Why Are Church Sound Systems & Church Acoustics So Confusing?

Contact Us - Services


for both new construction & existing facilities
Serving churches in the Greater Chicago area and across the United States
offices in Chicago & Toronto

Home -> Church Audio & Acoustics Glossary -> W


Church Audio & Acoustics Glossary

This glossary is being put online to help with unfamiliar words when visiting this site. Since this is a web site devoted to church audio and acoustics, the glossary will cover common words used when talking about church audio and acoustics. This is only one step beyond typical glossary listings, since it's specific to churches. New words will be added as they come up; if you have any suggestions, please let us know!

There are a number of words that relate to churches in general, as well as video and lighting terms. You usually need to know a little of everything...

Many words don't have definitions yet, we're working on it. This is a project in motion; it will be updated as time permits. If you would like to contribute a definition for any words listed here, just let us know, thanks!


JUMP < - 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 - > JUMP



    Symbol for Watt.


    A measure of the power (current) in an electric signal. Abbreviated "W". Currrent is annotated as "I".


    An oscilation of something. Specifically in audio refering to either the oscilation air pressure in a sound wave, or the oscilation of voltage in an electrical audio signal. Just like a wave on the ocean where it goes up and down, the voltage of an audio wave goes up and down and our ears eventually interpret that oscilation as sound.


    A graph of the voltage levels of an audio signal with amplitude being the Y-axis and time being the X-axis. The "picture" of an audio signal's wave pattern.


    The physical distance from a given point of a wave through one complete cycle. How long a wave is. The length of a sound wave determines the frequency of the sound. Can be calculated by dividing the frequency of sound into the speed of sound (for example, a 500Hz sound wave is 2.26 feet long).

wet signal

    An audio signal that's been processes, usually with some sort of effects. (Not a mixer with coffee spilled on it.)
    see also dry signal

white balance

white noise

    An audio signal with equal energy at all frequencies. Has more energy at higher frequencies than pink noise from the way octaves are related to frequencies.
    see also pink noise


    A cover placed on a microphone to protect it from wind. Normally, the air (other than sound waves) moving across a microphone will cause pops, whistles, and thumps. A windscreen minimizes these sounds. Make sure the windscreens you use are acoustically transparent and that you wash them in soapy water often. Windscreens can then be dipped in mouthwash to further sanitize them and make them smell good!

wireless microphone

    A microphone system that has the microphone capsule attached to a radio transmitter. The transmitter takes the audio signal from the capsule, changes it into a radio signal, and transmits it. A matching radio receiver takes the radio signal, converts it back to an audio signal, and outputs it usually to a mixer. This is opposed to a standard microphone where the capsule is connected to the mixer by continuous wiring. The rule for using wireless mics is that if it doesn't move, it doesn't need to be wireless. Wired mics are still much, much better than even the best wireless mics.


    Term for low frequency speaker drivers.
    see also squaker, tweeter


    A slow frequency change in an audio signal when playing back a pre-recorded signal. This is causes by a mis-adjusted or physically limited mechanical component in the medium transport system. A comment made when something impresses you.
    see also flutter

wrap shield


    A wiring design of one connection to multiple others or from multiple connections to one. I.E. the output of one device directly wired to the inputs of several devices. Note:wye'ing an output to several inputs will often work, but there's a loss of signal for each split. Wye'ing multiple outputs to a single input usually will NOT work or at best will offer significant loss of signal due to impedences of electronic wiring.



No, we didn't write all of these definitions ourselves. What we did was take a word, read several definitions from books and listings on the internet, then write our own version. In some cases we used phrases word-for-word, but usually we reworded the definition to be more clear and applicable to church audio and acoustics.

Glen Ballou, Handbook for Sound Engineers–The New Audio Cyclopedia. Howard W. Sams & Co., MacMillan, Inc. 1991
Don & Carolyn Davis, Sound System Engineering. Howard W. Sams & Co., MacMillan, Inc. 1997
Glossary of Wireless Microphone Terms. Lectrosonics, http://www.lectro.com/wg/wgglos.htm 11/9/98
John Eiche, Guide to Sound Systems for Worship. Hal Leonard Publishing Corp, 1990
Tim Vear, Microphone Selection and Application for Church Sound Systems. Shure Brothers, 1996
Tim Vear, Selection and Operation of Wireless Microphone Systems. Shure Brothers, 1994
Microphone Techniques for Music, Shure Brothers, 1994
Joe De Buglio, Why Are Church Sound Systems & Church Acoustics So Confusing?, 1998
various handbooks and users manuals for specific equipment especially by Mackie, Spirit, Shure, and Rane.

EXTREME thanks to Stephen Lund of LaRue Electrical Specialties, who began writing a glossary of terms, never fully completed it, but has passed his words and definitions on to us for use in this glossary. There are many definitions he had written that were so simple to understand, we took them as-is without any editing. We finally finished it! (...almost) Thanks a million, Stephen!