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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!


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hall (digital effect)



    (Usually) A microphone designed to be operated while held in a persons hand. A handheld microphone is designed to be held close to the sound source (mouth) as opposed to suspended, boundry, lapel, or boom microphones. Specifically in wireless microphones, the type of transmitter where the microphone capsule is directly attached to the transmitter (no cable) and the transmitter is designed to be carried in the hand.

handling noise

    Undesired sound/noise picked up by a microphone when the user moves their fingers, hand, or arm on the microphone and/or cable.
    see triboelectric noise

hard of hearing system

    see assistive listening system


    A frequency that resonates in response to a fundamental (primary) freuency. Sometimes, when a certain frequency is fenerated (a fundamental), it will also cause another frequency or frequencies to start as well. These are called harmonics.

harsh (sounding)


    A term for audible radio interference.

Hass effect


    A small single speaker or pair of small speakers that are worn on the head such that the speakers cover the ears. Some units are single-sided, two sided, open or closed back, fit in the ear, or cover the entire ear.


    The box at one end of a snake cable where there are multiple inputs and possibly outputs.


    The amount of room between the normal operating level and the maximum level where clipping (distortion) occurs in a sound system. This number tells you how much louder the system can get before it goes into distortion.




    A device that's designed to be used while worn on the head. A common example is a microphone headset where the user wears a headband that has a small microphone on the end of a short flexible boom arm. Opposed to suspended, boundry, lapel, handheld, or boom microphones.

hearing impaired

    1. Anyone who's unable to hear and/or understand speech at a level that most people are able to do so.
    2. A hearing impaired system
    see assistive listening system


    The measure of how long it takes one complete (sound) wave to pass by a given point. One Hertz is one cycle per second. Abbreviated Hz. The higher the frequency, the higher the pitch of sound.

HDTV (high-definition television)



    The label found on a 2 or 3-band equalizer on a sound mixer. Refers to the control that cuts or boosts the high-freqeuncies, usually using a shelving EQ.

high-band UHF

    The electromagnetic frequency range from 900 - 950 Mhz (Mega-Hertz).

high-band VHF

    The electromagnetic frequency range from 150 - 216 Mhz. Used for FM transmission. Very commonly used for professional wireless microphone systems. Also used by television broadcast.

high cut filter

    An electonic filter which only allows frequecies below a set point to pass. Frequencies above the set point are eliminated. Usually this point is between 6 - 12 kHz (Kilo-Hertz) to reduce hiss and sibilance. Also called a low-pass filter.
    see also high pass filter; low cut filter; low pass filter

high impedance

high pass filter

    An electonic filter which only allows frequecies above a set point to pass. Frequencies below the set point are eliminated. Typical filter points are 80 - 100 Hz which helps eliminate stage rumble, popping sounds, and 60-cycle hum. Also called a low-cut filter The point at which it begins blocking is called the crossover point.
    see also high cut filter; low cut filter; low pass filter

high Z

    see high impedance


    A form of static at 2kHz and up. Electronic equipment has inherant hiss; also due to falty circuitry.


    1. A signal that's higher than normal or expected.
    2. A microphone that's turned on.
    3. A mixer channel that's turned on.
    4. In a balanced signal, the positive signal is "hot".
    5. What one says after taking the first sip of coffee.



    1. The main room where people sit in a theater or church.
    2. The sound system that provides sound reinforcement for that area (as opposed to the monitor system, recording system, etc.).
    3. The main speakers used.
    4. Usually refers to God's house, not yours.


    A form of low-frequency interference (esp. in the 60 Hz range). Sources include groud loops or AC electrical induction from electrical lines too close to audio lines.

HVAC (heating, ventalation, air conditioning)

HX Pro

hypercardioid microphone

    A microphone even more directional than a supercardioid microphone. Typical specifications are: coverage angle=105-degrees, maximum rejection=110-degrees (2-points)
    see also: bidirectional; cardioid; omnidirectional; supercardioid; polar pattern


    see Hertz



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!