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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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    Needed Acoustic Gain. How much you need to amplify the sound source so that it's as loud at the farthest listeners position as it is as the closest listeners position.


NiCad battery

    An electrical battery which uses Nickel and Cadmuim to produce an electrical current. Often used for rechargable batteries. Temperature sensitive.


    1. Undesired sound. Usually refers to static, hums, or buzzes in a component or system.
    2. Pink noise or white noise.

noise floor

    In an electronic device, the sound level of undesired sounds generated by the device itself. How loud the background static generated by a device is. (All audio gear produces some amount of noise due to the thermal properties of components.)

noise gate


    Number of Open Microphones. Refers to the effect that each time an additional microphone is turned on and is able to pick up the same sound source, the combined signal strength is increased by 3dB. Therefore, the overall gain must be turned down to compensate and reduce the possibility of feedback.

non diversity

    A wireless microphone system that uses only one antenna as opposed to a diversity system which uses two.

non-linear (video editing)


    How a circuit is wired if no options are introduced. Short for "normalled through". In a patch panel, the top jack is wired to the jack immediately below it unless a patch cable is inserted (which breaks the connection).
    see also open

notch filter

    An electronic filter that removes a very narrow band of frequencies around a given point. Typical notch filters are 1/10 of an octave wide or less. Used to remove a problematic frequency that causes feedback. When using filters this narrow, a change in temperature and/or humidity can affect the problematic frequency, thus the notch filter will need to be re-tuned.




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!