Translation glossary: Acoustics, Sound, Audio Engineering Glossary

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Back ElectretA form of electrostatic or capacitor microphone. Instead of creating an electrostatic charge within the capacitor capsule with an external DC voltage, an electret microphone employs a special dielectric material which permanently stores a static-electric charge. A PTFE film is normally used, and where this is attached to the back plate of the capsule the device is called a ‘back electret’. Some very early electret microphones used the dielect 
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BackupA safety copy of software or other digital data. A popular saying is that unless data exists in three physically separate locations at the same time, it hasn’t been backed up properly! 
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BalanceThis word has several meanings in recording. It may refer to the relative levels of the left and right channels of a stereo recording (eg. Balance Control), or it may be used to describe the relative levels of the various instruments and voices within a mix (ie. Mix balance). 
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Balanced WiringWhere protection from electromagnetic interference and freedom from earth references are required, a balanced interface is used. The term ‘balanced’ refers to identical (balanced) impedances to ground from each of two signal carrying conductors which are enclosed, again, within an all-embracing overall screen. This screen is grounded (to catch and remove unwanted RFI), but plays no part in passing the audio signal or providing its voltage ref 
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Balanced WiringWhere protection from electromagnetic interference and freedom from earth references are required, a balanced interface is used. The term ‘balanced’ refers to identical (balanced) impedances to ground from each of two signal carrying conductors which are enclosed, again, within an all-embracing overall screen. This screen is grounded (to catch and remove unwanted RFI), but plays no part in passing the audio signal or providing its voltage ref 
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Band-pass Filter (BPF)A filter that removes or attenuates frequencies above and below the centre frequency at which it is set, and only passes a specific range of frequencies. Band-pass filters are often used in synthesizers as tone shaping elements. 
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BandwidthThe range of frequencies passed by an electronic circuit such as an amplifier, mixer or filter. The frequency range is usually measured at the points where the level drops by 3dB relative to the maximum. (See also Q) 
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BankA specific configuration of sounds or other parameters stored in memory and accessed manually or via MIDI commands. 
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Bantam PlugAlso known as TT or Tiny Telephone Plugs. A professional form of miniature jack plug derived from the telecommunications industry and widely used for balanced mic and line-level connections on professional patch bays. (cf. B-Type Plug) 
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Bass ResponseThe frequency response of a loudspeaker system at the lower end of the spectrum. The physical size and design of a loudspeaker cabinet and the bass driver (woofer) determine the low frequency extension (the lowest frequency the speaker can reproduce at normal level) and the how quickly the signal level falls below that frequency. 
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Bass Tip-upsee Proximity Effect. 
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Bass TrapA special type of acoustic absorber which is optimised to absorb low frequency sound waves. 
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Beta VersionSoftware which is not fully tested and may include bugs. 
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Bi-TimbralA synthesizer than can generate two different sounds simultaneously (see multi-timbral). 
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BiasA high-frequency signal used in analogue recording to improve the accuracy of the recorded signal and to drive the erase head. Bias is generated by a bias oscillator. 
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BinaryA counting system based on only two states: 1s and 0s. It is ideal for electronic equipment where it can be represented as high and low voltages, light on/off, N-S or S-N magnetic domains, etc. 
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BIOSPart of a computer operating system (basic input-output system) held on ROM rather than on disk. This handles basic routines such as accessing the disk drive. 
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BitA contraction of Binary digit, which may either be 1 or 0. 
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Bit Rate (see also Sample Rate)The number of data bits replayed or transferred in a given period of time (normally one second). Normally expressed in terms of kb/s (kilo bits per second) or Mb/s (mega bits per second). For example, the bit rate of a standard CD is (2 channels x 16 bits per sample x 44.1 thousand samples per second) = 1411.2 kilobits/second. Popular MP3 file format bit rates range from 128kb/s to 320kb/s, while the Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack on a DVD 
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Bit Rate (see also Sample Rate)The number of data bits replayed or transferred in a given period of time (normally one second). Normally expressed in terms of kb/s (kilo bits per second) or Mb/s (mega bits per second). For example, the bit rate of a standard CD is (2 channels x 16 bits per sample x 44.1 thousand samples per second) = 1411.2 kilobits/second. Popular MP3 file format bit rates range from 128kb/s to 320kb/s, while the Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack on a DVD 
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Blumlein ArrayA stereo coincident microphone technique devices by Alan Blumlein in the early 1930s, employing a pair of microphones with figure-eight polar patterns, mounted at 90 degrees to each other with the two diaphragms vertically aligned. 
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BNCA type of bayonet-locking, two-terminal connector used for professional video and digital audio connections. (See AES3-id) 
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BoomA mechanical means of supporting a microphone above a sound source. Many microphone stands are supplied with a ‘boom arm’ affixed to the top of the stand’s main vertical mast. The term may also be applied to larger, remotely controlled microphone supports used in film and TV studios, or even to the handheld ‘fishpoles’ used by film and TV sound recordists. 
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Boost/Cut ControlA single gain control which allows the range of frequencies passing through a filter to be either amplified or attenuated. The centre position is usually the \'flat\' or \'no effect\' position. 
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BoothSee Isolation Room 
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BouncingThe process of mixing two or more recorded tracks together and re-recording these onto another track. 
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BoundaryA physical obstruction to sound waves, such as a wall, or a large solid object. When sound waves reach a boundary they create a high pressure area at the surface. 
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Boundary Layer MicrophoneA specialised microphone where the diaphragm is placed very close to a boundary (eg. wall, floor or ceiling). In this position the direct and reflected sound adds constructively, giving a 6dB increase in sensitivity. It also avoids the comb-filtering that can occur when a conventionally placed microphone captures the direct sound along with strong first reflections from nearby boundaries. Also known as PZM or Pressure Zone Microphone. 
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BPMBeats Per Minute. 
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Breath ControllerA device that converts breath pressure into MIDI controller data. 
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BufferAn electronic circuit designed to isolate the output of a source device from loading effects due to the input impedance of destination devices. 
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Buffer MemoryA buffer is essentially a short term data storage facility used to accommodate variable data read or write periods, temporarily storing data in sequence until it can be processed or transferred by or to some other part of the system. 
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BugSlang term for a software fault or equipment design problem. 
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Bus(Also sometimes referred to as a buss) An electrical signal path along which multiple signals may travel. A typical audio mixer contains several (mix) busses which carry the stereo mix, subgroups, the PFL signal, the aux sends, and so on. Power supplies are also fed along busses. 
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ByteA collection of digital data comprising eight bits. 
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C-WeightingA form of electrical filter which is designed to mimic the relative sensitivity of the human ear to different frequencies at high sound pressure levels (notionally 100 Phons or about 87dBA SPL). Essentially, the filter rolls-off the low frequencies below about 20Hz and the highs above about 10kHz. This filtering is often used when making measurements of high-level sounds, such as when calibrating loudspeaker reference levels. (See also A-Weightin 
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C-WeightingA form of electrical filter which is designed to mimic the relative sensitivity of the human ear to different frequencies at high sound pressure levels (notionally 100 Phons or about 87dBA SPL). Essentially, the filter rolls-off the low frequencies below about 20Hz and the highs above about 10kHz. This filtering is often used when making measurements of high-level sounds, such as when calibrating loudspeaker reference levels. (See also A-Weightin 
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CabinetThe physical construction which encloses and supports the loudspeaker drive units. Usually built of wood or wood composites (although other materials are often used including metal alloys and mineral composites). Cabinets can be ‘sealed’ or ‘vented’ in various ways, the precise design influencing the bass and time-domain characteristics. 
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Cabinet ResonanceAny box-like construction will resonate at one or more frequencies. In the case of a loudspeaker, such resonances are likely to be undesirable as they may obscure or interfere with the wanted sound from the drive units. Cabinets are usually braced and damped internally to minimise resonances. 
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CapacitorA passive, two-terminal electrical component which stores energy in the form of an electrostatic field. The terminals are attached to conductive ‘plates’ which are separated by a non-conductive dielectric. Capacitance is measured in Farads. If a voltage is applied across the terminals of a capacitor a static electric field develops across the dielectric, with positive charge collecting on one plate and negative charge on the other. Where the 
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CapacitorA passive, two-terminal electrical component which stores energy in the form of an electrostatic field. The terminals are attached to conductive ‘plates’ which are separated by a non-conductive dielectric. Capacitance is measured in Farads. If a voltage is applied across the terminals of a capacitor a static electric field develops across the dielectric, with positive charge collecting on one plate and negative charge on the other. Where the 
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Capacitor MicrophoneAlso known as a \'condenser microphone\'. This is a specific form of electrostatic microphone which operates on the principle of measuring the change in electrical voltage across a capacitor. The capacitor is formed from two metal electrodes, one fixed (the back-plate) and the other a thin conductive membrane that flexes in response to sound pressure. (See also Back Electret, and RF Capacitor Microphone.) 
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CapsuleAn alternative term for a transducer which converts acoustic sound waves into an electrical signal. 
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Carbon Microphone(Also known as a Carbon Button Microphone). An obsolete form of microphone in which carbon granules are contained between two metal contact plates, one of which acts as the diaphragm and moves in response to sound waves. The microphone has to be biased with a DC voltage which causes a current to pass from one metal contact plate, through the carbon granules, to the other metal contact plate. The varying pressure exerted on the carbon granules by 
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Carbon Microphone(Also known as a Carbon Button Microphone). An obsolete form of microphone in which carbon granules are contained between two metal contact plates, one of which acts as the diaphragm and moves in response to sound waves. The microphone has to be biased with a DC voltage which causes a current to pass from one metal contact plate, through the carbon granules, to the other metal contact plate. The varying pressure exerted on the carbon granules by 
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CardioidA specific form of polar response of a unidirectional microphone or loudspeaker. It is an inverted heart-shape which has very low sensitivity at the back (180 degrees), but only slightly reduced sensitivity (typically between 3 and 6dB) at the sides (90/270 degrees). 
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CD-RA recordable type of Compact Disc that can only be recorded once - it cannot be erased and reused. The CD-R’s technical characteristics are defined in the ‘Orange Book’ 
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CD-R BurnerA device capable of recording data onto blank CD-R discs. 
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ChannelA path carrying for audio or data. In the context of a mixing console a channel is a single strip of controls relating to one input. In the context of MIDI, Channel refers to one of 16 possible data channels over which MIDI data may be sent. The organisation of data by channels means that up to 16 different MIDI instruments or parts may be addressed using a single cable. 
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ChaseA term describing the process whereby a slave device attempts to synchronise itself with a master device. In the context of a MIDI sequence, Chase may also involve chasing events 
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