Audio terms you need to know for video production

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.

The Videomaker Editors are dedicated to bringing you the information you need to produce and share better video.

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