipment will generate hum.
input – The connection to send a signal into a device.
introduction – The first or opening part of a song. Often abbreviated to
jack plug – A basic form of connector found on guitars, keyboards and
mixers. The jack plug is normally a mono signal carrier, but can also
carry a stereo or balanced signal if the plug has a Tip/Ring/Sleeve
(TRS) configuration like that found on headphone jacks. While the
jack plug is probably the widest utilised of all the connectors in sound
engineering it has its pitfalls; its is, for example, a non-latching design
so it can be easily and accidentally unplugged.
On mixing desks, guitars and keyboards, jack plugs are normally the
larger 1/4 inch version although more and more the compact 3.5mm
version is being utilised by manufacturers primarily to save space on
increasingly smaller devices.
lead/cable – The wire that joins two connectors. In sound engineering
it is standard to refer to the leads and cables by their termination
connectors, for example an XLR to XLR cable would be referred to as
either an XLR cable or a microphone (mic) lead. There are essentially
three types of cable in sound engineering:
‘screened’, unbalanced cable usually used to connect between
guitars and keyboards, hi-fi and non-professional devices.
Normally these terminate in either jack or phono plugs. The
‘screening’ is usually a braided cable that surrounds an inner
core cable. The screen is connected to earth and the core
carries the signal. This screening eliminates interference and
Screened, balanced cable normally used for microphone leads
and to interconnect professional and semi-professional
equipment. These normally terminate in either XLR or TRS jack
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Speaker cable used for connecting the output of amplifiers to
loudspeakers or PA systems. Speaker cable must be unscreened.
Using speaker cables for audio connections other than speakers
will result in hum and possibly radio frequency interference.
lead vocal – The main vocal part or track in a song.
level – The degree of intensity of an audio signal.
loudspeaker – A transducer that converts the electronic audio signal
back into a sound wave. Due to physical constraints, it is difficult for
one loudspeaker to convert accurately the entire audio spectrum, so
manufacturers use a number of drivers in a single cabinet to properly
reproduce the full frequency range. Each frequency-range speaker is
given its own name. High-frequency units are called tweeters, midfrequency units squawkers and low-frequency units woofers. It is not
uncommon to also get very low-frequency units called sub-woofers. It
has become a common practice for manufacturers to incorporate
amplifiers within the speaker cabinets. Such loudspeakers are known
as active loudspeakers.
mains multiblock – A mains adapter that splits a single outlet socket
into four or more outlets. Many these days come with built-in circuit
breakers for added protection and even anti-surge protectors which
protect against sudden surges in voltage which could potentially
damage equipment or crash computing devices.
mic stand – The heavy-based stand which holds a microphone. See also
boom stand.
microphone – A transducer designed to convert a sound wave into an
electrical current. Microphones are one of the most important
elements of any signal path as they are the initial conversion point
for any signal to be recorded. It is therefore important that highquality microphones are used in recording studio situations. All
microphones have their own ‘sound’ due to tiny fluctuations in their
frequency response, and many microphones are manufactured for a
particular purpose or even instrument.
minidisc (MD) – A digital, optical, record-and-read storage medium.
Similar to the CD in operation, minidisc uses compression software to
limit the material recorded in order to get all the information onto a
very compact format. While minidisc recorders/players are generally
2 track devices, some multitrack versions exist.
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mix(down) – The act and art of creating a balance of all the recorded
tracks, processing where appropriate and necessary, and creating a
two-track, stereo-mixed version of the music.
mono(phonic) – A single channel of audio.
noise – Any unwanted signal. See also hiss and hum.
output – The connection in an audio device from which its signal
comes. Outputs should always be connected to inputs.
PA – Public Address. A PA system is a large-scale loudspeaker system
designed to help musicians be heard clearly in a large space. A PA
system is similar to a recording studio, but without the necessity for
multitrack recorders as the mixed sound goes straight to amplifiers
and loudspeakers. A sound engineer using a PA system will employ
largely the same microphone, mixing and processing techniques that
one would use in a studio.
phono plug – An unbalanced two-pin connector predominantly found
in domestic hi-fi systems and non-professional equipment. Due to
their normally being used in stereo systems, phono plugs tend to
come in pairs coloured red and white. Generally the red connector
will be used for the right-hand signal and white for the left.
record – To store a performance onto a medium so it can be played
back or edited.
riff – A repeated rhythmic chord sequence within a song or around
which a song may be based.
session – The time spent in a studio creating a recording.
session log – A note, usually formalised, of the activities carried out and
completed within a session. Session logs are a great way of keeping
on top of a recording project. Keeping a note of settings,
microphone placements, even problems you have encountered in a
session means you can always come back to the log in the future to
reproduce the settings or overcome a similar problem.
signal – An electrical representation of a sound.
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stereo – A two-channel audio system with the channels designated as
left and right. Devised primarily because we have two ears, stereo
reproduction of recorded sound has been the norm for many
decades as it offers an excellent representation of what we hear
acoustically. Any multitrack recording has to be mixed to stereo in
order for it to be played on a standard domestic hi-fi system.
studio – The room in which the performers play in a recording session.
Ideally, a studio will be soundproofed so noise cannot penetrate
inwards or outwards, and also have an element of adjustment to its
acoustic, perhaps a live sound at one end and a dead sound at the
other (known as lede design). Only instruments that require
microphones need be played in the studio. Instruments that can be
DI’d can perform just as well in the control room.
synthesiser – Electronic instrument, usually keyboard based, that uses
electronically generated waveforms through filters and processors to
emulate (or synthesise) acoustic sounds. While most of these
emulations of real instruments are at best approximate, synthesisers
are capable of generating a wide range of sounds that no acoustic
instrument ever could. Thus they have become an important element
of modern sound production as an instrument in its own right.
take – The recorded performance of a part or track of a song. Standard
studio practice has the performer do a series of takes and the best
take, or a combination to make up the best take, will be used in the
final mix.
tape – Linear magnetic storage medium. As tapes are a magnetic
storage format, they are susceptible to strong magnetic fields. Care
should be taken, therefore, to ensure tapes with information
recorded on them are not placed in the vicinity of strong magnetic
fields, such as loudspeakers or power supplies in case the information
is wiped from them.
tone control – A basic form of equalisation on basic devices. The tone
control will not have the sophistication of studio equalisers and will
in general have only three controls – bass, mid and treble – to boost
or attenuate a range of pre-assigned frequencies.
track – A single channel of recorded audio. Can also be the final
finished product.
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track sheets – Useful forms that keep a note of what instruments have
been recorded on what tracks. Can be an essential part of a session
trim – Also known as the gain control, the trim control adjusts the level
of a signal coming in to the pre-amplifier of a mixing desk.
two-track recorder (2-track) – A recording device that records on
only two tracks, such as a cassette recorder, a minidisc recorder or
CD recording device. Two-track devices are designated as stereo
devices as the tracks are assigned to the left and right master output
of the mixing desk.
wet – A signal that has had an effects process applied to it. See also dry.
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ambience – Similar to a room’s acoustic although generally the term
only refers to small spaces. Ambience is the acoustic sound
generated by a room. With the judicious use of microphone
techniques, the ambience of a room in which an instrument is being
recorded can be picked up and added to the direct sound of the
instrument. This gives a greater sense of space within the recorded
sound and can lead to a very natural-sounding stereo image.
attenuate – To reduce the level of a signal or series of frequencies (see
balance – The relative levels of all the parts of a recording. A well
balanced mix will have all the elements of the recording audible but
no one part either dominating or masking the others.
boom (stand) – A microphone stand which has an additional boom on
top of the standard upright, enabling better positioning of the
microphone in relation to the instrument.
buss – A common connection of a number of different signals along
which they all may simultaneously flow. A mix buss, for example, is a
mixed output of a range of different signals. Mixing desks can have
many different busses for different uses. An auxiliary buss can send a
series of signals to a single-effects processor or amplifier and a mixing
desk may have up to ten or more of these.
clean – A signal that is unaffected by hiss, hum, distortion or any type of
click track – A metronome track recorded onto one track of the
multitrack recorder to provide a guide tempo and count-in for the
performers. Click tracks are usually generated electronically and so
ensure that drummers don’t slow down or speed up. Care must be
taken not to include the click track in the final mix of the music.
close miked – When a microphone is positioned between 2 cm and
about 30 cm from an instrument, it is said to be close miked. Close
miking helps to reduce problems with leakage from other
instruments in the proximity, but can lead to other problems related
to sound level and the proximity effect. It can also mean that
performers may hit the microphone or that the microphone will also
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pick up the sounds of the instrument being played (keys on a flute
moving, for example). As with all microphone techniques, the
potential problems have to be weighed up against the benefits.
cue – A mix of previously recorded tracks sent to the performer(s) to
enable them to play along in time and in synchronisation. See also
foldback and monitoring.
DI (box) – Direct Injection. Technique whereby the output of a device
is plugged directly into the mixer without the intervention of a
microphone. This is particularly useful for devices that have an
electronic output – keyboards, for example – but can also be used
with guitars and bass guitars with the intervention of a DI box. A DI
box serves two purposes.
It can turn an unbalanced signal into a balanced one, making it
less susceptible to interference.
It splits the signal into two or more outputs with an equal signal
level at each output. A bass guitar could therefore be
simultaneously plugged into a mixing desk and an amplifier via a
DI box with no signal degradation.
direct sound – Sound that travels directly from the sound source
(instrument/singer) to the microphone without reflecting off any
surfaces. Where no reflections are desired, the engineer can increase
the amount of direct sound utilising close miking techniques.
earth/ground – The common connection for all electrical and electronic
devices to, literally, the earth or 0 volts. This is used as a safety
feature, but in audio can also be the source of unwanted hum if a
device is not properly grounded or earthed. This is also what the
screen of a properly balanced cable is connected to, again helping
with the elimination of interference of any sort.
effects unit/processor – A device that adds effects processes to any
signal. Many of these are multi-effects processors and have
programmes for a wide range of processes and even programmes for
a number of simultaneous processes. For example, a single unit may
be able to add equalisation, compression, chorus and reverb to the
input signal.
equaliser – The tone control. Equalisers split the full range of audible
frequencies into up to four manageable ranges: low frequency (LF),
low-mid frequency (LMF), hi-mid frequency (HMF) and high
frequency (HF). This gives a greater diversity of control over the
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
entire frequency range for both corrective and creative purposes.
There is a range of different types of equalisers for different roles in
audio; all are useful, all are potentially damaging to the signal, so
equalisers should be used sparingly.
fader – The linear sliding control that adjusts the channels output. A
fader is not a volume control, it is a variable attenuator. When the
fader is fully down, it is at maximum attenuation, and when it is fully
up, it is at minimum attenuation. The signal, therefore, is always
present; the fader just determines how much of the signal is allowed
to pass through. This can be depicted as similar to a sluice gate in a
lock. While the gate is shut or down, no water is allowed to flow.
When the gate is raised, the water may flow. Opening the gate
further lets more water flow.
final mix – The version of the mixdown that will actually be submitted
as a stereo master. The final mix features a balance of instruments
that all involved are happy with, additional effects that enhance the
overall production, and perhaps the application of some dynamic
processors, usually equalisers and compressors, to the overall mix.
flat – A signal that is unaffected by equalisers or filters and therefore has
no peaks or troughs in its frequency range and could be represented
graphically as a flat line.
frequency – The number of times an event happens in a pre-determined
time scale. For example, if a sound wave is said to have a frequency of
440 hertz, this means that the wave repeats itself 440 times in one
guide vocal – A vocal track that is recorded in the early stages of the
project to give the performers an indication of the progression of the
song. This will generally be replaced later in the project by a more
carefully performed and recorded lead vocal track.
hard disk recorder – A recording device, either two-track or
multitrack, that stores the digital recorded information on a
computer-based hard disk drive.
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headroom – A safety margin between the signal level and the amount of
signal the device can handle before distortion occurs. While it is
always important to have the maximum possible level going into a
device to ensure it is functioning properly, it is good practice to
reduce this input level slightly to give some headroom. Performers
are notorious for setting a level and as soon as the sound engineer
presses record, they invariably play louder.
hertz (Hz) – The unit of measurement of the frequency of sound waves:
20 Hz, for example, means 20 repetitions or cycles of the wave in 1
indirect sound – Sounds picked up as reflections of an original direct
sound. Indirect sound and reflections are very slightly delayed from
the original direct sound and are the primary features of ambience.
master fader – The linear fader on a mixing desk that determines the
overall output level. If performing a fade in or fade out, it is the
master fader that should be used.
mixing desk/mixer – The device at the heart of a studio set-up through
which all the signals can be routed for recording, processing or
monitoring. Mixers are defined as a set of input channels and a set of
output channels – subgroups and master – so a desk that has 24
inputs, 8 subgroups and a stereo master output is defined as a 24–8–2
desk. The number of input channels will always be the most
numerous. In a studio, the mixer serves four main functions:
matching the input signals from mic level and line level sources;
processing, by means of built-in equalisation circuits; routing signals
to outputs; and collating signals into a mixed output.
monitor – To listen to the signals either through the main monitoring
or loudspeaker system, or through a secondary system, such as
multitrack – Multitrack recording devices have two or more tracks with
the ability to monitor or cue one track while recording on the other.
This allows the process known as overdubbing whereby a single
musician can build up a song by performing each of the parts one
after the other. Recording each instrument onto its own track also
allows the sound engineer a great deal of control over each track. An
equalisation setting, for example, can be added to one track and
another setting to another track and so on. Multitrack recorders
come in many formats these days from 4-track devices to 24-track
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devices and computer-based hardware and software systems that
feature almost infinite multitrack recording capabilities.
mute – See cut.
omni-directional – Microphone pick-up pattern
describing equal sensitivity in all directions
(omni = all). Omni-directional microphones
have limited practical use except for picking up
the acoustic of a hall in live recordings. Due to
the fact that they have all-round sensitivity,
omni-directional mics should never be used in
live PA systems otherwise feedback will occur.
The ‘omni’ pattern
overdrive – See overload.
overdub – In multitrack recording, the act of playing a new track of
material in synchronisation with one previously recorded.
overload – The distortion that happens when a signal exceeds the
stated input level. Meters are generally provided to ensure that
sound engineers do not exceed these levels. It is always a good idea,
however, when running at maximum level, to turn down the gain
slightly to get some headroom. Overload, like distortion, is often
used as an effect on guitars whereby the output from the preamplifier is turned up to maximum in order to overload the input
stages of the amplifier. Guitarists tend to refer to this as overdrive.
pan(ning) – The pan control serves two functions:
In a mix it places a mono signal in the stereo sound field from
left to right.
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In tracking it works in conjunction with the routing switches to
determine which tape output the signal will be sent to. Panning
to the left will send the signal to the odd numbered outputs and
panning to the right will send it to the even numbered tracks.
peak – Maximum level of any signal.
pick-up – A transducer found on electric and bass guitars that translates
the vibrations of the strings into a varying current in a similar fashion
to the dynamic microphone.
pick-up pattern – Term applied to the shape of the sensitivity pattern
of a microphone. The most predominant are cardioid, or heart
shaped, omni, sensitive in all directions, and figure-of-eight or bidirectional, sensitive to the front and back, but not the sides. Each
pattern has its applications in recording and live sound, but most
microphones are cardioid. High-quality studio-condenser
microphones may have a switch which makes them multi-pattern as
they can switch between all the main pick-up patterns, increasing
their versatility. The pick-up pattern may also be referred to as the
polar pattern.
popping/blasting – The explosive sounds in singing and speech that
cause audible pops and thumps in a recorded vocal. These can be
effectively reduced using a pop-shield.
pop-shield – A thin mesh positioned in front of a microphone that
disperses the focused blast of air from explosive consonants (P and B)
in speech and singing that can cause problems in a recording.
remix – The art of taking an original mix(es) and material and reorganising it or changing settings to change the feel, sound or
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reverb – The natural series of very short and dense echoes of a sound
that occur in a confined space such as a room or a hall. While echoes
with a longer delay would be discernible, in reverb the echoes
happen so fast and are so dense, it is impossible for the listener to
hear individual repeats. Reverb is the essence of natural sound.
Listening to a close miked instrument is like having the instrument
play in your ear in a very small room. The addition of reverb to a
sound makes it appear as if the instrument is being played in a real
acoustic. Nowadays reverb can be emulated digitally very easily and
nearly all effects processors have a wide range of reverb types for
different applications. See also gated reverb.
solo – A mixing desk control that mutes all other channels in order to
isolate the soloed channel for monitoring. The solo function is also
usually the control that aids the initial set-up and gain setting of a
channel. On live mixing desks in particular, the solo function may also
be referred to as Pre-Fade Listen (see PFL).
stage monitor – Normally a wedge-shaped loudspeaker cabinet pointed
at the performers that delivers a foldback or monitor mix so the
performers can hear themselves.
stereo master – The final mixed recording of any project. As most
replay systems are stereo, the multitrack recording has to be mixed
down to a two-track master in order for it to be replayed.
sweet spot – When positioning microphones, the position at which the
sound is best. Also the ideal position for the listener between a set of
loudspeakers to get the best possible sound.
talkback – A system, like an intercom, to enable the sound engineer or
those in the control room to talk to the performers in the studio.
Talkback systems usually consist of a small microphone built or
plugged in to the mixing desk with a switch that sends the signal from
the mic through the foldback or monitoring system.
time-domain effects – Those types of effects processes that change the
time characteristics of an input signal by adding to it delay, reverb,
chorus, phasing or any of the delay or reverb-related effect variations.
tracking – The act of recording the individual parts of a project onto a
multitrack recorder. See also production.
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verse – The part of a song after the introduction and before the chorus
and then repeated between choruses. The lyrical content of the verse
tends not to be repeated, but holds the story or narrative of the song.
wah-wah – Effect that uses a narrow band filter swept across the audio
spectrum giving the descriptive wah-wah sound. While generally this
is a guitar-pedal-based effect, it can be utilised on just about anything.
Much used in funk music.
windshield – Foam shield placed over the top of a microphone to
protect it from interference from wind. Generally only used outdoors
and not to be confused with a pop-shield.
XLR – Three-pin, latching professional audio connector for balanced
lines. The type of connector used for microphones.
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AB comparison – Technique whereby an engineer can set up two (or
more) different devices or settings and switch between the two to
hear any differences. For example, two different microphones can be
positioned in front of a musician and the engineer can, using AB
comparison, choose the one he/she prefers.
AFL – After Fade Listen. A switch system on mixing desks to let the
engineer monitor a signal being sent after its level has been
determined by the fader. This is mainly used for checking the
output-to-effects processors from a post-fade auxiliary send.
analogue – A device that utilises a changing voltage or current to
represent an acoustic signal.
autolocate – A function on recording devices that can store positions
throughout the duration of a project. This enables the engineer to
jump to these points automatically once they have been stored.
auxiliary send/return – A mixing desk function that allows a signal or
group of signals to be sent to a separate output – an auxiliary output
– for either monitoring or processing. In the case of monitoring a
pre-fade send will be used. For effects processing a post-fade send
will be used and the signal with the process added to it will then be
returned to the mixing desk.
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
boost – To increase the level of a signal or series of frequencies (see
bridge – Passage connecting two other passages of a song, for example
between the chorus and verse
CD-R – Recordable Compact Discs. A write-once-only format of the CD.
CD-R’s have become one of the widest used storage formats in the
world for both audio and other data. For a few years now it has been
both cheap and simple to incorporate CD burning devices on home
computers. Like the CD, a CD-R can hold up to 750 MB of
CD-RW – Re-Writable Compact Disc. A write-many-times version of the
CD-R which gives the user the opportunity to re-write over old
information previously recorded onto a CD. It is important to note
that CD-RW’s cannot be used for audio recording as they are a data
only storage medium and cannot comply with the red book standard.
centre frequency – The frequency around which the attentuation or
boost of an equalisation filter is centred. While in any filter a range,
or bandwidth, of frequencies is affected by boosting or attenuating
the filter, the bandwidth curve always has a centre. For example on a
graphic equaliser, the frequencies assigned to each control are
actually the centre frequencies of the filter.
chorus (effect) – An effect whereby short delays and slight modulations
are added to a signal to make it sound as if there is more than one
player. It therefore applies a detuning effect which can be
detrimental to some instruments (for example, the acoustic piano)
but can be very effective on others (for example, the electric guitar).
compressor – A dynamic processor that can automatically control the
gain of a signal. Once the incoming signal has reached a
predetermined threshold, the compressor reduces the output of the
signal by an amount determined by the ratio control. Effectively this
is like a fraction; so if a ratio of 2:1 is set the amount of signal above
the threshold will be halved; a ratio of 4:1 means it is quartered and
so on. Compressors also have an attack control which determines
how quickly the compressor reacts and a release control which
determines how quickly the compressor stops compressing once the
signal has gone below the threshold again.
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
condenser microphone – Also sometimes referred to as a capacitor
microphone, these microphones measure the capacitance between
two charged plates to gain their signal. This signal is typically very
small, so condenser microphones require a pre-amplifier to give this
signal a boost prior to its going to any inputs. Condenser
microphones therefore require a power source. This may be from a
built-in battery, but more often it is from phantom power, a voltage
from the mixing desk that flows down the microphone cable.
Condenser microphones are of a consistently high quality with a very
wide frequency response and are excellent for studio use; however,
they can be fragile and are therefore not generally particularly suited
to live sound applications.
cut/mute – To turn a channel or a track off totally. Cutting and muting
are mainly used in mixdown to either eliminate unwanted parts of a
track or reduce the noise from an unused channel or track.
delay – The interval between an original signal and its repetition. While
this is achieved electronically, it is similar to, and is used practically,
as echo. Modern digital-delay processors can repeat the original
sound forever and with almost an infinite initial delay time.
digital – An electronic representation of analogue sounds that utilises
1’s and 0’s. See also A/D converter and D/A converter.
dynamic microphone – A microphone
that generates a signal using the
electromagnetic principle of moving a
coil in a magnetic field. The
microphone’s diaphragm is connected
to the coil which in turn is suspended in
a magnetic field. When the diaphragm
vibrates, the vibration is transferred to
the coil and the current is induced in
the coil giving the signal. Dynamic microphones can cope with very
high volumes of signal and can also handle rough treatment. They
do, however, tend to have a slightly limited frequency response.
While they can be very useful in the recording studio, they are
invaluable for live use.
dynamic range – The range of volume levels in a piece of music or in
the output of an instrument. The dynamic range can be reduced for
control purposes by using a compressor.
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
effects loop (FX) – A loop of information whereby the signal, or group
of signals from the mixing desk are sent to an external device which
adds its own processes and then returns the signal back to the mixer.
Acoustic feedback occurs when the output of a loudspeaker can
be picked up by a microphone that is being amplified by the same
speaker system. It is characteristically a high-pitched squeal.
Positive feedback occurs, similarly, when an output is fed back to
its own input.
filter – An electronic circuit designed to boost or attenuate a designated
range of frequencies. See also equaliser.
foldback – The speaker or headphone system that lets musicians hear
themselves and others either on stage or in a recording studio.
Foldback mixes can be separately controlled by the sound engineer
from the mix that is being heard in the control room or in the venue.
These mixes are controlled by the pre-fade auxiliary sends on the
mixing desk and can be tailored for each performer. In live situations
bands may have either loudspeaker-based foldback systems or,
nowadays, in-ear-based systems. In-ear systems have many advantages
in that they don’t have to be extremely loud and they allow the
performer to move around the stage without having to position
themselves next to a foldback speaker.
frequency response – The range of audio frequencies that a device is
sensitive to. The frequency response of a condenser microphone may
be between 50 and 20,000 Hz. This means it is not sensitive to any
frequencies below 50 Hz or above 20,000 Hz.
impedance – The resistance of an electronic circuit or component to an
AC current. In audio engineering the AC current is an audio signal,
and, unfortunately, impedance varies with the frequency of the signal
fed through the circuit or component. Basically, audio devices are
either high impedance or low impedance and a high-impedance
device or output shouldn’t be plugged into a low-impedance device
or input and vice versa. With the correct use of connectors and preamplifiers such connections and errors should be virtually
I/O – Abbreviation for Input/Output. Sometimes also I/P and O/P.
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
key change/modulation – The part of a song where the key changes,
usually upwards, to lift the song and maintain interest.
leakage – The overspill from one instrument into another instrument’s
microphone. This will only occur where more than one instrument is
being simultaneously miked up in the same room. Leakage can be
minimised by using directional microphones and acoustic screens;
but it is difficult to totally eradicate it. There may also be leakage
from a pair of headphones if the monitoring or foldback volume is
turned up particularly high. It is not unusual, for instance, for a click
track monitored through headphones to leak into one or more of the
drum microphones. Also known as bleeding or spillage.
line level – The output from a purely electronic source, a keyboard for
example or any processing device. The actual output level is set by
the manufacturer to industry standards depending on the standing of
the equipment as ‘semi-professional’ (–10 dBV) or ‘professional’
(+4 dBu).
masking – Problem in a mix where the level of a track or tracks is such
that other tracks and instruments cannot be heard.
mic level – The level or voltage of a signal produced by a microphone.
Typically mic-level signals are considerably lower than line-level
signals, so a pre-amplifier must be used to boost their output. In
some condenser microphones, the output of their built-in preamplifier is high enough not to require any more boosting.
middle 8 – The part of a song where a new or altered piece of music is
introduced, usually after the second chorus. While it is normally
eight bars long – hence its title – it can be much more or even much
MIDI – Musical Instrument Digital Interface. A digital language that
enables devices to talk to one another in a standardised format.
While MIDI was originally devised for keyboards and musical
instruments, more and more effects processors and devices are
responding to it and may be programmed using MIDI.
MP3 – Moving Pictures Executive Group Level-1 Layer 3. A digital data
compression format that reduces an audio file to around one-tenth of
its original size. Devised primarily as a fast and efficient method of
downloading large audio files via the internet, MP3 players have
become popular due to their compact size, high quality and huge
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storage capacity. It is now possible to have an entire CD collection
stored on an MP3 player the size of a mobile phone.
mS – Abbreviation for millisecond or one-thousandth of a second; thus
500 mS is half a second. Most effects processors use the mS as the
time constant for programming.
noise gate – A signal-activated switch. If a signal reaches a preset
threshold, the noise gate opens and allows the signal to pass through.
If the threshold is not met, the gate stays shut eliminating any lowerlevel noise or hiss. Gates are very effective and useful devices in the
studio, operating as automatic mutes or cuts to reduce low-level
background noise while recording using microphones.
patchbay – A device that localises all the input and output sockets of a
range of studio devices so that they may easily be interconnected
using patchleads.
patchlead – The short leads that allow two sockets on a patchbay to be
PFL – Pre-Fade Listen. See solo.
phantom power – A voltage (up to 48 v) sent down the microphone
cable from the mixing desk in order to power a condenser
microphone. While this power source normally comes from the desk,
stand-alone phantom power units are available for situations where a
desk is not being used. Phantom power can only be sent down
balanced microphone cables.
pitch bend – A control message on keyboards designed to change the
notes pitch in relation to a performance wheel or lever. The term
may also be applied to the guitar technique that bends the strings in
order to change the pitch of the note played.
PPM – Peak Programme Meter. A segmented bar-type meter designed to
register peaks in a signal rather than just an average level.
pre-amplifier – The first stage of amplification of a device, normally a
microphone. Condenser microphones have pre-amplifiers built into
them, but the input stages of a mixing desk are also referred to as the
pre-amp and it serves to increase a mic level signal to that required by
the electronics of the mixing-desk channel. A pre-amplifier is also the
input stages of a guitar or bass guitar amplifier, housing the
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
equalisation section prior to the signal being passed on to the main
power amplifier.
proximity effect/bass tip up – A low-frequency boost that occurs in
cardioid microphones when they are placed particularly close to the
sound source. This unnaturally colours the sound and can be
detrimental to the overall signal. However, in some live situations it
can help lift a vocal out of the mix slightly.
punch in/out – drop in/out – A technique in multitrack recording that
lets a performer record over mistakes or change parts previously
recorded by punching or dropping in and out of record mode while
the machine is in playback. Punching or dropping in can be
performed by an engineer pushing the right buttons at the right time,
the performer hitting a foot switch at the required point, or by
advanced use of the machines autolocate functions whereby the
multitrack recorder can be programmed to drop in and out of record
mode automatically.
reflection – The parts of a waveform which reach the listener or
microphone after bouncing off a surface. See also reverb and direct
routing – Sending a signal to an output. Mixing desks have many types
of output for many different purposes: auxiliary sends, tape and
subgroups, outputs, etc. Routing is the process by which the
engineer can take any input signal, and using either controls or a
patchbay can send that signal to any or all of those outputs for
processing, recording or monitoring. See also panning and buss.
shock mount – A moving suspension mount for a microphone. Many
microphones, especially condenser microphones can be susceptible to
movements or vibrations that travel through the floor and up the mic
stand. A microphone placed in a shock mount is isolated from these
sibilance – High-frequency (normally between about 5 kHz and 10 kHz)
lisping or spitting noise on vocal recordings that occurs on ‘s’ or ‘sh’
sounds. Sibilance is usually caused by bad microphone technique or
over use of equalisation. While it is predominantly an issue on vocal
tracks, it can also be heard on cymbal tracks. Eliminating sibilance
should be attempted at source; however a device called a de-esser
may be employed to remove the problem.
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
signal chain/path – The route that a signal takes through an audio
system from input to outputs. The route may be simple, such as a
microphone plugged into an amplifier and loudspeakers plugged into
the amplifier to create a basic PA system. But in the case of a
professional recording studio, it can be very complex, involving large
numbers of processors and monitoring systems. It is important for
the sound engineer to understand each of the different routes any
signal may take in order to correctly connect and operate the
signal-to-noise ratio (S/N ratio) – The ratio of maximum signal level to
any residual noise present. The S/N ratio is expressed as a number of
decibels, so the higher the number of dB indicated in the
specification of a piece of equipment the less noisy it is, and the lower
the number, the noisier it is.
spillage – See leakage.
splitter – A device that splits a signal into two or more separate signals
without signal degradation. Such devices are useful in large-scale PA
systems where more than one mixing desk may be used, but get their
signal from a single microphone. See also DI box and Y lead.
squawker – One of the speakers in a loudspeaker cabinet that handles
only mid frequencies.
subgroup – An output channel on a mixing desk that controls overall a
small number of input channels. Subgroups in modern mixing desks
have two main functions:
In a recording situation, they can be assigned as the outputs to
tape tracks, so a number of instruments can be routed to a
single tape track;
In a live or mixdown situation a number of instruments assigned
to a subgroup can have their overall volume increased or
decreased with a single fader movement rather than having to
adjust a number of different levels; for example, a drum kit may
have as many as eight microphones. Assigning these eight
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channels to a single subgroup means only the subgroup fader
need be moved to adjust the overall drum-kit volume. See also
sub-woofer – The speaker in a loudspeaker system that handles the very
low frequencies. In actuality these speakers operate at frequencies
that can be felt rather than heard, i.e. those below 20 Hz.
sweep – The control on a parametric or semi-parametric equaliser that
determines the centre frequency of the filter.
synchronisation (sync) – When two or more tracks or devices play at
the same time, in time.
texture – The manner in which the different parts of a recording are
woven together. If a piece is essentially a melody supported by a
chord accompaniment, the texture is said to be harmonic; if the
melody is accompanied by other melodies, then the texture is
contrapuntal or polyphonic. The instrumentation used in an
arrangement may also change its texture.
transient – A short, loud signal with a very fast attack and decay time.
tweeter – One of the speakers in a loudspeaker cabinet that handles
only high frequencies.
VU meter – Volume Unit meter. These are analogue voltage
measurement meters with a flickering needle display calibrated to
show the relative volume of the input signal. VU meters are found on
old equipment and new equipment that has retro styling; however,
many engineers prefer their metering because it is less harsh than the
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
woofer – One of the speakers in a loudspeaker cabinet that handles only
low frequencies.
Y lead – A lead that has one connector at one end and two at the other
in order to split the signal into two. While this technique has its uses,
the split signal will be degraded somewhat. It is far better to use
either a splitter or a DI box.
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
accent (or ‘spot’) microphone – A microphone positioned at a single
instrument or group of instruments in a multiple or stereo mic array
in order to pick up the instrument separately from the signals
received at the other microphones. A technique largely used in
classical recording whereby a general stereo pair of microphones
picks up the orchestra while the accent microphone is positioned at
the solo instrument.
active – A circuit which requires power to operate. A bass guitar, for
example, may have an equaliser and switching circuit which requires
battery power. Circuits that do not require power to operate are
known as passive.
ADSR – Attack, decay, sustain, release. The four primary elements of
the envelope of a sound.
Here we can see the envelope of a short percussive sound (a snare
drum). It is graphically represented using the elements of time and
gain. As a short loud sound, the attack time is sharp and it reaches
maximum gain quickly. The following decay, sustain and release
times are short too. The sound dies to nothing very quickly.
Decay time
Sustain time
Gain (dB)
Release time
Attack time
Time (mS)
1000 mS
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
Compare this with the envelope of a violin. Here the attack time is
much longer and, as the bow can move continuously over the string,
the sustain is also much longer. The release time is long too, as it
takes a while for the string to stop vibrating once the player has
stopped playing.
Decay time
Gain (dB)
Sustain time
Release time
Attack time
Time (mS)
2000 mS
amplitude – The ‘height’ of a waveform. The amplitude determines the
volume of the wave.
Part of the envelope of a sound (ADSR). The attack time is the
time it takes for an acoustic sound to reach its maximum initial
amplitude or volume. Percussive sounds will, by nature, have a
very fast attack time, whereas bowed sounds, a violin for
example, take a longer time to reach maximum volume, and so
have a slower attack time.
The control on a dynamic processor that determines how
quickly it will react once the threshold has been reached.
audio frequency – Signals and waveforms which fall within the
spectrum of human hearing. Normally this is in the range between 20
Hz and 20,000 Hz; however, research has proven that humans can
perceive frequencies both below and above this range.
balanced wiring – A system of wiring that minimises interference. A
balanced cable has three conductors – two as part of an inner core
and one overall screen which effectively wraps around the inner two
conductors. The inner two conductors carry the signal as positive
and negative phase and the outer screen is connected to the earth or
ground. This means that interference such as that from radio
frequencies (RF) cannot penetrate the screen so the cable doesn’t
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
end up operating like an aerial. It is important to connect balanced
outputs to balanced inputs. Microphones that require phantom
power must always use balanced connectors.
bandpass filter – A filter which operates by excluding a range of lower
and higher frequencies and letting through a band of frequencies
between these upper and lower frequencies. See equaliser.
bouncing – A multitrack recording technique whereby previously
recorded tracks are mixed onto adjacent spare or empty tracks to free
up more tracks for recording; i.e. once the tracks have been bounced,
they can be recorded over with new material. This is a technique
routinely employed on multitrack devices with a limited number of
available tracks (4- and 8-track recorders for example) to give the
engineer more scope for adding additional instruments and parts.
boundary microphone/PZM – Devised by Tandy in the 1980s, boundary
microphones feature a condenser capsule mounted on a plate. The
plate can then be positioned on or attached to a flat surface,
effectively increasing the microphone’s pick-up pattern. Tandy
originally intended these microphones for discreet use on lecterns,
but many sound engineers realised their effectiveness in many
applications including overheads on drum kits, classical recordings
and stage performances. The PZM (Pressure Zone Microphone) is a
version of the boundary mic.
clipping – Severe and potentially damaging form of distortion that
happens when a signal is too high for the piece of equipment it is
being fed into. This can be particularly damaging to loudspeakers.
Manufacturers include many safeguards to avoid clipping in their
equipment. It is very important to monitor meters and input lights.
Flashing red is never a good sign.
coda – The end section of a piece of music that serves to sum up and
finish off the ideas.
crosstalk – The undesirable transfer of a signal (typically a very highlevel one) from one track or channel to another due to the proximity
of the tracks or the channel busses. Thankfully with digital recording
devices, crosstalk between tracks is virtually impossible; however,
some analogue mixing desks may still be susceptible.
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
DAT – Digital Audio Tape. A format of recordable digital tape devised in
the 1980s by Sony. This was the first commercially available digital
recording format using small one-sided magnetic tapes. Still found in
many recording studios, DAT has been largely superseded by the
CD-R and minidisc.
dB – Decibel. The unit of measurement for audio.
decay – Part of the envelope of a sound. After the initial attack of any
sound, there is a small amount of time where the maximum volume
decreases and begins to level off. This is the decay time.
diaphragm – The part of a microphone that ‘collects’ the vibrations of
the sound wave. In a dynamic microphone these vibrations are
transferred to the coil to create the current required for a signal. In a
condenser microphone the diaphragm is one of the charged plates
through which the capacitance is measured to create the signal.
DSP – Digital Signal Processing. Technique whereby a signal is digitised
and modified by having other digital signals or processes applied to it.
dynamic processor – Processors which control either the gain,
envelope or frequency of an input source for both corrective and
creative purposes. The most utilised are equalisation, compression
and noise gates; but there are others such as limiters and enhancers.
As the fundamental nature of the original sound source is being
changed, it is important that dynamic processors have the signal
flowing through them prior to its routing elsewhere, otherwise the
effect is negated. This is why many compressors have microphone
pre-amplifiers built into them. From a mixing desk, engineers should
always use the insert-point to properly route the signal to be
enhancer/exciter – A dynamic processor which can replace the lost
harmonics of an original signal making it sound brighter, rounder and
revitalised. While at the outset its effect appears similar to that of
equalisation, it is in fact generating new frequencies that have been
lost in the recording process.
envelope – The ‘shape’ of a sound in relation to time and volume. As a
note is played it has variations in volume and these can be generally
summed up as the note’s attack, decay, sustain and release (or
ADSR). Different instruments exhibit different general envelopes.
Percussive sounds, by their nature are short and loud, but wind and
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
string instruments take a while getting to their maximum volume and
then can stay there for a prolonged period of time due to either
blowing or the movement of a bow. Synthesisers can emulate these
characteristics of acoustic instruments using an envelope generator
circuit which controls each of these parameters.
figure-of-eight mic – A microphone pick-up
pattern. Figure-of-eight or bi-directional
microphones are sensitive to signals at both
their front and rear, but have a drop in
sensitivity at the sides. These two ‘lobes’ of
sensitivity give the shape of a figure-of-eight –
hence the title. Such microphones have some The ‘figure-of-eight’
studio uses – recording backing vocals with
two singers positioned either side of the
microphone, for example – but are generally used for more advanced
flanging – An effect whereby the original signal is delayed and then fed
back on itself possibly a number of times with gradually increasing
delays. This gives a swishing sound that can be rather dramatic.
fundamental – The lowest frequency of a musical note that has the most
energy and is therefore the loudest part of the waveform. See also
gated reverb – An effect whereby a noise gate is applied to the output of
a reverb processor. The natural decay of the reverb is therefore cut
off sharply resulting in a rather startling unfinished sound. The effect
is most often used on drums and gives a powerful, if slightly obvious,
sound. Nowadays, effects processors tend to have gated reverb
settings preset within them with varying reverb characteristics and
gate times.
graphic equaliser – An equaliser that has a series of preset filters
spanning the audio spectrum. Each filter is designed to either
attenuate or boost a narrow band of frequencies around a centre
frequency. The more bands a graphic equaliser has, the narrower the
bands need to be. For professional live applications, it is fairly
standard to have a 31-band graphic equaliser. This means that there
are around three separate filters for each octave of the audio
spectrum. This enables sound engineers to adjust the output of the
system to the venue to improve sound quality and reduce the
possibilities of feedback.
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high pass filter – A filter which operates by attenuating completely a
range of lower frequencies, letting the high frequencies pass through
insert point – A mixing desk connection that takes the signal from an
input and sends it to an external processor in such a way that the
signal flows through the external processor before being returned to
the rest of the mixer channel. Insert points are predominantly used
for patching in dynamic processors due to the fact that such
processors need to change the basic nature of the signal in some way,
shape or form. Insert points tend to be in the form of a single TRS
jack socket where the tip of the socket sends the signal out, the ring
of the socket returns the signal to the desk and the sleeve is earth.
More complex mixers may have a separate socket for each function,
send and return.
limiter – A dynamic processor that stops a signal from going over a predetermined limit. Essentially a limiter is a compressor with fairly
extreme settings – a high ratio and a very fast attack time. Limiters
are used in live sound as protection devices. If there is a sudden
spike in a signal, the limiter can react quickly and prevent
loudspeakers getting damaged.
low pass filter (LPF) – A filter which operates by attenuating
completely a range of high frequencies, letting the lower frequencies
pass through unaffected.
mastering – The art of taking a final mix and preparing it for mass
production. This may entail the removal of clicks or glitches, editing
the track so that it has neat start and end points, and also the overall
addition of equalisation and/or compression. Mastering is part of the
post-production of a project.
MTC – MIDI Time Code. A form of time code transmitted via MIDI
cables to synchronise MIDI devices to one another.
outro – The end section of a song that finishes it off. The opposite of
intro (or introduction).
pad – An attenuation switch normally found on condenser
microphones, but may also be found on mixing desk pre-amplifiers.
The pad switch reduces the output of the pre-amplifier by a predetermined amount, usually 10 or 20 dB. These tend to be needed
on condenser microphones as they have a built-in pre-amplifier
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
circuit. If a condenser mic is placed at a source and when the source
is playing loudly, the mixing desk is being overloaded even though
the gain control is fully down, then a pad switch would be employed
to reduce the mic’s output.
parameter – A variable value that affects an aspect of a device’s
performance or programming.
parametric EQ – An equaliser that has such control that it can pick out
any range of frequencies from the audio spectrum and either boost or
attenuate them. To achieve this, a parametric EQ has three controls
per filter:
A gain control to either boost or attenuate the selected
A sweep control to select the centre frequency of the range of
A bandwidth or Q control to increase or decrease the range of
frequencies to be adjusted. Parametric EQs can make very
focused adjustments due to this range of control and are mainly
found in professional recording environments.
passive – An electronic circuit that requires no power to operate, such
as the basic tone controls in electric guitars. Some DI boxes are also
passive as they only provide a basic splitting function.
phase cancellation – Where two versions of the same signal exist and
are combined, and if the delay between the two signals means that
the peak of one waveform combines with the trough of the other,
then the resultant is nothing. The two identical waveforms have
cancelled each other out. While total phase cancellation is rare and
difficult to achieve, phasing problems can occur when two
microphones spaced unequally apart are picking up the same
instrument. The combined signal at the mixing desk then has the two
waveforms interfering with each other and this creates a swirling
sound or a high-pitched whine. Phase problems like this may be
avoided if the second microphone is placed more than three times
the distance from the source as the closer mic.
phasing – An effect whereby the original signal is delayed and then
played back on top of itself. This gives a swirling filter effect as the
frequencies in turn cancel each other out.
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
pitch shift – A process to change the pitch of an input signal without
changing its duration. This is the basic form of a harmoniser.
post fade – A signal that is monitored or routed after it has passed
through the channel fader and is therefore determined by the level
of the fader. Post-fade auxiliary sends are used to send signals to
effects processors. The fact that the amount of signal going through a
post-fade send is determined by the fader position gives the engineer
greater control over the positioning of the sound. More fader level
and less aux send will make the sound closer, while less fader level
and more aux (auxiliary) send makes it sound further away. This
gives the mix engineer control over the front-to-back dimension of
the music.
Close-up sound
Far-away sound
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post-production – The elements of a project that are achieved after the
main recording sessions. This includes mixdown, mastering and
pre-fade – A signal that is monitored or routed before it has passed
through the channel fader and is therefore independent of the fader
position. Pre-fade auxiliary sends are used primarily for monitoring
or foldback mixes, enabling musicians to hear a mix that is separate
to that being monitored in the control room or heard through the PA
pre-production – The parts of producing a song prior to the studio
sessions where the music will be recorded. This includes writing and
arrangement of the material, rehearsing it and scheduling studio time
and personnel.
presence peak/colouration – A mid-frequency emphasis in a sound,
generally unwanted, that can occur due to a microphone’s frequency
response, the microphone technique used, the proximity of the
microphone to the instrument, the room’s acoustic or even a fault in
a piece of equipment. These peaks are said to ‘colour’ the sound.
production – The act of committing a song to, usually multitrack, tape
in the recording studio. See also pre-production and post-production.
Q/bandwidth – The width of an equalisation filter. This is the range of
frequencies affected by the filter overall. Q stands for ‘quality factor’
and is an indication of being either a narrow bandwidth filter or High
Q(uality) which affects a restricted number of frequencies, or a wide
bandwidth of Low Q(uality) which affects a large range of frequencies.
Q is determined as a number between around 0.5 and 10: the higher
the number, the higher the quality factor, so the narrower the filter.
Some digital filters have the capability of very high Q factors up to
around 100. A filter this narrow would be affecting an extremely
narrow bandwidth of frequencies, perhaps even a single frequency.
Here we can see that the notch between a and b is much wider than
the notch between c and d. The notch between a and b affects a far
greater range of frequencies that surround the centre frequency –
here 1 KHz – than the notch between c and d. It is therefore said to
have a low-quality factor or low Q, while the notch between c and d
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
has a high-quality factor or high Q. a–b could also be described as
wide bandwidth and c–d as narrow bandwidth.
ratio – The control on a compressor that determines how much
compression is applied to the signal once it has exceeded the
threshold. The ratio can be treated much like a fraction; for example
a ratio of 2:1 applied to a signal that exceeds the threshold by +2 dB
will result in an output of +1 dB – half of 2 dB; similarly a ratio of 4:1
on the same signal will reduce the signal to +0.5 dB – a quarter of 2
dB. It is important to note that the threshold is still exceeded
regardless of the ratio applied. Extreme ratios result in an effect
known as limiting.
red book standard – The standard format applied to audio CDs as
defined in 1980 by Sony and Philips. Originally CDs were purely an
audio format, but they have been since utilised as mass storage media
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
for all sorts of applications. There are therefore a number of other
‘book colours’ for different formats. The red book standard maps the
basic requirements for CD audio reproduction including the sample
rate of 44,100 Hz, the bit depth of 16, the maximum playing time of
74 minutes 33 seconds and even the physical dimensions of the disc
The last element of a sound’s envelope. The release time is the
time it takes for the note to die away to nothing after its sustain
time has been met.
The control on a compressor or noise gate that determines at
what speed the gate will close or compressor will stop
compressing once the incoming signal has returned below the
roll-off filter – A filter, found either in an equaliser or on a microphone,
that attenuates a series of pre-defined low frequencies. This can be
helpful for eliminating stage or handling noise from the microphone.
sample – A digital snapshot of an acoustic sound. An A/D converter
takes a constant stream of samples in order to convert acoustic
sounds into digital information. A sampler can take a short series of
these snapshots, alter their pitch and duration and play them back as
tuned notes.
shelving equalisation – An equaliser filter that either boosts or
attenuates constantly below or above a set frequency. On a graph,
therefore, the equalisation curve resembles a shelf rather than a bellshaped curve.
slave – A device that is controlled by another or master device. The
master device generates the information for the slave device to react
SPL – Sound Pressure Level. The acoustic pressure of any sound wave.
Expressed in dB as a value above the threshold of hearing, essentially
the higher the SPL, the louder a sound is.
stereo pair – A matched pair of microphones used for accurate stereo
recording. As the signals are to be played over a stereo system, the
microphones are designated left and right and their signals will in
turn feed those loudspeakers.
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
submix – A mix within a mix, such as an overall mix of a drum kit routed
to a subgroup which then feeds the master mix (see mastering).
sustain – The third element of the envelope of a sound at which the
level of the sound stays constant. String instruments can have an
infinite sustain via the movement of a bow. The sustain in wind and
brass instruments relies on the breath of the player. Percussion
instruments have only short sustain times.
tempo – The speed of a song measured in beats per minute (BPM).
threshold – Control on various dynamic processors that determines the
point at which the process is applied to the signal. For example, on a
noise gate, the threshold is the point at which the gate opens and lets
the signal pass. Signals that do not reach the threshold remain
transducer – Any electronic device that converts one form of energy
into another; for example a microphone, a loudspeaker or a pick-up.
tremolo – An effect whereby the signal is varied up and down in
volume. It can be particularly effective on guitar and electric piano
TRS jack – Tip, Ring, Sleeve. A jack plug and socket with three parts to
the connection like a headphone jack. The tip element can be used
to send a signal from an insert point to an external device, while the
ring element is the return. The sleeve is connected to earth or
ground and is common to both signals.
unbalanced wiring/connectors – Audio cables that have a single inner
core to carry the signal surrounded by an overall screen to prevent
interference. Such cables are used primarily for jack-to-jack leads
from guitars or keyboards to an amplifier. They cannot be used for
long cable runs as they are more susceptible to interference than
balanced wiring.
waveform – A graphic representation of a signal or a sound wave’s
variation over time.
wavelength – The length between corresponding points of successive
waves. Low-frequency waves have long wavelengths and highfrequency waves have short wavelengths. A simple rule of thumb is,
‘Double the frequency, half the wavelength’ and vice versa.
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
A/D converter – Analogue-to-digital converter. An electronic circuit
that takes an analogue waveform and converts it into digital binary
information that can be stored, and processed by digital devices.
ASIO – Audio Stream Input/Output. Devised by Steinberg, an ASIO
driver is a software interface between an audio or sequencing package
and a hardware audio device. Without this software, the software and
the hardware cannot ‘talk’ to one another.
automated mixing – A system whereby elements of a mix, or complete
mixes can be stored and recalled in either snapshot or real-time
modes. This means that a mix engineer may adjust parameters
during a mix and a computer will store and recall those adjustments
in synchronisation with the music playback, thus allowing potentially
very complex and dynamic mixes.
bit depth/rate – When an analogue signal is digitised, one of the values
applied is the bit depth. This is the length of the ‘digital word’ and
relates to the range of amplitudes that can be measured by the A/D
converter. When the converter measures the sound, the amplitude
may be either increased or decreased to fit into a set bit depth. This
is called quantising. Therefore the greater the number of bits the
converter is capable of processing, the smaller the quantisation that
needs to be applied. This means that higher bit depths result in
better-quality A/D conversion. Typically, standard CDs have a bit
depth of 16, but it is not unusual to find digital devices capable of 20-,
24- or even 32-bit resolution.
byte – Digital data that is comprised of 8 bits.
coincident pair – A matched pair of microphones that are placed
symmetrically close to each other in order to pick out the
instrument(s) they are recording with a natural stereo sound that will
include the acoustic and ambience of the recording venue. May also
be referred to as an XY pair. Often used in classical and live
control surface – A control surface looks like a mixing desk, but it is an
extension of computer-based audio software in a physical form.
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
Rather than clicking with a mouse on a screen to change a value
within the software, the engineer uses the control surface; so a fader
on the screen has its physical counterpart on the control surface.
Due to their complexity and the number of functions available,
control surfaces need to be connected to the host computer via a fast
interface, normally Ethernet or FireWire.
cut-off frequency – The frequency above or below which attenuation
begins in any filter.
D/A converter – Digital-to-analogue converter. Electronic circuit that
takes a previously digitised signal and converts it back to analogue
information. See also A/D converter.
DAW – Digital Audio Workstation. Any digital recording workstation
that features recording, editing and mastering is referred to as DAW.
Dolby – Originally the manufacturers and developers of noise reduction
circuitry for analogue recording devices, Dolby laboratories now
specialise in surround-sound formats for movie theatres. Dolby’s
system differs from that of DTS in that it only features one rear
DTS – Digital Theatre System. An enhancement of surround sound
theatre systems which typically has 5 speakers and a sub-bass unit
(the 0.1) to deliver true surround sound. The current configuration
is 5.1 – front left, front right, front centre, rear left and rear right,
however the EX or 6.1 system has been widely installed which
includes a rear centre speaker. Some theatres even have a 7.1 system
with 3 speakers at the front and 4 additional speakers providing the
rear and surround effects. More and more the 5.1 and 6.1 formats are
being used to mix music due to the upsurge in home theatre systems.
DVD – Digital Versatile Disk. A mass-storage format similar in size and
shape to CD, but which can hold up to eight times as much information
without compression. DVDs achieve this by: (a) being double sided,
(b) having a much tighter spiral of burned pits, and (c) having multiple
layers, the information being accessed by a re-focussing of the laser.
This enables manufacturers to place on disk entire feature films with
additional features including surround-sound formats. Nowadays we
also have DVD-RW – re-writable DVDs, DVD video recorders and an
audio-only DVD format called DVD-A. Most home computers come
with both DVD players and writers installed as standard.
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
editing – The art of taking a series of takes in audio and creating one
good one by use of cut-and-paste techniques or by rearranging
recorded material into a different sequence.
expander – The opposite of a compressor, an expander increases the
dynamic range of a signal by making low-level signals lower and highlevel signals higher.
glitch – A short and nasty ‘click’ in digital audio. This may be caused by
a corruption of the digital information or a poor edit of the soundfile.
harmonics – The overtone frequencies created by a fundamental which
are an exact multiple of the fundamentals frequency. Whenever a
note is sounded, it generates a range of frequencies above it at
varying levels. If the fundamental note has the frequency of 150 Hz,
then the first harmonic will be 300 Hz, the next will be 450 Hz, the
next 600 Hz and so on, adding 150 each time. These harmonics and
the balance of them give instruments their individual sound or
harmoniser – An effects process that takes an input musical note and
adds harmonies to it by applying a short delay to the original signal
and pitch, shifting it either up or down, or both, to create a series of
intervals. While early harmonisers could only achieve a single fixed
interval, harmonisers nowadays can be programmed to follow
correctly the chord structure of a song and apply harmonies that fit
accurately with the performance.
hyper-cardioid – A microphone pick-up pattern similar to cardioid, but
with a much tighter and narrower heart-shaped field of sensitivity.
Such microphones are ideal in live situations as the tight pick-up
pattern is excellent at helping to eliminate feedback problems. These
microphones are sensitive only to signals that are directed right at
instrumental break – The part of a song where the lead vocal stops and
the instruments take over, possibly featuring a solo instrument.
latency – The delay between a signal going into a processor and
coming back out again. While latency may occur to a small degree in
most audio devices where what is being input is being simultaneously
monitored, it predominates in A/D converters and D/A converters in
computer-based recording set-ups. This is due to the time it takes for
the computer to digitise and then un-digitise the audio information
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
and is directly related to the processing speed of the computer.
Faster processors significantly reduce any latency.
LFE – Low Frequency Effects. The sub-bass unit in surround sound
audio systems. Its presence in the specification of surround systems
is indicated by the .1, hence a 5.1 surround system means 5 normal
speakers and 1 LFE, a 7.1 system is 7 normal speakers and 1 LFE, etc.
LFO – Low Frequency Oscillator. An oscillator used as a low-frequency
modulation source; for example in the chorus effect, whereby the
delayed signal is detuned by LFO modulation.
link passage – See bridge.
matched pair – A pair of microphones of the same make and model that
have been manufactured in such a way as to be electronically and
physically identical and therefore sound the same. Such pairs of
microphones are used in stereo recording techniques such as
coincident pairs.
normalising – System of connection in studios where a device that will
normally be connected to another input or output is plugged into it
permanently via a patchbay. If the device needs to be connected
elsewhere, then inserting a patchlead into the socket will break the
normalised connection.
optical link – A type of digital interface that changes the information
into optical information generated by a laser rather than an electrical
current. This is particularly useful where the information is to be
passed over a long distance where fibre-optic cables are used rather
than normal wires. The type of information coming out of (or going
into) an optical interface is similar to that of S/PDIF information in
that it is two channels of information; although optical interfaces exist
that can carry up to eight audio channels.
playlist – A list of previously edited files, usually in a DAW, upon which
the engineer can draw to create a final version of a piece of music.
plug-in – A software programme that can apply effects processes to an
audio file. Plug-ins can only be used as part of an audio recording
and editing package and not as stand-alone software. Generally
speaking, the plug-in software draws on the internal processing
power and capabilities of the computer rather than using its own
hardware except in some professional situations where in order to
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
operate fully, the plug-in requires additional hardware which has to
be connected to the computer. There are currently two main types
of software technology applied to plug-ins – RTAS and VST. While
these are standards for different manufacturers of software,
conversion software is available to enable the use of VST plug-ins on
RTAS programmes and vice versa.
pre-delay – Part of the sound of reverb either in an acoustic or as part
of a processor programme. The pre-delay of reverb is the time that it
takes for the reverb to build up to an audible signal after the initial
direct sound has reached the listener. By its nature, pre-delay helps
the listener to determine the size of the space, since the bigger the
space the longer it will take for the reverb to build, with a longer predelay time.
quantising (audio) – Rounding up or down. In digital audio,
waveforms are measured within preset ranges. If the waveform being
recorded doesn’t fit exactly into one of these ranges, then it is either
increased or decreased to the closest value to fit neatly. This is
quantisation. While in general A/D converters do this extremely well
and without any noticeable degradation of the original waveform,
occasionally there can be a problem in the rounding up or down and
digital noise may occur. This is known as quantisation noise or error.
See also A/D converter and bit depth.
ribbon microphone – A type of microphone, similar to a dynamic
microphone, that operates using a thin film of metallic material, or
ribbon, suspended in a magnetic field. As the ribbon vibrates, tiny
fluctuations of current are induced in the ribbon giving the signal.
While ribbon mics have an exceptional frequency response and little, if
no, colouration of the sound, they tend to be fragile and therefore
easily damaged. It is worth noting that sending phantom power to a
ribbon microphone may also damage it beyond repair.
RTAS – Real Time Audio Suite. A software-based effect that uses the
excess processing power of a DAW to add effects or processes in real
time to a signal. Such software is included as plug-ins on DAW
software and hardware.
SACD – Super Audio CD. An alternative to DVD audio. Super audio CD
has been developed by Sony and Philips to deliver higher sound
quality than standard CDs and also 5.1 surround sound. Because of
this, an SACD does not conform to the red book standard and cannot
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
be played in a normal CD player, but may be played in an appropriate
DVD player.
sample rate/frequency – The speed at which an A/D converter takes
snapshots of the incoming signal in a second. The more samples it
can take in a second then the greater the increase in the frequency
response and therefore the better the quality of the A/D converter.
CDs typically feature a sample rate of 44,100 Hz, or 44,100 individual
snapshots in any 1 second, but it is not unusual to find digital
recording systems and hardware with sample rates up to 192,000 Hz.
scrub – On a DAW, the function of playing backwards and forwards over
a small area of the soundfile in order to select an edit point. The
term originates from the same function using analogue reel-to-reel
tape machines whereby the engineer would move the tape back and
forth over the tape head to find the required edit point.
semi-parametric – An equaliser that has a parametric level of control
over a restricted series of frequencies. Such equalisers tend to have
preset high-frequency and low-frequency controls, but low-mid and
hi-mid controls with gain, sweep and Q or bandwidth controls. This
is the type of equaliser found on most high-quality mixing desks.
SMPTE – Society of Motion Pictures and Television Engineers. This is a
time code standard defined by that society in America. Basically
SMPTE (pronounced ‘Simpty’) is a digital clock code that can be
recorded as a continuous stream of information onto a tape track,
enabling two or more devices that can read the SMPTE code to
remain in synchronisation with each other as they play.
spaced pair – A matched pair of microphones in a stereo recording
system that are spaced apart (normally several feet), but are
positioned at the same height. Such techniques are ideal for larger
ensembles in larger spaces, symphony orchestras or choirs, for
S/PDIF – Sony/Philips Digital Interface. Digital devices can ‘talk’ to each
other in the digital domain. Signals that have been digitised
therefore don’t have to be D/A converted to send them along a digital
signal path; in fact, to do so would be detrimental to the signal. A
number of purely digital information interfaces exist, therefore, and
S/PDIF is one of the most basic. As two channels of information can
be sent or received by an S/PDIF socket, only one socket is required
for a stereo input or output. S/PDIF uses phono sockets as standard.
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
S/PDIF outputs may be found on many CD players, whereas S/PDIF
inputs and outputs are becoming standard on most semi-professional
super-cardioid – A cardioid microphone with an extremely narrow
angle of response. Such microphones can be used where feedback or
ambient noises are a problem. They are generally found being used
by sound engineers recording interviews in the open air, where it is
beneficial to eliminate as much of the surrounding noise as possible.
In live applications, super-cardioid microphones have excellent
rejection to feedback.
surround sound – A multi-channel sound recording and reproduction
system that utilises an array of speakers around the listener to create
special effects and a realistic sound field. See also DTS, Dolby and
TDIF – Tascam Digital Interface. A multi-channel stream of digital audio
information that can transmit up to eight channels simultaneously.
total recall – An automated mixing system on mixers that stores the
settings of a mix in a central computer for recall at a later date. While
total recall systems store the settings, it is still down to the engineer
to physically alter the settings.
total reset – An automated mixing system on mixers that stores the
settings of a mix in a central computer for recall at a later date. Total
reset systems differ from total recall systems in that the desk will
recall all the settings automatically. No physical work or adjustment
by the engineer is necessary.
vocoder – An electronic process that can apply synthesiser and
instrumental control over an input signal; for example, that from a
microphone. Vocoders can create interesting ‘talking’ synthesiser
VST – Virtual Studio Technology. A software standard that emulates a
physical studio, with all its processing, etc., in a virtual environment
such as a computer’s memory. Devices tend to be represented with
icons and certain functions can be achieved by patching devices
together on screen. VST has also become a software programming
standard for plug-ins, while VSTi’s are Virtual Studio Technology
instruments – software-based instruments that use the computer’s
excess processing power and memory to create virtual synthesisers
and instruments.
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
There follows a cumulative A–Z listing of all the glossary headwords in
this publication. Reference to this index facilitates cross-referencing
between the five separate lists in the main glossaries.
AB comparison – Int 2
A/D converter – AH
ADSR – Higher
AFL – Int 2
accent (or ‘spot’) microphone –
acoustic – Access 3
acoustic guitar – Access 3
acoustic screen – Access 3
active – Higher
ambience – Int 1
amplifier – Access 3
amplitude – Higher
analogue – Int 2
arrangement – Access 3
attack – Higher
attenuate – Int 1
audio – Access 3
audio frequency – Higher
autolocate – Int 2
automated mixing – AH
auxiliary send/return – Int 2
backing vocals – Access 3
balance – Int 1
balanced wiring – Higher
bandpass filter – Higher
bass – Access 3
bass guitar – Access 3
bit depth/rate – AH
boom (stand) – Int 1
boost – Int 2
bouncing – Higher
boundary microphone/PZM –
bridge – Int 2
buss – Int 1
byte – AH
CD – Access 3
CD-R – Int 2
CD-RW – Int 2
cardioid/uni-directional – Access 3
centre frequency – Int 2
channel – Access 3
chorus (effect) – Int 2
chorus (song structure) – Access 3
circuit breaker – Access 3
clean – Int 1
click track – Int 1
clipping – Higher
close miked – Int 1
coda – Higher
coincident pair – AH
compressor – Int 2
condenser microphone – Int 2
connector – Access 3
control room – Access 3
control surface – AH
count-in – Access 3
crosstalk – Higher
cue – Int 1
cut/mute – Int 2
cut-off frequency – AH
D/A converter – AH
DAT – Higher
dB – Higher
DI (box) – Int 1
DSP – Higher
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
decay – Higher
delay – Int 2
diaphragm – Higher
digital – Int 2
direct sound – Int 1
distortion – Access 3
Dolby – AH
drum kit – Access 3
dry – Access 3
dynamic microphone – Int 2
dynamic processor – Higher
dynamic range – Int 2
earth/ground – Int 1
echo – Access 3
editing – AH
effects loop (FX) – Int 2
effects unit/processor – Int 1
electric guitar – Access 3
enhancer/exciter – Higher
envelope – Higher
equaliser – Int 1
expander – AH
fade in – Access 3
fade out – Access 3
fader – Int 1
feedback –Int 2
figure-of-eight mic – Higher
filter – Int 2
final mix – Int 1
flanging – Higher
flat – Int 1
foldback – Int 2
frequency – Int 1
frequency response – Int 2
fundamental – Higher
gain – Access 3
gated reverb – Higher
glitch – AH
graphic equaliser – Higher
guide vocal – Int 1
hard disk recorder – Int 1
harmonics – AH
harmoniser – AH
headphones – Access 3
headroom – Int 1
hertz (Hz) – Int 1
high pass filter – Higher
hiss/white noise – Access 3
hum – Access 3
hyper-cardioid – AH
I/O – Int 2
impedance – Int 2
indirect sound – Int 1
input – Access 3
insert point – Higher
instrumental break – AH
introduction – Access 3
jack plug – Access 3
key change/modulation – Int 2
latency – AH
lead/cable – Access 3
lead vocal – Access 3
leakage – Int 2
level – Access 3
limiter – Higher
line level – Int 2
link passage – AH
loudspeaker – Access 3
low pass filter (LPF) – Higher
MIDI – Int 2
MP3 – Int 2
mS – Int 2
MTC – Higher
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
mains multiblock – Access 3
masking – Int 2
master fader – Int 1
mastering – Higher
matched pair – AH
mic level – Int 2
mic stand – Access 3
microphone – Access 3
middle 8 – Int 2
minidisc (MD) – Access 3
mix(down) – Access 3
mixing desk/mixer – Int 1
monitor – Int 1
mono(phonic) – Access 3
multitrack – Int 1
mute – Int 1
noise – Access 3
noise gate – Int 2
normalising – AH
omni-directional – Int 1
optical link – AH
output – Access 3
outro – Higher
overdrive – Int 1
overdub – Int 1
overload – Int 1
PA – Access 3
PFL – Int 2
PPM – Int 2
pad – Higher
pan(ning) – Int 1
parameter – Higher
parametric EQ – Higher
passive – Higher
patchbay – Int 2
patchlead – Int 2
peak – Int 1
phantom power – Int 2
phase cancellation – Higher
phasing – Higher
phono plug – Access 3
pick-up – Int 1
pick-up pattern – Int 1
pitch bend – Int 2
pitch shift – Higher
playlist – AH
plug-in – AH
popping/blasting – Int 1
pop-shield – Int 1
post fade – Higher
post-production – Higher
pre-amplifier – Int 2
pre-delay – AH
pre-fade – Higher
pre-production – Higher
presence peak/colouration –
production – Higher
proximity effect/bass tip up – Int 2
punch in/out – drop in/out – Int 2
Q/bandwidth – Higher
quantising (audio) – AH
ratio – Higher
record – Access 3
red book standard – Higher
reflection – Int 2
release – Higher
remix – Int 1
reverb – Int 1
ribbon microphone – AH
riff – Access 3
roll-off filter – Higher
routing – Int 2
SPL – Higher
sample – Higher
sample rate/frequency – AH
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
scrub – AH
semi-parametric – AH
session – Access 3
session log – Access 3
shelving equalisation – Higher
shock mount – Int 2
sibilance – Int 2
signal – Access 3
signal chain/path – Int 2
signal-to-noise ratio (S/N Ratio) –
Int 2
slave – Higher
solo – Int 1
spaced pair – AH
spillage – Int 2
splitter – Int 2
squawker – Int 2
stage monitor – Int 1
stereo – Access 3
stereo master – Int 1
stereo pair – Higher
studio – Access 3
subgroup – Int 2
sub-woofer – Int 2
submix – Higher
super-cardioid – AH
surround sound – AH
sustain – Higher
sweep – Int 2
synchronisation (sync) – Int 2
synthesiser – Access 3
total recall – AH
total reset – AH
track – Access 3
tracking – Int 1
track sheets – Access 3
transducer – Higher
transient – Int 2
tremolo – Higher
trim – Access 3
tweeter – Int 2
two-track recorder (2-track) –
Access 3
unbalanced wiring/connectors –
VU meter – Int 2
verse – Int 1
vocoder – AH
wah-wah – Int 1
waveform – Higher
wavelength – Higher
wet – Access 3
windshield – Int 1
woofer – Int 2
XLR – Int 1
Y lead – Int 2
TRS jack – Higher
take – Access 3
talkback – Int 1
tape – Access 3
tempo – Higher
texture – Int 2
threshold – Higher
time domain effects – Int 1
tone control – Access 3
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
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