Schools Training

Equipment Vocabulary for Audio Courses

20 FEB 2013
Career Path : Audio Engineering

Audio courses require all sorts of specialized education, whether you’ve signed up at an audio engineering school or a DJ school, including a whole host of unique vocabulary. There are terms for describing sound, for adjusting acoustics and for which stages of production a sound is in. There’s also a collection of jargon related to the equipment that is used to record, process and reproduce recordings of sounds. To prepare you for the set up portion of your audio courses here’s a sampling of sound terms:


Amplifier: For a conventional, non-professional listener, an amplifier, or “amp” for short is often assumed to be simply for providing playback. However as the name suggests, amplifiers augment signal strength, taking input from microphones or electrical instrument. Amplifiers can be for pretty much any sort of signal, from video to audio.


Microphone: Abbreviated to mic, but pronounced like the name Mike, microphones pick up on audio inputs and convert them to a signal. They do this by registering air vibrations, which is converted to electrical pulses.


Rack: A rack is a standardized 19” cabinet to mount various customizable components on. Rack space, usually with each space 1 ¾” but the full length of the cabinet, uses rack flanges (or rack ears) a sort of support bracket, to “rack mount”. These are particularly good for traveling or touring performers and lead to a very tidy set up.


Reel: Unless wireless equipment is being used, everything that transmits or needs electricity has cables running in and out of it. To prevent additional unwanted cable lengths running everywhere, cables may have a reel system, rather like a retractable dog leash, which pulls the extra in safely when it’s not in use. These reels will even have a reel lock, if the user wants a cable to be set at a particular level of slack.


Turntable: In the past, DJ was short for disk jockey, meaning a person who played records and an event. A set up evolved, pioneered in British nightclubs, where paired record players would run simultaneously, with the operator slowing or speeding the playback and manually moving the records to produce the results they want. These days, while some DJs still use records, a modern turn table is often simply a tactile feedback system. DJ school will teach old fashioned techniques, but a modern DJ is more likely to have plethora of switchboard options and sound samples to blend into unique music.


These are hardly the only terms you can learn, but they’re a good leaping off place to supplement what you can study at your audio courses. And as soon as you start regularly using audio equipment everything will come naturally and you’ll learn the rest of the terms you need.


Visit Trebas Institute for more information on an audio engineering school.