Knowledgebase

Pre-Fade Listen (PFL)

PFL usually stands for “Pre-Fader Listen”. PFL is a combined channel and monitoring function. On an analogue mixer with PFL, each channel has a switch which can connect the channel signal path, at a point just before the fader, to the pre-fade bus. This bus is picked up in the monitor module and made available as an…

Read More

Noisy floors

Noisy Floors can be the bane of a Sound Recordists life. There are two main problems; noise from things like heels hitting a hard and hollow floor and noise from the floor itself as objects move over the surface. Heels and Legs High heels and chair legs can easily produce enough noise to drown out…

Read More

Earthing

Earthing for Audio The following is taken from an article published in the Nov/Dec 2005 issue of LineUp by Peter Thomas, Managing Director of the Professional Monitor Company, with his kind permission. At the outset, I need to make clear that there are no references to PMC loudspeakers at all (except in this introduction). Neither…

Read More

Digital interfaces

This page lists the most common digital interface standards used to connect between digital mixers, recorders, editing systems and microphones etc. Contents ADAT AES/EBU SPDIF SDIF TDIF-1 Mitsubishi ProDigi MADI Yamaha ADAT ADAT is an acronym for Alesis Digital Audio Tape, a format for recording 8 tracks of digital audio onto Super VHS magnetic tape.…

Read More

Alternating current (AC)

Alternating Current or AC refers to a flow of electrons that reverses in direction in a cyclical manner

Read More

Watts

Watts are a measure of power. The symbol is W (never w). Electrically Watts = Amps x Volts. The name derives from Scottish engineer and inventor James Watt (1736 – 1819) in honour of his work that transformed the primitive steam engine into a practical power unit. Watts are obviously useful for indicating the power…

Read More

Wild Track

A Wild Track is an audio recording made on location with no reference to picture, intended to provide post production with useful background sound during editing. Recording wild tracks on documentary shoots it’s advisable not to switch the camera to bars, but to have the microphone in shot. With a fast turnaround in the edit,…

Read More

Aircraft Intercom

While it is possible to connect to Aircraft Intercom systems, the quality is at communications level rather than broadcast, though it may be adequate for short items and can give a useful “atmos”. Aside from the issues of obtaining the correct connector you MUST obtain permission from the pilot on each occasion before connecting location…

Read More

Electromagnetic Spectrum

The Electromagnetic Spectrum is the range of all possible frequencies of electromagnetic radiation. See the excellent diagram reproduced by kind permission of Louis Keiner http://www.keiner.us/. The sections of particular interest to IPS members are usually referred to as the Radio Spectrum (although they are mostly used for television!), and are: Low Frequency (LF) covers frequencies…

Read More

Metadata

Metadata is literally data about data. In its simplest form it could be a note attached to an item of recording medium (e.g. a tape or disc) telling the user what is on the medium, how long it is and where and when it was recorded. More practically it will be digital information embedded in…

Read More

Balanced line

Balanced lines are typically – and quite incorrectly – explained as follows. A signal is split into two equal but antiphase parts in a balanced line driver. These signals are connected to each leg of a pair cable and eventually arrive at a balanced receiver. This device inverts one leg of the signal. In doing…

Read More

Edit Decision List (EDL)

An Edit Decision List (EDL) is simply an ordered list of items of recorded video and audio with Timecode references which enables a video editor to assemble a version of the final programme.

Read More

Aircraft PTC

Advice/Tips on getting good sound for aircraft PTCs (Piece to Camera) The general advice here is to get your microphone as close as possible to the presenter’s mouth. A common technique is to attach your personal mic to the aviation boom but on the opposite side to the mouth as this helps shield the microphone…

Read More

Microphone Principles

Microphones work by sensing minute changes in air pressure. Pressure A pressure operated microphone is essentially a sensitive barometer and reacts only to changes in pressure irrespective of the direction of the sound source. It comprises a sealed box with air inside and a thin diaphragm that deflects for small pressure changes. Some form of…

Read More

Word Clock

Taken from Annex B of AES11. “AES recommended practice for digital audio engineering – Synchronization of digital audio equipment in studio operations” Annex B (Informative) Word Clock It is possible to meet all the timing requirements of AES11 by means of a square wave at sampling frequency basic rate, commonly called word clock. It is…

Read More

Ohms

Ohms are a measure of the resistance to a flow of current. The name derives from the German physicist Georg Simon Ohm (1759-1854). The symbol for the ohm is the Greek capital letter omega. If the Greek letter cannot be used, the word ohm is used instead. In a simple circuit the relationship between the…

Read More

Critical Distance

Critical Distance or Dc is the distance from a sound source where the level of direct sound equals that of any reverberant sound. Dc applies to all sound gathering but measuring it is normally only required when advance planning of microphone positions is needed. Critical Distance does not dictate where a microphone must be placed…

Read More

EBU

The European Broadcasting Union or EBU was formed on 12 February 1950 by 23 broadcasting organisations from Europe and the Mediterranean. Members are radio and television companies, most of which are government-owned public service broadcasters or privately owned stations with public missions. In 2007 the EBU has 74 active members from 55 countries, and 43…

Read More

Mix Minus

Mix Minus describes the arrangements used when a broadcast studio is connected to an external site such as an Outside Broadcast as a contribution or another studio which is simultaneously broadcasting the same programme in another region, two way working. In both cases the remote source needs a feed of the programme but not of…

Read More

Connectors

Contents 1 Sex 2 XLR 2.1 3 pin 2.2 4 pin 2.3 5 pin 2.4 6 pin 2.5 7 pin 3 Jack 3.1 ‘A’ gauge 3.2 ‘B’ gauge 3.3 MIL-plug 3.4 Bantam 3.5 3.5mm 3.6 2.5mm 4 Hirose 4.1 4 pin 4.2 10 pin 5 Tajimi 5.1 12 pin 6 DIN 6.1 2 pin 6.2…

Read More

Cross Point

A Cross Point is a notional intersection between an input and an output in a Matrix, which may be represented graphically by a cross-hatch of horizontal and vertical lines. Usually the horizontal lines represent the inputs and the vertical lines the outputs, and a cross overlaid at an intersection indicates a connection – a “cross…

Read More

BLITS (Black & Lane’s Ident Tones for Surround)

Black and Lane’s Ident Tones for Surround (BLITS) developed by Sky Television Sound Supervisors Martin Black and Keith Lane in 2005/6 to provide a standardised form of channel identification and alignment for surround sound material. BLITS is a broadcast-specific line up tone system for use with 5.1 surround sound formats, and is currently being considered…

Read More

Lockit

Lockit is a device manufactured by Ambient Recording which enables video cameras to be synchronised with audio recorders.

Read More

Sabin

A Sabin is the amount of absorption equivalent to one square metre of open window (which would allow the sound to escape from the room with no reflections). Named after American acoustician Wallace Clement Sabine (June 13, 1868 – January 10, 1919).  See also Sound Absorption Coefficients for Some Common Materials.

Read More

Background Noise

Background Noise are sounds that are not the main sound you want to record. Sounds from traffic outside, air conditioning, lighting and so on. Ideally sources of background noise are stopped, switched off or removed but what do you do if you had no choice but record the noise? Record an atmos/room tone Wild Track…

Read More

Pan Pot

Panpot is an abbreviation of Panoramic Potentiometer, a device used in Stereo mixers to vary the signal levels sent to the outputs from a Mono input, and thus apparently move the sound across the “sound stage” between left and right.

Read More

iXML

The iXML specification is designed to provide an unambiguous communication of file and project based metadata between various stages of workflow in production, telecine, picture editorial and audio post production. iXML is primarily designed to be used as a  RIFF (embedded tagged data) chunk inside a Broadcast Wave file (although it can be optionally included…

Read More

Underwater sound

A member asked on IBSNET for advice on hydrophones. Chris Woolf responded:- Hydrophones vary quite a bit in quality from high grade phantom powered  devices to some pretty poor plug-in power versions. The are invariably omnis and since the propagation of sound in water is very different to air you can expect a lot of LF…

Read More

Automated Dialog Replacement (ADR)

Automated Dialog Replacement (ADR) was used by the Magnatech Corp as a marketing phrase (mid 1960s). Magnatech made the system which comprised the projector, the recorder and the control box. It enabled record drop-ins and -outs across 3 tracks (3 attempts) to be programmed to the footage counter, and the whole reel of 10 minutes…

Read More

Volts

Volts (symbol V – not v) measure the electrical pressure, or potential difference available to force current through a circuit. The name derives from the Italian physicist Alessandro Volta (1745–1827), who invented the voltaic pile, the first chemical battery. Voltages can have a fixed polarity (Direct Current volts), or can change more or less cyclically…

Read More

Pressure Zone Microphone (PZM)

Pressure Zone Microphone is a registered trade mark of Crown International, and describes a method of mounting a microphone close to a flat surface to minimise room acoustics. Other variants are described as Boundary Microphones. See http://www.uneeda-audio.com/pzm/

Read More

Working in the Cold

The following hints and tips have been collated from emails on IBSNET. from Florian Camerer (ORF) I used the PD-2, which is – in my opinion – more reliably built (metal housing etc.) and consumes more power, yes, more power, and that means more heat in the machine!! I conducted tests in Vienna in a…

Read More

Boom

Boom is defined in the Concise Oxford English Dictionary as “a movable arm carrying a microphone or film camera” and in Collins Concise as “a pole carrying an overhead microphone and projected over a film or television set“. In sound studios a boom is either an arm fixed to a floor-mounted microphone stand or a…

Read More

Impedance

Electrical impedance is effectively resistance in an AC circuit (see Ohms). Impedances are significantly more complicated than simple resistance because they are frequency conscious and because they can apply to the behaviour of an entire circuit rather than a single element. There are load impedances, having the effect of a virtual resistor across the input…

Read More

Direct Stream Digital (DSD)

Direct Stream Digital (DSD) uses a sampling rate of 2.8224 MHz to directly record a 1-bit signal. Used for recording SACD, launched by Sony in 1999.

Read More

Polar Pattern

The Polar Pattern of a Microphone describes its directional sensitivity. The main family of patterns is a continuous spectrum between omni and bi-directional (figure-of-eight). Thus their titles are somewhat arbitrary, often overlap and, perversely, in most cases they are best defined by their ability to reject sound. Polar Patterns are generalised – they give an…

Read More

Phantom Power

Phantom Power is a means of powering condenser microphones remotely, using balanced microphone cable. The AES (and IEC 61938) endorses two voltage levels, 48 V and 12 V, and they are referred to as P48 and P12

Read More

Audio software

This is a selection of computer software for audio applications which is either free or inexpensive. It has been compiled from various sources, and inclusion in this listing does not in any way imply any endorsement by the IPS, or any warranty that it will be satisfactory. User (and buyer) beware! Contents 1 PC Software…

Read More

Stereo

Stereo, short for Stereophonic, is a system of sound recording and reproduction which uses two synchronised channels, usually referred to as A (left) and B (right). There are several conventions for colour-coding analogue signals; the BBC adopted the nautical convention of Red for Port (Left) and Green for Starboard (Right), which can be confusing when…

Read More

Electret wiring

Electret personal microphones are all unbalanced. They all need a screen, both for the cable and for the grille and casing around the capsule. This usually gets connected to 0V. The electronics inside the capsule will have two external connections. One connection always needs to be kept more +ve than the other but it makes…

Read More

Super Audio CD (SACD)

Super Audio CD (SACD) launched by Sony in 1999 and intended to supersede the original Sony/Philips CD.

Read More

Tonader Power (T power)

Tonader Power, T Power, T12 or AB Power all refer to a method of powering microphones via their cable. This system uses 180 ohm feed resistors and a 12V supply but does not send the DC power as a common mode signal like Phantom Power. The powering is unbalanced and shares the same path as…

Read More

Carnet

An ATA Carnet is a multi-part document which is used to confirm an inventory of items which are taken out of the EU and returned within a pre-determined time. This is to prove that they have not been exported, or indeed imported when you return. Failure to complete all sections properly at any point when…

Read More

Off Tube

“Off Tube” is when commentary for an event is provided by the commentary team just watching the televised pictures. While commentators almost always have a picture monitor (or “tube”) regardless of their location, there is great advantage to be had from also being in a position to see the proceedings with their own eyes, and…

Read More

Audio levels

Analogue audio signal levels have historically been categorised for professional usage in two groups – microphone level (low) and line level (high). Domestic equipment generally falls into a third category, just below professional line level. Signal levels are measured using units based on the Decibel. There are many different types of Level Meter used for…

Read More

Diary Services and Agents

First of all to quash a big misnomer. A Diary Service is not there in order to ‘get you work’. That is what an Agent does. Now – to more detailed thoughts. When looking at Diary Services it might be wise to take a brief look at how they emerged and why. In the late…

Read More

Direct Current (DC)

Direct Current or DC refers to the unidirectional flow of electrons from high to low potential, as opposed to Alternating Current or AC where the flow regularly reverses in direction at a specific frequency. By convention this flow is considered to be from positive to relatively negative points; note that this direction is not the…

Read More

Creative Commons Licence

A Creative Commons Licence allows authors, artists, and educators to mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry, changing the default of “All Rights Reserved” into “Some Rights Reserved”, as the creator chooses. There are three areas that the licence covers; attribution, commercial use and derivatives. These can be combined in…

Read More

Foldback

Foldback is a feed of audio to the studio, via either loudspeaker, headphone or earpiece (IEM). It may be to provide the presenter and/or performers with a Cue feed from an external source or from a singer’s Microphone, to reinforce a singer’s voice for confidence or as an aid to tuning, or to provide actors…

Read More

Talkback

Talkback originated in radio studios, where staff in the control cubicle who could hear the presenters and performers on their monitor loudspeaker were able to communicate with them using a dedicated microphone/loudspeaker system, “talking back” to the studio. This system was extended by the introduction of “reverse talkback” which provided the presenter with an additional…

Read More