Glossary of Audio Term

Amplifiers

An amplifier is a device which increases the amplitude of an electrical signal. Amplitude represents the “strength” of a signal, so amplification effectively means increasing signal strength.

 

Audio compression 

A method of reducing the dynamic range of a signal. All signal levels above the specified threshold are reduced by the specified ratio.

 

Balanced Audio

A type of audio signal which uses two inverted voltages as a way to prevent unwanted noise being picked up by cables.

 

Bus

The pathway along which an electrical signal flows. For example, the output of a sound mixer is referred to as the master stereo bus.

 

Clean
Describes a distortion free sound with few effects.

 

Clipping
Distortion of a signal by its being chopped off. An overload problem caused by pushing an amplifier beyond its capabilities. In general, it’s the sound too loud to distort.

PS: while the “Clip means the action of deforming a waveform during overload.

 

Crisp
Describes a good clean high midrange sound

 

Decibel (dB)

Logarithmic measurement of signal strength. 1/10 of a Bel.

 

Equalization

The process of adjusting various audio frequencies to correct or enhance the sound.

 

Frequency Response

A microphone’s frequency response pattern is shown using a chart like the one below and referred to as a frequency response curve. The x axis shows frequency in Hertz, the y axis shows response in decibels. A higher value means that frequency will be exaggerated, a lower value means the frequency is attenuated.

An ideal “flat” frequency response means that the microphone is equally sensitive to all frequencies. In this case, no frequencies would be exaggerated or reduced (the chart above would show a flat line), resulting in a more accurate representation of the original sound.

 

Frequency response is always quoted as a range between two figures. This is a simple way to see a microphone is capable of capturing which frequencies effectively.

 

Condenser microphones generally have flatter frequency responses than dynamic.

 

Gain

The amplification level of an audio signal.

 

MIDI

Musical Instrument Digital Interface. A standard of communication between musical instruments, controllers and computers.

 

Peak

The highest level of strength of an audio signal. Often refers to an unacceptably high level, where the signal begins distorting.

 

Distortion

It is caused by a signal which is “too strong”. If an audio signal level is too high for a particular component to cope with, then parts of the signal will be lost. This results in the rasping distorted sound.

 

Plausible Reason & Solution

1.Being too close to the mic. Try moving the mic further away from the noise source.

2.Volume or gain controls turned up suspiciously high. Just decrease volume or gain.

3.Speakers being driven too hard. Amplifier which is pushing the speakers beyond their design limits.

4.If the distortion is coming from occasional peaking, consider adding a compressor.

 

Reverb

Reverberation, the effect of sound waves bouncing off walls and other objects.

 

Tone

An audio test signal used to adjust levels, test signal quality, identify signal pathways, etc.

Condenser microphones generally have flatter frequency responses than dynamic.

 

Gain

The amplification level of an audio signal.

 

MIDI

Musical Instrument Digital Interface. A standard of communication between musical instruments, controllers and computers.

 

Peak

The highest level of strength of an audio signal. Often refers to an unacceptably high level, where the signal begins distorting.

 

Distortion

It is caused by a signal which is “too strong”. If an audio signal level is too high for a particular component to cope with, then parts of the signal will be lost. This results in the rasping distorted sound.

 

Plausible Reason & Solution

1.Being too close to the mic. Try moving the mic further away from the noise source.

2.Volume or gain controls turned up suspiciously high. Just decrease volume or gain.

3.Speakers being driven too hard. Amplifier which is pushing the speakers beyond their design limits.

4.If the distortion is coming from occasional peaking, consider adding a compressor.

 

Reverb

Reverberation, the effect of sound waves bouncing off walls and other objects.

 

Tone

An audio test signal used to adjust levels, test signal quality, identify signal pathways, etc.