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Studio Setup | Studio Gear | Microphones | Mic Techniques | Mixers | Mixing
Multitracks | Common Effects | EQ Techniques | PC | Terminology


General terminology for studio and sound processing.

3-to-1 Rule - When using multiple microphones, the distance between microphones should be at least 3 times the distance from each microphone to its intended sound source. This applies more to omni-directional mics and means that if singer #1 is one foot from his mic, then singer #2 should be three feet from singer #1.

Absorption - The dissipation of sound energy by losses due to sound absorbent materials.

Active Loudspeaker - Studio or PA loudspeaker with one or more integrated power amp(s).

ADAT - (ALESIS® Digital Audio Tape recorder) Format designation for the digital 8-channel tape recording process of the ALESIS® company. This format is characterized with 16-bit resolution and a sampling rate of 48 kHz.

AES/EBU - Professional digital interface allowing digital audio connections between devices via XLR connectors.

Ambience - Room acoustics or natural reverberation.

Amplitude - The strength or level of sound pressure or voltage.

Audio Chain - The series of interconnected audio equipment used for recording or PA.

Audio Interchange File Format, or AIFF format, like WAV format, has good sound quality, can be played by most browsers, and doesn't require a plug-in; you can also record AIFF files from a CD, tape, microphone, and so on. However, the large file size severely limits the length of sound clips that you can use on your web pages. (.aif).

Attack - As a parameter in a dynamics processor, the attack value determines the time with which signal processing begins after exceeding the threshold level.

Aux path/Send/Return - A dedicated signal path for connection of outboard equipment. Generally used for effects processors, whereas dynamics processors are best connected via inserts.

Balance - Volume ratio between the left and the right channel of a stereo signal.

Balanced - Balanced connections employ three conductors, one for the positive and one for the negative phase of the signal, and one for the ground. This ensures maximum protection against hum and interference. Servo-balanced connections achieve this electronically, whereas galvanically isolated connections rely on a transformer, such as our OT-1.

Bandwidth - Frequency range of an audio signal, i.e. the range between the highest and the lowest frequency that can be processed by the given audio component. Ideally, the human ear can hear the frequencies between 20 Hz und 20 kHz.

Battle Mixer - Battle mixers are simple and compact DJ mixing consoles with usually 2 channels. The main characteristic is a crossfader with a relatively short range of motion that is ideally suited for certain mixing techniques such as scratching.

Beat Counter - Measures the tempo (Beats per minute, BPM) of a track. Worth noting is that there are manual beat counters that require manually tapping a key in the tempo of the track; automatic beat counters are directly connected to the signal source and generate BPM values in real time. Some DJ mixers feature integrated automatic beat counters.

Bi-amping - Using two amps to amplify your sound. A signal is first split into highs and lows using a frequency-separating filter (crossover). Then, each signal segment is connected to its own dedicated amplifier and separate speakers for amplification and reproduction.

Bidirectional Microphone - A microphone that picks up equally from two opposite directions. The angle of best rejection is 90 deg. from the front (or rear) of themicrophone, that is, directly at the sides.

Boundary/Surface Microphone - A microphone designed to be mounted on an acoustically reflective surface.

BPM counter - Detects and displays the tempo of a track (BPM = Beats Per Minute). Included in our VMX series DJ mixers. Also useful for calculating delay times.

Bypass - Refers to bypassing an electrical circuit in a piece of equipment. Using a bypass lets you quickly switch between the original and the processed signal.

Cardioid pickup pattern - Refers to a particular directivity pattern of a microphone. Those sound sources located within the kidney-shaped area in front of the microphone are picked up while those sound sources located outside of that area are suppressed. Two such microphones in a correct alignment to one another produce a representative stereo image of an acoustic situation.

Cardoid, Omni, Uni Directional - Pickup patterns of microphones. Determines which sound is picked up in relation to the mic’s position. A cardioid mic picks up sound from the front and sides while largely rejecting that from the back. Super- and hyper-cardioid are variations. An omnidirectional mic picks up sound from all sides.

Channel fader - Used for adjusting channel volume.

Close Pickup - Microphone placement within 2 feet of a sound source.

Comb Filtering - An interference effect in which the frequency response exhibits regular deep notches.

Condenser Microphone - A microphone that generates an electrical signal when sound waves vary the spacing between two charged surfaces: the diaphragm and the backplate.Close Pickup-Microphone placement within 2 feet of a sound source.

Comb Filtering - An interference effect in which the frequency response exhibits regular deep notches.

Condenser Microphone - A microphone that generates an electrical signal when sound waves vary the spacing between two charged surfaces: the diaphragm and the backplate.

Coaxial (digital interface) - Interface for transmission of digital audio signals based on standard coaxial cable, as used in various forms for a variety of applications from electronic instruments to television.

Coaxial input/output - Digital interface for unbalanced transmission of a stereo signal via an RCA connector and according to the S/PDIF (Sony/Philips Digital InterFace) protocol.

Compressor - Adjusts the level of extremely soft or overly loud passages, limiting the dynamic range of the signal and giving it more presence, density and loudness.

Constant-Q - The constant-Q technology ensures constant filter width regardless of amplitude for precise frequency corrections with a minimum of phase shifting.

Critical Distance-In acoustics, the distance from a sound source in a room at which the direct sound level is equal to the reverberant sound level.

Crossfader - A fader which allows fading between two channels or signal sources.

Crossfader curve control - Adjusts the degree to which a fader changes channel volume, i.e. changes how much volume change is produced by one incremental fader movement. The same fader movement can therefore produce more or less pronounced channel volume changes.

Crossfader reverse - Switch for reversing the channels assigned to a crossfader.

Crossover - The heart of any multi-way sound reinforcement system. Connected between the mixing console and the power amps, it splits the signal into separate frequency bands to drive different loudspeaker types.

Crosstalk - The “bleeding” of one channel’s, signal path’s or microphone’s signal into a neighboring channel, signal path or microphone.

Curve control - Adjusts the characteristics of the fader, i.e. linear, logarithmic etc.

Decibel (dB)-A number used to express relative output sensitivity. It is a logarithmic ratio, meaning that 2 is 10x greater than 1, 3 is 10x greater that 2, etc...

De-esser - Equipment or algorithm devised for reducing hissing noises. “Hissing noises” refers to spoken or sung sounds such as “s“ or “z“ that could affect the recording undesirably.

Delay - Refers to a delay processor or a delay algorithm. The delay in signal reproduction is the foundation for the most important modulation effects such as flanger, chorus and echo.

DI box - Digital Input - Converts unbalanced and/or high-impedance signals into balanced, low-impedance signals to eliminate hum, interference and impedance problems.

Diaphragm - The thin membrane in a microphone which moves in response to sound waves.

Diffraction - The bending of sound waves around an object which is physically smaller than the wavelength of the sound.

Digital audio - General term referring to digital applications dealing with sound and its recording, editing and reproduction.

Dual rail fader - Faders in which the sliding mechanism utilizes two special steel rails. Such faders are particularly smooth-running, creating a comfortable sliding motion that is easy to control. Since the weight of the fader head falls onto the rail and is not transmitted onto the internal resistance path, dual-rail faders are extremely long-lasting.

Dump - A memory content of an instrument is sent via the MIDI interface to another MIDI component for data exchange or storage.

Dynamic - The changing characteristic nature of a parameter (e. g. volume) happening over a period of time.

Dynamic EQ - A dynamic EQ helps you remove unwanted frequencies dynamically, only affecting the peaks instead of carving a hole in the overall sound.

Dynamic Microphone - A microphone that generates an electrical signal when sound waves cause a conductor to vibrate in a magnetic field. In a moving-coil microphone, the conductor is a coil of wire attached to the diaphragm.

Dynamics processor - An audio component or an algorithm used for controlling a signal’s volume level and therefore its dynamic characteristic; examples of such processors: compressor, limiter or expander.

Dynamic Range-The range of amplitude of a sound source or the range of sound level that a microphone can successfully pick up.

Dynamics processor - An audio component or an algorithm used for controlling a signal’s volume level and therefore its dynamic characteristic; examples of such processors: compressor, limiter or expander.

Echo - Reflection of sound that is delayed long enough (more than about 50 msec.) to be heard as a distinct repetition of the original sound.

Effects loop - Special I/O provision for connection of external devices such as effects or other signal processors.

Enhancer - An audio component or an algorithm used to brighten a signal through dynamic amplification of higher frequencies.

EQ - Equalization or tone control to shape frequency response in some desired way.

Equalizer - An audio component or an algorithm used to control various signal segments. For example, it can be used to achieve a specific tone timbre, to suppress noise, or to avoid feedback.

Exciter - An audio component or an algorithm used for brightening a signal by adding overtones not originally present in the sound (psycho-acoustics).

Expander - Extends the dynamic range of a signal. By continuously attenuating or “fading out” the signal when it drops below the set threshold level, it can remove or mask noise.

Expander port - Interface allowing several mixing consoles to be “cascaded” or interconnected to create a larger console.

FBQ - The FBQ Feedback Detection System also provides the function of a spectrum analyzer. A spectrum analyzer helps to identify frequency areas whose energy levels are significantly higher or lower than the rest of the musical program. Often caused by specific room acoustics or characteristics of your sound system, these frequencies cause feedback. Our amazing FBQ Feedback Detection System helps you to easily detect and smooth out these irregularities during the sound check and you’re ready and done with when the show starts. Once you’ve got the critical frequencies under control, your system is efficiently protected against feedback and tuned to offer maximal gain reserve.

Feedback - Recirculation of the output signal back to the input of a transmission system. Audible as whistling. Acoustic feedback happens when a signal produced in a loudspeaker is picked up by a microphone, amplified and picked up again. Feedback can cause permanent damage to amplifiers and loudspeakers.

Figure eight pickup pattern - Characterizes a specific directivity pattern. In this case, the mic picks up the sound from two opposite directions.

Filter - Electronic circuitry or algorithm that suppresses certain frequencies while letting others pass. The efficiency factor is determined via edge steepness, e.g. -12 dB/octave or -24 dB/octave.

Filter type - The type of a filter used, e.g. low-pass, high-pass or band-pass filter.

Frequency - (unit: Hertz [Hz]) Number of cycles per second; measures tone pitch.

Frequency Response Tailoring Switch - A switch on a microphone that affects the tone quality reproduced by the microphone by means of an equalization circuit.

Frequency Response - A graph showing how a microphone responds to various sound frequencies. It is a plot of electrical output (in decibels) vs. frequency (in Hertz).

Full drive - The highest possible signal level value that can be achieved without distortion.

Gain control - Adjusts channel signal level directly at the input. Assures optimal gain setting and allows signals of all channels to have the same volume value when they are at identical fader positions. Adjusting the gain can be useful when mixing different signal sources (e.g. CD & vinyl).

Gate - Like an expander, a noise gate extends the dynamic range of a signal, although here the signal is muted abruptly below the threshold level. Generally used to remove noise or crosstalk.

Gobos - Movable panels used to reduce reflected sound in the recording environment.

Hard bypass - Direct connection between inputs and outputs of a unit. In case of power failure, the signal still reaches the outputs of the unit. Several BEHRINGER products feature a relay-controlled hard bypass.

Hard disk recording - Recording to a hard disk of a personal computer.

High-pass/low-cut filter - Attenuates low frequencies in order to reduce mechanical noise, “plops” etc. Generally activated via a button. Sometimes provides frequency adjustment.

Hypercardioid - A unidirectional microphone with tighter front pickup (105 deg.) than a supercardioid, but with more rear pickup. Angle of best rejection is about 110 deg. from the front of the microphone

Hypercardioid pickup pattern - Refers to a particular directivity pattern of a microphone. Drums are often picked up using hypercardioid microphones because such mics are ideally suited for suppressing the sound of adjacent instruments.

IGC - Interactive Gain Control circuitry. Limits in two phases to protect against overload without sacrificing audio quality.

Impedance - In an electrical circuit, opposition to the flow of alternating current, measured in ohms. A high impedance microphone has an impedance of 10,000 ohms or more. A low impedance microphone has an impedance of 50 to 600 ohms.

IKA - Interactive Knee Adaptation circuitry. Combines the advantages of hard-knee and soft-knee characteristics for “inaudible” compression and optimal control.

Inline/mix B - Each channel of an inline mixer has a second signal path with assorted channel functions, often called Mix B and generally used for multi-track recorder returns.

Insert - Facility for connection of outboard equipment meant to process a particular channel’s signal, generally used for dynamic processors or similar units. The signal is routed out of and back to the channel, usually via a 1/4" TRS connector.

Instrument-level signal - Low-level, usually unbalanced and high-impedance signal from an electronic instrument or similar sound source, requiring preamplification before it is processed or amplified.

Interface - A standardized connector used to exchange data between different pieces of equipment.

Invisible mic preamp - Extremely low-noise and distortion-free preamp based on conjugate-pair transistors for ultra-wide bandwidth and enormous headroom.

IRC - Interactive Ratio Control circuitry. Automatically adjusts the expansion ratio when the signal drops below the threshold level.

Jitter - Jitter is time-base error encountered in digital audio, caused by varying time delays between various components in the signal path. Technically, there are various types of jitter, all of which result in frequency modulation, sometimes audible.

Kill EQ - An equalizer with a kill feature allows to attenuate a particular frequency range (high, mid or low) in a much more pronounced way (e. g. -32 dB) than you can boost it (e. g. +12 dB). This characteristic is useful when you for example want to virtually remove a specific frequency range from a track.

Kill switch - Severely attenuates specific frequency ranges. There are usually three kill switches per channel, (bass, middle and highs).

Leakage-Pickup of an instrument by a microphone intended to pick up another instrument. Creative leakage is artistically favorable leakage that adds a “loose” or “live” feel to a recording.

Limiter - Limits the dynamic range similar to a compressor but only “at the top” and in a more drastic manner: the maximum level of the signal is prevented from exceeding the set threshold level.

Line in - Used to connect equipment such as CD players, MD players and drum computers.

Line-level signal - High-level signal delivered from line sources (CD player, DAT recorder, synthesizer, sampler, multi-track recorder etc.), which requires no preamplification before amplification or processing.

Low-pass/high-cut filter - Attenuates high frequencies in order to reduce tape hiss, ambient noise etc. Generally activated via a button. Sometimes provides frequency adjustment.

Mic in - Used to connect microphones. Most mics require an XLR connector and adequate pre-amplification.

Mic-level signal - Low-level and generally lowimpedance signal which must be preamplified before processing or amplification, e.g. via an internal or outboard mic preamp.

MIDI - Musical Instruments Digital Interface. Developed in the early 80’s, this data transfer standard allows communication between electronic units. The heart of a MIDI setup is usually a computer with MIDI sequencing software that controls keyboards, samplers, expanders and sometimes mixing consoles, recorders and/or processors.

Mini disk - (Sound) data medium in disk form factor used to record up to 80 minutes of music in sound quality comparable to that of a CD.

Mix down - Summing up all channels into one mix. Each channel has its own equalizer, volume and effects settings.

Mono compatibility - Being able to play a signal in mono without noticeable quality loss. Mono-compatible sound is sometimes not possible with stereo miking and specific kinds of signal processing.

MP3 - A method of reducing data volume of audio signals in such a way that the resulting data quantity is small enough to be easily transmitted via the internet/email. Developed by the Fraunhofer Society. The reduction in data quantity results in virtually no audible quality loss of the compressed audio material when compared to the original recording.

NAG - Needed Acoustic Gain is the amount of gain that a sound system must provide for a distant listener to hear as if he or she was close to the unamplified sound source.

Nearfield monitor - Studio loudspeaker whose sound emission is optimized for listening from a listening distance between 1-2 m (3-6 ft.). The short listening distance to the speaker minimizes the influence of room acoustics on the quality of the sound.

Noise - Unwanted electrical or acoustic interference.

Noise Canceling - A microphone that rejects ambient or distant sound.

Noise gate - Like an expander, a noise gate extends the dynamic range of a signal, although here the signal is muted abruptly below the threshold level. Generally used to remove noise or crosstalk.

NOM - Number of open microphones in a sound system.

Omnidirectional pickup pattern - Refers to a particular directivity pattern of a microphone. Microphones with an omnidirectional polar pattern pick up all sounds with equal sensitivity, independent from the position of the sound source.

Optical (digital interface) - Transfers digital audio signals via fiber optical cables. Signals are converted into light, transmitted, then converted back into digital audio signals. Made of finely spun glass or plastic, the cables reflect the light for precise transmission over extreme lengths.

Opto technology - Based on opto-couplers, this technology is used in high-class compressor / limiters and provides a “vintage”-type sound as well as improved signal-to-noise ratios due to its technical characteristics.

Overload - Exceeding the signal level capability of a microphone or electrical circuit.

Panorama - A stereo image or parameter of an electronic device used for positioning a signal in the stereo image via two loudspeakers.

Parameter - Changeable value of a specific characteristic of an electronic device, e.g. tone pitch, filter frequency, volume etc.

Parametric EQ - Unlike a graphic EQ, where center frequency and bandwidth are fixed, a parametric EQ allows adjustment of center frequency, bandwidth and amplitude for each frequency band.

PCMCIA - (Personal Computer Memory Card Industry Association) Originally, an interface developed for laptop computer memory expansion. Nowadays often found on digital signal processors.

Peak - Brief occurrences of signal peaks.

Phantom power - Condenser microphones require voltage to maintain the bias voltage of the condenser. This is generally supplied in the form of phantom power from an outboard mic preamp or a mixing console, using the same lines as the balanced audio path.

Phase inversion - Inverts the audio signal’s phase by 180° allowing quick correction of phase reversal problems such as frequency cancellation, i.e. when using multiple mics or with incorrect connections.

Pitch shift - Algorithm used to change the tone pitch of an audio signal without changing its length. When used with appropriate filters, the sound characteristic of the original signal remains unchanged.

Power supplies - Sufficient power reserves are crucial for clean and accurate audio. All BEHRINGER products feature generous, first-class power supplies; internal in our 19” units and external for our consoles.

Polarization - The charge or voltage on a condenser microphone element.

Pop Filter - An acoustically transparent shield around a microphone cartridge that reduces popping sounds. Often a ball-shaped grille, foam cover or fabric barrier.

Pop - A thump of explosive breath sound produced when a puff of air from the mouth strikes the microphone diaphragm. Occurs most often with “p”, “t”, and “b” sounds.

Preamplifier - Also called simply preamp, this circuit serves to transform various signals into standard line-level signals for processing and amplification.

QuickTime is both an audio and video format developed by Apple Computer. QuickTime is included with Apple Macintosh operating systems, and is used by most Macintosh applications that use audio, video, or animation. PCs can also play files in QuickTime format, but require a special QuickTime driver. QuickTime supports most encoding formats, including Cinepak, JPEG, and MPEG. (.qt, .qtm, .mov)

RCA - Unbalanced connector for analog audio connections mainly used with Hi-Fi components. Also used with digital S/PDIF interfaces.

Reflex cooling system - Convection cooling system developed by BEHRINGER, which uses the airflow in the bass reflex tunnel to cool the amplifier.

Real Audio format has a very high degree of compression with smaller file sizes than MP3. Whole song files can be downloaded in a reasonable amount of time. Because the files can be "streamed" from a normal web server, visitors can begin listening to the sound before the file has completely downloaded. Visitors must download and install the RealPlayer helper application or plug-in to play these files. (.ra, .ram, .rpm)

Rear Lobe - A region of pickup at the rear of a supercardioid or hypercardioid microphone polar pattern. A bidirectional microphone has a rear lobe equal to its front pickup.

Release - The release value determines how long the compressor takes to relinquish control once the signal falls below the threshold value.

Reverberation - The reflection of a sound a sufficient number of times that it becomes non-directional and persists for some time after the source has stopped. The amount of reverberation depends on the relative amount of sound reflection and absorption in the room.

Rolloff – A gradual decrease in response below or above some specified frequency

S/PDIF - Sony / Philips Digital Interface Format. The consumer standard for transmission of digital audio signals. Unbalanced interface usually provided via RCA connectors.

SCMS - Serial Copy Managing System. Prohibits multiple copies of digital media (DAT, CD, MD) by inserting a so-called “copy prohibit bit” into the data, allowing only one digital copy.

Side chain - Allows the use of an external signal or device to determine exactly how and when dynamic processing takes place. Provides a connection for the external device and often various control and/or monitoring functions.

Signal-to-noise ratio - The ratio of the desired signal’s amplitude to the amplitude of noise at a given point of time.

SMPS - Internal autorange SMPS (Switch-mode power supply) automatically adjust to locally available voltage (100 - 240 V~) and offers quite, reliable power. You get clean, consistent audio and long life while saving energy.

Soft mute - Special circuitry to prevent the “thumps” often caused by switching phantom power on/off.

Solo - A function on mixing consoles that lets you listen to individual signals separately (for control purposes).

Static automation - (total recall) Refers to the ability of a system to reproduce entire sets of parameters automatically.

SysEx - Abbreviation for system-exclusive data. MIDI data format is used for transmitting sound programs and system data via the MIDI interface.

Talkback - Function allowing the sound engineer to communicate with artists or the audience.Often provides an integrated mic and / or various routing options, as well as level control.

Talkover - Similar to talkback, talkover is a performance feature allowing e.g. a DJ to communicate with his audience. Some of our DJ mixers feature an auto-talkover function, which automatically lowers the music level when a mic signal is present.

Tape out - You can connect a recording device to this output.

Threshold - A threshold value of a signal level used to offset a signal-processing function of a piece of equipment, e.g. a compressor or a limiter.

Tremolo - Periodical change of the volume value.

ULN - Ultra Low-Noise. Extremely low-impedance circuitry, which minimizes inherent thermal noise and crosstalk even at very high gain settings.

Unbalanced - Unbalanced connections employ two conductors, one for the signal and the other for the ground, and are much more subject to hum and interference than balanced connections. Consumer equipment generally uses unbalanced connections.

UTR - Ultra Transient Response circuitry. Extremely fast signal detectors and VCA’s (Voltage Controlled Amplifiers) eliminate clicks and pops at the gating point.

VCA - Voltage Controlled Amplifier. Faders using this technology prevent degrading of the audio signal due to mechanical deterioration.

Vibrato - Periodical change of the tone pitch.

Voice Canceller - Removes mono (midrange) vocal passages from stereo playback. The rest of the musical track is basically not influenced, preserving its integrity. This allows you to remove the singer's voice from your favorite recording and sing along.

VSP - Variable Sound Processing. Allows simultaneous enhancer and exciter processes for extremely flexible psychoacoustics processing.

Waveform Extension format files have good sound quality, are supported by many browsers, and don't require a plug-in. You can record your own WAV files from a CD, tape, microphone, and so on. However, the large file size severely limits the length of sound clips that you can use on your web pages. (.wav)

White noise/Pink noise - Modulations used to analyze the acoustics of a room. White noise contains equal amounts of energy or power for all audible frequencies. With pink noise, the power is proportional to the amplitude squared, so that the energy decreases at higher frequencies.

Zone level - Also called booth level control, used for adjusting the volume of an extra output (in addition to the standard master output). Usually used for the DJ monitor.

Studio Setup | Studio Gear | Microphones | Mic Techniques | Mixers | Mixing
Multitracks | Common Effects | EQ Techniques | PC | Terminology

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