When it comes to audio mixing, there are countless technical terms and jargon that can make the process seem overwhelming, especially for beginners. However, understanding and using the correct audio mixing terminology is crucial for producing professional-quality recordings, communicating effectively with other audio professionals, and achieving the desired sound in a mix.
Terminology in audio mixing refers to the technical language used to describe various elements of a mix, such as levels, frequencies, dynamics, and processing tools. Accurate terminology is essential for effective communication and collaboration among audio professionals, troubleshooting issues, and making informed decisions when processing audio.
Knowing the terminology of audio mixing is critical for producing professional-quality recordings, ensuring that everyone involved in a project is on the same page, and enabling engineers to make informed decisions about the sound of a mix. Are you ready for the most complete mixing glossary ever?
Table Of Contents
1. Importance Of Knowing And Using Correct Audio Mixing Terminology
2. Comprehensive List Of Relevant Terms In Audio Mixing
1. Importance Of Knowing And Using Correct Audio Mixing Terminology
Knowing and using correct terminology in audio mixing is essential for communicating effectively with other audio professionals, accurately describing technical issues, and achieving a desired sonical outcome in a mix.
Using the correct terminology ensures that everyone involved in a project, from the recording engineer to the mastering engineer, has a common understanding of the language used to describe various elements of a mix, such as levels, frequencies, and dynamics. This common understanding facilitates communication and collaboration among team members and helps to avoid misunderstandings or mistakes.
Additionally, accurate terminology allows engineers to troubleshoot technical issues and make informed decisions when applying processing tools, such as EQ or compression. For example, using the wrong term to describe a specific frequency range can lead to incorrect adjustments being made, resulting in a suboptimal mix.
2. Comprehensive List Of Relevant Terms In Audio Mixing
The overall sound quality and character of a recording or mix, including any natural or artificial reverberation.
A device that increases the amplitude of an audio signal, either for processing or for driving a loudspeaker.
The initial transient or onset of a sound.
The process of programming changes in volume, pan, or other parameters over time.
- Aux Send:
A pre-fader or post-fader output from a mixing console that sends a copy of the audio signal to an external effects processor.
- Aux Return:
An input on a mixing console that receives the processed audio signal from an external effects processor.
A group of channels on a mixing console used for sending audio to external effects processors or for creating submixes.
The horizontal angle of a stereo microphone or playback system, typically measured in degrees from the center of the stereo field.
The relative levels of different instruments or sounds in a mix.
- Bandpass Filter:
A filter that allows a range of frequencies to pass through while attenuating frequencies outside that range.
The range of frequencies that a particular audio device or processing tool can handle or affect.
The low-frequency range of audio, usually below 200 Hz.
- Bit Depth:
The number of bits used to represent each sample of an audio signal, which determines the resolution and dynamic range of the signal.
The process of increasing the level of a specific frequency range.
The process of mixing down multiple tracks or stems into a stereo or mono file, often used for creating a final mix or for exporting stems for further processing.
A path in a mixing console or digital audio workstation (DAW) that allows multiple tracks to be sent to a single processing unit or output.
- Butterworth Filter:
A type of filter that provides a flat frequency response in the passband, with a steep rolloff in the stopband, often used for low-pass or high-pass filtering.
Distortion that occurs when an audio signal exceeds the maximum level that can be accurately represented.
An individual audio input or output on a mixing console, audio interface, or digital audio workstation.
An effect that creates a thicker, richer sound by adding a delayed, pitch-modulated copy of an audio signal.
- Comb Filtering:
A phenomenon in audio where two signals with a slight time delay between them are combined, resulting in a series of notches or peaks in the frequency response.
The process of reducing the dynamic range of an audio signal.
- Condenser Microphone:
A type of microphone that uses a charged diaphragm to capture audio, typically offering a more detailed and transparent sound than dynamic microphones.
The process of reducing the level of a specific frequency range.
- Cue Mix:
The mix of audio signals sent to a performer’s headphones or monitor speakers for monitoring during recording or performance.
- DAW (Digital Audio Workstation):
A computer-based system for recording, editing, and mixing digital audio.
The rate at which a sound fades out after the initial transient.
A time-based effect that creates a copy of the original sound and plays it back after a specified amount of time.
The process of reducing or removing harsh sibilant sounds, such as “s” and “sh” sounds in vocals.
- DI (Direct Injection) Box:
A device that converts an unbalanced, high-impedance instrument signal into a balanced, low-impedance signal that can be connected to a mixing console or audio interface.
Referring to audio signals that are represented as numerical values and processed using digital technology.
- Directional Microphone:
A microphone that has a directional pickup pattern, meaning that it is more sensitive to sounds coming from certain angles or directions.
Any undesired change in the character or quality of an audio signal, often caused by overloading a device or using a processing tool that intentionally adds distortion.
The process of recording a performance or part twice and layering the two performances together to create a thicker, more complex sound.
- Dynamic Range:
Refers to the difference between the quietest and loudest parts of an audio signal, often measured in decibels (dB), and it indicates the capacity of a recording or playback system to reproduce sound with varying levels of intensity.
- Early Reflections:
The initial sound reflections from walls, ceilings, and floors that reach a listener’s ears before the later-arriving reverberant sound.
The audible repetition of a sound caused by a reflection, delay, or both.
The process of arranging, modifying, or correcting an audio recording.
Processing tools used to alter the sound of an audio signal, such as reverb, delay, chorus, and distortion.
- Effects Loop:
A routing option on an amplifier or effects processor that allows for inserting external effects into the signal chain.
The varying amplitude of a sound wave over time, usually consisting of the attack, decay, sustain, and release (ADSR) stages.
- Envelope Follower:
A device or software that generates a control signal based on the envelope of an input audio signal
- EQ (Equalization):
The process of adjusting the balance of frequencies in an audio signal, typically using an equalizer.
- Equal-Power Crossfade:
A crossfade technique that maintains a constant total signal power throughout the transition between two audio sources.
- Equal-Tempered Scale:
A tuning system in which the octave is divided into twelve equal parts, resulting in equal spacing between each note.
- Error Correction:
Techniques used to detect and correct errors in digital audio transmission or storage.
A single sound element within an audio project, such as a note or a clip.
An audio processor that enhances the perceived brightness, clarity, or presence of an audio signal by adding harmonics to it.
A device or software that reduces the dynamic range of an audio signal by decreasing the level of quiet sounds.
The process of increasing the dynamic range of an audio signal, typically using an expander or gate.
- Expression Pedal:
A foot pedal used to control the level or parameters of an effect, such as a volume pedal or wah pedal.
- External Processor:
An outboard device or plugin used for processing audio signals, typically connected to a mixing console or digital audio workstation.
- External Routing:
The process of routing an audio signal outside the mixing environment, such as through outboard gear or external effects processors.
A control used to adjust the volume level of an audio signal in a mixing console or DAW.
The return of a portion of an output signal to the input of a system, which can cause unwanted oscillation or even a loud, high-pitched squeal.
- FFT (Fast Fourier Transform):
An algorithm used to analyze and manipulate audio signals by converting them from the time domain to the frequency domain.
Devices or software that attenuate or boost specific frequency ranges within an audio signal.
An audio effect that creates a sweeping comb filter by combining a delayed version of the original audio signal with the original signal.
The process of creating and recording sound effects to be added in post-production, often used in film and television.
A monitoring system that allows performers to hear their own performances or a specific mix during recording or live shows.
The resonant frequencies of the human vocal tract that give a specific character to vowel sounds and can be manipulated in audio processing.
The number of cycles per second of a waveform, measured in Hertz (Hz), which determines the pitch of a sound.
- Frequency Modulation (FM) Synthesis:
A type of audio synthesis that generates complex waveforms by modulating the frequency of a carrier waveform with a modulating waveform.
- Frequency Response:
The range of frequencies that a system, device, or software can reproduce, usually measured in decibels (dB) and specified as a curve.
- Frequency Shifter:
An audio effect that changes the frequency content of a signal by a fixed amount, either up or down.
A type of distortion effect that generates harmonics by clipping an audio signal, often used with electric guitars.
The amount of amplification applied to an audio signal, typically measured in decibels (dB).
- Gain Reduction:
The amount by which an audio signal’s level is decreased during processing, such as with a compressor or limiter.
An audio processor that mutes or reduces the level of a signal when its amplitude falls below a specified threshold.
- Graphic Equalizer:
An equalizer that uses a series of sliders or controls to adjust the amplitude of specific frequency bands.
The reference point for an electrical circuit or system, typically used to establish a common return path for currents and to prevent unwanted noise.
- Ground Loop:
An undesirable electrical path in an audio system caused by multiple connections to a common ground, which can result in unwanted noise or hum.
A collection of audio channels or tracks that are processed, mixed, or controlled together within a mixing console or DAW.
- Haas Effect:
A psychoacoustic phenomenon where a sound arriving within 40 ms of another sound is perceived as a single auditory event, with the first arrival determining the perceived direction.
A multiple of the fundamental frequency of a sound, which contributes to the overall timbre and tonal quality of the sound.
- Harmonic Distortion:
The addition of harmonics to an audio signal that were not present in the original signal, often caused by nonlinear behavior in amplifiers and other audio equipment.
The amount of available dynamic range between the nominal operating level of an audio signal and the maximum level before distortion occurs.
- High Cut Filter:
Also known as a low-pass filter, a filter that attenuates frequencies above a specified cutoff frequency while allowing lower frequencies to pass through.
- High-pass Filter:
A filter that attenuates frequencies below a specified cutoff frequency while allowing higher frequencies to pass through.
- High Shelf Filter:
A type of equalization filter that boosts or attenuates all frequencies above a specified cutoff frequency by a constant amount.
- Hz (Hertz):
The unit of measurement for frequency, representing the number of cycles per second of a waveform.
The perceived spatial distribution and localization of sound sources within a stereo or surround sound mix.
The opposition a device or material presents to the flow of alternating current (AC) in an electrical circuit, measured in ohms (Ω).
- In-ear Monitor (IEM):
A personal monitoring system for musicians and performers, featuring earpieces that fit inside the ear canal to deliver a custom mix directly to the user.
The point where an audio signal enters a device, such as a microphone input on a mixing console or a line input on an audio interface.
A point in the audio signal path where an external processor or effect can be inserted, typically on a mixing console or within a DAW.
A device that connects audio equipment, such as microphones, instruments, or speakers, to a computer or other digital audio workstation, converting analog signals to digital and vice versa.
- Intermodulation Distortion (IMD):
A type of distortion that occurs when two or more audio signals interact within a nonlinear system, generating unwanted frequencies that are not present in the original signals.
- Inverse Square Law:
A principle stating that the intensity of a sound decreases proportionally to the square of the distance from the sound source.
The process of preventing sound leakage between different parts of an audio system, such as between microphones or between a speaker and a microphone.
A common type of audio connector used to connect instruments, microphones, or other audio equipment to mixers, interfaces, or amplifiers. There are various sizes, such as 1/4-inch (6.35 mm) and 1/8-inch (3.5 mm), and configurations, such as TS (Tip-Sleeve), TRS (Tip-Ring-Sleeve), and TRRS (Tip-Ring-Ring-Sleeve).
Unwanted variations in the timing of a digital signal, which can lead to audible artifacts and a loss of audio quality when converting between digital and analog formats.
- Jog Wheel:
A control found on some mixing consoles, control surfaces, or DJ equipment that allows the user to scroll through or navigate a project’s timeline, adjust parameters, or manipulate audio in real-time.
In the context of audio mixing, the key can refer to either the musical key of a song, which is based on a specific scale and set of notes, or the control input on a device like a compressor or a noise gate that determines how the processor reacts to the incoming signal.
- Key Listen:
A function on some gates, compressors, and expanders that allows the user to monitor the key input signal, often used to adjust the sidechain filtering or to fine-tune the triggering of the processor.
A control parameter on a compressor that adjusts the shape of the transition between uncompressed and compressed signals, with a “hard knee” providing an abrupt transition and a “soft knee” providing a more gradual transition.
A metering standard developed by mastering engineer Bob Katz that aims to promote better dynamic range and headroom in audio production, with three different scales (K-12, K-14, and K-20) corresponding to different levels of dynamic range.
The delay between an audio input signal and the corresponding output signal, often caused by the time required for digital processing and conversion.
- Lavalier Microphone:
A small, discreet microphone typically clipped to a performer’s clothing or body for hands-free operation, often used in broadcast, theater, and film.
The amplitude or volume of an audio signal, often measured in decibels (dB).
An audio processor that prevents an audio signal from exceeding a specified threshold, often used to protect equipment or maintain consistent levels.
- Line Input:
An input on a mixing console, audio interface, or other device designed to accept a line-level signal, such as from a keyboard, drum machine, or another mixer.
- Line Level:
A standard level for audio signals that is higher than microphone level but lower than speaker level, typically around +4 dBu for professional equipment and -10 dBV for consumer equipment.
- Line Output:
An output on a mixing console, audio interface, or other device designed to send a line-level signal to another device, such as an amplifier, recorder, or another mixer.
- Live Room:
The space where musicians perform or instruments are played during a recording session, separate from the control room where the mixing console and monitoring equipment are located.
Short for “low fidelity,” a term used to describe audio that is intentionally degraded or of lower quality, often used for artistic or stylistic purposes.
A repeating section of audio or music, often used in electronic music production or as a compositional tool.
The perceived volume or intensity of a sound, which can be affected by factors such as frequency, duration, and dynamic range.
- Loudness Meter:
A tool used to measure and display the perceived loudness of an audio signal, often using standardized metrics like LUFS (Loudness Units Full Scale) or LKFS (Loudness, K-weighted, Full Scale).
- Loudness Normalization:
The process of adjusting the overall level of an audio signal to meet a specified loudness target, often used in broadcasting, streaming, or mastering to ensure consistent levels across different content.
- Low Cut Filter:
Also known as a high-pass filter, a filter that attenuates frequencies below a specified cutoff frequency while allowing higher frequencies to pass through.
- Low Frequency Oscillator (LFO):
An oscillator that generates a waveform at a low frequency, typically below the range of human hearing, used to modulate other parameters in audio processing or synthesis.
- Low Shelf Filter:
A type of equalization filter that boosts or attenuates all frequencies below a specified cutoff frequency by a constant amount.
- Master Bus:
The final stereo output or mix bus in a mixing console or DAW, where all individual tracks or subgroups are combined and processed before being sent to a recording, broadcast, or playback system.
- Master Fader:
The fader on a mixing console or in a DAW that controls the overall level of the master bus.
The final stage of audio production, during which a completed mix is processed to optimize its sonic characteristics, ensure consistent playback across various systems, and meet industry standards for loudness and dynamics.
A routing system that allows multiple input signals to be combined and sent to multiple outputs, often found on mixing consoles or within DAWs.
- Mic Level:
The low-level signal produced by a microphone, typically around -60 dBu to -40 dBu, which often requires preamplification before being processed or recorded.
- Mic Preamp:
Short for “microphone preamplifier,” a device that amplifies a mic-level signal to line level for further processing or recording.
A device that converts sound waves into an electrical signal, often using a diaphragm or other transducer element to detect changes in air pressure.
- Microphone Placement:
The positioning and orientation of a microphone in relation to a sound source, which can have a significant impact on the tonal balance, phase coherence, and overall quality of a recorded sound.
- Microphone Technique:
The art and practice of selecting, positioning, and using microphones to capture a desired sound, often influenced by factors such as the characteristics of the sound source, the acoustic environment, and the intended purpose of the recording.
- Mid-Side (M-S) Recording:
A stereo recording technique that uses one microphone facing the sound source (mid) and another bidirectional microphone placed perpendicular to the first (side), which can be decoded and processed to create a variable stereo image.
- MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface):
A digital protocol that allows electronic musical instruments, computers, and other devices to communicate and control each other, often used for sequencing, performance, and sound manipulation.
- Mix Bus:
An audio pathway in a mixing console or DAW that combines multiple signals, allowing them to be processed or controlled together before being sent to the master bus or another destination.
The process of combining individual tracks or elements of a multitrack recording into a final stereo or surround mix, often involving level adjustments, panning, equalization, and other processing.
A device or software that allows multiple audio signals to be combined, processed, and routed to various outputs, often used for recording, live sound reinforcement, broadcasting, or post-production.
The process of adjusting the levels, panning, equalization, dynamics, and other aspects of individual audio signals to create a balanced and cohesive whole, often using a mixing console or DAW.
The process of changing one or more parameters of a sound or signal over time, often using an LFO, envelope, or other control source.
A loudspeaker or headphone system designed for critical listening during recording, mixing, mastering, or broadcasting, often characterized by a flat and accurate frequency response.
- Monitor Controller:
A device that provides control over the selection, routing, and level of audio signals sent to studio monitors or headphones, often used in recording, mixing, or mastering environments.
Short for “monophonic,” a single-channel audio signal or system, as opposed to stereo or surround formats.
- Multiband Compression:
A type of dynamic processing using several frequency bands.
- Nearfield Monitor:
A type of studio monitor designed for close listening, typically placed within a few feet of the listener to minimize the influence of room acoustics and provide a more accurate representation of the audio signal.
Unwanted or undesirable sound, often manifesting as hiss, hum, or static, which can be introduced by electronic components, acoustic environments, or other sources.
- Noise Floor:
The level of background noise in an audio system or environment, often measured in decibels (dB) relative to the maximum signal level that can be handled without distortion.
- Noise Gate:
An audio processor that reduces the level of a signal when its amplitude falls below a specified threshold, often used to minimize background noise, bleed, or leakage between microphones or tracks.
- Noise Reduction:
The process of minimizing or removing unwanted noise from an audio signal, often using filtering, gating, or specialized algorithms designed to identify and eliminate specific types of noise.
The process of adjusting the overall level of an audio signal so that the highest peak reaches a specified target, often used to ensure consistent levels between different tracks or sources.
- Null Point:
In the context of audio mixing and acoustics, the null point refers to a location where the level of a sound is significantly reduced or canceled due to destructive interference, such as between two speakers playing the same signal out of phase.
A frequency interval where one frequency is double or half the value of another, often used as a reference for equalization or frequency analysis.
- Omnidirectional Microphone:
A microphone with a pickup pattern that captures sound equally from all directions, often used for ambient or room recordings, or when the exact position of a sound source is not critical.
Refers to the orientation of a microphone or speaker relative to a sound source, where the microphone or speaker is pointed directly at the source, often resulting in the most accurate and detailed capture or reproduction of the sound.
Refers to the orientation of a microphone or speaker relative to a sound source, where the microphone or speaker is pointed away from the source, often resulting in a less accurate or colored capture or reproduction of the sound.
The point where an audio signal leaves a device, such as a mixer, audio interface, or processor, to be sent to another device, such as an amplifier, recorder, or speaker.
The process of recording an additional performance or part on top of a previously recorded track, often used to layer multiple instruments, vocals, or sound elements in a multitrack production.
- Overhead Microphones:
Microphones placed above a sound source, such as a drum kit, orchestra, or choir, to capture the overall sound or balance of the ensemble, often used in conjunction with close miking techniques to provide a blend of detail and ambience.
A device or function that reduces the level of an audio signal, often used to prevent overloading or distortion when dealing with high-level inputs, such as from a loud instrument or amplifier.
The process of adjusting the position of an audio signal within the stereo or surround sound field, often used to create a sense of space and separation between different tracks or elements.
- Parametric Equalizer:
An equalizer that allows for precise control over the frequency, bandwidth (Q), and level (gain) of each filter, often used for detailed shaping or correction of an audio signal.
The highest amplitude or level of an audio signal, often measured in decibels (dB) relative to a reference value or full-scale (0 dBFS).
- Peak Meter:
A metering device or display that shows the peak levels of an audio signal, often used to monitor for clipping or overloading in a recording, mixing, or playback system.
- Phantom Power:
A method of providing electrical power to condenser microphones or other devices through the same cable that carries the audio signal, typically at a voltage of +48 volts.
The position of a waveform in its cycle at a given point in time, often measured in degrees (°) or radians. In audio mixing, phase relationships between multiple signals can have a significant impact on the coherence and quality of the combined sound.
- Phase Cancellation:
A phenomenon where two or more waveforms combine and cause a reduction or cancellation of amplitude at certain frequencies, often due to misaligned phase relationships or reflections in an acoustic environment.
- Phase Coherence:
The degree to which the phase relationships between multiple audio signals are aligned or complementary, often contributing to a clear and well-defined sound when combined.
- Phase Inversion:
The process of reversing the polarity of an audio signal, often used to correct phase cancellation or improve phase coherence between multiple signals.
An audio effect that creates a sweeping or swirling sound by combining an input signal with a phase-shifted version of itself, often used for creative or psychedelic effects.
- Pitch Shift:
The process of changing the pitch of an audio signal without affecting its duration, often used for tuning, harmonization, or special effects.
A software component that adds functionality to a digital audio workstation (DAW) or other audio application, often used for processing, synthesis, or control purposes.
- Pop Filter:
A screen or foam cover placed in front of a microphone to reduce plosive sounds (such as “p” and “b”) and protect the diaphragm from moisture or debris.
A device that amplifies a low-level signal, such as from a microphone or instrument pickup, to line level for further processing or recording.
The time between an input signal and the onset of a time-based effect, such as reverb or echo, often used to create a sense of depth or separation in a mix.
- Pre-Fader Listen (PFL):
A monitoring function that allows the user to listen to an input signal before it reaches the fader or other processing, often used for setting levels, checking for problems, or cueing in a live or broadcast setting.
The application of effects, equalization, dynamics, or other modifications to an audio signal, often using hardware or software processors in a recording, mixing, or playback system.
- Punch In/Out:
A recording technique where a specific section of a track is replaced or “punched in” during playback, often used to correct mistakes or change a performance.
- Q (Quality Factor):
In the context of equalization, Q refers to the bandwidth or sharpness of an EQ filter, with a higher Q value representing a narrower filter and a lower Q value representing a broader filter. It is used to control the range of frequencies affected by the EQ adjustment.
The process of converting a continuous analog signal into a discrete digital signal by rounding or truncating the amplitude values to a finite set of possible levels, often used in digital audio recording, synthesis, and processing.
- Quantization Error:
The difference between the actual value of an analog signal and the closest digital representation produced by quantization, often manifesting as low-level noise or distortion.
- Quarter-Inch Jack:
A type of audio connector commonly used for guitar cables, patch cables, and headphone connections, available in both balanced (TRS) and unbalanced (TS) configurations.
- RCA Connector:
A type of audio connector commonly used for unbalanced line-level connections, such as between consumer audio equipment, CD players, or turntables.
The process of taking a recorded signal, often from a direct input (DI) guitar or bass track, and sending it through an amplifier and speaker cabinet to be re-recorded with a microphone, often used to alter the tone or dynamics of the original performance.
- Real-Time Analyzer (RTA):
A tool used to display the frequency spectrum of an audio signal in real time, often used for identifying problem frequencies, setting up equalization, or optimizing room acoustics.
Short for “reverberation,” the natural reflection and decay of sound in an acoustic space, or an audio effect that simulates this phenomenon, often used to add depth, space, or ambience to a mix.
- Ribbon Microphone:
A type of microphone that uses a thin metal ribbon suspended in a magnetic field to convert sound into an electrical signal, known for their smooth, warm sound and natural off-axis response.
- Room Modes:
Resonant frequencies that occur in an enclosed space due to the dimensions and boundaries of the room, which can result in uneven frequency response or problematic acoustics.
- Room Tone:
The ambient sound or background noise present in a recording environment, often captured and used to provide a consistent base layer or to mask edits and transitions in film, TV, or radio production.
The process of determining the signal flow and connections between devices, inputs, and outputs in an audio system, such as a mixing console, patchbay, or digital audio workstation (DAW).
A measure of the time it takes for the reverberant sound in a room to decay by 60 decibels (dB), often used as an indicator of the acoustics or “liveness” of a space.
Low-frequency noise or vibration, often caused by mechanical or environmental factors, such as turntable motors, air conditioning systems, or traffic, which can be problematic in audio recording or playback.
In digital audio, a single measurement of an analog waveform’s amplitude at a specific point in time, used to represent the continuous waveform as a discrete series of values.
- Sample Rate:
The number of samples per second used in digital audio to represent a continuous analog waveform, typically measured in kilohertz (kHz).
A device or software that records, stores, and plays back audio samples, often used for creating new sounds, textures, or musical elements.
A device or plug-in that emulates the harmonic distortion and non-linear characteristics of analog equipment, such as tape machines, tube amplifiers, or transformers, often used to add warmth, character, or loudness to a digital audio signal.
A routing function that allows a portion of an audio signal to be sent to an auxiliary input or effects processor, often used for parallel processing or creating shared effects such as reverb or delay.
A collection of audio tracks, settings, and data related to a specific recording, mixing, or production project, typically organized and managed within a digital audio workstation (DAW).
- Shelving EQ:
A type of equalizer that affects all frequencies above or below a specified cutoff frequency, either boosting or attenuating them by a constant amount, often used for broad tonal adjustments or corrections.
A technique that uses the audio signal from one track to control the behavior of an effect or processor on another track, often used for dynamic processing such as compression, gating, or ducking.
- Signal Flow:
The path that an audio signal follows through a system or device, from input to output, often involving various stages of processing, routing, and control.
- Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR):
The ratio between the level of a desired audio signal and the level of background noise, often measured in decibels (dB) and used as an indicator of the quality or performance of an audio system or device.
- Sine Wave:
A fundamental waveform representing a single, pure frequency with no harmonics or overtones, often used as a reference or test signal in audio applications.
The high-frequency hissing or “ess” sound that can occur in vocal recordings due to the pronunciation of certain consonants, such as “s” or “sh,” which can be problematic or distracting in a mix.
- Sound Pressure Level (SPL):
A measure of the amplitude of sound waves in the air, typically expressed in decibels (dB) relative to a reference level, often used to quantify the loudness or intensity of a sound.
The process of creating a sense of depth, space, or location in an audio mix, often involving techniques such as panning, level adjustment, or time-based effects.
- Spectrum Analyzer:
A tool used to display the frequency content of an audio signal, often used for identifying problem frequencies, setting up equalization, or optimizing room acoustics.
A method of reproducing sound that uses two channels (left and right) to create a more realistic or immersive listening experience, as opposed to mono, which uses a single channel.
- Subtractive EQ:
A technique that involves cutting or attenuating specific frequencies in an audio signal, often used to remove problematic or unwanted elements, improve clarity, or create space for other tracks in a mix.
The process of combining multiple audio signals into a single output or bus, often used for grouping, processing, or routing purposes in a mix.
A communication system that allows the engineer or producer in the control room to speak with musicians or performers in the recording area, often used for giving instructions, feedback, or cues during a session.
- Tape Saturation:
The desirable non-linear characteristics and harmonic distortion produced by analog tape machines when recording at high levels, often emulated by digital plug-ins or hardware processors to add warmth or character to a mix.
The speed or pace of a piece of music, typically measured in beats per minute (BPM).
The level at which a dynamics processor, such as a compressor or limiter, begins to take effect, reducing or increasing the gain of an audio signal based on its amplitude relative to the threshold value.
- Time-Based Effects:
A category of audio effects that manipulate the timing or duration of a signal, such as reverb, delay, or chorus, often used to create a sense of space, depth, or movement in a mix.
A digital or analog code used to synchronize different devices or media, such as audio, video, or film, often used for editing, automation, or synchronization purposes in recording or post-production.
The unique tone or quality of a sound that distinguishes it from other sounds with the same pitch and loudness, often influenced by factors such as the harmonic content, envelope, or source of the sound.
The process of changing the duration of an audio signal without affecting its pitch, often used for tempo matching, beat synchronization, or special effects.
The initial, short-duration peak or attack of a sound, such as a drum hit or plucked string, often important for preserving the clarity or impact of a sound in a mix.
- Transient Designer:
A dynamics processor that allows for independent control of the transient (attack) and sustain portions of an audio signal, often used for shaping the envelope or character of a sound.
An audio effect that modulates the amplitude or volume of a signal at a regular rate, often used for creating a pulsing, rhythmic, or vibrato-like effect.
A control or function that adjusts the input gain or level of an audio signal before it reaches the fader or other processing, often used for setting the optimal level for recording or mixing.
- Tube Amplifier:
A type of audio amplifier that uses vacuum tubes (also called valves) to amplify a signal, often prized for their warm, rich sound and natural compression characteristics.
A device or software tool that measures the pitch of a musical note, often used for tuning instruments, adjusting intonation, or analyzing the frequency content of a signal.
- Unbalanced Audio:
An audio connection or signal that uses a single conductor to carry the audio signal and a separate shield for ground, often more susceptible to noise and interference than balanced audio connections.
- Unity Gain:
A level or setting at which an audio signal passes through a device or processor without any change in amplitude, often used as a reference or starting point for adjusting levels or gain staging in a mix.
- Universal Audio Architecture (UAA):
A standardized audio driver architecture for Windows operating systems, designed to provide a consistent and reliable audio experience across different hardware and software platforms.
- USB Audio Interface:
A type of audio interface that connects to a computer or device via USB (Universal Serial Bus), typically used for recording, playback, or processing of digital audio signals.
- USB Microphone:
A type of microphone that includes a built-in analog-to-digital converter and connects directly to a computer or device via USB, often used for podcasting, streaming, or simple recording setups.
- VCA (Voltage Controlled Amplifier):
A device or component that uses an electrical control voltage to adjust the gain or level of an audio signal, often found in analog synthesizers, compressors, or mixing consoles.
- VCA Fader:
A type of fader used in some mixing consoles that controls the gain of a VCA circuit rather than the audio signal directly, often used for group or automation functions.
- VCF (Voltage Controlled Filter):
A device or component that uses an electrical control voltage to adjust the frequency response or cutoff frequency of an audio signal, often found in analog synthesizers or filter modules.
- VCO (Voltage Controlled Oscillator):
A device or component that uses an electrical control voltage to generate a periodic waveform or tone, often found in analog synthesizers or signal generators.
- Vector Scope:
A visual display tool used for analyzing the stereo image or phase relationship between the left and right channels of a stereo audio signal, often used for monitoring or troubleshooting purposes in mixing or mastering.
In the context of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface), a value representing the speed or force with which a key, pad, or other controller is struck, often used to control the volume, timbre, or dynamics of a synthesized or sampled sound.
An audio effect that combines the spectral characteristics of one signal (such as a voice) with the amplitude envelope of another signal (such as a synthesizer), often used for creating robotic, otherworldly, or electronic vocal effects.
A spoken or narrated part in a radio, television, or film production, often recorded separately from the main action and used to provide commentary, instruction, or dramatic effect.
The perceived loudness or amplitude of an audio signal, often controlled by faders, gain stages, or dynamics processors in a mix.
An audio effect that alters the frequency response of an audio signal, creating a sweeping or “crying” sound, often controlled by a foot pedal or envelope follower and used with guitars or other instruments.
A subjective term used to describe the pleasant, full-bodied sound often associated with analog equipment or tape recordings, typically characterized by a gentle roll-off of high frequencies and the presence of harmonic distortion.
A visual representation of an audio signal’s amplitude over time, often displayed in a digital audio workstation (DAW) or other audio editing software to aid in the editing, processing, or analysis of a recording.
The physical distance between successive peaks or troughs of a sound wave, inversely related to its frequency and often used to describe the propagation or interaction of sound in a medium such as air or water.
- Wet/Dry Mix:
A control or parameter on an audio effect or processor that adjusts the balance between the unprocessed (dry) and processed (wet) signals, often used to blend the effect into the original sound or create parallel processing chains.
- White Noise:
A random signal that contains equal energy at all frequencies within a specified range, often used for testing, masking, or as a noise source in synthesis or sound design.
In the context of stereo or multichannel audio, the perceived spatial separation or spread between different channels or elements in a mix, often controlled by panning, level differences, or time-based effects.
A foam, fabric, or fur cover that fits over a microphone to reduce wind noise, plosives, or other unwanted sounds caused by air movement during recording.
- Word Clock:
A synchronization signal used to ensure that digital audio devices, such as converters, interfaces, or digital mixers, maintain a consistent sample rate and timing, helping to prevent clicks, pops, or other artifacts caused by clock drift or jitter.
In the context of a graphical representation of an audio signal or effect, the horizontal axis that typically represents time or another parameter, often used for editing, analyzing, or visualizing audio data.
- XLR Connector:
A type of professional audio connector featuring three pins for balanced audio connections, commonly used for microphones, line-level signals, and other audio equipment.
A type of audio cable that splits a single signal into two or more outputs or combines multiple signals into a single input, often used for signal routing, distribution, or parallel processing in a mix.
A mounting device or bracket used to attach a microphone or other audio equipment to a stand, boom arm, or suspension system, typically designed to allow for precise positioning and isolation from external vibrations or noise.
In the context of a three-dimensional graphical representation of an audio signal or effect, the axis that represents depth or a third parameter, sometimes used for visualizing spatial effects or immersive audio formats.
- Zero Crossing:
The point at which an audio waveform crosses from a positive to a negative value or vice versa, often used as an editing point to minimize clicks, pops, or other artifacts caused by sudden changes in amplitude.
A specific range of notes, velocities, or other parameters assigned to a particular sample, instrument, or effect within a sampler, synthesizer, or other virtual instrument, often used for creating complex, dynamic, or expressive sounds.
A function or control in a digital audio workstation (DAW) or other audio editing software that allows the user to magnify or reduce the scale of the waveform or other display elements, often used for precise editing, alignment, or analysis of audio data.
- 1/4-inch Jack:
A type of audio connector commonly used for guitars, keyboards, and other instruments, as well as line-level and speaker connections, available in both balanced (TRS) and unbalanced (TS) versions.
- 1/8-inch Jack (3.5mm Jack):
A smaller audio connector often used for headphones, earbuds, and consumer audio devices, also available in both balanced (TRS) and unbalanced (TS) versions.
- 16-bit Audio:
A digital audio format with a bit depth of 16 bits, providing a dynamic range of approximately 96 decibels (dB), commonly used for CD audio and other consumer audio applications.
- 24-bit Audio:
A digital audio format with a bit depth of 24 bits, providing a dynamic range of approximately 144 decibels (dB), often used for professional recording, mixing, and mastering applications.
- 32-bit Audio:
A digital audio format with a bit depth of 32 bits, typically using floating-point representation, which provides an extended dynamic range and increased headroom, often used in modern digital audio workstations (DAWs) for internal processing and mixing.
- 44.1 kHz:
A common audio sampling rate used for CD audio and other consumer audio applications, representing 44,100 samples per second.
- 48 kHz:
A standard audio sampling rate used in professional audio applications, such as film and video production, representing 48,000 samples per second.
- 88.2 kHz and 96 kHz:
Higher audio sampling rates used in some professional recording, mixing, and mastering applications, offering increased frequency response and reduced aliasing artifacts.
- 192 kHz:
An even higher audio sampling rate sometimes used for high-resolution audio recording or processing, offering further increased frequency response and reduced aliasing artifacts, though its benefits are debated within the audio community.
In conclusion, understanding the terminology in audio mixing is essential for both aspiring and experienced audio engineers, as it enables effective communication and collaboration within the industry.
With an extensive range of technical terms covering various aspects of audio recording, processing, and playback, it’s crucial to become familiar with these terms to ensure efficient workflow and optimal results.
The lexicon of audio mixing is vast, encompassing a diverse range of topics, from fundamental signal flow and equipment-related terms to advanced techniques and digital technologies.
By investing time in learning and mastering these terms, audio professionals can navigate the complex world of audio production with confidence and precision, ultimately leading to a more refined and polished sound in their final mixes.