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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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Generic term used to describe the people who sing, dance, act,
play an instrument, etc. in a performance.
1. On some mixers, a microphone or microphone input that allows
the operator to talk to people via the main, group, or auxiliary
ouputs. Much like a normal mic channel input, but only contains
routing switches (usually only momentary) and a volume (gain)
2. Replying to someone in a rude and disrespectful manner. Something
you don't do to your parents, teachers, pastor, or God.
1. Short for magnetic recording tape. A long plastic strip with
a material glued to it that's able to have its magnetic polarity
changed and later read, for archival of audio signals. Differs
from disks only in the phsical shape of being a strip. Can be
totally housed in a shell (called a cassette), or on an open reel.
2. Electrical tape, duct tape, gaffers tape, masking tape, drafting
tape, scotch tape, strapping tape, box tape etc.
1. The signal coming from a tape player usually to a mixing console.
2. A line level input to a mixer specifically designed to receive
signals from tape players. On mixers designed for sound reinforcement,
they usually have very limited features for monitoring what was
just recorded. On recording mixers, the tape returns are more
elaborate to allow multitrack tape players to feed the mixer for
Total Harmonic Distortion. A term refering to how much distortion
is introduced by a device at a given level. Used for rating the
noise level of devices.
The end most contact of a 1/4" (and 1/8" mini) phone
connector to which the hot (positive) wire is attached to.
see ring, sleeve.
1. A sine wave of any frequency. Commonly refers to a 1Khz sine
wave signal being the standard used to reference levels to (when
set at 0dBm).
2. The frequency response characteristics of a sound. The sound
of something as in the sound of an instrument.
A squelch system (used in wireless equipment) whereby the transmitter
emits a tone at an inaudible frequency. The receiver, upon detecting
any signal checks to see if that tone is present. If so, it allows
the main signal to be heard, otherwise it stays muted.
A device that converts one form of energy to another. Examples
are loudspeakers which change electrical energy into acoustical
energy and microphones that change acoustical energy into electrical
An electrical device consisting of a magnet with wires coming
in and would around it on one side, then another set of wires
wound around it on the other side. It allows isolation of one
side to the other since the wires are not actually touching each
other but it still allows (alternating) electrical current to
pass. Depending on the ratio of the number of times the two different
wires are wound around the magnets, it will also change the amount
of voltage/wattage passed through it such tas changing a micrjophone
level signal to a line level signal. Power transformers step-up
or step-down electricity that's then used to power other electrical
devices at a different voltage.
In a wireless microphone system, the device that transmits the
audio signal output from the microphone through the air as a radio
frequency. In a lapel system it's sometimes refered to as a 'body-pack'.
This is where the microphone plugs into, where a battery is stored,
and where the electronics are that change the audio signal so
it can be sent out an antenna and into the air to be picked up
by a receiver at another location.
see also receiver
The range of frequencies in the VHF band from 169 to 172 Mhz
designated for radio devices that are not assigned to any particular
use. Frequencies above this are are used for television but different
cities use different television frequencies (channels). Therefore,
a wireless microphone can use a television frequency that's not
being used by a local TV station. However, a performance group
that travels from city to city can not use any of those frequencies
since they would only work in half the cities. Therefore, they
use a "traveling" frequency hat will work in any city
depending on who else is using that frequency near them.
Refers to the higher frequencies. Technically, the treble cleff
in music is for frequencies above 329 Hz (E above middle C), but
in equalizer terms refers to higher frequencies typically above
The speaker amplification method where a speaker system has three
main components being the high, mid, and low. Each is powered
by a separate amplifier channel (fed by an active crossover).
The variation/modulation of cable capacitance (electrostatic
charge due to friction) against the load impedance that causes
the audibilty of noise from a cable when it's moved. Cable handling
The gain control on a mixer or similar device.
see gain, definition 4
TTY (phone device)
Speaker drivers that reproduce high frequencies.
see compression driver, squaker, woofer
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 EngineersThe 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
John Eiche, Guide to Sound Systems for Worship. Hal Leonard Publishing
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!