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 .: Sound System Glossary :.

[A] [B] [C] [D] [E] [F] [G] [H] [I] [J] [K] [L] [M] [N] [O] [P] [Q] [R] [S] [T] [U] [V] [W] [X] [Y] [Z]
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-A-

Amplifier - An amplifier is a system device that increases the electric (sound) signal . 
1.  The most familiar amplifiers boost a mic or line level sound signal so that it will power the driver of a speaker or monitor.
2.  The most common amplifiers are mic pre-amps that amplify mic level signals to line level.  Usually on the input of a mixer.
3.  Most system devices reduce the sound signal because of resistance, impedance.  Therefore, line level amplifiers are placed at the output to boost the signal to line level.

Amplitude -

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-B-

Balanced - A balanced signal is carried by a balanced cable.  Balanced cables consist of two wires wrapped around each other that both carry the output signal but in opposite phases. Usually there is a third wire that surrounds the other two and acts as a shield.  Should the cable pick up any extra noise along the way (hum, radio stations, buzz, etc.) it will be cancelled when the balanced signal is received by a system device with balanced inputs that corrects the phases.  This restores the phase of the original signal but puts the extra noise into opposite phases, thus cancellation.  Usually balanced devices use XLR type connectors or TRS 1/4" connectors (stereo phone jack).  You must always read the manuals for your system devices to know if they operate with balanced signals because the connector type doesn't really determine if it is balanced or unbalanced.

Bandwidth (Q) -

Bi-directional Pattern/Microphone - A microphone that has an equally strong pick up on opposing sides of the microphone, front and back.  The sides of the microphone, however, have a poor pick up, meaning reduced frequency response and reduced overall level.  When represented two-dimensionally the pattern appears to be a figure eight.

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Cardiod Pattern/Microphone - A microphone that has a stronger pick up from the front of the mic which gradually weakens as the source moves to the side and back.  We use the term cardiod because in a two-dimensional drawing the microphone has a heart shaped pick up pattern.

Compressor -

Condenser Microphone - A condenser microphone requires electricity to be present at the pick up, or diaphragm, in order to change the sound (acoustic) energy into electric energy.  The electricity is supplied by either a battery or phantom power.  These mics are usually more sensitive than dynamic mics because they do not have to use the sound energy to create electricity, which means they also have a better frequency response.  They create more feedback and require less gain.  Condenser mics use a capacitor type diaphragm that requires a steady voltage to be present.

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-D-

Dynamic Microphone -

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-E-

EQ - Equalizer -

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-F-

Feedback Loop - Whistle, hum or rumble created when sound is looped repeatedly from speaker (usually a monitor) to microphone and back through the speaker again.

Frequency - Scientifically this refers to how many times (how frequently) a certain pitch (sine wave) completes one full cycle per second, Hertz.  A young undamaged human ear can hear from 20Hz (20 complete cycles per second) to 20kHz (20,000 cycles per second), although sound happens at rates below and well above this range.  Practically and simply this refers to pitch.  As you may already know, every note played or sung is made up of many pitches, due to harmonics.  These harmonics make up a sounds tonal quality or timbre.  Each note and every pitch has a different frequency.  Examples: A below middle C is 440Hz.  Kick drums are at or below 100Hz.  Cymbals and sounds like "s" and "sh" are around 8-12kHz (8,000-12,000Hz).  The female voice is in a range around 1kHz. 

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Gain -

Gate -

Graphic EQ -

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Hertz -

Hyper-Cardiod Pattern/Microphone -

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-I-

Impedance -

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-L-

Lavalier -

Limiter -

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-M-

Microphone -

Mixer -

Monitor - [See Reference Monitor]

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-O-

Omni-directional Pattern/Microphone - A microphone that picks up evenly from all sides of the mic, from any direction.

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-P-

Parametric EQ - An equalizer that allows you to cut or add certain frequencies of the sound by turning knobs.  These are often on every channel strip of the mixer with a high, mid and low designation.  Sometimes they maybe a stand alone, in-line or inserted, piece of equipment that allows for more than three selections.  In their most complex form Parametric EQ's offer controls for variable frequency, amplitude and bandwidth (Q).

Phantom Power - Phantom Power is +48 volts of electricity sent from a mixer or power unit to a condenser microphone through the mic cable instead of using a battery.

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-R-

Reference Monitor -

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-S-

Sound System -

Super-Cardiod Pattern/Microphone -

Sweepable EQ - A Parametric EQ that offers two controls for variable frequency and variable amplitude.  These two controls work together to allow you to cut or add a selected frequency to the audio signal.

Speaker -

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-T-

TRS -

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-U-

Unbalanced -

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-X-

XLR -

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