This is a list of all of the important audio terms you should know for recording audio for video and post-production work.

ambient sound – (ambiance) Natural background audio representative of a given recording environment. An on-camera dialog might be the primary sound; traffic noise and refrigerator hum would be ambient.

audio dub – Editing technique whereby new audio replaces a portion(s) of an existing audio track.

audio mixer Device with user-adjustable controls to blend multiple sound inputs into desired composite output. [See mix]

bidirectional – Microphone pickup pattern, rejects sound coming from the sides while absorbing that from in front and behind. [See also unidirectional, omnidirectional]

boom – Extension arm used to suspend a microphone over sound or subject(s) being recorded. The objective is to keep production gear out of the camera’s view.

cardioid – The most common type of unidirectional microphone; pickup pattern resembles a heart-shaped figure.

condenser – Microphone with built-in amplifier, the type installed on camcorders. Also called capacitor or electret condenser, requires a battery or external power source. [See also electret condenser]

digital audio – Sounds that have been converted to digital information.

dub – Editing technique whereby new audio or video replaces portion(s) of the existing recording.

dynamic – Microphone type, also called “moving coil.” Works much like a loudspeaker in reverse, employing a simple magnet and wire coil to convert sound waves into an electrical signal.

electret condenser – Microphone type incorporating a precharged element, eliminating the need for bulky power sources. [See also condenser]

equalization – Emphasizing specific audio or video frequencies and eliminating others as a signal control measure, usually to produce particular sonic qualities. Achieved with equalizer.

feedback – Echo effect at low levels, howl or piercing squeal at extremes, from an audio signal being fed back to itself.

hi-fi – (high fidelity) Generalized term defining audio quality approaching the limits of human hearing, pertinent to high-quality sound reproduction systems.

lavalier – Small, easily concealed, unobtrusive, and aesthetically pleasing microphone, typically attached to clothing for interview settings.

lip sync – Proper synchronization of video with audio, lip movement with audible speech. [See synchronous sound]

mix – Combination of two or more sound sources into a signal output; the primary job of an audio mixer.

omnidirectional – Microphone pickup pattern designed to absorb sound equally from all directions. [See also bidirectional, unidirectional]

pickup pattern – Defines a microphone’s response to sounds arriving from various directions or angles. [See bidirectional, omnidirectional, unidirectional]

PZM – (pressure zone microphone) Small, sensitive condenser mike, usually attached to a metal backing plate. Senses air pressure changes in the tiny gap between mic element and plate. [See also condenser]

shotgun – Highly directional microphone with long “barrel,” designed specifically to pick up sound from extreme subject-to-mike distances.

soundtrack – The audio portion of a video recording, often multifaceted with voiceover, background music, sound effects, etc.

sweetening – Post-production process of adding music and sound effects to or otherwise enhancing, purifying or “massaging” a final audio track.

synchronous sound – Audio recorded in sync with images. When a person’s mouth moves, the words come out in perfect synchronization.

unidirectional – Highly selective microphone pickup pattern, rejects sound coming from behind while absorbing that from in front. [See also bidirectional, omnidirectional]

voiceover – (VO) Off-screen narration accompanying picture, heard above background sound or music.

wild sound – Nonsynchronous audio recorded independent of the picture. ie. rain on the roof, five o’clock whistle.

windscreen – Sponge-like microphone shield, thwarts undesirable noise from wind and rapid mike movement.

wow and flutter – Sound distortions consisting of a slow rise and fall of pitch, caused by speed variations in audio/video playback system.

XLR – Three-pin plug for three-conductor “balanced” audio cable, employed with high-quality microphones, mixers and other audio equipment. Also called “Cannon.”

We hope this list of audio terms helps you in your journey of understanding audio for video production.

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