Knowledgebase

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…

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Optimising Windows or Mac computers for audio

Problems are usually bus and/or buffer overload. As Macs and PCs now share the same Intel chipsets, hopefully the “rules” that you have to apply to optimise a PC for audio will be similar. Basically the machine needs to be focussed entirely on handling audio and minimising system interrupts on its data buses. While the…

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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…

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Collection and Delivery

For large items where ordinary postal services may be too expensive, members have had success using the following providers. Most are reselling the services of other major courier/delivery firms and collect from your premises. Parcel 2 Go Appear to offer a choice of carrier at various price points depending mainly on how quickly you want…

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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.

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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…

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Stick pads

Stick Pads are the soft rubber things that you fit onto the end of a walking stick to protect the end of the stick and reduce the noise of the stick hitting the ground. Sound Recordists use them on high heels or chair legs to reduce the sounds of walking or chair movements on hard…

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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

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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…

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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…

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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…

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Tesa tape

Tesa Tape is a generic term applied to self adhesive foam rubber tapes or sheets a few mm thick. TESA is an American adhesive tape maker, with a UK subsidiary. Tesa Tape is commonly used stuck to the heels and soles of shoes to deaden the noise of footfalls on hard or hollow floors. It…

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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/

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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,…

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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…

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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…

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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.

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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…

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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…

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Lockit

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

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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…

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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…

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Amps

Amps (Amperes) measure the flow of current that a potential difference forces through a circuit. The symbol is always A. The name derives from the French physicist André-Marie Ampère (1775-1836). As with Volts, current can be unidirectional – Direct Current (DC) – or alternating in direction (AC), and the values used can be peak or…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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.

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Late Payment

Running a business, owed money from another business? Then you have a statutory right to interest and compensation under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998 (as amended). There is no obligation to charge interest or claim compensation on a late payment, you just have a legal right to do so. Be aware…

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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…

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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…

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Intermodulation

Q: What is intermodulation? What causes intermods? A: Intermodulation generally only comes up in conversation when discussing interference. To understand about intermodulation products, or intermods, you need to know a little bit about transmitter and receiver design. Transmitters and receivers are designed to work at a particular frequency. High frequencies, such as those used in…

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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…

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Decibel (dB)

The human ear does not react to changes in sound in a simple, linear way. To double the loudness of a sound, say by turning up the volume control on an audio amplifier, most people find that they need to increase the power produced by the loudspeaker by about ten times. If we were to…

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Alternating current (AC)

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

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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…

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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…

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After Fader Listen (AFL)

AFL may be After-Fader Listen or After-Fader Level, depending on whether the user is more concerned with the quality and/or content of the signal or with its level. It is similar in operation to Pre-Fader Listen (PFL) except that the signal is derived after the channel fader instead of before. As AFL is also derived…

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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…

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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…

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Broadcast Wave Format (wav)

Broadcast Wave Format was developed by an EBU Project Group (see The Broadcast Wave Format – an Introduction) to provide a product-independent means of exchanging programme material between workstations from different manufacturers. It is based on the Microsoft WAVE audio file format (file extension .wav), which is one of a number of file types specified…

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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…

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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…

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Timecode

Timecode in audio operations refers to the SMPTE/EBU time and control code which is used for synchronising audio with video and for locating sections of programmes. Linear Time Code (LTC) is most commonly used, although Vertical Interval Timecode (VITC) may be encountered in television operations. Both versions use an 80-bit binary code to identify video…

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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…

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Bright Eyes (Phantom checker)

This “Bright Eyes” device was described by Hugh Robjohns in this Line Up article (June/July 2006) and uses a circuit designed by Chris Woolf. A Bright Eyes can be a very useful tool to have during rigging or fault finding to check if an XLR cable has active microphone powering. It is simple to construct…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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.…

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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…

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