Audio-Visual Glossary



GAIN:    The amount of increase in audio signal strength (volume), often expressed in dB (decibels). It is the level (amount) of the audio. It can also be how bright a TV-video screen can be. The term “gain” technically refers to “increase” (gain). One turns up the sound - it’s an increase. “Turn up the gain.” However, it has come to be used generally to mean volume, whether up or down.


GAIN CONTROL: (See GAIN.) 1) The knob or slider that adjusts the sound level of increase or decrease for an audio system or part of the system. This is how volume is adjusted. 2) Any control that adjusts the amount of something. Some video controls, such as “brightness” are referred to as “gain controls” .


GAIN RIDING:    Adjusting up the gain (volume) controls for low passages so such passages will be recorded above the noise and taking the controls back down during high passages to prevent distortion, done manually by the engineer. Also referred to as riding the faders.


GAIN SCREEN:    A video and-or film screen that has tiny glass particles embedded in its surface to not only reflect light back to the audience but to actually increase the amount of light reflected. The word “gain” is another name for volume - in this case, the “volume” of light. A 1x gain screen has no increase in reflected light. A 2x gain screen does increase the amount of light strength reflected back to the audience. 2x gain screens are popular for video as usually a video projector’s picture does not have much light and a gain screen can help the picture to be seen as brighter. However, these types of screens can often have a “hot spot” in their centre where the light volume is greater than the outer areas of the screen. For high quality film presentations, a no-gain (1x gain) screen is preferred in most applications. (Compare SNOW SCREEN.)


GAIN STRUCTURE:    The way in which the volume (gain) varies in the stages or sections of an audio system. Different pieces of audio equipment have different inherent volume levels or can be adjusted differently. If one piece is way too loud, the next piece of equipment on the line after it will have to be turned down to compensate. However, the very loud piece of equipment may have a lot of noise mixed with the desired audio program, simply due to its very loud volume (which makes the equipment’s own background noise audible as well). The gain structure should be optimised from component to component to minimise distortion as well as noise.


G&L, G&L GUITARS:  Stands for “George Fullerton” and “Leo Fender”. See FENDER.


GANGED:      Operated together. This term is used when two or more switches or potentiometers (gain controls) move because one knob moves. It is so called because the word “ganged” means to come together, as in the word “gang”.


GAP:       An air space or space filled with non-magnetic material. Gaps are used to direct magnetic energy to close-by magnetic material. For example, in a record head, the gap directs the magnetism to the oxide of the recording tape. 


GATE:     A signal processing device (piece of mixing equipment) that cuts the volume of a sound nearly off when its volume drops below a certain level set by the Mixer (threshold). Gates are often used to reduce background noise in a recording. For example, when a person speaks, the volume of the recording is at a certain level. When he stops speaking, one can then hear all the lower volume background noise. A gate will automatically turn the volume down when the speaker stops talking and then automatically allow the full volume of the speaker’s voice to be heard when he again starts talking. Gates are also used similarly to cut down on background sound “leaking” into a microphone in recordings such as drums. There may be a microphone on a specific drum, to only record that drum, but the sound from another drum is bleeding into the mic. The bleeding drum’s volume is quite a bit lower in volume than the drum the mic is close to so as to pick it up. A gate will help lower the volume of the bleeding drum almost completely. It is called a “gate” because it “closes the gate” on the unwanted sound.


GAUSS:  A unit of measurement of magnetic force. One example of the use of the gauss unit is to measure the small amount of magnetism needed to magnetise audio and video recording tape and the magnetism which remains in the tape after the original magnetising force used to record the signal has stopped - in other words, after the recording process has ended. Those producing and-or storing audio and videotapes want to know how long the signal on the tape is going to endure in its original highest quality state. All brands of tape are not the same in this respect, and extensive tests were done on tape types before the audio tape used at Gold was approved for production.




GB: Gigabyte. (1,073,741,824) bytes. Used to measure digital storage. A conventional single-sided single-layer DVD can hold 4.7 GB.




GENELEC:     A European company that builds loudspeakers for studio recording and mixing applications. Usually their speakers have built-in amplifiers. Used by many Mixers and studios around the world. They have a popular sized smaller loudspeaker, used for stereo and surround mixing called the 1031 model.


GENERAL DYNAMICS:       A company that makes receivers for home consumer satellite TV reception.


GENERATION:     A term used to describe the number of times that the recorded program has been copied. The original is the “first generation”. A copy made directly from the original is a “second generation” copy. A third copy made is a “3rd generation”.


GENERIC MASTER:    A term coined and used at Golden Era Productions to refer to some versions of mixes and master tapes, both audio and video. “Generic” is normally used in phrases such as “generic run-off” or “generic master”. It is taken from the dictionary definition meaning “general”, “not specific”. Indicates a type of copy, usually of an audio mixdown, which is done in such a way that it can be applied to (used for) any future versions of that product, such as foreign versions, versions for TV, versions for radio, etc. For example, a film trailer: It gets mixed for the first time and the mix includes a music track, several tracks of sound effects, dialog and an English-speaking narration. When the final mixdown is completed, it will be run off onto a master tape. That is the final Mix Master. Then a “generic” run-off (copy) will be made and this will be all the elements in that trailer as mixed in the final mixdown, MINUS the English narration. In the future, any foreign narration can then be mixed for that trailer using the generic run-off without having to remix the entire soundtrack. Songs are handled similarly so that, in the future, foreign singing can be added.


GENESIS SPEAKERS: A brand name of loudspeakers made by the Genesis company in Colorado. The president is Arnie Nudell who founded the original Infinity speaker company in Chatsworth, California. Genesis speakers use a combination of ribbon and normal speaker drivers and are known for being very full range - meaning they have quite low bass response below 20 Hz and the high frequencies extend to somewhere around 40,000 Hz.


GENLOCK:    Abbreviation for Generator Lock. The word “generator”, in this usage, is an electronic circuit inside video equipment that creates (“generates”) a signal which regulates and stabilises the picture information and the mechanical functions of a video machine. This enables the equipment to process and produce the video picture with its mechanical devices working in perfect synchronisation with its electronic video circuitry - so everything works together with the same timing. “Genlock” is a specific feature that uses the internal timing generator. It also serves another purpose. It stands for “Generator Lock”. Literally, when two video machines are made to operate together in perfect synchronisation (timing), their generators are “locked’ together to ensure they are in synch. In other words, in order for two video machines to run together in perfect synch (and therefore have their picture information be stable as they share or pass such information), their internal timing generators must run in perfect unison. They must be “locked” together. “Genlock” is the timing reference signal made (“generated”) by a piece of video equipment that the other machine accepts (reads) and then matches. Even more modern digital video equipment requires such a reference signal to keep its picture information stable and to operate in synchronisation with other computerised (or non-computerised) gear. Most professional video equipment has a Genlock input and output. A coaxial cable with BNC connectors on each end usually connects them to another video device. (See CO-AX, BNC.) Genlock can also be used as a video reference for audio equipment that must run in perfect synch with video.


GEN-X or GENERATION X:      Refers to the generation of children born in the United States after the 1960’s. The term comes from a book by Doug Coupland, who was born in 1961. Various modern music and cultural styles are attributed to or associated with Generation X as opposed to those styles and trends that the 60’s generated (and which older generations may tend towards).


GEORGE MASSENBURG, GEORGE MASSENBURG LABORATORIES:      George Massenburg designed and hand built the large mixboard located in the LRH Music Studio control room. It is extremely valuable and highly regarded throughout the professional studio industry. Only three exist in the world. George Massenburg himself is a highly famed recordist and mixing engineer. Over the last 25 years he has produced some of the top acts in the world.


G4:  A model of computer from the Apple company. It is often used in commercial graphics and video special effects production, as well as in computerised music and mixing.


GHETTO BLASTER:     The portable stereo systems consumers take to the beach, camping, etc. They got the name “ghetto-blaster” because they are associated with persons who would walk down the street (of the ghetto) holding the units on their shoulders listening to music with strong beats. They are also used to dance to on street corners.


GIBSON:       Orville Gibson founded the Gibson musical instrument company in the late 1800s. They first made mandolins, banjos and very fine acoustical guitars. They continue to make such, but the company today is more famous for their electric guitars. Specifically, in the early 50s they hooked up with Les Paul, a fabulous jazz guitarist and inventor who literally created the instrument. He worked with Gibson to design a number of different electric guitars and remains affiliated with them today. “The Les Paul” guitar is one of the most sought after instruments in the world.


GIGABYTE:   One billion bytes. More specifically, 1,073,741,824 bytes. Note:  A Gigabyte is a quantity expressed in the binary numbering system, it is one billion binary digits. “Giga” is from Greek meaning “giant”.


GLASS MASTER, GLASS MASTERING:   In the production of compact discs (CD or DVD), the glass master is the first main master disk made. It is made from the plant master. (See PLANT MASTER.) The glass master is then used to carry out the remaining production steps required to produce CDs or DVD’s in bulk. (See CDs HOW THEY ARE MADE AND HOW THEY WORK.)


GLASSY:        Very bright. A little less extreme than edgy. A little too bright or trebly. Sort of like bright reflective drinking glasses adding a shimmer or glass-like quality to the sound.


GLISSANDO:        A rapid slide through a series of consecutive tones in a scale or passage in performing or singing music. When two notes are played with glissando “on”, every note in between the two notes will be played in a sequential order.


GLITCH: 1) Any short breakdown in equipment or cessation of the action or process being done during the course of producing an audiovisual product. 2) A sudden drop in volume of sound and-or omission of video pictures of a satellite broadcast. 3) A goof or error that is instantly corrected but still was slightly noticeable. 4) An instantaneous jerk or shake in a video picture or splotch of blackness or white in all or a portion of the picture. 5) In audio, a spot in a recording where there is suddenly no sound, then it returns. 6) In film, a sudden drop out of sound while watching a movie presentation.




GLOTTAL FRY:     The word “glottis” refers to the area in the throat around the vocal cords. When a person’s voice gets worn and rough, he is said to have “glottal fry”. One meaning of the word “fry” comes from Old French meaning “to rub” - and another meaning is like “fried”, slang for tired, worn. Glottal Fry can occur during long recording sessions with singers and other vocal talent.


GML, GML MIXBOARD:      Abbreviation for George Massenburg Laboratories. See GEORGE MASSENBURG.


GNUTELLA:   An Internet site similar to Napster. (See NAPSTER.)


GOBO:   1) A screen or mat covered with dark material for shielding a camera lens from excess light or glare. 2) A screen or sheet of sound absorbent material for shielding a microphone from sounds coming from a particular direction. The origin of the word is uncertain. It dates back to the late 1920’s.


GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS:       An awards ceremony for the film industry, similar to the Academy Awards, but held earlier in the year.


GOLDEN RATIO: Also known as Golden Section. A ratio of height to width of a room to achieve “good acoustics” and first recommended by the ancient Greeks. The ratio is approximately the width 1.6 times the height and the length 2.6 times the height.


GOLDLINE DSP-30 SPECTRUM ANALYSER: This is an audio testing device that, with rows of small red lights and numerical read-outs, provides computer-accurate readings of audio volume and frequency content throughout the entire audible scale of frequencies. It can also measure sound pressure (volume). Goldline is the company that makes the device and they are steadily in use throughout Gold’s many studio facilities. It performs the same functions as an Ivie Spectrum Analyser, but costs about one half the cost. (See AUDIO SPECTRUM ANALYSER.)


GOLDMUND: French manufacturer of audio equipment. Most famous for their record turntable arms and amplifiers.


GOLD TEST FILM:       A film prepared by the Gold Film Lab which, when played in an org film room, allows the projectionist to adjust the projector and to ensure the audio is exactly set. It is also used to ensure the projector is operational and not damaging the film. The Gold Test Film is to be played each morning to ensure all the films for that day’s showings will be perfectly done. The orgs are able to purchase as many test films as they need and are encouraged to always have a good test film for the above purposes.


GOOSENECK:       A slender rod upon which a microphone can be mounted that bends in any desired direction.


GOP:      An abbreviation for “Group of Pictures”. This term describes a series of video frames used by the MPEG process. It is a series of I-Frames, B-Frames and P-Frames. (See MPEG for a full definition of these terms and how the MPEG process works.)


“GO STRAIGHT SHOT”:     Means to go directly to a piece of audiovisual equipment with no via. Means to plug in directly to the unit. Usually said when trying to get the best possible sound or to make the best possible copy.


GPS (GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEM) SATELLITES:      The array of satellites maintained by the U.S. government to beam back position-locating information as an aid to navigation. Systems are now being installed in consumer vehicles which can tell a driver his location and plot his exact course to any given destination, give mileage and time to reach such, and many other features.


“GRAB IT”:   To capture (record and store) a sound or picture as it occurs live or to make an instant copy as it is played back.


GRADO: Manufacturer of high quality headphones and phonograph cartridges. A pair of Grado headphones can be found in Gold’s main music studio.


GRADO SIGNATURE HEADPHONES:      Joseph Grado is a respected audio engineer based in New York. One of his finest products is a set of headphones, of reference quality, made entirely of aluminium and leather. They are all hand-made and each set is calibrated to be extremely accurate. A pair of these headphones can be seen in the record booth of the LRH music studio at Gold.


GRAIN:  All photographic film has “grain”. If you look very closely at a movie theatre’s screen while a movie is playing, you will see millions of small black dots on the screen. That is grain. The grain is caused by the tiny individual light-sensitive particles that make up the emulsion of photographic film. Those tiny particles, together, form the image that one sees when the film is projected on a screen. The fineness or coarseness of the tiny particles that comprise the emulsion determine how grainy the image appears. A film’s grain tends to become invisible to the eye when one sits at a proper distance away from the screen. This is a primary reason why there are exact specifications for seating distances from the screen; too closely seated, the picture can appear out of focus and sort of “dirty” looking (the black speckles of the grain). One can use the grain on the screen when setting the focus of a movie projector. The cameraman for the film might not have shot the scene in perfect focus, but the grain in the film can be brought into perfect focus by the projector lens and then you know that your focus is as good as it can possibly be. If the picture on the screen is then out of focus, it was shot that way originally. Note: Digital cameras and video don’t have grain. Only actual photographic film produces grain. Even still photographs have some degree of grain if one inspects their picture closely.


GRAINY:       1) A moderate “texturing” of reproduced sound; as if the sound had a slight “grain” texture. The sonic equivalent of grain in a photograph (ultra-fine black dots mixed throughout the images. 2) Suffering from various types of distortion that make the music or sound a bit rough and not smooth. 3) Some early digital audio equipment sounded “grainy” as do current models of inferior design. 4) The sound seems to be lacking a purity and instead has an “electronic-ness” about it. 5) See GRAIN for film definition.


GRAMMY AWARDS:    Awards issued to the music industry annually by the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. As with all similar awards for films, TV shows, etc., the ceremony is held late in the year to recognise the achievements for the entire year past. “Grammy” is short for “gramophone”, another name for a phonograph (record player).


GRAND MASTER: A type of magnetic recording tape that was manufactured by the Ampex Corp. The full name is Ampex 456 Grand Master. It is not used at Gold as it was found to sound great when first recorded and then rapidly lost many qualities.


GRAND SLAMM:  A very large loudspeaker made by Wilson Audio Specialties. It is used for quality control purposes.


GRAPHIC EQUALISER:      (See Equaliser and Equalisation) The GRAPHIC EQUALISER is so-called because the physical positioning of the controls gives a graphic display of the resulting frequency response. Each slide switch boosts or attenuates the response around the frequency assigned to it. A full range graphic equaliser is usually found as an auxiliary piece of equipment, since its size and cost preclude it being built into each separate signal path.


GRAPHIC MENU: A screen of information that comes up on a computer or when one starts playing a DVD which allows one to select various functions and features. It is a menu of such features. Also, satellite TV receivers as well as many other types of audiovisual electronic equipment have graphic menus which will display on a TV screen or in the equipment’s own display window.


GRAPHICS CARD:       In its most simple form, a graphics card is an electronic circuit board in a computer that transforms the data from the CPU into a video signal which can be displayed on a monitor. (See CPU.)


 GRASS VALLEY: A manufacturer of very high quality professional video equipment.


GREEN BOOK:     An audio industry publication by Sony and the Philips Corporation that gives the technical specifications for interactive CDs (CD-i). (See CD-i and INTERACTIVE.) Green Book specifications include everything from their physical size to the equipment required for record and play back and how the interactive data is installed onto the disc. It’s called the “Green Book” due to the colour of the front and back covers of the original publication.


GREEN ROOM:    1) An upstat, private room specially reserved at every event venue specifically and only for the senior executives and their staff in which they work, prepare speeches, etc. 2) Any such room in a theatre, auditorium or performance hall for talent, especially the lead performers. Carnegie Hall in New York has a famous green room. The origin of this word comes from the wall colour of rooms adjacent to studios at the National Broadcasting Company in New York and Los Angeles.


GREEN ROOM SYSTEM:    At all the events held by Gold, a special high quality audiovisual system is set up for use by executives. It is taken by Gold to the event venue, set up and fully tested. It is used to watch the videos prepared for the event, see visual graphics as they are being prepared for the show, and the system also shows the camera pictures of the event hall and podium, including during the event. The mix of the event being done in the truck is sent to this system as well as the truck video edit.




GRIP:     A person on a film set or on a stage crew who handles a lot of MEST. Grips are skilled at moving and rigging MEST on a set or on a live stage. They are called “grips” because they grab (grip) and carry things such as set walls, lights, electrical cables and camera tripods. 


GRITTY:        1) A harsh, coarse-grained texturing of reproduced sound. Seems to have the quality of tiny sharp-edged particles or unpleasant distortion in the sound. 2) Some music is enhanced by grittiness, such as certain types of distortion for electric guitars, making them sound tough and driving.


GROOVE ECHO:   In phonograph records, a low-volume “leakage” of sound caused by a previous groove deforming a later groove in the record’s surface. Also called pre-echo.


GROUNDING:      Grounding refers to the earth. In audiovisual electronic equipment, the equipment itself should be in touch with “ground”. This provides a path for any excess electrons to flow smoothly to earth. Ground also supplies a stable datum for the equipment. If the connection to ground is broken, one can hear all kinds of hums and buzzes. Great care is taken at Gold to ensure the grounding systems in our studios are correctly installed. Very long copper rods are driven deep into the earth - some go 30 feet or more straight down. The copper rod is then connected to a thick braided copper wire and that wire then connects to all the equipment in the studio. Sometimes this is accomplished just by connecting the ground wire to a metal cabinet or rack, which is holding the metal equipment. Thus contact to “ground” is achieved. You might see “GROUND” connections on the back of audiovisual equipment. Those are to be connected to the chassis of other equipment in the system.

For more technical definitions, read on… Ground is:

1) Electrical connection with the earth, assumed to be the zero-voltage reference for other signals.

2) Electrical connection to a common point, which is the zero-voltage reference point for the circuit. This is not necessarily earth ground.

3) The zero voltage reference point.

4) The part of the system that carries away unwanted signals such as hum and radio interference.

5) The connection that protects against electric shock from appliances, power tools, electronic equipment, etc. In audio, one of the most important factors to avoid unwanted noise is establishing a good connection to ground.


GROUND LOOP:  A ground loop is where an unwanted humming sound is caused because the electrical flow of two of more pieces of electronic equipment are crossed up in their electrical flow’s desire to seek ground. The two flows are looped together so to speak, and not able to each reach ground, but instead are flowing back on themselves creating a loop. This is heard as a loud hum.

For more technical data, read on… An example of a ground loop might occur at a live event where a lot of audiovisual equipment is being used. The production truck may use a separate ground connection than the house audio system out in the auditorium. They are in two different locations, so they are plugged into different ground points. When the audio cables running between the two are then connected up, a ground loop - and a lot of noise (loud hum, buzz, etc.) - can result. The handling for this is either:      a) connect both systems to the same ground connection or b) use isolation transformers to separate the systems so they don’t form a “loop”. In an audio system, a ground loop can be heard as a “hum”, a “rizz” or a “buzz”.


GROUP: On larger mixboards a “group” is several channels of audio which may be controlled by a single “group master fader” (master volume control). Groups of faders can be assigned to one group master fader on better mixboards. Then, by only moving the one master fader, the volumes for all the assigned single channels are changed relative to where their individual faders have been set volume-wise on the individual channels.




GROUP MASTER, GROUP FADER, GROUP MASTER FADER:    On mixboards, a master volume control that is a single volume fader control for the group of individual channels that are assigned to it. (See GROUP, MIX BOARD.)




GROWL: The sound of a bass guitar or distorted electric rock guitar in which the character of the instrument comes across with a sort of lion’s growl - it impinges.





1) Sonic “dirt”, crud, roughness. Muffled grittiness. Lots of different types of distortion in any audio signal or sound heard over loudspeakers.

2) “Grunge” is also the name of a famous guitar distortion box used in many rock recordings. It is very electronic sounding - it is not a distortion heard naturally from a loud guitar amplifier. 3) Grunge is also a type of music which principally originated in Seattle Washington - the band “Nirvana” was one of the original and most famous “grunge bands”.


G3:  Model number of a computer manufactured by Apple.


GUARD BAND:     (Or Guard Track). A blank (unrecorded upon) track on a multi-channel recording tape used for music recording and then mixing. This unrecorded track on the tape “guards” the actual many recorded tracks from being influenced by a special track that has time code recorded on it. The time code is used to keep machines in the studio running in perfect synchronisation. If not for the guard track (the blank track) the sound of the time code might bleed over to the other tracks of music and be heard.




GUI:       (Graphical User Interface). A generic name for any computer interface that substitutes graphics (like buttons, arrows, pictures of switches, or pictures of sliders [faders], etc.) for characters; usually operated by a mouse. Computers that one can record, mix and edit audio on often have a GUI interface. One can click on a picture of a mixboard fader and move it up or down (louder or quieter).


GUIDE PLUS +:   A consumer home TV feature, found on more recent televisions, which provides a digital graphics display of scheduled TV show airings - it is a “guide” to show times and stations.


GUIDE TRACK:    Any song or soundtrack to a video or film that is put on the tape recorder to act as a guide while the real recording and mixing of the final product is done. For example, the rough audio which Video Editing created when doing a video edit will be sent to the audio studio and used by the Mixer as a guide track to ensure all sounds are put on the tape exactly per the approved edit.