SABINE FEEDBACK ELIMINATOR: Sabine is the name of a company who makes an electronic component used for live performances to get rid of microphone feedback automatically. It detects the sound frequencies that are feeding back and, with EQ, lowers the volume of that frequency.
SACD: Super Audio Compact Disc. Super Audio CD (SACD) is a high resolution audio disc format developed by Sony and Philips, first introduced in 1999. The SACD can only play on an SACD equipped player. It actually uses a DVD disc as its medium, not a CD. The SACD is recorded with a proprietary digital process developed by Sony and Philips, and supports both stereo and surround sound audio. SACD competes with a type of DVD disc for audio-only releases, called the DVD-Audio disc, which also offers both stereo and surround sound. Like DVD-Audio discs, the SACD can contain a second version that plays in a CD player. (The different versions are recorded on separate layers contained within the SACD and DVD-Audio discs.) The surround sound versions of music released on SACD are fully discrete 6-channel mixes. Each of these 6 channels is meant to be routed directly to its own preamplifier - power amp - loudspeaker channel - left, centre, right, left surround, right surround and sub-woofer. (This is mentioned because Dolby Digital and DTS surround sound are recorded onto a single digital data stream that gets processed into surround sound and routed by the playback device.) SACD 6-channel players have 6 discrete outputs intended to bypass any sort of surround sound processing such as Dolby and DTS in the consumer’s audio system. The SACD player also has 2-channel outputs for stereo. Some equipment manufacturers (i.e. Sony, Philips, Marantz and the Accuphase Corporation) produce players that will play both DVD-Audio and SACD. See DSD (Direct Stream Digital) for more information on SACD digital processing.
SADiE: An abbreviation for Studio Audio Digital Equipment, Inc. SADiE is a high quality digital audio computer system. It can be used to record, mix, edit and master audio programmes. It can do all the functions and actions required to produce a digital master that is fully ready to be duplicated (volume digital discs replicated).
SAE: A brand of graphic equaliser famous in the ‘70s. They also made audio amplifiers.
SAFETY TAKE: A “take” is any time a cine shot or audio recording is done. A “safety take” is simply a repeat take, even though the director and others are happy with a take they have, to make sure they have another one or another version in case anything happens to the first.
SAG: Abbreviation for Screen Actor’s Guild. This is a union-type organisation that protects the rights of actors and helps to ensure they get paid when products using their name or image are shown or played, even years after the film was released.
SAMPLE, SAMPLING: 1) A computer process that applies to all digital audiovisual equipment. In digital audio, sampling is the process whereby a digital audio recorder or player “samples” (looks at) sound. One could say the digital audio equipment takes “snapshots”, so to speak, of the audio programme (music, etc.). Sampling is done thousands of times per second by digital equipment. How many times per second is called the “sampling rate”. Some digital equipment samples 44,100 times per second (such as a CD). Others sample at 96,000 times or more per second. Each time such equipment “samples” the audio programme, the machine’s own digital electronics convert what it sees into numerical information. 2) In music, a sound or short length of sounds stored digitally in an audiovisual computerised device, such as a synthesiser. A synthesist (the musician playing and operating a synthesiser) can then manipulate and tailor the sample’s characteristics and qualities to his liking using the many controls on the synthesiser. 3) The art of “sampling” is the creation of new sounds by making brief recordings of a sound or sounds and manipulating them in various ways so they create the desired effect. New sounds are in constant demand. This is why many new songs have unique characteristics and sound qualities. They are using totally new sounds or sounds that have been changed in some way to sound hip, unusual or very unique and interesting.
SAMPLE AND HOLD: To make a very short recording of any signal or test (as seen on audiovisual test equipment) and to then store it (hold it) on the equipment’s screen or meter for later review or comparison. It is kept stored until another sample is taken and stored.
SAMPLER: A sampler is a unit used by many musicians. It has the ability to not only output various musical sounds, which can be played via a keyboard, but also the sampler can record parts the musician plays. The sampler can record many different parts, adding them all together into a song or part of a song.
SAMPLING FREQUENCY: The number of individual analyses of data (“samples”) made in a given period of time. If a digital audio recorder samples 44,100 times per second (as is the case with a CD), then the “sampling frequency” is 44,100 - often written in kilohertz as “44.1k”.
SAMPLING RATE: Same as SAMPLING FREQUENCY.
SAMPLE RATE CONVERTER: See SRC.
SanDisk, SanDisk Memory Card: Brand name of a small digital memory medium for copy protected material. See SECURE DIGITAL FLASH CARD for full definition.
SANS AMP: “Sans” is French for, “without”. The Sans Amp is a small electronic device for guitarists which very accurately simulates the sound of famous guitar amps. A guitarist can have the sound of any amp “without” actually having the amp. Made by the Tech 21 company in NY. Many studio guitarists travel with a Sans Amp so they can produce any type of guitar sound needed.
SAP: An abbreviation for Secondary Audio Programme. In TV broadcasting, A SAP is an additional soundtrack that is broadcast along with the main programme and can be accessed by using a menu option on the TV remote control. For example, blind persons could listen to a TV broadcast and select the SAP option and hear a description of the pictorial content of the programme right along with the principle soundtrack.
SATELLITE BROADCASTING: See TELEVISION TYPES OF, TRANSPONDER.
SATELLITE COMMUNICATION (S): Man-made orbiting stations around the Earth conveying information between points on Earth, such as television programmes, telephone calls, Internet, etc.
SATELLITE SPEAKER: A small loudspeaker with limited bass response (because it is so small), often designed to be used with a matching subwoofer. It is called a “satellite” as the main BIG speaker is considered to be the subwoofer and the two smaller speakers are usually on stands to either side of the subwoofer (like a satellite to either side of the earth). Such satellite speakers are usually placed on stands.
SCALE, SCALING, SCALING LINES, SCALER: To scale or “scaling” refers to a process regarding TV-video pictures. There are different sizes of TV screens and the electronic changing of a TV-video picture to assume the size of a given picture screen (TV or projected) is the act of “scaling”. The many various lines and dots (pixels) which make up the picture are stretched to assume different screen sizes. Equipment that does this is called a “scaler”. It does the process of “scaling lines” of the TV-video picture. Specifically this is most often used when a picture shot on video at the size required for a conventional TV is stretched to fit onto wider screens, such as those used for High Definition TV. The unit that does this is called a “Scaler” or “Rescaler”.
SCAN: 1) The action a TV or video projector does to create the many small lines which make up the picture on the screen. The lines are shot onto the screen (“scanned”) by an electron beam.
2) To look at or measure many items quickly, especially the action of a computer in a computer automated mixboard (console) measuring the settings of each of the mixboard’s many knobs at a high rate of speed.
SCAN CONVERTER: See LINE DOUBLER.
SCANNER1, SCANNING: A motion picture film or still photograph can be “scanned” into a computer by placing the film on a projector mechanism and using a high quality digital video camera to record the film’s image. The video camera records the image of each film frame as it passes through the mechanism and turns it into digital information which can then be loaded into a computer. An example of its use is that the entire original edited film footage of the Professional TR Course (TR-4) film was scanned into a computer and each frame of the film digitally cleaned and enhanced so this priceless original LRH Tech film can be preserved and fully upgraded. Note that the scanning machine is somewhat like a telecine machine, which does a similar function but the telecine does not turn the film image into digital information that can then be loaded into a computer. Moreover, the telecine does not have near the amount of resolution that the scanner has. The scanner can scan up to several thousand lines of resolution while the telecine only does normal video rates (several hundred usually). The scanner is called a scanner because the film is literally “looked at” by the machine by scanning each frame of film back and forth (scanning across the frame) whereas a telecine machine just takes shots of each frame.
SCANNER2: A radio device that constantly seeks to pick up any radio communications broadcast in a local area. If a person has a scanner, he can hear all cell phone and walkie-talkie communications nearby.
SCAN VELOCITY: The velocity (speed) of a CD’s rotation when being read by the CD player’s internal laser. Also applies to DVD’s and DVD players. The amount of surface area of the disc covered per unit time by the laser is constant from start to finish of the disc. In order to do this, the disc’s rotational speed actually changes as the laser moves from the centre of the disc to the outside of the disc. To keep the surface area being covered by the laser the same, the disc actually has to decrease in speed as the laser moves outwards. This is because the laser must still cover the same surface area of the disc in the same time span. For example, when the disc rotates Ľ turn with the laser at its outer edge this causes the laser to contact more of the disc’s surface than a Ľ turn when the laser is at the inner edge.
SCARLET BOOK: A publication from Sony and Phillips that defines and specifies the Super Audio Compact Disc (SACD). This book was first released to contracted mastering professionals in 1999. (SACD is separately defined.)
SCHEMATIC DIAGRAM: (In electronics) Often shortened to “schematic”. A diagram that shows the signal paths and electronic components of any electronics device.
SCHMITZER PRINTERS: Andreas Schmitzer takes BHP (
SCMS: Serial Copy Management System. This is a copy protection system that puts an inaudible digital code on digital media, such as a CD. It is not used for DVD’s. SCMS codes are not embedded into the audio programme sections of a CD, so they do not affect the sound quality. The code tells a digital audio recorder (such as a DAT recorder) if the programme it is being asked to record can be legally recorded. Commercial CDs can be copied once digitally, but then the copy of the CD cannot be further copied. DAT machines are not required to install this code on the DAT tape copies they make. (There are several different types of copy protection codes used throughout the industry and a list of the more common ones may be found at COPY PROTECTION TYPES OF.)
SCHOEPS: A manufacturer of very high quality condenser microphones.
SCOPE: Short for oscilloscope or vector scope, devices used to measure audio and video signals.
SCORING: The writing of music for an audiovisual product such as a film, video, slideshow or live event.
SCRAMBLED: 1) Audio or video programming that has been intentionally electronically jumbled and mixed up so, unless one pays to hear or see it, one cannot do so over their TV set or loudspeaker system. If one does pay, his equipment is allowed to unscramble the information. 2) Encrypted computer information.
SCRAPE FLUTTER: Roughness and veiling (loss of high frequencies) of analogue tape sound due to discontinuous movement of the tape across the heads of a tape recording machine. Sometimes called “violining”. It is caused by a miscalibrated machine not mechanically aligned so the tape literally “scrapes” across the heads causing vibrations and distortions in the sound.
SCRATCH: A descriptive term meaning “temporary”. A scratch vocal, for example, is singing done during an initial recording session of a song to help the musicians play their parts. At a later date, when most or all the instruments have been recorded, a final singing performance will be recorded.
SCRUBBING: This term applies to digital audio workstations (DAWs). The “scrubbing” mode is basically the same as the “shuttle” mode in VCR’s, DAT’s and other tape machines. The “shuttle mode” allows one to hear and-or see the programme as one manually advances the programme forward or backward, regulating the speed with the shuttle knob. The “scrubbing mode” is a similar feature, but in regards to computer audio-video playback.
SCSI: Abbreviation for Small Computer Systems Interface. Pronounced “scuzzy”. SCSI is a type of digital connection (wire, connectors, and some electronics). For audio applications, it is most commonly heard about and used as a connection between computers and digital recorders. For example, Gold’s SADiE system is a computer for creating audio products. When the audio product is complete, it is recorded on an Exabyte tape. The device that makes the Exabyte tape is connected to the SADiE computer using SCSI. SCSI allows not only the audio information to pass to the digital recorder, but also all other digital data related to the programme, such as cueing and timing codes that are to be on the CD. (These are the codes that put “track 1, 2, 3, etc. in the display window of a CD player with a time readout as well.) SCSI allows status and test information to be put on the final plant master and this data is then used by the replication facility.
SD: See SECURE DIGITAL FLASH CARD.
S-DAT: Stationary Head Digital Audio Tape. This is a type of digital tape recorder where, like an analogue tape recorder, the recording and playback heads are permanently affixed to a block of metal on the machine and recording tape passes across them, again, just like an analogue tape recorder. The reason the name is given at all to the method, is that many other mechanical systems exist for recording digitally onto tape or to a computer’s memory storage. For example, if you have ever seen inside a video cassette machine, there is a silver round head that spins at very high speeds - this is not stationary, but rather a “rotary head”. So the two different systems of heads for digital audio recording have two names; “stationary head” and “rotary head”.
SDDS: Sony Dynamic Digital Sound - a multi-channel surround sound digital system developed by Sony for playing the surround soundtracks of films in professional theatres. (Sony does not manufacture a home consumer surround system. Rather, their home equipment uses the Dolby and DTS surround electronics.) The full Sony SDDS system has channels (and full range speakers) for:
LEFT - Behind screen
LEFT CENTRE - Behind screen
CENTRE - Behind screen
RIGHT CENTRE - Behind screen
RIGHT - Behind screen
RIGHT SURROUND - To the right of the audience
LEFT SURROUND - To the left of audience
REAR SURROUND - To rear of audience
SUBWOOFER - Usually behind screen on floor
Sony’s digital surround audio information is read off the film itself. The digital data is put on the edge of the film. The audio is also digitally compressed.
SDI: An abbreviation for Serial Digital Interface. (See SERIAL INTERFACE.)
SDIF and SDIF 2: An acronym for Sony Digital Interface Format, 2-channel audio. Sony’s professional digital audio interface utilising three BNC connectors, one for audio channel 1, one for audio channel 2, and a separate BNC connector for word synchronisation (timing signal) - common to both channels. (BNC is separately defined.) SDIF 2 was originally developed by Sony for CD mastering and multi-channel recording equipment. SDIF 2 is also used in some D to A and A to D converters.
SD II FILE: Sound Designer II (2). A Macintosh computer file (software) for recording, editing and mixing sound on a Mac computer.
SDMI: See SECURE DIGITAL MUSIC INITIATIVE.
SDN: Abbreviation for Software-Defined
Network. This is a telephone company term and is a system specifically
developed and marketed by the American Telephone and Telegraph
company (AT&T). This system allows a large
customer (i.e. an office or organisation with many different offices or
locations) to be “defined” as one entity by the phone company, as opposed to
being considered as a lot of isolated single customers. This is very
helpful for large organisations, as very reduced telephone service rates are
applied to huge customers as compared to the home consumer. (The C of S is on
an SDN.) It is called “software-defined network”
because the phone company’s computer software defines the
SD3SAVXX: This is a term found in the SADiE digital audio computer manual. SD3SAV files are SADiE’s “Autosave” files. Recordings, mixes and edits are automatically saved onto the SADiE hard drive. You can tell SADiE to Autosave however often you like. There are additional letters that show which type of file has been saved: .~dl (“decision list”) for an EDL, .~su for mixboard settings (short for the “MSU” - mixer set-up file), and .~ls for Clipstores. (EDL, CLIPSTORE are separately defined.) For example, if an EDL you are working on has become corrupted or lost somehow, it is possible to look in the SD3SAVXX files, find the most recent .~dl file, rename it as the EDL you are working on and import it (transfer it) into the main SADiE processing files. The “XX” noted in the SADiE manual just means that any number from 0 to 99 can be substituted for the “X’s”. In other words, there can be up to 99 Autosaved versions of a given computer file. For example, the 55th Autosaved back-up file of an EDL would be numbered as “SD3SAV55.~dl”.
SDTV: Abbreviation for Standard Definition Television. This is a standard for Digital Television (DTV) broadcasts and receivers. Although SDTV is digital, it is not the same thing as High Definition TV. See HDTV rates for comparative information and specifications.
SEALED BOX ENCLOSURE: In loudspeaker design, an airtight enclosure that completely isolates the back of the speaker driver from the front. It can give a very tight, defined sound and good handling of loud volumes.
SEAMLESS: 1) Said to describe sound. Having no perceptible discontinuities (breaks or stops) throughout the audio range. One can hear all the frequencies (i.e.: from a loudspeaker) from the lowest to the highest frequencies.
2) Said of any action that is done in such a way as to not distract attention. Virtually invisible or unnoticeable as having changed at all, but a desired change has been made.
SECAM: SEquential Couleur
Avec Memoire. Sequential Colour With
Memory. A method of broadcasting television signals used in France, Russia
(CIS) and some of Eastern Europe, incompatible with the
SECAP: Acronym for Society of European Composers, Actors and Performers. European agency that monitors the commercial use of an artist’s work and ensures that royalties are paid. Similar to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) except that SECAP is a profit-making business and ASCAP is non-profit.
SECONDARY 5.1 SYSTEM: A separate room which has an acceptable quality consumer type surround sound audio system upon which a studio Mixer can use to check a surround sound film or music mix to ensure it plays well.
SECURE DIGITAL FLASH CARD (SD): A small digital storage device for personal digital music players. Actually called “SD” cards because the full name is “Secure Digital”. Sometimes called “Secure Digital Memory Card”. It can store about an hour of music and is used in higher quality personal music players. It was developed by the electronics companies Matsushita (who owns Panasonic and other companies), SanDisk and Toshiba. Sometimes called a “SanDisk” or “SanDisk memory card”. Songs downloaded from the Internet would be playable on a personal computer using authorised software or the small player itself, but the music company could prevent songs from being burned onto a CD or loaded to Internet sites in playable form.
SECURE DIGITAL MUSIC INITIATIVE: Abbreviated SDMI. An legal act to help define and promote the protection of artists, music companies, and songwriters with the proliferation of music distribution in all digital formats on the Internet, DVD’s, CD’s, etc.)
SECURE MODE: When sending a message or information via computer, this feature allows the information to be scrambled for secure relay. It is an older method and not so secure as the Government could still read the information. The latest methods are of encryption are secure. (See PUBLIC KEY CRYPTO, CRYPTOGRAPHY.)
SEGMENTED FRAME (sF): 24 frames per second progressive scan video cameras being made by Sony-Panavision, Thomson and others record a High-Definition progressive scan video signal at 24 fps (to match the US standard for motion picture film speed) and 25 fps (for the EU PAL standard). Conventional TV-video uses two interlaced fields per frame and runs at 30 frames per second. 24p video (24 frames per second progressive) does not use interlaced fields. Internally, the new High Definition 24p video cameras record images as “Segmented Frames” (abbreviated sF) in which there are two progressive fields (“segments”) recorded per each frame - in other words the 24p cameras record 48 progressive fields (“segmented frames”) per second. The fields are not interlaced, but each sF has all the lines of the High Definition video image. The engineers at Sony and Panavision designed and built the new CineAlta High Definition HDW F-900 camera system using this segmented frame method of recording the image because it was easier and more practical to execute the design electronically. (24p is defined separately.)
SEI: An abbreviation for Salford Electrical Instruments. SEI was the company that manufactured a type of high-precision light meters used at Gold. The SEI meter is used as the standard reference for exposing film. The company is no longer in business, but Gold has the full capability of keeping these meters in top condition and fully calibrated.
SEISMIC: Describes bass reproduction (from loudspeakers) which creates an impression that the floor is shaking.
SELECO: A brand of high quality TV-video projectors.
SELECTABLE BLACK LEVEL: Many DVD-Video players have the ability to adjust the black level of the DVD’s picture on the TV screen. This is because the blacks in such pictures are very often inaccurate making the picture dark and hard to see. This is usually due to poor DVD manufacturing.
SELF-ERASURE: The automatic (and unwanted) partial erasure of high-frequency signals as the tape leaves the record head.
SELF-NOISE LEVEL: The output of a microphone, entirely caused by random electron motion within the microphone’s electronic parts themselves, in the absence of air pressure variation (when no sound reaches the mic).
SELMER: A musical instrument manufacturer that makes very high quality saxophones, trumpets, trombones, etc.
SEL REP: Analogue audio tape recorders have separate record and playback heads. “Sel Rep” is Otari’s abbreviation for Selective Synchronised Reproduction. It is really just a fancy name for the fact that the record head can be used also as a playback head. This is needed when using a multi-track tape recorder, like the big machines in Gold’s studios. Here is how it works. First a basic piano track might be recorded. All other musicians will use this first recording and play along to it (listening to it over headphones while they play their own parts on their own instruments). Their instruments are recorded when they do this. In this way, many different tracks of many different instruments are built up and these will all eventually be mixed together into the song. However, how does one hear what is already recorded (the piano track) if the playback head (which one normally uses to play recordings back) is a couple of inches away from the record head? Just that little bit of distance apart makes for a timing error - what you hear and what you play will always be slightly out of synch. Therefore, SEL REP allows the record head to also act as a playback head for the track already recorded. It is not the best quality sound (the playback head sounds far better) but to just hear over headphones to play your instrument or to sing along to. One must make sure that the SEL REP feature is turned off when mixing or he will be listening to the poorer quality SEL REP playback rather than the full fidelity of the actual playback head.
SEMICONDUCTOR: 1) A material which conducts more than an insulator but less than a conductor. This material is used to make such electrical parts as transistors.
2) Any device, such as a transistor, which is mainly made from semiconductor material.
SEMITONE: A semitone is a half tone. If one were to play a series of notes on a piano using only the white keys, but suddenly played one of the black keys between two of the white keys, that black note would be a semitone in comparison to the two white key notes. The white keys are called “whole tones” or “full steps.” The semitone is also called a “half step” or “half tone”.
SEND(S): 1) A feature on a mixboard which is used to route (“send”) one or more sounds to some other piece of mixing equipment. There, the sound will be mixed and processed and routed back to the mixboard via a feature called a “return”. Sends and returns are really just connection points, in and out, of the mixboard - often with small volume controls (knobs or faders) that can set the loudness going out or coming back in. Sends can be labelled AUX (auxiliary) SENDS, ECHO SENDS, EFFECTS SENDS, etc. but they all perform the same function, which is to combine any signals sent to that bus and “send” the combined signal to the input of an outboard unit.
2) A signal feed (transmission) of any type, over wire, broadcast, etc. “The musician received a send from the mixboard so he could hear himself perform.”
SENSITIVITY: 1) “Sensitivity” is an audio amplifier specification - it deals with how well it responds to a given signal sent to it. 2) It is the sound pressure level directly in front of the speaker (on axis) at a given distance (usually 1 meter) produced by a given amount of power (usually 1 watt). A measurement of speaker efficiency that tells how much sound is produced 1 meter away from the speaker with an input of 2.83 volts (1 watt into 8 ohms). Higher numbers are better. 3) In microphones sensitivity is the output level produced by a by a microphone when it receives an (agreed upon) standard amount of sound pressure level.
SEPARATES: Higher quality audio playback sound systems use “separates”. Separates are where each piece of equipment is in its own separate chassis (box), such as the preamp, radio tuner, amplifier, etc. This is as opposed to an “integrated receiver” which has all those combined into one. Separates are known to usually have better quality sound than integrated receivers because the electricity and power supply inside the equipment is not being shared by more than one component.
SEPARATION: 1) The degree of segregation of one signal from another. 2) The difference, measured in decibels (dB), between the left and right channels of an audio signal, indicating the amount of leakage between channels in a component. Higher figures are better as there is more separation (less bleed from one channel to another).
SEQUENCE (to sequence): 1) To programme musical synthesisers to produce certain sounds when given a specific command to do so.
2) To build the many different instrumental parts of a song in a musical synthesiser or computer being used to write and record music.
SEQUENCER: Used in creating musical parts, songs and musical pieces with music synthesisers. It is really a computer module that allows one to arrange and store, in sequence musical parts played. Can be built right into some musical synthesisers.
SERIAL COPY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM: See SCMS.
SERIAL DIGITAL: In computers and computerised audiovisual equipment (both professional and home consumer models), “serial digital” refers to digital information that is transmitted in a single series of information bits on one wire. This means its data (bits) are transferred one by one in one line. This is a very common way for digital audio and video and other computerised equipment to send and receive data. For example, digital audio and video equipment very often use serial digital signals. Dolby and DTS surround sound from home consumer DVD video players is transferred to the consumer’s receiver or processor on a serial digital connection. The very high quality 601 video format, as used in Gold’s On-Line Bay, uses serial digital data. Serial digital is a single digital bit stream. It is different from a parallel digital connection or system where several bits and-or bytes of data are transmitted and received at the same time over several different wires (all using the same connector). Computers also often use parallel connections for their printers. Because more bits and bytes are travelling at the same time, the parallel digital system of data is faster.
SERIAL DIGITAL INTERFACE, SERIAL INTERFACE: A “serial digital interface” is an interface in which data is passed over a single line, one bit at a time. This type of interface is very common in computers and computerised audio and video equipment.
SERIES CIRCUIT: A circuit in which electronic components are connected end to end, meaning the (+) terminal to the (–) terminal, so that the signal flows through them in a single path. For example, loudspeakers may be connected in series. The current flowing to them would enter the first loudspeaker, and leave that loudspeaker to go on to the next, and then to the next. If one loudspeaker were to become damaged such that it no longer passed current, all the rest of the connected loudspeakers would cease to operate. (Compare PARALLEL CIRCUIT.)
SERVO: Short for Servomechanism or Servo Control. Any of various devices which, when electricity is applied, a magnetic force is created which can then do work. For example, a servo switch can be made to open and close magnetically by sending or not sending electrical current to the switch.
SERVO-CONTROLLED: In small electrical motors used in audiovisual equipment, especially video and audio tape recorders, a servo-control is a circuit where the speed of the motor is sensed and compared to a reference, such as a vibrating crystal or some steady electronic pulse. The speed of the motor is then adjusted to keep that perfect speed. This allows two motors to work together perfectly and not fight between themselves due to small variations in speed.
SESAC: Acronym for Society of European Stage Authors and Composers. A European organisation established in 1930. It is a profit-making business hired by writers and publishers in the theatre and music industries to monitor the commercial use of an artist’s work. SESAC ensures that those who commercially use these works pay royalties.
SESSION: A recording or mixing session. The period of time and the circumstances under which recording and mixing are done.
SET LIST: The list of songs, in order, to be played during a live musical performance.
SET TOP, SET-TOP-BOX: This refers to any electronic equipment meant to be “set on top of” a TV or that could be set there if one desired. Often said in reference to TV receiver boxes for cable or satellite TV broadcasts which one needs near to and connected to the TV in order to pick the shows up.
SET-UP GUIDE: A manual for how to set up and use audiovisual equipment. It’s called this and not a manual when there are programming steps and adjustments the user must do before actually getting down to using and enjoying the piece of equipment. For example, when installing a new satellite dish at your home and having to do all the adjustments and programming, you would use a set-up guide.
720i, 720p: See
PROGRESSIVE SCAN. 7.1: Seven channels of surround sound speakers plus a sub-woofer
(the “.1”). Just a couple higher quality surround sound formats have this many
channels. For home, it is the Dolby THX EX and for professional theatres, it is
Dolby Digital EX, DTS and Sony’s system. The 7.1 version of surround adds two
channels of rear surround to be placed behind the audience to the more usual
5.1 system. 7.1 systems include, in professional cinemas DOLBY DIGITAL EX (and
the THX EX version), DTS ES, and Sony’s SDDS. Note that Sony’s SDDS is for
professional theatres only and it is actually capable of 8 channels plus
subwoofers - it includes two extra speakers up front, behind the screen. In
consumer home installations, only under Dolby’s “THX Surround EX” name will
there be the 2 rear chan75 OHM TERMINATOR: Ohm is a
unit of resistance to electrical flow. A terminator is a device you use to end
the path of a signal. In video you can sometimes get an overly bright and
bad-looking picture on the screen. This is often due to a video cable somewhere
on the line that is not connected to anything. In this case the signal has
nowhere to go so it flows back into the video cable and the unit that is
feeding it, and then interferes with the video picture displayed. To handle
this you “terminate” the video routing by connecting a “terminator”. A 75 ohm
terminator is a specific type of terminator which has the correct amount of
resistance to the flow of the video signal to cause it to stop at the point of
termination and not flow back up the line. Many video monitors have a switch on
their back panels to add a 75 ohm termination to the signal if needed. There
are also video connectors that have this 75 ohms built right into them that you
can just plug into70 µSEC EQ, 120 µSEC EQ: These
symbols are seen on nearly every cassette recorder and on most cassette
packaging. Looking these up in an electronics dictionary is usually pretty
dismaying, especially when it is discovered that “µSec” is an abbreviation for
“microseconds”! What exactly does a “microsecond” (one millionth of a second)
have to do with playing a cassette tape? First, it is helpful to know that the
number of “microseconds of EQ” has to do with how accurately an audio tape
recorder records and plays back magnetic tape. The actual technical names for
these settings of “70 and 120 microsecond EQ” are “pre-emphasis”
(pre-equalisation) and “post-emphasis” (post-equalisation) which are functions
that a tape recorder does to magnetic tape during recording and pl Pre-equalisation
has to do with what sound frequencies the tape recorder’s electronic circuits
increase in volume. This increase is done to enable all audible frequencies to
be recorded onto the recording tape with equal loudness. The frequencies the
tape has trouble recording are boosted in volume by pre-emphasis, so they will
be recorded just as loudly as other frequencies the tape is more sensitive to.
This enables tape to accurately record all the parts of an audio programme. As
a rule of thumb, high frequencies are increased in volume during recording and
decreased during playback; while the lows (bass) are left alone in recording
and then boosted during playback to make up for the tape not recording them
very strongly in the first place. On some cassette decks and tape packaging the
labels simply say “Metal Tape” or “Ferric Tape” so one knows to push the
buttons on the cassette deck that are so labelled. As for the term
“microseconds”, the number of microseconds is simply part of the process that
electronic circuits use to perform these pre and post-equalisation functions
accurately. Sound frequencies are actually vibrations. “70 microseconds”, “120
microseconds”, etc. is how long the frequencies that need to be boosted take to
rise from no volume to their full volume for one single vibration of that
frequency. 70 and 120 microseconds are called time constants, because they are
standard amounts of time required for the rise of a sound frequency from no
volume to its full volume - the very fist impulse of a given sound. (This can
be easily displayed on an oscilloscope if you need to get some mass.) The
number of “microseconds” seen on a cassette deck or packaging simply expresses
at which frequency (denoted by length of time) the electronic circuit starts to
raise the volume of those frequencies to help the tape record them. Different
types of tape need somewhat different frequencies boosted (equalised) at
different amounts. That’s why there are two different settings (120 and 70).
Ferric tape requires an EQ boost at 120 µSec, whereas chrome and metal tapes
require 70 µSec. Each of those settings refers to an exact frequency and an
exact amount that frequency is boosted to enable the tape to be recorded and
played back so that the listener hears the sound with the correct amounts of
low, mid and high frequencies. 120 µSec relates to the ferric cassette tape
pre-equalisation starting at about 1,300 Hz and gradually increasing in volume
as the frequencies get higher in pitch; and 70 µSec is for chrome and-or metal
cassette tape whose high frequency boost starts at just over 2,000 Hz.
Professional audio recording tape and recorders have different EQ curves
because they use different tape and they record and play back at different tape
speeds (the speed at which the tape is recorded also affects how much EQ is
needed for pre-emphasis and post-emphasis). 70
VOLT: This is an amount of electrical
current used in specialised audio loudspeaker systems that are installed
throughout a home or building. It actually carries audio signal to many
different locations - for example to the many ceiling speakers in a large
shopping mall. The 70 volt signal is generated by the amplifiers for the
loudspeakers in the system - that signal is fed to all the speaker locations.SERVER: See VIDEO SERVER.
SFX: Abbreviation for Special Effects (“FX”).
SFX ELEMENT: Any visual special effects film or video footage which is to be combined or inserted into a film or video product.
SHADED DOG: A type of phonograph record put out by RCA during the 50’s and 60’s. The record has a small dog listening to a Victrola (an old fashioned record player). There is a dark, reddish-brown shading around the picture of the dog on the label. The original stereo SHADED DOGS are very rare and very expensive. They are collected by audiophiles and music lovers. They contain recordings of some of the world’s greatest orchestras and musicians playing the world’s most famous music.
SHADOW: (See BTX SHADOW.)
SHAKER: A small egg shaped percussion instrument held in the hand and shaken. It is nearly identical to a plastic Easter egg but it will not open up. Inside there are small pieces that make a shaking sound. Can also be a gourd with seeds or other items, such as sand, inside that are shaken to make a percussive sound.
SHALLOW: 2 dimensional. When a loudspeaker or audio component does not produce a big, open sound, it is called shallow or flat sounding. Can also be said of a mix where there is not much depth.
SHARC: A computer chip made by a company called Analogue Devices. This chip
is often advertised in home consumer surround sound audio electronics. “SHARC”
is an acronym for Super Harvard Architecture Computer.
The SHARC chip in audio surround sound equipment can perform all the DOLBY, DTS
and other processing found in Audio Video home receivers and processors. “Super”
in this case means an advanced version. “Harvard Architecture” is a specific
type of computer microprocessor design form (“architecture”) that was developed
SHARP: A sound that has high (treble) frequencies boosted so that it comes out from the loudspeaker in a way that is not pleasant or agreeably integrated with the rest of the mix (how the other instruments sound.) For example, an electric guitar’s highs are emphasised so it cuts through (like a “sharp” knife) any other sound, but done to such a degree that it is annoying and unpleasant to listen to. Some synthesised sounds can be too “sharp”. The “crack” (hit) of a high drum, like a snare, can be too sharp in a mix.
SHEEN: A smooth sounding “overlay” of high (treble) frequencies which sort of “coats” one or all of the sounds in a mix. The sounds have a “sheen.” It can be caused by an electronic component that is processing the sound in a mix. It can be caused by the audio playback system equipment or loudspeakers themselves. Can be any sort of “layer” seemingly imposed over a sound or picture - such as a “golden sheen” or a “silver sheen”. A sheen can be intentionally added to enhance the communication of a mix. Some equipment, however, can impart an unwanted sheen onto the sound. Such equipment does not A-B, and is repaired or gotten off the line.
SHELF, SHELVING: A word found labelled on mixing equalisers. It is a type of equaliser that supplies a constant amount of boost or attenuation at all frequencies beyond a set point. That set point (which is usually adjustable) is called the “shelf” as that point is flat (no boost) and anything beyond that point is boosted (higher) or lowered. The graphic representation of this resembles a shelf.
SHELL: Cassette tape is loaded into a protective covering during the manufacturing process. This covering is referred to as a “shell” or a “cassette shell”. It is made of plastic and contains tiny rollers and guides that help the tape move stably in a cassette machine.
SHIELD: Any device used to reduce the effects of extraneous electrical or magnetic fields on a signal path or system. Shields are found in most all audiovisual wires and cables. The metal cabinet of A.V. equipment acts as a shield from outside interference (radio waves, static electricity in the air, etc.).
SHIELD: A sheet, screen or braid of metal, usually copper, aluminium or other conducting material placed around or between electrical circuits or cables or their components to contain any unwanted radiation or to keep out any unwanted interference.
SHIFT: In audio, a sudden fault in the stereo image when the balance between the left and right channels jumps to a greater or lesser degree. This is most noticeable over headphones. For example, when listening to a lecture, the voice has a definite location. There is a balance of sound coming from the left and the right sides of the headphones. When a shift occurs, the voice will suddenly go off balance to the left or right. Shifts are usually quite brief, and are usually caused by a bit of dirt being dragged across a tape machine’s record or playback head. USAGE NOTE: While these can be detected on loudspeakers too, it’s easier to hear shifts with headphones. That’s one reason a machine operator monitors a runoff on headphones - to catch and handle such faults.
SHINKYO: Brand name of a film projector.
SHOCK MOUNT: A holder for a microphone which mechanically isolates the microphone from its stand, thus protecting it from mechanical vibrations.
SHOCK RESISTANT MEMORY: On portable CD players and Sony MiniDisc players, a digital “buffer” that holds several seconds of the disc’s sound in memory, to protect against skips. In the case of a bump or vibration, the buffer continues to deliver sound while the playback laser returns to the correct position.
SHORT: A short circuit. Two terminals of an electrical circuit that are meant to be separate touch each other, thus closing the terminals together. The distance between the terminals has been bypassed, it’s said to be shorted. Instead of a flow, the terminals are now snapped together. The result is often damaging to the electronic equipment that is not protected by a fuse. (A short will usually blow a circuit breaker or fuse to protect audiovisual equipment from becoming damaged.) A damaged wire, bad soldering or a tool dropped inside the equipment can cause a short.
SHORT THROW: A type of loudspeaker, used for live concerts and events, that is specifically designed to direct its sound only a short distance from the loudspeaker. One uses a short throw type to aim at the audience close to the stage and long throw types to reach the audience towards the back of the house.
SHOT-GUNNED SPEAKER CABLE: Just like some shotguns have two barrels (double barrelled), when a speaker cable is doubled up (two runs of wire to one speaker instead of the usual single run), the cable is then said to be “shotgunned”. It gives more conductors so the signal current can travel more easily from the amplifier to the loudspeaker. Sometimes this improves the sound, sometimes it does not.
SHOTGUN MICROPHONE: (See RIFLE MIC [no entry found – MJBH].)
SHOWSTOPPER: Panasonic’s Personal Video Recorder (PVR). This is considered one of the best on the market. See PVR for definition and description.
SHRILL: Strident, screeching sound. A loudspeaker can sound shrill. A sound in a mix can be shrill. Too much or distorted high (treble) frequencies can brings about this effect.
SHUTTER: In a film projector, a shutter is the rotating disc with blades similar to a propeller. The blades block the light while the film is being pulled through the gate. It is timed so light passes when the projector has placed the film frame squarely in the light path. If it was not for this shutter and the projector’s action of getting each frame perfectly positioned and paused for a very brief moment in front of the light, one would see the individual frames of the film running through the projector sort of how a length of film looks when you look at it outside the projector - many individual frames with black lines between each one. Often companies supply three-bladed shutters for such projectors, but three blades reduce the amount of light able to pass through the shutter and thus there is less light with which to project the image on the screen. A two-bladed shutter allows more light to pass as there are fewer blades moving in front of the light source (projection lamp). This not only improves brightness, but also the sharpness and detail of the picture image as the light rays are not being so broken up by the shutter blades. The down side to fewer shutter blades is the fact that image flicker can increase on the screen. (Three blades have less flicker than two blades.) However, a properly adjusted projector with two-bladed shutters will not have objectionable flicker, and the picture quality using the two-bladed shutter is superior.
SHUTTLE: A control knob which one uses to manually move the film or recording tape (audio or video) either forward or backward when the control is rotated off of a centre point, either left or right. The shuttle knob allows one to see the pictures and-or hear the sound while it moves forward or backwards. The knob can control the speed of this motion too.
SIAP: An abbreviation for System for Improved Acoustic Performance. (See AUDITORIUM SYNTHESIS for full definition.)
SIBILANCE: Often, when some persons speak, they make a lot of “Esss” sounds when they say letters such as “S” and “C” and sounds such as “Sh”. Those letters can be really loud in a recording as they are said with a lot of air moving between the person’s tongue and teeth as they speak. Some people have very little sibilance. Some have a lot. Because the “Sss” sounds are really a lot of air passing through the tongue and teeth, they can have a lot of air pressure behind them and therefore be quite a bit louder than the person’s actual singing or spoken words. This can create trouble in mixing and recording. Fortunately, there are handlings using standard recording procedures and mixing equipment especially designed to help reduce such sounds. USAGE NOTE: Reduction of sibilance, if annoying, is important. Several ways exist to deal with it. First, in recording the person, often the microphone can be placed so as to somewhat reduce the amount of “esses” hitting the mic relative to the volume of the other sounds he makes when he speakers. If there are heavy sibilances in the recording, and a Mixer attempts to make the voice a little brighter (by adding a bit of high treble frequencies) the sibilance can become even worse as the sibilance itself consists of nothing but high frequency information. Therefore it increases too as the Mixer tries to add high frequencies to the rest of the voice. A mixing device exists called a “De-esser” - it helps get rid of “esses”. It is of note that usually, as more and more tape copies are made of a given recording, the sibilance can tend to increase with each successive copy. The “esses” can tend to record loudly through tape recorder electronics and therefore further emphasise the problem. So it is important to get the “esses” under control when doing the original recording and mix. Sibilance can especially be a problem on videocassettes or when broadcasting as the “ess” sounds are so much louder than the person’s speaking or singing voice. They tend to come through loudly. Lastly, sometimes when reverb is added to a singing or speaking voice, the reverb can accentuate the “esses” because the reverb unit itself tends to activate more to loud sounds and less on quiet sounds. Therefore, the loud “esses” can be further exaggerated by the reverb unit.
SIDE BAND, SIDEBAND: In broadcasting, sidebands are additional carrier wave frequencies that are adjacent to the main carrier wave of a broadcast signal. It is a phenomenon of broadcasting that, when a carrier wave is added to and changed (modulated) by sound and-or picture signals that a sort of “mirror-image” to the carrier wave is produced. This additional frequency is called a “side band” because it is “to the side of” (just above - higher in frequency than and just below - lower than) the original carrier wave’s frequency. Side bands are created specifically in the type of broadcasting called Amplitude Modulation (AM). AM radio and television signals are broadcast using amplitude modulation. (AMPLITUDE MODULATION is defined as its own entry.) In a TV broadcast, the louder the audio signal and the brighter the picture signal, the more “mirror-images” of side bands are produced. The maximum audio volume, and video brightness and colour information that can be broadcast is limited by the regulations set by the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC). A broadcast station must remain within the limits of the FCC’s rulings or it may interfere with other stations. In other words, there is only so much bandwidth (in this case, principal carrier wave frequency plus numbers of side bands) available for a TV or radio station and they must remain within that bandwidth. If not for these rulings one might tune in a favourite TV show on channel 44 but have channel 45’s programme interfering. Note that side band technology is not new. It was developed by broadcasters and engineers in the 1940’s. Here’s the point of side bands and why they are used…A TV or radio station can take their original carrier wave for a broadcast, and, once they modulate that carrier wave thus creating side bands, they can then remove the original carrier wave and broadcast only the side bands with all of the picture, sound and other information on them. It takes a lot of power to continually broadcast a full carrier wave, but the side bands don’t require as much power. The power needed to broadcast side bands varies along with the loudness of the sound and the brightness and colour information of the picture. The lower the volume of sound, the less power it takes to broadcast it. And, because TV programmes are rarely broadcast at their full potential sound volume and picture brightness, it requires even less power to broadcast the side bands only. Television and radio broadcasters use this datum to conserve the amount of power their equipment needs to handle.
SIDE CHAIN, SIDE-CHAIN: To use one piece of mixing equipment to control another piece of mixing equipment. No audio signal actually goes through or is heard through the controlling pieces of equipment. It is just telling the other piece of equipment (which one does hear) what to do or how to do it. For example, one can run sound through a compressor, but have an equaliser telling the compressor what frequencies to compress more than others. The equaliser is on a “side chain” - it’s “to the side” as it is really not being heard itself.
SIGMA DELTA: An Electronics term used in regards to processing digital audio. This is a key part in digital to analogue converters. (The “digital to analogue converter” is the electronics inside any digital audio equipment that converts digital information back into sound that can be heard.) Sigma means “sum” - the total amount of something. “Delta” means “changes” - it is a mathematical symbol that indicates some change of some sort - it means an “increment of a variable” (how much something varied). The term “Sigma-Delta” is printed commonly on CD players and other digital audio equipment, and is the name of the type of converter used inside.
1) The portion of a transmission that coherently represents information, unlike the random and meaningless line noise that occurs in the transmission channel.
2) (Audio) By signal is meant the programme one wants. The signal that has been put on a line could be pink noise, a tone, voice or music.
SIGNAL PROCESSING DEVICE: A piece of audio mixing equipment (equaliser, compressor, limiter, expander, etc.) used to modify some characteristic of the signal passing through it for mixing.
SIGNAL TO NOISE RATIO, S-N RATIO: The relationship of the loudness of a desired audio signal compared to the loudness of the background noise in the environment where it is being recorded or to noise being generated by the recording or mixing equipment itself. It is the ratio, expressed in a unit of loudness called decibels, between the signal and noise. For example, all recording tape has inherent noise (i.e. tape hiss). The desired sound is the “signal” and the hiss is the “noise”. How loud the signal is compared to the noise is a ratio. USAGE NOTE: There is an important note regarding signal to noise ratio measurements found in advertisements and specification sheets for home audio and professional audio equipment. The common practice of rating signal to noise ratios is to do so at or near the maximum possible output volume of the audio equipment. This produces impressively high specifications because the meaningful signal is very loud compared to the noise. However, the actual signal to noise ratio should be measured at the volume levels that most people will listen at - at the volume the equipment is to usually be set. The signal to noise ratio actually achieved at normal listening levels will be far lower - and far more real a measurement.
SILVERY: Sound that is slightly hard but clear and clean sounding - like a characteristic of the metal silver. The high (treble) frequencies are set or reproduced so this coloration seems apparent.
SIMULCAST: A performance simultaneously broadcast over Television and FM radio. One can then watch and even record the show at home while listening to better sounding music than the TV’s speakers can reproduce. Used rarely now that there are digital TV broadcasts which have digital stereo audio, including even surround sound.
SIM SYSTEM: SIM is an abbreviation for Source Independent Measurement. The SIM System is a computerised audio analysis device used for audio equipment design and installation. It is made by the Meyer Speaker Company. One of its major uses is for “tuning up” a loudspeaker system; getting it properly set up and sounding correct in a studio or at a live event.
For more technical information on the SIM system, read on…This term describes the capability of the system to measure sounds and display the measurements instantly. Unlike many other computerised audio test instruments, the SIM System is self-contained as a single analysis source. It is independent of a separate computer that takes some seconds to analyse, process and display the audio measurements being taken. It measures and displays the sound instantly, in “real time” - a capability that is very helpful when doing sound analysis and in setting up sound systems.
SIMM: “SIMM” is an acronym for Single In-line Memory Module. This is just a small electronic circuit board that is built to accommodate computer chips.
SIMPLEX: A brand of high quality professional film projector.
SINE WAVE: The word sine comes from Sanskrit meaning “arc”, literally bowstring - curved like a bowstring. This word is related to the word “sinuous”, meaning having many curves, bends or turns; characterised by a series of graceful curving motions. A wave is just a pattern of flow. A sine wave is very regular and free of additive patterns. As seen on an oscilloscope, it appears like a perfect wave, up and down. It is the representation on an oscilloscope of the sound of a single pure tone.
SINGLE-ENDED, SINGLE ENDED: 1) Same as the term “unbalanced”, which describes a method of interconnecting recorders, amplifiers and other electronic gear using two-conductor cable. Both conductors carry the signal and one usually also acts as a shield. Most consumer equipment, such as CD players and cassette decks, are single-ended. 2) A single-ended amplifier also exists. This is the simplest method of amplifying an audio signal such as one used to power a loudspeaker. In a “single-ended” amplifier, the transistors or vacuum tubes are connected to the circuit in such a way that they do all the work by themselves. There are usually a few stages in the circuitry of an amplifier and at each stage, the audio signal may be amplified. Single-ended amplifiers are set up so that the transistors or vacuum tubes used at each stage of the circuit do all the work of that stage themselves. They don’t “share” the workload with another transistor or tube. This design for loudspeaker amplifiers was used very early on in audio - in the 1930s. Recently it has come back into use, especially for some types of vacuum tube amplifiers. The single-ended configuration in an amplifier tends to add some distortion to the sound, and in the case of the tube amps it is used in, this is a wanted (by some audiophiles) type of distortion - as it gives a characteristic smooth “tube sound”. Single-ended tube amplifiers are often referred to as SET amplifiers.
SINGLE LAYER DVD: Seen often when purchasing a DVD-Video or any sort of DVD. A single layer DVD is the “smallest” DVD in terms of storage. It can only store one layer of digital information. (Often, movies are put on dual layer discs.) (Compare DUAL LAYER DVD.)
SINGLE MONO: Sound reproduction through a single loudspeaker system. (Compare DUAL MONO.)
SINGLE TRANSMISSION PROTOCOL: Full definition may be found at TRANSMISSION PROTOCOLS.
SITE: Short for an Internet site.
SIX CHANNEL DISCRETE SURROUND SOUND: Refers to surround sound, using six entirely individual and separate channels and loudspeakers not processed via Dolby or DTS surround sound processing. The audio for each channel is routed directly to an amplification and then to its own loudspeaker. DVD-Audio is best played in this manner, as well as SACD discs. Gold sometimes does six or more channel discrete surround mixes for use when films are played at major International events in large auditoriums. (We also do mixes in 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound for DVD and org film room release.)
SIZE: Sounds can have “size”. Especially used to describe sounds heard over loudspeaker systems where the sound appears to be much larger than the size of the speakers themselves. The sound seems to come from above, behind and all around the speaker. A good mix gives the sound a big size.
SIZZLY, SIZZLES: 1) “Sizzle” and “sizzly” are onomatopoeic words that describe an unwanted additive to recorded and reproduced sound. Some electronic audio equipment adds high frequency distortion to the audio signal. This can be heard as an emphasis of the frequency range above about 8kHz, which imparts excess sibilance to all sounds - particularly noticeable on cymbals and vocal “S’s”. Then, when the high frequencies are increased in volume such as during mixing, this distortion becomes far more audible. 2) Some microphones can also “sizzle”. A microphone sizzle is a distorted electronic-sounding emphasis in the sibilance range of a voice or instrument, at around 6 - 10 kHz. It is very unpleasant to listen to and is rarely what the voice or instrument actually sounds like. Inferior or inoperational microphones and-or mic preamps can cause this type of distortion. It can also be caused by the high frequency sounds of a voice or instrument reflecting off of certain surfaces and getting back into the microphone. The Balancer and Recordist always compare the sound that is coming through the mic and line to what the sound actually sounds like in the physical universe, so any “sizzles” are detected and handled.
SKEW: Passage of tape over a head in a direction other than perpendicular to the head’s gap. Caused, for example, by bent or misaligned tape guides.
SKIP PROTECTION: Portable CD players, so consumers can jog or walk while listening, store the music in a chip before sending it to the headphones. While in the chip, the music sits and waits 10 - 40 seconds while it all stores up. Any skips caused by jostling the CD player are eliminated so when the music then plays out from the chip, it sounds like no skip ever occurred.
SKYWALKER SOUND: The film post production sound company at George Lucas’ Skywalker
SLAM: Impact. A sound that has lots of dynamic - “WHACK!!!” when it comes out of the speakers. Drums and powerful guitars and synthesisers have “slam” when well recorded or reproduced.
SLAP or SLAP ECHO: In a room - the audible reflected sound coming off hard walls, floor or ceiling. Slap echo is usually most pronounced when there is a very flat wall directly facing the listener. The sound “slaps” off the wall. One can hear slap echo in large halls and auditoriums.
SLAP BASS: A technique used to play a string bass instrument where not only is the string heavily plucked with one finger, but the instrument’s strings are also slapped at the same time or very shortly thereafter. This gives a very quick, powerful rhythm and tempo.
1) The voice recorded onto the beginning of a master tape to identify the tune and take, or the action of making it. There is a slate at the start of every LRH lecture.
2) The pushbutton control on a mixboard that allows you to slate masters.
SLAVE: Any device that operates on command from another device, such as one tape recorder which is running in sync with another one.
SLEW RATE: This is a term used to describe how quickly the output of an audio power amplifier can track (respond to) its input. The word “slew” means to “swing” - it’s how fast the amp “swings” (responds with power delivered to the loudspeakers) to the sounds that enter the amp. Slew Rate is usually measured in volts per millisecond. The higher the value, the better the amp is at reproducing the dynamics associated with audio reproduction. The technical specifications for transistors and chips usually include slew rate.
SLM: See Sound Level Meter.
SLIDE DUP LINE: Slide Duplication Line. A slide is a photograph specifically made to be projected onto a screen. These are produced in the Gold Film Lab and that is the location of the line.
SLIDESHOW SYSTEM: A system Gold provides to orgs for the showing of slideshows. There is a road show version (that can be taken on tours). The slideshow system contains two projectors that run in tandem and alternately show slides on the screen. Also included is a special kind of cassette deck that plays a signal to the slide projectors signalling them when to change their pictures to match up with the soundtrack of the show.
SLOW: Sound reproduction that gives the impression that the system is lagging and not responding fast enough to the audio programme. A loudspeaker can sound slow. Electronic equipment can sound slow. Some very high quality equipment and loudspeakers respond almost instantly to changes in the sound. Others can’t respond so quickly and they actually can make the audio sound sluggish.
SLUGGISH: Very slow. A bass musical instrument can sound sluggish if not played properly for the music. Or its sound can fade out too slowly, rather than ending quickly, thus giving an unwanted sluggish feel to the tempo or beat. A singer can sing sluggishly (slowly or haltingly). Any instrument can be so performed as well. A demo recording or mix can sound quite lively but then the final production, with all the instruments can sound too slow - a sound may get added, taken away or reduced in volume that was contributing to the songs feeling of pace. For example, sometimes a small percussion part that was making the song sound faster gets buried in the mix or forgotten to be recorded or mixed into the mix with the result of the song sounding sluggish. Sometimes, when a song is performed live, it may need to be sped up in tempo just a bit, compared to the studio recorded version. It might come across a little too sluggish to play for a live audience. Cheap speakers can make bass sounds sluggish - they can’t respond fast enough to the music.
SMART FOLD-DOWN, SMART FOLD DOWN: Note: This term applies to DVD-Audio players only, not DVD-Video players. The term “Smart Fold-Down” (also called “downmix”) refers to a decoding circuit that enables a DVD Audio player to automatically reduce digital multi-channel surround sound down to two-channel stereo. It can also be used to create a version that will play the older “Dolby Pro-Logic” surround sound versions. It will not create DTS or Dolby Digital surround sound versions. The full name of the system, installed in the DVD-Audio players, is “System Managed Audio Resource Technique” (SMART). The player itself creates the different mix versions. It is possible to put different versions of the mix itself right on the disc, but some production companies just leave it up to the SMART system to do it. Some companies are putting other versions of the mix right on the DVD-Audio disc, but for a different purpose. For example, Warner Brothers is putting on the DVD-Audio disc, a Dolby and a stereo version. Another company called 5.1 Entertainment in LA, is putting those, plus a DTS version on the disc. These other versions are on a second layer of the DVD-Audio disc and therefore playable in a DVD Video player. (Played this way, the consumer won’t hear the potential of the DVD-Audio disc’s actual high-resolution surround sound or stereo music.) When using a DVD-Audio player, and one wants to hear just a stereo version of the mix, if there is no actual stereo version provided on the disc itself (which can be provided), then the consumer can tell the DVD-Audio player to “downmix”, electronically, a version in stereo. The SMART system uses instructions supplied within the DVD-Audio disc itself as to how the other versions of the mix are to be done. The instructions are worked out by the Mixing Engineer. He then creates digital instructions that go right on the DVD, which will tell the consumer’s DVD player what to do with the surround mix if he selects a version having fewer channels (such as two channel stereo). The player follows those instructions. The Mixer determines the parameters and places instructions on the DVD master that dictate how the stereo version, or older style surround sound mixes (Pro-Logic) will be played back. These instructions are read by the DVD player. The Mixer, during post production, names the channel reassignments (what surround channels are to go to the left speaker and which to the right). He also stipulates the volume changes necessary. These instructions allow the DVD player to “fold-down” (fold into a smaller package) the mix into the other versions when the consumer selects the mix format his home system will accommodate or which he wishes to hear. The above data is important to know because many consumers are adding DVD players to their older style home systems, which may not have settings or the equipment necessary to play full digital discrete multi-channel surround.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Digital Television or HDTV broadcasts are also being done now with surround sound mixes and with digital instructions, similar to the SMART Fold-Down method used.
SmartMedia: See MEMORY STORAGE DEVICES for full listing.
SMART SLATE: A time code slate (clapper) containing a time code generator that displays a time code readout, which the camera can record. When the clapper person holds the smart slate in the camera frame and has the clapper stick open, the time code readout on the slate is in motion (time counter rolling).
SMART SYSTEM: “SMART” is an acronym for Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology. The SMART System is used in audio to do a computerised analysis so that a loudspeaker system and can be precisely set up in a room, an event hall or outdoors. SMART can also be used for other equipment analysis and is a computerised type of audio spectrum analyser.
SMEARED: Lacking detail. Poorly focused images. The sounds are not clear and distinct. They are not precisely located spatially but tend to be jumbled up with other instruments. A mix can be smeared due to poor mixing (or poorly recorded sounds) and an audio playback system can smear the sounds due to inferior components. USAGE NOTE: This can occur in recording or micing of a band where the sound from one instrument or voice crosses over and gets into nearby microphones.
SMOOTH: Sound reproduction having no irritating qualities; free from unnaturally loud high frequency peaks. Easy and relaxing to listen to. Effortless. Can be a desired quality in a mix or for a particular sound, depending on the song or piece. Not necessarily a positive attribute in an audio system if it also imparts a slow (sluggish), characteristic to the sound. If a system is too smooth, sound that should be very alive and dynamic will not be so.
SMOOTH PANNING THROUGH THE CENTRE SPEAKER: See PANNING THROUGH THE CENTRE SPEAKER.
SMPTE: (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers). A professional organisation that recommends standards for the television and film industries.
SMPTE TEST FILMS: Standardised short films played over 35 and 16mm film equipment to test the settings, mechanical stability and overall presentation quality and to ensure SMPTE specifications for such are met.
SMPTE TIME CODE: A standardised timing and sync signal developed by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers. Time code is a signal composed of continuously increasing numbers in sequence representing hours, minutes, seconds and frames (parts of a second which represent the time that a picture is flashed in a motion picture or video).
SNAKE: A long cable that is usually used for multiple microphone or direct instrument input lines. It has a box for microphones to plug into at one end and plugs that go into the sound mix board at the other end. Snakes are used very often for live concerts and events, to connect the stage with the house mixboard and the production truck.
SNAP: The sound quality of a sharp drum hit - it has impact. Snap can be brought out more by boosting around 2 to 6 kHz on an equaliser. Kick drum snap can be increased by using a wooden beater (the foot pedal mallet that strikes the drum). In a snare drum, the attack of the stick on the snare drum head, usually around 5 kHz. Various sounds can have a lot of snap, and this is quite desirable, especially in music that communicates power and drive.
1) A quality of sound reproduction giving an impression of great speed with clarity of the sound.
2) An instrument can be played “snappily” when short quick bursts and fast notes are performed.
SNAPSHOT RECORD: In computerised automated audio mixboards, a “snapshot” of the status (position) of a volume fader which is then stored in the computer memory and that setting can then be repeated while mixing.
SNEAKERNET: A made-up name for, literally, sneakers (sports shoes) network. “Sneakernet” refers to sending video and-or audio programmes across a studio, the city, country or overseas with a courier running to deliver the programme. Examples:
1) A “network” that requires physically removing one computer’s hard drive and running with it to another in a studio facility that does not have its computers interconnected via a computerised networking system.
2) A news crew sending video or audio footage by next day mail - instead of using e-mail, telephone, fibre optics and other communication lines to transmit audiovisual footage and-or computer files to other locations.
SNOW: Noise in a television set or monitor, which in the absence of a strong signal produces a speckled appearance on the screen.
SNOW SCREEN: This is a type (model) of movie screen material made by the Stewart Projection Screen company. It has no added reflectance back to the audience. It has a perfectly even picture area, unlike gain screens that often have brighter reflection in the middle. Flag’s main screen in the auditorium is a snow screen and it gives an excellent picture. (Compare GAIN SCREEN.)
S-N RATIO: See SIGNAL-TO-NOISE RATIO.
SOCIETY OF EUROPEAN COMPOSERS, ACTORS, AND PERFORMERS: See SECAP.
SOCIETY OF EUROPEAN STAGE AUTHORS AND COMPOSERS: See SESAC.
SOCIETY OF MOTION PICTURE AND TELEVISION ENGINEERS: See SMPTE.
SOCIETY OF PROFESSIONAL AUDIO RECORDING SERVICES (SPARS): See SPARS.
SOCKET: Female connector or receptacle for a plug, light bulb, tube, etc., designed to hold the component plugged into it as well as to make electrical connection.
SOFT: 1) Low in sound volume.
2) Images on a TV-video screen or as projected, are not sharp and clearly defined.
3) A gentle quality of the sound. Not impinging. Can be good or bad depending upon the quality desired in a mix. Not a good attribute in a loudspeaker system.
4) Said when a camera is out of focus. “We have to retake that shot, the actor’s face was ‘soft’ at the end of the take.”
SOFT CLIPPING: Clipping is distortion - the audio signal is just reaching into the distortion zone so the waveform is starting to “clip” (get cut off - you would see the wave’s top get cut if you looked at it on test equipment). Especially said of audio amplifiers when they start to distort the signal. Some manufacturers, especially a company called NAD, have designed and installed a “soft clipping” circuit that makes these early stages of distortion smoother so the waveform is not so abruptly clipped. It makes the clipping start to occur “softly” rather than as a sudden chop.
SOFTEN: To restrict or to compress sound in a way that its dynamics start to be lost. One can intentionally soften a sound to make it more listenable, but, if too much, it is an error. A bad recording can soften the sound as can a bad copy of a mix. Poor quality audio equipment can soften the sound.
SOFT KEY: Short for Software Key. Another name for a function key (a key which has a different function depending on the programming of a computer and as shown on a menu screen) especially when it is a button on a device that has an internal computer.
SOFTWARE, SOFTWARE BASED: In a computer, it is the programmes and programmed routines that define the operation of the system, and make the hardware work. Software does things such as tell the computer how to communicate with another computer, how to process a work document, how to access the Internet, etc. Software is different than hardware, which would be things like the screen and keyboard.
SOLDER: An alloy used to bond metals together. (An alloy is a combination of two or more metals that forms a compound metal.) Ordinary solder commonly consists of 60 percent lead and 40 percent tin and melts at about 373 degrees Fahrenheit. Solder secures and attaches metal electronics parts by melting and flowing over the surfaces to be soldered, thus creating a bond that will freely conduct electricity. A higher quality grade of solder has 63% tin and 37% lead. This is the type that should be used to make audio and video connections. Gold Audio technicians specifically use 63% tin, 37% lead solder and that is the only solder used on audio production equipment and connections.
SOLDER GUN: A “gun” (sort of looks like one) or pencil shaped device that gets hot and is used to solder electronic parts together.
SOLDER IRON, SOLDERING IRON: A soldering iron is held like a pencil. It has a small hot tip used for soldering electronic parts together.
SOLDER POT: A small cauldron (a pot that heats up very hot) in which exists molten solder. Parts can then be dipped into it to speed soldering in some applications. Especially useful if the wire or part to be soldered has some sort of coating that must be first burned away or if old solder needs to be removed. Solder pots work fast for big jobs compared to just a solder gun.
SOLIDITY: Said of sound that has great power and authority. Sounds which very much sound “there” when played over a loudspeaker system. Good mixes and good loudspeaker systems have “solidity”.
SOLID STATE RECORDER: A digital audio recording device that records to a computer storage card or disc. Has no moving parts. An MP3 recorder-player is a “solid state recorder”.
SOLID-STATE SOUND: Reproduced sound that does not have the sonic characteristics usually attributed to vacuum tube audio equipment. Solid-state sound is usually described as being “faster”, very clear and precise, while tube equipment is described as having a certain warmth. It should be noted that today’s better solid-state designs are no longer considered to have a “solid-state sound” in a derogatory way. The term did start out derogatorily many years ago however.
SOLO: A switch on a mixboard channel that allows the selected channel(s) to be heard exclusively, without hearing any non-soloed channel. In other words, a solo button on a mixboard, when pushed, allows one to hear only that sound by itself (“solo”). More than one sound can be soloed at once on a good quality mixboard.
SON: See CDs HOW THEY ARE MADE AND HOW THEY WORK, DVD’s HOW THEY ARE MADE AND HOW THEY WORK.
SONIC DETAIL: See DETAIL.
SONIC SOLUTIONS: A company that builds computers for processing and mixing audio. The
company is located in
SONOROUS: Resonating with sound - like a baritone opera singer’s chest adds a deep resonance to the voice making it sound big and powerful. A loud or deep toned sound. “He has a sonorous voice.”
SONY DYNAMIC DIGITAL SOUND: See SDDS.
SONY ES: The “ES” on a Sony home consumer audiovisual product stands for “Elevated Standard”.
SONY HDW-F900: See 24p.
SONY HDW-M2100: See HDW M2100.
SONY MiniDisc (MD): A consumer digital recording and playback method for audio. It uses a small disc that looks like a miniature floppy disc. It is not as good sounding as a CD or a DAT, but it offers tremendous abilities to store music and play it back.
For technical information, read on… Sony’s MiniDisc format places onto a 2˝inch disc a maximum of 74 minutes of “near-CD” fidelity stereo. It is a compressed 16bit 44.1kHz digital audio device and can sound quite good but it is not up to CD standards due to compression being applied (ATRAC). If no compression is applied, the MiniDisc can only hold roughly 1/5th of the data of a CD, but the use of ATRAC compression allows longer playing times. (ATRAC is defined as its own entry.)
SONY MUSIC: See INTERNET MUSIC.
SONY PLAYSTATION 2: A popular home consumer video game computer. Also called a videogame console.
SONY SDDS: See SDDS.
SONY 1630: See 1630.
SONY VVEGA: Pronounced “VEGA”. Sony’s recent television development is called the Sony VVEGA, which stands for “Vega” (the brightest star in the constellation named “Lyra”). (The double “V V’s” is just Sony’s logo marketing device.) This is Sony’s best type of television set for home consumers. Some VVEGA screens are able to show High Definition TV and video.
SOPRANO: 1) The highest (in pitch) female voice. 2) A musical part written for such a voice. 3) The highest in a particular family of musical instruments, such as a soprano saxophone. 4) Of or belonging to the pitch range of soprano. 5) A singer with such a voice. Soprano comes from the Latin word “supra”, meaning “above”.
SOPRANO SAX: There are four different types of saxophones - baritone, tenor, alto and soprano models. They each cover different ranges of notes - the baritone being the largest of the four and it plays the lowest notes of the four. The soprano saxophone is the smallest and plays the highest notes. This sax does not have a curved shape and it resembles the shape of a clarinet.
SOUND: Vibrating objects or particles and pressure waves are the basic components of sound. If you hit a drum, the top of the drum will vibrate. As it moves up, it compresses the air above it and the resulting pressure wave moves through the air until it presses against your eardrum.
Other sound sources act in similar ways. When a flute player blows across a flute, a column of air in the flute vibrates. The flute player can alter this vibration by opening and closing the holes along the length of the flute.
Sound consists of pressure waves that move through a compressed medium. The precise mechanics vary somewhat according to the material, but the broad principles are the same. Molecules, whether of air, water or metal, like to keep – on an average – equally far apart from their neighbours. So whenever the molecules in one area are squeezed closer together than their neighbours, they force themselves back apart, which in turn compresses their neighbours.
Diagram below shows how this works. The dark areas indicate where the molecules are squeezed close together (these are the areas of high pressure). The lighter areas indicate where molecules are relatively sparse. When the tightly compressed molecules force themselves apart, they end up compressing their neighbours, who in turn will force apart to compress their neighbours, and so on.
If you follow a single molecule, you’ll find that it moves back and forth, but doesn’t move very far. If you stand back and look at the high pressure as the important entity, you will see a moving pressure wave.
SOUND ABATEMENT: Any material installed in a building or around any source of sound to abate (prevent) the sound from passing through. Sound abatement is used in walls between rooms or offices to help isolate and give privacy.
SOUND ADVICE: A chain of audiovisual stores in
SOUND BLASTER: One of the more well known brands of plug in sound cards used in personal computers configured to record, process or mix sound.
SOUND BREAK UPS, SOUND BREAKS UP: 1) Any type of distorted sound quality. 2) When a Mixer intentionally pans (moves) a sound between two or more loudspeakers so that it is heard as moving across in the final mix, sometimes the transition of the sound moving across from one to another loudspeaker is not smooth. The sound “breaks up” - it jumps to the next speaker, rather than smoothly moving across. This can be due to various frequencies of the sound “fighting” with various characteristics of the loudspeakers themselves. Some frequencies tend to sound louder than others and therefore they appear to arrive earlier to the next loudspeaker than other frequencies.
SOUND CARD: 1) Any computer circuit board which can plug into the back of a computer enabling it to process sound. Some sound cards can only let one listen to a CD while others can allow one to have full computerised mixing facilities right on the computer. 2) Any small card that has digitally stored sound information. These cards can be plugged into a synthesiser or sound module and are similar to floppy discs but smaller and don’t use magnetic tape. (Compare PLUG-INS.)
SOUND CHECK: At a live event or performance, this is the action of verifying that the audio of what is to be played to the audience is of excellent quality and impact. This is done after the sound system has been set up and adjusted for the event space. Once that has been done, the podium microphones, event video properties, any audio playbacks and the band have to have their mixes set up so that each audio presentation is top quality. A sound check is a quality control action.
SOUNDCRAFT: Brand name of a British company that manufactures mixboards.
SOUND DESIGN, SOUND DESIGNING:
1) The reason why many new songs sound unique and fresh is because the sounds used are new and fresh. There is an art form called “Sound Design” and the artist doing it is called the “Sound Designer”. Not only are individual sounds “designed”, but how they are creatively combined is also a sound designing skill. Not only does this include creating new sounds, but it also is the process of “designing” how the whole song will sound - what all the unique sounds will be in a new song. The sound designer combines sounds and rhythms and different textures and styles of sounds to create unique and fresh combinations, patterns and ways to communicate a message with impact. It is a very high art form and the Sound Designer is considered to be one of the very top positions in the music industry. At Gold, the production line for music runs from the composer (who can be any one of the musicians) to the arranger (who works out all the parts) to the Sound Designer. Much coordination occurs amongst all three during the entire creative process of producing a song.
2) The term “sound designing” also is used in the film industry. It is the action of deciding what sounds are to go where throughout a film. The film is first “spotted’, usually with the Director and the Sound Designer then puts sound on the film as planned. This not only includes the big special effects sounds, but also the background ambiences such as traffic outside, birds and wind, etc.
SOUND EFFECT: See SOUND FX.
SOUND ELEMENT: Any bit of sound that goes into a film or video soundtrack from music to the special effects sound - they are all “sound elements”.
SoundExchange: The agency authorised to collect royalties from all Internet “Webcasters”. Before Webcasters can stream major labels’ music through their sites, they must sign a licensing agreement via SoundExchange with the RIAA, the Recording Industry Association of America, promising to pay royalties.
SOUND FIELD: A term that is used to describe the area in which sound is being played or into which a loudspeaker is playing (“its sound field”). A large auditorium has a different “sound field” than a living room. It is the field (space) into which sound is being delivered. Some consumer home theatre electronics have the ability to artificially create the sound fields of halls, auditoriums, arenas, etc.
SOUND FX, SOUND EFFECTS: An audio special effect on the soundtrack of a film, video, radio-TV ad, or even, in some cases, music. A sound effect may include guns, dogs growling, wind howling, etc. They are added to a soundtrack to enhance the communication of the message.
SOUND LEVEL METER: A calibrated meter used to measure sound pressure levels (how loud a sound is in a given space).
SOUND LOADING (“LOADING”): 1) Sound loading is the action of assembling the separate sound elements of a film or video onto a single recording tape or computerised medium so that the soundtrack can be mixed. For example, when a film’s soundtrack is mixed, the original sound from the set plus the sound effects, narration and the music tracks all have to be assembled (“loaded”) in exact sequence and in perfect sync with the edited pictures onto a single tape or other recording medium. This is done before the final mixing of a film’s soundtrack. During the final mixing step, the Mixer can also have additional sounds loaded as needed to contribute to the impact and message of the film. 2) The action of taking a mixed LRH lecture that is recorded on an analogue tape and recording it into the SADiE computer.
MODULE: A sound
module is basically a synthesiser but without a keyboard. It is the guts of a
synthesiser put into a separate box. One synthesiser keyboard can then be
hooked up, using
SOUND PRESSURE LEVEL (SPL): The actual amount of force (pressure) that sound exerts through the air, expressed in a unit called “decibels”. The “sound pressure level” is a measurement used to determine or to set the volume of sound accurately. Sound pressure level meters are used to measure such. The sound pressure of the threshold of hearing (the loudness where sound first becomes audible) is “0 dB SPL” on these meters. SPL meters are standardised so the measurements taken on one will agree with those taken with another. Important note: Sound Pressure Level, which is a measurement of sound pressure (loudness) in the physical environment of the atmosphere, is different than the volume measurement of an audio signal in a piece of electronic equipment. dB SPL and dB VU are measuring different things. SPL is measuring sound in the atmosphere and dB VU is measuring the electronic form of sound as a signal in a piece of equipment.
SOUND PRESSURE LEVEL METER (SPL METER): See SPL METER.
SOUND REINFORCEMENT: See SOUND REINFORCEMENT EQUIPMENT AND SYSTEMS. It’s the same thing.
SOUND REINFORCEMENT EQUIPMENT AND SYSTEMS: This specifically refers to the professional audio field of providing quality sound for outdoor or indoor public presentations, announcements, general background music, etc. Large loudspeaker systems and associated electronic equipment are known as “sound reinforcement equipment” - named so because the equipment adds to (amplifies, reinforces) the sound emanated by a source.
SOUND SPACE: See SOUND FIELD.
SOUND SCRIBER: A type of dictation machine that recorded voice onto a small green plastic record. This was early recording technology, circa 1949. Some LRH lectures were recorded in this fashion. Sound Scriber was the brand of machine.
SOUNDSTAGE, SOUND STAGE, SOUNDSTAGING: 1) Sound staging, sometimes written as one or two words, is the quality of sound as regards to spatial positions and the presentation of individual sounds within a mix. A good loudspeaker system, used with excellent electronic equipment, will recreate the mix so as to hear these qualities. Think of actors positioned on a stage and their positions relative to each other. Now replace the actors with individual sounds - that’s the “soundstage”. It’s the positions of each individual sound, relative to each other, all presented around, between and even to the outside of the loudspeakers. The term “imaging” is also used to describe this. Imaging is the quality of sounds being heard as being located in their own precise locations as one listens. Good playback equipment will present the sound with these qualities. All parts of an audio system must be of excellent quality to obtain the best soundstage and imaging. Even the type and quality of wire and connectors used to hook the system together is critical. Having clean electrical power for all audio equipment is also vital. 2) A “sound stage” (written as two separate words) is a filming studio that has been acoustically treated and has all the facilities to shoot a film or video. Golden Era Productions has one of the largest “free span” (no vertical structural supports in the middle of the studio) sound stages in the world. It is certainly the most well designed in terms of acoustics, temperature control, lighting systems, and general floor plan layout and design for rapid production from all Cine departments.
SOUNDSTAGE SHIFT: The ideal listening position (when listening to a hi-fi audio system) is in the middle, directly in front of the two stereo speakers. This is unfortunate for any other persons who wish to also listen at the same time, as they will be off to the left or right side of the “sweet spot”. The soundstage will “shift” based on where one sits, compared to how all the instruments and vocals are positioned as heard when seated in the centre listening position (the “sweet spot”). Those seated off to the side hear a shifted soundstage.
SOUNDTRACK: The dialog, sound effects, and music heard while a film or video plays. It’s one word when referring to the entirety of the mixed audio for a film, video, etc. When written this way it distinguishes the whole of the audio track (dialog, music, narration and sound effects mixed together) from a single track. “The film soundtrack we heard at the theatre was excellent!”
SOUND TRACK: Written as two words, means a single audio element of a film, video, etc. “Put the dialog sound track on the tape machine.”
SOUND TREATMENT: Any material installed in a room to help improve sound quality. The basic sound handlings include absorption, diffusion and reflection. Any or all can be used, depending on what is needed.
SOURCE: 1) In an audio playback system, the source is the piece of gear, such as a CD player, that is producing the audio signal that all the other equipment will amplify or reproduce.
2) In professional audio production, it is the original sound or the original recording. It is the original sound on the tape that one is mixing.
3) It is the original recorded or performed sound, as opposed to any special processing or effect that may be added to that sound, such as reverb or delay.
SOURCE HARD LEFT OR RIGHT: To put a sound source only in the left channel or only in the right channel.
SP: 1) Standard Play. The normal, and fastest, recording time setting for a consumer’s video deck. A standard one hour videocassette will record and play back one hour of programme. (Compare EP and LP.) 2) Superior Performance. A designation on Sony video tape for use in analogue Sony Betacam professional video decks. 3) A setting on a Panasonic DVD-RAM recorder that has the normal quality and recording-playback time - a DVD disc recorded in the SP position holds up to 2 hours of programme. (Compare with LP and XP.)
SPACE, SPACE IN THE MIX: “That mix has excellent space.” Refers to the sounds being quite open and the appearance of space between the individual sounds. The sounds appear to be large in size and they fill the room. A good mix has good space and a good audio playback system presents excellent space when the music is presented.
SPACIOUS: Presenting a broad panorama of size and dimension in a mix. Conveying a sense of large space when the music is played in a room over high quality audio equipment.
SPADE TERMINAL: (Also called spade lug), an end connection for a wire that goes under a screw terminal. Used especially to hook amplifiers and speakers up in an audio system.
SPANISH GUITAR: A classical guitar. The build style of this guitar was originated in
SPARS: Society of Professional Audio Recording Services. SPARS was started in the early 1980s and its members include all types of professionals involved in audio production services. They provide various handbooks, periodicals and papers regarding technical subject matters. They hold meetings and seminars as well as demonstrations and coordinate with manufacturers as regards specifications and equipment utilisation. SPARS’ phone number is 800-771-7727.
SPARSE: 1) A sparse mix or song is one which would be improved if more instruments were added. However, sometimes, a sparsely arranged song (having few sounds or instruments) is appropriate to the tune or style of music. The more instruments, the more complex the mix. In a sparse mix, the individual sounds can tend to be made big and rich (full frequency). When more instruments get added, more attention is needed to ensure the sounds don’t wipe each other out. (See PROPORTIONATE SOUND.)
2) A sound can have a sparse quality if it is lacking in richness - meaning that lower midrange and upper bass frequencies are lacking.
SPATIALITY, SPATIAL INFORMATION: The quality of spaciousness in a mix or when music is played back on high quality audio equipment. The qualities in a recording or mix that create and contribute to the sense of space such as the recorded sounds heard out and about the hall or studio in which the performance was done.
S/PDIF, SPDIF: Sony-Philips Digital Interface Format is a format for hooking up digital equipment and transferring digital signals. It uses a cable with an RCA connector that looks like a standard RCA-type cable. However, SPDIF cables usually have a 75 ohm resistance - like video cables.
SPEAKER: Short for LOUDSPEAKER.
SPEAKON: See CONNECTORS TYPES OF.
SPECIAL EVENT AUDIO SYSTEMS: Aside from commercial cinema theatres and home surround sound audio systems, there are other loudspeaker systems that may play one’s mix. For example, many large concerts are now commonly mixed in surround sound. There can be special entertainment audio systems, such as those at amusement parks, some of which may have many more channels of audio or surround sound loudspeakers than usual. Special mixes are often done for these types of special event audio systems.
SPECIAL UNIT AUDIO-VISUAL: See SAV.
SPECIFIC, SPECIFICITY: The degree to which sounds in a mix when played over a quality audio system have “specific” spatial placements in the soundstage and the fact that they do not wander but stay in their locations. It is a desirable trait.
SPECIFICATION (SPEC): A numerical measurement of a component’s performance as provided by the manufacturer.
SPECTRAL RECORDING: Abbreviated SR. A Dolby system that reduces analogue tape noise and distortion. (See DOLBY SR.)
SPECTRUM ANALYSER: See AUDIO SPECTRUM ANALYSER.
SPEED: The rapidity with which an audio playback system responds and reproduces the programme being played. How fast the loudspeakers respond, how fast an amplifier responds and other factors all add up to the speed (or lack of it) with which the sound is presented.
SPEED OF SOUND: About 1,100 feet per second at sea level and 70 degrees Fahrenheit under normal atmospheric conditions - i.e. medium humidity range, not windy, clean air. Note: When humidity changes and temperature changes, the speed of sound and even its tonal quality change. Sometimes an audio playback system can sound “different than last night” (when the temperature and humidity were different).
SPG: An abbreviation for Synch Pulse Generator. See SYNC PULSE GENERATOR.
SPIKE, SPIKES: 1) A sharp-tipped supporting foot that allows the weight of a loudspeaker to be passed through carpeting to rest firmly on the underlying floor. Used to minimise speaker cabinet reaction and prevent coupling. (See COUPLING DEF #1.) Sometimes spikes are even installed on electronic equipment to help isolate vibrations and keep them from entering the equipment’s chassis. 2) A spike in a sound is a sudden loud peak in volume, often with a bit of distortion so it hurts the ears. The sound blasts. Often a spike exceeds the electronic capabilities of the equipment itself so the equipment adds distortion. 3) A sudden, very brief and often huge jump in the voltage of electrical power. These can go through a line in a split second and can damage delicate audiovisual and computer equipment. They are safeguarded against by using a line conditioner on the electrical power.
SPIKY: Sound, music, etc. that when reproduced is heard as having loud sudden peaks in volume, often with a bit of distortion so it hurts the ears. Often a spike exceeds the electronic capabilities of the equipment itself so the equipment adds distortion.
“SPIN IT OFF”: Chiefly British. To make a copy of a mix or video - to run it off onto tape or other recording medium.
SPITTY: Say the sound “tsss” with your tongue and mouth - a sort of spitting sound with a “t” at the start. If you hear a characteristic like this in the high frequency sounds (treble) of a mix or over a loudspeaker system, the sound is said to sound “spitty”. Poor quality loudspeakers can sound spitty in the high treble frequencies. Excessive high frequency equalisation added to a mix can make sounds spitty. Sometimes a spittiness is heard when a poor sounding reverb unit or poorly EQ’ed reverb is put on a singer’s voice. It can accentuate a singer’s “esses” (sibilance). Sometimes a closely mic’ed trumpet, sax or flute can sound spitty.
SPL: See Sound Pressure Level.
SPL CALIBRATION: To set the volume of sound in a room using an SPL meter.
SPLICE: The point at which two pieces of tape or film are joined together.
SPLITTER: A device that is used to give a split feed so a single output can be sent to two or more destinations.
SPLIT SCREEN: To have a TV or video screen divided into sections so more than one picture can play at a time - such as a close up of a musician performing while also seeing a shot of the audience or the stage overall. It’s two (or more) images on the screen, each being shot by their own camera.
SPLIT REEL: A type of audio tape or cine film reel where the flanges can be separated out from each other, allowing the hub to be taken out and the whole of the tape or film to be accessed and handled. The two flanges lock or screw together and can be taken apart easily.
SPL METER: See SOUND PRESSURE LEVEL.
SPOT, SPOTTING SESSION: To go through a film or video and decide where certain sounds need to be placed throughout the soundtrack. Includes where music is to occur, where sound effects are to happen, etc. When this occurs, it is called a “spotting session” and may include the Director.
SPOT EFFECTS: Sound effects which are recorded by the Set Sound Recordist in addition to the sound recorded along with the camera shot. For example, in filming a bar fight scene there are many sounds present. For a scene like that, a recordist will often do individual sound recordings of things like glass breaking, bodies hitting the floor, etc. These are done right at the original location (at the “spot”) and are used in addition to the sound effects recorded during the audio post production process.
SPOT ERASE: When using an audio tape recorder and there is small section of recording one wishes to erase, the technique of “spot erasing” is used. The reels of tape can be manually turned, very slowly, while listening to the sound from the tape so one does not go too far and erase sounds that are wanted to remain. The exact “spot” of the sound on tape can be erased. The tape recorder’s manual tells exactly how to do this.
SPOTLIGHT: A light whose beam can be focused directly on a particular object. If the spotlight can be moved to follow an actor or speaker on stage, it is called a “follow spot”.
SPRAGUE MAGNETICS: A company that specialises in building and refurbishing recording and playback heads as used on audio tape recorders.
SPREAD: The perceived width of the soundstage when music is heard over a stereo audio system. It can extend even wider than the speakers are placed.
SPRING REVERB: A device that simulates reverberation by sound vibrating a spring. You can hear this type of reverb on the echoing guitar parts of Beach Boys songs and songs by the Ventures and other “surf bands” of the 1960’s. It is a classic reverb sound and often used on guitars and vocals even in PT. Guitar amps which have built-in reverb always have small spring reverb units.
SPROCKET: A wheel with teeth that is used to move the film in cameras and other machines that use film (like projectors and magnetic film sound recorders).
SPROCKET HOLE: The holes at one or both edges of a film that receive the teeth of a sprocket.
SPUTTERING: A process for coating CDs and DVD’s with aluminium when they are manufactured. It creates that thin bit of shiny metal you see inside a CD or DVD disc. (It is actually an aluminium coating inside that allows the laser to reflect.) The process of applying the aluminium coating is called “sputtering” because a piece of aluminium is used as a target in a vacuum and is bombarded with particles, causing a very fine spray of aluminium molecules to fly off and be deposited. This coating process is done as the CD is manufactured, which involves creating several different layers, one of which is the sputtered aluminium coating.
SQUARE WAVE: An audio test tone consisting of a fundamental note plus several additional higher ones. When seen on an oscilloscope, the wave looks like repeating squared off shapes across the screen.
SQUASHED: (See COMPRESSED, COMPRESSION 1.)
SRC: This is a term used in the SADiE digital audio computer manual. An abbreviation for Sample Rate Converter. In the SADiE system, SRC is a process that is used to change the sampling rate of the audio from the original rate to any of the other standard rates one desires. The sampling rates in the SADiE system include 44.1k, 48k, 88.2k, 96k, 176.4k and 192k.
SRM: An abbreviation for System Renewability Messages. This is part of a copy protection method used for securing high definition video signals. How this system works is covered in the entry, HDCP - High-bandwidth Digital Copy Protection.
SSL (SOLID STATE LOGIC): This is a famous brand of audio mixboard used in a great many studios around the world.
STAFF: When you see music written out on paper, the lines running across are “staffs”. A composer uses the lines, and spaces between them, upon which to write the notes of a composition.
STAGE LEFT: If you were standing on a stage looking out to the audience then stage left is to your left. If you are out in the audience, stage left is to your right.
STAGE MIX: Another name for “monitor mix”. This is the mix that performers hear when they are live, on stage. They hear themselves and other musicians so they can play better together. (Often it is quite hard to hear yourself and the other musicians, especially on a large stage, when the sound is being loudly played to the audience, the audience is yelling and clapping, etc. You always want to be able to hear yourself and your fellows.) The mix is played over speakers on the floor that aim up at the musicians (called stage monitors) or over earpieces (small in-the-ear earphones).
STAGE MONITOR, STAGE MONITOR MIX: (See STAGE MIX.)
STAGE RIGHT: If you were standing on a stage looking out to the audience then stage right is to your right. If you are out in the audience looking at the stage, stage right is to your left.
STAMPED, STAMPED CD’s, STAMPED DVD’s: CDs and DVD’s that have been mass replicated by a CD or DVD plant are “stamped”. They are actually moulded. Hot plastic is used so it takes the shape desired. (See CDs HOW THEY ARE MADE AND HOW THEY WORK and DVD’s HOW THEY ARE MADE AND HOW THEY WORK.)
STAMPER: (See CDs HOW THEY ARE MADE AND HOW THEY WORK, DVD’s HOW THEY ARE MADE AND HOW THEY WORK.)
STANDARD PLAY: See SP.
STANDARD TECH CASSETTE DECK: A Nakamichi brand tape cassette deck specially modified so it cannot record (which would erase a valuable LRH lecture if accidentally activated) and so it can be operated by a foot pedal. The Standard Tech Cassette Deck is used in orgs and includes, as a mandatory item, good sounding headphones.
STANDING WAVE(S): A build-up of sound volume at particular frequencies dependent upon the dimensions of room, car interior, etc. Because of the physical dimensions of the space, some frequencies build up in volume and do not dissipate. This build up tends to muddy up the sound quality.
STANDS: Speaker stands. Best made of steel and filled with sand or lead shot so they impart no resonance or vibration into the loudspeaker itself. A speaker stand is used to mount small high quality loudspeakers. Such a stand can improve bass performance and make individual sounds clearer and more precisely located within a mix. These stands usually have spikes that prevent the unwanted coupling of a loudspeaker with the floor. (See COUPLING def #1.)
STATE-OF-THE-ART: The most advanced level of knowledge and technology currently achieved in any field at any given time.
STATIC: Interference - a sort of high frequency crackle and popping sound. Most commonly heard as one tunes in a TV or radio. But static can occur in any audiovisual system. Bad or loose connectors cause static. Static electricity can build up when parts rub or persons touch equipment.
STATIC DISPLAY: If you go to an audio equipment store or to an audio equipment show where they have equipment on display and the equipment is not set up or playing, but only there to be seen, it is called a “static display”.
STATIC ELECTRICITY: Electricity usually caused by friction, such as a person’s feet rubbing a carpet or two machine parts rubbing together. It is accumulated electrical charge on an object which can jump to another object and when it does it can produce the sound of static or cause pictures to have static. For a full understanding of static electricity, see the LRH Tech Film EM-7, “BODY MOTION READS”.
STATIONARY HEAD: See DASH.
STAX: Brand name for headphones. Unlike normal headphones (which have a phono jack and plug into the ‘headphone jack’ on the front of a component) - Stax require an amplifier to drive them - in the same way which one uses an amp to drive a pair of speakers. Actually, the manufacturer of Stax headphones calls them ‘ear speakers’.
STB: See SET TOP BOX.
STEADY-STATE (TONE): A test tone, used to test or calibrate audiovisual equipment, which is pure and steady with no distortions or variation so that it can be a perfect stable datum.
STEELY: Shrill. Similar to “hard”, but with more of a sort of subjective metallic character to the sound. Emphasised upper mids around 3 to 6 kHz and peaky, emphasised high-frequency response that contributes to creating this quality to the sound.
STELLAMASTER: See STELLAVOX. (A Stellamaster is one of the models of tape recorders made by the Stellavox company.)
STEMS: Stems are several or more individual recordings of a mix that have specifically selected sounds only, yet, when combined, equal the full complete mix. For example, one stem may contain the lead vocal and chorus. Another has the drums and bass parts. Another stem is horns and another, strings. Each stem is recorded to separate stereo tracks on a multi-track recorder (digital or analogue or both). All the stems are put onto one multi-track tape or hard drive. The stems can be used for many purposes. One such purpose is that all the stems but for the vocals can be used to later add in foreign singing. Also, the stems can then be taken to an event and played in the house with the Mixer making adjustments at the mixboard to balance the various stems in such a way that they sound the best in the house over the PA system. Stems are also used in A.V. and Cine Mixing. When the music mix is done for a film or video, stems are made and these are sent to the Mixer doing the final mixdown. This enables the Mixer to balance the various music tracks as is appropriate with the entirety of the soundtrack he is mixing.
STENTORIAN: A quality of great power and authority from a voice or loudspeaker. The word comes from Greek meaning a very loud voice. It was named after a legendary Greek herald (one who proclaims or announces) named Stentor, whose voice was said to be as loud as that of fifty men.
STEP, STEPPED: 1) The word “steps”, in audio, means small increases or decreases in amount. “dB steps” is usually preceded by a number. “Set the meter for 2 dB steps.” “That volume control has 1 dB steps.” In the case of an audio test meter, ˝ dB, 1 dB, 2 dB and so on are ranges that are used to measure the sound volume. The meter’s range (in dB steps) can be adjusted the to register various volumes of sound. On a volume control knob these steps represent the actual increases or decreases in loudness. 2) To bring something up or down a step (any small increment) even if not precisely marked. “Bring the bass up a step.” 3) In the fields of audiovisual, to make any slight adjustment. 4) To go up or down to the next pitch or to change to the next higher or lower music key.
STEPHENS: Brand name of a high quality multitrack audio tape recorder, named after their manufacturer, John Stephens. Both 24 track and 16 track models were made. LRH’s film narrations were recorded onto a 16 track Stephens in the original 12-mic battery.
STEREO, STEREOPHONIC: The word “stereo” is a shortened form of the word “stereophonic”. The prefix “stereo-” is from the Greek word meaning “three-dimensional”, “solid”. “Phonic” is derived from Greek, meaning “sound” or “voice”. Thus it can be said that “stereo” creates a realistic (solid) three-dimensional sound. “Stereo” is an audio recording or playback method where two channels (left and right) give the illusion of dimension and location, similar to how sound is heard in the physical universe. The sound apparently comes from the space between, around and even beyond a pair of loudspeakers. There is a key reason stereo sounds the way it does. It is this: in stereo, both loudspeakers are playing at the same time and both are picked up by both ears. That may seem obvious, but there is another factor involved that makes stereo sound so real. There is a distance separating your two ears. Because the ears are in different locations, sound arrives to each at slightly different times. You can therefore discern direction, distance and other spatial relationships between two or more sounds. Moreover, in stereo, the two loudspeakers are each playing different sounds. For example, the left speaker may have a guitar playing, but not the right speaker, or the guitar is only barely heard in the right speaker. A tambourine may be sent to the right loudspeaker, but not the left. Therefore, in stereo, the left and right loudspeakers sound different - because different sounds are emanating from each. You hear BOTH loudspeakers, each emanating their own sounds. These sounds are reaching one ear sooner than the other. This interaction between the loudspeakers, space and the ears enables you to hear different sounds as coming from different locations. You can hear the guitar playing to the left and the tambourine to the right. Both ears receive sound from both audio sources, each coming from their own individual loudspeakers. Each ear has its own location, so each ear picks up the arrival of the sounds at slightly different timings. Therefore the listener perceives spatial relationships and other qualities among the different sounds. (Compare MONAURAL, BINAURAL.)
STEREO BUS: This is the route in a mixboard that carries the audio signal to stereo loudspeakers. (More data at BUS.)
STEREO BUTTON: A button or knob on a mixboard or other audio equipment that selects stereo audio to be heard, rather than mono or surround sound.
STEREO CHORUS: A special mixing device that makes a sound sent to it appear to have the quality of a chorus (many people singing).
STEREO COUPLE: To hook up (couple) mixing equipment in such a way that it can process a stereo signal. Some equipment can only process one channel of sound, but stereo has two channels. Therefore, two of the same type of equipment must be used. You want them to work together and to do their processing together at the same time. If you don’t, one channel will do a process while the other channel does not and the resulting sound can be confusing. When the devices are stereo coupled, they work together at the same time and this problem is avoided.
STEREO HEADPHONES: A misnomer. See BINAURAL for full description.
STEREO IMAGING: See SOUNDSTAGE, IMAGING - this term means the same thing.
STEREO LPCM: Stereo Linear Pulse Code Modulation. See LINEAR PCM. It’s the same thing.
STEREO MIX: A two-channel mix of an audio programme. (See STEREO.)
STEREO or SURROUND MIX SESSION: The period of time wherein a stereo version of a mix or a surround version of the mix is worked on. May require more than one session.
STEREO MONITORING, STEREO MONITOR SELECTOR, STEREO MONITORING BUSES: A “bus” is an electronic pathway that carries audio signals within an audio mixboard. The stereo monitoring bus is that circuitry within the mixboard which sends a stereo (2 channel) version of the mix to the loudspeakers so the Mixer can hear (monitor) the mix. The Mixer can press a selector button to choose between mono, stereo and surround sound versions of the mix. Stereo monitoring is to listen to one’s mix in the stereo version.
1) Two stereo loudspeakers, each identical.
2) Two identical microphones that can be used to record in stereo.
STEREO PERSPECTIVE: All the sounds collectively as heard in a stereo recording or mix as presented over a stereo loudspeaker system - each sound’s individual placement and relationship to each other in the soundstage created by the loudspeakers. The overall sonic presentation in stereo.
STEREO PLACEMENT TECHNIQUES: 1) The various methods of positioning a sound, when stereo mixing, to the far left, far right, centred or anywhere in between these points including giving the sound depth and other spatial qualities. 2) The methods of positioning two microphones to record in stereo.
STEREO REVERB: Reverberation added to a mono or stereo sound when mixing. The reverb itself is different left to right - meaning that the various qualities of the reverb’s own sound are different left compared to right. There might be a longer delay or a longer reverb on one channel compared to the other. This sounds much different than a reverb setting that has the same exact qualities in both channels. The stereo reverb sounds bigger and more realistic because when one is in a room listening the natural reverberation is never identical coming from both sides of the room itself.
STEREOPHILE: An audiophile magazine that has always competed with another, similar mag, called The Absolute Sound. Both mags review audio equipment and music releases (CDs, DVD’s, records, etc.) for the home audiophile. Both have sister publications dealing with home theatre (video) for videophiles.
STEREOPHONIC: (See STEREO.)
STEREO SIMULATOR: A mixing device that accepts a mono (single channel) signal and electronically creates two channel stereo. This device is used on all LRH lectures as they were originally recorded in mono (single channel).
STEREO SPREAD: The perceived width of the soundstage when music is heard over a stereo audio system. It can extend even wider than the speakers are placed.
STEREO STAGE: This is the same thing as SOUNDSTAGE.
STEREO PAIR: 1) A pair of loudspeakers which together produce stereo music or other audio programmes. 2) Said when a pair of microphones is used to make a stereo recording - they are a “stereo pair”. 3) Also said of some controls on audio equipment where there are two controls that perform the exact same function, but only for one channel each.
STERILE: Ultra clean and very exact sounding, but having little impact for the listener. The sound does not sound natural. Like a sound from an inferior quality electronic synthesiser. Though it may make a sound like a violin, the sound may be too clean and lacking many of the characteristics that a real violin has - such as the contact of the bow on its strings and the resonance of its wood. Poor quality digital audio equipment can sound sterile as it doesn’t capture some of the subtlest parts of a sound’s quality.
STILL STORE: A device for storage of single frames of video or still photographs. Most commonly used at events where single pictures (frames) need to be projected, such as a photograph of an org.
STOMP BOX: A piece of equipment used by guitarists. They are small boxes and devices at a guitarist’s feet that he steps on to activate. They can provide distortion to the guitar sound and many other effects. Most guitarists playing live use stomp boxes.
STORYBOARDS: A series of small consecutive drawings with accompanying caption-like descriptions of the action and sound, which are arranged comic strip fashion and used to plan a film. Sometimes called a layout.
STRAINED: The audio system is showing signs of being driven too hard during loud passages, as though the audio playback system is verging on overload.
STREAM: 1) A single flow of digital information, such as over a wire. 2) In SADiE, the equivalent of a track on an analogue tape. Streams are shown in the edit decision list (EDL) display of a SADiE project. This is where the visual display of the audio is seen. 3) See STREAMING.
STREAMING: Information (audio or video information) that can be heard or viewed as it is being transmitted over the internet without first having to download the entire file (the whole song, video clip, etc.) before one may listen to or see the content. If one is “streaming”, one has logged onto an Internet site or e-mail address and is receiving audio or video content which one can see and-or hear at once as one clicks to start the content playing. This content can be stored for later use. For example, it is very common for consumers to stream music and load it an MP3 Player - a small hand-held computer storage device for recording and playing back audio programmes.
STREAMING MEDIA: A term that encompasses streaming audio, video and text on the Internet. (See STREAMING.)
STRETCH TUNING: Some pianos, when they are tuned, are given “stretch tuning”. As one ascends up the many keys of the piano, the tuned notes get ever so slightly tuned higher than their pure usual octave to octave relationship. This gives the piano a unique quality of sound.
STRIDENT: Unpleasantly shrill, piercing sound.
STRIKE: To put away equipment and clean up after a recording session, performance or after an event when the crew takes down the stage and secures all gear.
STRIPE: 1) The action of recording time code and black signal onto a videotape so it can be used for editing. Also, recording time code onto an audio reel so it can be used for mixing. A “striped” tape is one that has had its time code (and black signal for videos) recorded onto it and is ready for editing and mixing use. (See TIME CODE, BLACK BURST.) 2) The part of a film print that has the magnetic particles stuck to it for the recording and playing back of the soundtrack.
STRONG LAMP HOUSE: Strong is a manufacturer of lamp houses (enclosures) that contain the light source on film projectors.
STUDER: A high quality audio tape recorder made by the Studer Company. “Willie Studer”, a German, was the owner-designer until his death (approx 1999). Studer manufactures several types of audio equipment, in addition to tape recorders.
STUDIO, STUDIOS: The word “studio” comes from the same Latin word as “study”, meaning “to be busy with”, “devoted to”, “concentrated upon”. 1) A studio can be any workroom specifically established for artistic production such as painting, designing, writing, dancing, etc. 2) The recording studio - it is the room (or rooms) in an audio facility where performers are recorded, as opposed to the rooms where all the recording and mixing equipment is located, which is called the control room. 3) Any room or rooms where photographs, cine or still film and-or video, are shot. 4) Used generally to refer to any building involved with audiovisual and film work or the entire complex of buildings and facilities involved with A.V. and film production.
STUDIO CUE MIX: The mix a musician or singer listens to when recording in a studio. It is heard over headphones while one performs. It “cues” him (tells him when to start and stop).
STYLUS: The tiny diamond that contacts the grooves of a phonograph record. The needle that the stylus is attached to is called a cantilever and the entire mechanism that holds all this is a “cartridge”. The cartridge is attached to the tone arm - the assembly that holds the cartridge in position and moves across the record as it plays.
SUB: (See SUB-WOOFER.)
SUB-BASS, SUB BASS, SUB BASS SPEAKER: The very low bass sounds, below 30 or 40 Hz. Examples of such sounds are rumbling thunder and earthquakes. It takes a sub-bass speaker (a subwoofer) to reproduce these sounds fully and give them impact.
SUB-BUSS: A buss is a path on which an audio signal can be routed. In the SADiE system specifically, a “sub-buss” is the routing where various sounds can be premixed for later adding to the overall mix. The SADiE sub-buss is really a premixed part of the overall mix. For example, an entire drum kit, having upwards of 8 or more individually mic’ed drums and cymbals, may be combined on a “sub-buss” and premixed onto two channels to then be added to the stereo mix. It is called a “sub-buss” because it is the routing for a subordinate premix that will then be added to the overall mix.
SUB-CODE: See CD SUB-CODE.
SUB-MIX: See PREMIX. It’s the same thing.
SUBPICTURES: In the preparation of a DVD, the DVD disc can have up to 32 channels of graphic overlays. These are called subpictures. They can display over the DVD’s pictures additional user information like menus, subtitles, and captions. This means there can be up to 32 different subtitles put on a DVD Video. Each subpicture can have up to 16 simultaneous colours, and each colour can have up to 14 levels of transparency so one can see through them and still see the DVD’s pictures.
SUBSCRIBER: A person, organisation or business that enrols with a company providing services or goods such as cable TV, satellite TV, or Internet. The subscriber is the one who pays to receive the service and is therefore authorised by the company to receive such services.
SUBSCRIBER MANAGEMENT: Subscriber management is when a cable TV, satellite, or telephone company (“telco”) provides services to its subscribers and limits or restricts services to others; or limits or restricts the degree or type of service the subscriber may access. An example of “subscriber management” is a Video On Demand service via cable TV where a cable TV subscriber places an order for a movie or other video. The service provider (cable TV company) receives the subscriber’s order and then allows the subscriber to access the video upon verification that they are an authorised paying customer. The subscriber management equipment registers the order, allows access to the service, bills the subscriber, registers demographic information, etc. “Mail Order Manager” (MOM) is a computer programme that is used for subscriber management.
SUBSONIC: “Subsonic” means slower than the speed of sound. This word is sometimes confused with the word “infrasonic”, which means sounds that are lower in frequency than the usual range of human hearing (below 20 cycles per second).
SUBSONIC FILTER: A misnomer. The term “subsonic filter” is sometimes mistakenly used to name an “infrasonic filter” (See INFRASONIC FILTER.)
SUBSTRATE: This is the core material of CDs and DVD’s. In the injection moulding machines, it starts as molten, clear polycarbonate plastic. After pressing and cooling, the substrate is given a thin layer of metal and a lacquer protective coating. CD-Recordable media has the same substrate, but different recording layers on it. (See CDs HOW THEY ARE MADE.)
SUBTLE: A sound that is barely perceptible on a very good audio playback system is said to be “subtle”. It is any very small, seemingly minor aspect or character or quality. Such subtle attributes usually are very important as they give overall quality and character to the sound.
SUBWOOFER: A large loudspeaker designed to specialise in reproducing very low frequencies (typically below 100 Hz). A subwoofer operates in the range below a woofer. Also called a “sub-speaker” or just “a sub”.
SUCKOUT: When specific audio frequencies are missing from a mix or playback system, they are said to be “sucked out”. Sometimes frequencies are intentionally “sucked out” to create certain sound qualities. For example, some very famous guitarists would “suck out” all the midrange frequencies from their amplifiers then add distortion. This is a well-known trick in rock guitar.
SUM AND DIFFERENCE SIGNALS: See Matrix.
SUMMING AMP: An amplifier that mixes together several signals into one. It “sums” the signals.
SUNSPOTS: A term used jokingly at times as a reason “why” there is some technical or electronic difficulty with audiovisual equipment. Sunspots are known to give off high amounts of electromagnetic energy and radiation and do have some influence upon earth’s electronics. But, of course, the real whys are operator errors, damaged and-or non-serviced equipment, and violations of Production Lines.
SUPER CARDIOID PATTERN: Cardioid refers to a microphone with a pickup pattern that has maximum pickup up from the front, less pickup from the sides, and least pickup from the back of it. If this pickup pattern is drawn, it has a heart shape. A super cardioid microphone pattern has maximum sensitivity on-axis (directly in front) and least sensitivity approximately 150 degrees off-axis.
SUPERSONIC: Faster than the speed of sound through air. (Compare to ULTRASONSIC.)
SUPERTWEETER: A tweeter used to reproduce only extremely high frequencies; usually found in four- or five-way speaker systems. They usually are set to produce ultra-high frequencies from 12 kHz to 40 kHz.
SUPPLY REEL: On a tape recorder or projector, the reel from which tape or film winds off, as it passes through the machine.
SUPER VHS (SVHS, S/VHS): A consumer videocassette format that offers approximately a 60% quality improvement in recording quality over normal video decks. Requires a video deck marked “Super VHS” and the videocassette must have been made in the Super VHS format. VHS stands for Video Home System. To take advantage of the Super VHS quality, one must use the correct cable to hook the video deck up to a TV - and the TV must accommodate such. The wire is called a “Y/C” wire. (See Y-C VIDEO.)
SURF, SURF THE NET, CHANNEL SURFING, and CYBERSURFING: The term now means, aside from the sport of surfing, to sort of flip between many different channels on a TV or to different Internet sites. Just as one “rides the waves” when surfing, one who “channel surfs” or “surfs the net” is constantly moving to different channels or sites trying to see if anything is of interest or worth watching - looking for a “good wave” (looking for a good channel or site). The person is just sort of skimming across channels or sites.
SURGE: A sudden increased flow of electricity down a power line that can harm audiovisual equipment. Lightning storms and power company equipment malfunctions can create huge surges that can ruin equipment, if not protected.
SURGE SUPPRESSOR: An electronic circuit, often built into electrical power strips, which protects equipment from power surges.
SURROUND CD (music): The “Surround CD” is meant to be played over DTS or Dolby circuitry in home consumer equipment. This format of CD has been most heavily pushed by DTS with over 200 titles produced. A 16 Bit, 44.1 Sampling Rate CD for music in surround sound. They are all DTS.
SURROUND ENCODING, DECODING: See FINAL SURROUND ENCODING.)
SURROUND EXTENDED: (Abbreviated EX.) This is Dolby’s name for its surround sound system and method of providing additional channels of surround sound along the rear wall behind the listeners, called Back Surround. Not to be confused with DTS ES (Extended Surround), which is the exact same thing, just competing companies and marketing terms. (For full description of this type of surround sound see DOLBY AC-3, DOLBY EX, and DTS.)
SURROUND FUNCTION(s): Features of a mixboard specifically built to accommodate surround sound mixing. It has functions and features not found on a stereo mixboard.
SURROUND L&R: The left and right front loudspeakers or channels of any surround sound audio system or mixboard. Said to differentiate between when stereo left and right is being referred to. Often these two loudspeakers are the same for both stereo and surround sound set-ups.
SURROUND MIX: A four, five, six or more channel mix of an audio programme meant for playing back on a surround sound system.
SURROUND MIXING for Digital Television Broadcasts: Many Digital TV broadcasts have surround sound mixes. This is done using special boxes from Dolby, called the Dolby E DP 571 encoder and DP 572 decoder along with the DP 570 authoring tool. (The Dolby DP 562 and 569 encode-decode units are the predecessors to the Dolby E 571, 572 system and the DP 570 authoring unit tool.) These units are specifically for mixing Digital television in Dolby Digital Surround Sound, as well as stereo and mono versions. The DP 570 is used to install additional digital information called “metadata” that goes along with the Dolby E broadcast and tells TV’s and audio equipment how to process the broadcast audio signal to play back the type of sound they want - surround, stereo, or mono.
SURROUND MIXING for Music Releases:
Here is a magazine article written by Ken Caillat, a professional mixing engineer, regarding DVD-Audio surround music mixing…
“Being at the forefront of the DVD-Audio launch has put 5.1 Entertainment (company) in a position to help define the aesthetic for the new music format. It’s all about taste. I can’t say there are any rules. What I know for sure is that I’ve got a 24-bit recording, so it’s going to sound a hell of a lot better than a 16 bit CD. And I have a subwoofer, so I know I can get a better bottom end. The kick drum, for instance, is going to be true to what kick drum sounds like. And I’ve got surround speakers, so even at my most conservative I can use sounds like reverbs and other effects to place the listener within the sound field. There has been a major debate in surround sound mixing circles over whether vocals should be placed in the centre speaker, which is where the dialog winds up in move soundtracks on DVD-Video. Music producers and Mixers who have for years mixed for a “phantom” centre between a stereo pair of speakers are especially reluctant to isolate vocals in the centre. Generally, I will not put a lead vocal in a centre speaker “unprotected” (all alone). I’ll add a cushion of reverb to it, because you never want the listener to be able to isolate the vocalist in the centre without the accompaniment. Sometimes I’ll listen to the vocal by itself, and it will have an edge (slight distortion on the original recording so to hear it alone over a centre channel speaker would not be ok). But there are exceptions. I was mixing something by Nat King Cole the other day. It was a three-track recording, and it was spectacular. Cole’s voice was impeccable. So I thought if I put it in a phantom centre, like one would mix for normal stereo, no one is going to hear its brilliance. But if I put it right down the centre, you could, if you wanted to hear Nat King Cole by himself. So for that particular track, I snuck a little bit of Cole into the left and right front channels, but I basically put him 95% in the centre. Right after that I did a Dean Martin track, and I thought I’d use the same approach, but I couldn’t do it. I’d embarrass his heirs. As an example of a different approach to multi-channel mixing, the 5.1 DTS CD mix of Boyz II Men has each of the guys in the group in his own speaker. I thought that was kind of cool. I tried doing it with the Beach Boys, and it was terrible. You can’t do that with them because their blends are so locked together that you can’t pull them apart. So it really is about taste and what feels right. Regardless, having six speakers (including a subwoofer to carry the bass) instead of only two speakers (stereo) gives musicians a much broader palette. It’s great to give all your instruments their own space. Like when I did the Rumours remix - there are too many tracks and too many instruments to squeeze into a stereo pair of speakers, bit if I use five speakers, each instrument gets to have its own space and come up a little louder in the mix. Everything sounds bigger. If I play the original Rumours against the DVD-Audio mix, the new version sounds huge. Part of it is the 24-bit resolution, and part of it is that you have five speakers and a subwoofer carrying the energy that two speakers used to have to put out. We want to get the listeners inside the music, to surround them in the music. The thrill of it all is getting to hear some of this great stuff that I’ve heard all my life sounding better than I’ve ever heard it before”. Ken Caillat 5.1 Entertainment in LA.
Here is Steve Parr’s in-depth write-up on mixing surround music. Keep in mind that Steve Parr is from England, so writes in that style.
“Although most engineers leave mastering and final surround sound encoding to dedicated facilities, a knowledge of the issues involved is necessary. Decoders in home entertainment systems have the ability to read coded “metatags” (metadata) in the datastream which determine how the audio is interpreted by systems that, say, have no centre speaker, no sub bass, or just LCRS. The decoder downmixes the six channels according to the metatags. The algorithm can also apply dialog normalisation (a type of floating reference level) and dynamic range compression for replaying film soundtracks at low levels. All these options are decided during encoding and have a great effect on how your final mix will sound on a domestic system. The home entertainment amplifier will also have an element of bass-end management for bandwidth-restricted monitors. DVD’s have a stereo LPCM soundtrack and an optional surround mix. You should be wary about letting an algorithm decide how your 5.1 mix should sound in stereo - it is far better to do a specific stereo mix in the way you always have in the past and you should do this if at all possible. If you can’t go back to the original multi-track elements to mix in stereo, you can create a stereo mix from the six tracks on your 5.1 master by folding in the respective surrounds to the left and right and adding in the centre and sub [to the stereo mix] until you get the right balance. However, you’ve probably spent many years perfecting the art of mixing for stereo and it would be unrealistic to expect a downmixed 5.1 to compare on any real artistic level. Many of the compression, equalisation and stereo placement techniques normally used become irrelevant because of the expanded soundfield. No longer are your elements jostling to be heard, they have space and dynamic range. The bass management of home entertainment systems filter off a low-frequency element of all five channels, combine it with the “.1” channel, and then direct it to the sub-bass speaker. If a home system is without a sub, that information is generally ignored. It is therefore important that vital mix information is not placed solely in the sub or you risk losing it. The normal practice is for the bass, or maybe kick drum to be placed there, but never without having it in one or more of the main five channels. Historically, the sub-bass comes from the cinema practice where all the front speakers are full-range and the sub was used for low frequency enhancement, or effects (LFE) of explosions and high-energy effects. I’ve tried many different combinations of monitors over the years, from having three full-range main monitors at the front with smaller monitors of the same type at the rear; to moving the rears to the side, and then substituting all the monitors to five of the same type. I’ve found that using large main monitors is too overwhelming. It feels like I’m drowning in Black Forest surround gateau. My current preference is for five close-field monitors such as Genelec 1031s placed as recommended by the ITU, that is, at 30 degrees and 110 degrees from the front centre position. I occasionally move the rears further back for projects that require a more ambient mix, such as orchestral film scores that need envelopment without too much imaging. I am lucky that I have a large control room and am able to have the monitors placed freely on stands. This also works for other engineers who have their own preferences for where they place the monitors. I’ve also set up a secondary 5.1 in my live room with a domestic bass management system to get more insight into my mixes in the same way that you switch between monitors when working in stereo. While a stereo mix has to sound good on any format, whether radio, CD, boombox, car or television, a 5.1 mix will only ever be heard on a home theatre system, or maybe a car with a central driving position. There is also the question of how you control the level of six speakers simultaneously so that they level track consistently. Although it is possible to set up a group of six faders on the returns from your 6-track master, and then send the outputs of these to your monitors, it’s both a clumsy solution and uses up too much console real estate. If you have three separate stereo monitoring buses that will each route to a separate pair of speakers you can do it this way, but calibration is awkward, and you’re never quite sure if the three stereo outputs are tracking properly. The best way to tackle the problem is by the use of a surround monitoring device such as the Magtrax. The most basic units have six line-level inputs, a volume knob and six amplifier outputs. More sophisticated units have one or more external inputs and switching so that you can choose to monitor either your console output buses or the outputs of your master 6-track recorder. Some form of output calibration for speaker amplifiers, and maybe a downmixing switch so that you can hear your 5.1 collapsed down to stereo are useful if only to prove to you that you’re going to have to do a separate stereo mix anyway. What is the function of the centre speaker in the 5.1? Should you not use it at all, in effect creating a 4.1 mix? On the positive side, the centre channel can be used as an anchor in a way that you can never achieve with a phantom centre. If you move away from the sweet spot in a stereo mix, sounds placed in the phantom centre will also appear to move in relation to the L & R. By using a hard centre you can go a long way to stop this happening, making the image more stable when you shift away from an ideal listening position. It will also sound punchier and you will avoid the 2 kHz dip that you get with a phantom centre due to non-coincident wave fronts reaching the ears. You can also go a long way to avoid the push and pull of conflicting frequencies in the same speakers - a kick drum could be placed as a hard image in the centre with a bass line as a phantom centre, equal in the left and right. On the down side, cheaper home systems rarely have three similar speakers in the front and a mismatched centre speaker could easily throw off your whole mix. It is far more likely that only the L & R will be balanced properly, thereby making it much safer to stick to phantoms. This is a situation where analysis of mixes on the DTS CDs can give valuable insight to what works and what doesn’t, but this is something that you really have to make up your own mind about. You should probably be trying to create a large listening area with your surround mix to provide a high degree of listener envelopment, and to provide a conductor’s or an audience perspective so that the mix sounds great without you necessarily being aware that you’re listening in surround until you hit that “stereo” button. Some music sounds best in a natural acoustic space. Classical and jazz are two good examples. To hear an instrument coming at you solely from the rear speakers in a classical recording is disconcerting, and in fact sometimes downright annoying. What the Mixer should be trying to recreate is a natural acoustic that envelops the listener without distracting. The ideal perspective is that of the conductor himself, who has all the instruments wrapped around him in a semicircle; he hears most of the instruments directly, enhanced by early reflections and the general reverberation of the concert hall. The other case is that of a pop record. Here, the instruments, if there are any [live instruments], have generally been recorded on a piecemeal basis and there is little or no spatial information involved. The engineer has to create the illusion of space by use of reverbs, delays and processing. This has no basis in the real world and so the engineer has the freedom to be a lot more aggressive in the placement and use of dynamic panning in the 5.1 mix. It is an interesting exercise to pan slowly from a front speaker to the equivalent rear. If you apply equal level to front and rear, the audio seems to be coming from 45 degrees in front and not 90 degrees as you’d expect. If you keep panning towards the back, the sound then breaks up so that you can almost hear it as two discrete sources with slightly different frequency content, and then it will finally zip to the rear. This phenomenon is upheld by psychoacoustic research showing that the ear’s frequency response to sounds coming from the rear is radically different from that of sounds coming from the front. This is in part due to the physical geometry of the outer ear and lobes affecting the frequency response of the ear canal. I’ve also found that you can help this problem by slightly equalising the source as you pan from front to back. How many times do you place source hard left or right when it isn’t part of a stereo pair? Sources that are placed solely in one channel can sound obtrusive; you become aware of the positioning of the speaker rather than the positioning of the sound. It’s more musical to pull instruments slightly into the room by placing small amounts of the signal in the other channels so you almost feel you can walk behind them. This also helps to widen the critical listening position. The same principle extends to the use of reverb. It’s good to use different reverbs in the different planes. For natural ambience, I tend to use the four outputs from a Lexicon as my master reverb. I pan the outputs to the four corner monitors, but bring in the front pair a small amount so that there will be a very limited amount of return to the centre. Any close-mic’ed instrument that I then send to this reverb will immediately get a context within the room. I then set up reverbs for the different planes according to the content of the mix. I’ve found that it’s better to change the position of the reverb returns so they are in a different place from the source. It’s also good to have different reverbs in the front and rears, and don’t forget that there’s nothing to stop you having a horn section, for example, panned between left and left surround, being fed to a stereo reverb that is panned hard right and right surround. A vocal in the centre could also have a delay in the surrounds, to create the feeling of the reflections of a large stadium. Many engineers use their stereo mix as the basis for their surround mix either by starting to work on the surround [mix] while their mix is up on the board or by recalling their stereo mix subsequently. However, there are times when this is not possible. Sometimes it is impractical to mix the surround in the same session as the stereo, because of budgetary considerations or because the record company is not yet ready to commit to the format. In this case, a good solution is to lay off stereo elements of the mix to another multi-track format, preserving effects and dynamics that are integral to the sound of the stereo mix. Formats such as RADAR and Protools are ideal for this purpose. The elements can then be archived for later retrieval when the time is right. In this way the integrity of the original mix can be preserved even if the 5.1 mix is undertaken at another studio by a different engineer. Typically it will extend a stereo mix session by an hour. Another situation is where it is infeasible to mix in the same room due to lack of suitable monitoring or limitations of the console itself. While it’s possible to mix in 5.1 on any professional desk, some lend themselves to the process far more easily than others. Digital consoles have a natural advantage because much of the functionality is software based and it only needs the correct algorithms to mix in the various surround formats; even moderate priced digital desks like the Yamaha O2R and the Mackie D8b have a good implementation of surround. However, older analogue consoles are more difficult to configure without using up much valuable console real estate. On desks with more than one stereo bus it is possible to use one for front L & R and another for surround L & R with the centre and sub being addressed by auxiliary buses. But this is clumsy because it makes panning between front and back difficult and smooth panning through the centre speaker well nigh impossible. Dynamic panning is also tricky in all but a very basic way. I chose a Euphonix desk because as an analogue console under full digital control, it gives you full automation of every surround function and the ability to mix in over a dozen different surround formats - useful for Imax and special event audio systems. I mentioned earlier than it many ways a surround mix is easier than a stereo mix. You now have six speakers with the equivalent of greater useful dynamic range so that you can get much better bass, more separation between instruments and a creation of space in the mix. When working in stereo, an engineer has to spend much of his time EQ’ing and compressing to fit a large number of signal sources into a stereo perspective so they can not only be heard, but that they are balanced without masking each other. And of course this perspective is in one plane only. Many of these problems evaporate when mixing in 5.1 because you now have a 3-D perspective in which to place your sounds. Although you now have four planes between your adjacent pairs of speakers (front, rear, left side, right side) you can also bring sounds forward into the room so you can literally think of your space as a stage on which you can place the various instruments. You don’t have to EQ and compress just to pull something through on a mix, and strangely, even balance becomes slightly less critical. Surround mixing is still in its infancy and there are limited outlets for surround mixes; to whit, music for film, concert remixes for DVD and albums released on the DTS CD format. However, consumers who have bought their home entertainment centres with a wide-screen television and all the associated paraphernalia will quickly become accustomed to listening in surround and will expect to hear the same quality and aural spaciousness from music albums. Lately, after several weeks of mixing solely in 5.1, I had to go back to stereo and my sense of loss was palpable. Moving back to 5.1 was like coming home.” Steve Parr, Engineer, Mixer at London’s “Hear No Evil” surround recording studios.
STEREO MONITORING DEVICE: See MAGTRAX.
SURROUND PLACEMENT TECHNIQUES: 1) The many various methods of positioning a sound, when surround mixing, anywhere in the room or in positions as dictated by the locations of images on the screen (for film mixing). 2) The various methods of positioning multiple microphones to record in surround sound.
SURROUNDS: The rear and side speakers in any surround sound audio system.
SURROUND SOUND (what it is plus a brief
history): Films, of course,
did not have sound in their earlier years. Initially there were only the
pictures themselves, then words began to be printed on the film itself - often
just on black backgrounds cut between actual shots. More and more, subtitles
came into use as the industry prospered. Live music accompaniment and sound
effects became popular. Then, with the arrival of sound synchronised with
pictures in the early 1930’s, the audience could finally hear limited
soundtracks of dialog and some portions of music recorded right on the film.
The very first sound film, which created a sensation, was Al Jolson in “The
Jazz Singer” in 1927. Only one loudspeaker was used. This was a major
breakthrough at the time and by 1929, sound on film was widely in use. The use
of just one loudspeaker continued as a stable datum all the way up into the
early 70’s. Many such speakers, located out of sight behind the screen, were huge
by this time. Some theatres had a single speaker that stood nearly 2X the
height of a man. But in the early 1970’s however, audio electronics were
advancing remarkably and someone thought it would be a great idea to literally
FILL a movie theatre with sound everywhere within the room so the audience
would feel “surrounded” by sound. Thus the term “surround sound”. In 1975,
Raymond Dolby’s “Dolby Laboratories” introduced the very first “Dolby Stereo”
film. The term “Dolby Stereo” was surround sound, not just two
channel stereo. Two years after Dolby introduced his system, he expanded it in
a special release of “Star Wars” in 1977 which shocked audiences with the power
and emotional impact that sound could bring to the film viewing experience. In
no time, theatres around the world had installed “Dolby Stereo” systems. Then,
in 1992 the first “Dolby Digital Surround” was introduced. At the same time in
the early 90’s, a new company, named “DTS” started up and pushed their way into
the marketplace providing a system similar to Dolby’s, only it used Compact
Discs for the soundtrack. At that time, CD was the thing in higher quality
sound in the public’s mind. DTS ran with that and put themselves firmly into
the theatre world by convincing film studios and theatres alike that they were
way behind the times if they did not have sound coming from a Compact Disc in
their theatre. Both DTS and Dolby Digital finalised their systems as at least
somewhat compatible. At least they did not interfere electronically with each
other if both were installed in a given theatre. And, it was worked out how to
release every film with both formats accounted for. Still another surround
sound format exists - from Sony. It does a full eight channels PLUS subwoofers.
Called “Sony Dynamic Digital Sound” (SDDS). (Dolby has a new seven channel
version in many theatres, DTS too.) Another aspect of surround sound was
happening throughout this time period. In the 80’s Dolby made it possible for
consumers to put together a surround sound system right in their homes. The
system was virtually identical to that used in professional movie houses. Dolby
called it “Dolby Pro-Logic”. The market for surround sound has expanded
tremendously with many homes throughout the world having surround sound systems
capable of playing videos of movies. Consumers have even built dedicated
private rooms as complete “home theatres” that include the very latest in
surround sound. In 1992, Dolby released Dolby Digital for home use. It did not
catch on much, because so many films already existed in the older Dolby Pro
Logic format and the home consumer industry was slow to change. However, the
DVD-Video disc hit big in the late 90’s. With it came improved surround sound
capability in the home, and the quality of DVD increased consumer demand for
better audio equipment. Even television broadcasts can be done with surround
sound. Virtually every video a consumer rents has surround sound. As a matter
of fact, in the years since surround sound’s introduction in 1975, thousands of
films have been mixed in this format - and the number grows daily. Surround
sound generally works like this: There is a speaker located
directly behind the centre of the screen. It is from this area of the screen
that most of the actor’s faces will be pictured as the film’s cameramen and
Director centre the actor in the frame when shooting
the film. Therefore, the spoken words of the film (the
dialog) is sent to the centre channel and the effect created is of the
sound being heard as coming from the actor. Music and sound effects are also
sent to speakers located to the left and right, also behind the screen. Then
such things as music, city sounds, rain sounds, forest sounds, background
sounds, birds chirping, wind sounds, etc. are sent to many speakers located out
in the theatre along its walls above the audience’s heads. (These are called
the “surround speakers”.) There can be several individual surround speakers.
This makes it possible for example, for a helicopter to appear from behind the
audience and sound like it’s flying over their heads directly towards the front
and “into” the screen. Gunshots can be made to come from the screen then
ricochet around the room, etc. One last speaker, called a subwoofer, is sent
all the very low bass sounds. This can make such things as trains and
helicopters sound very realistic and have lots of impact. More than one
subwoofer is commonly used in larger theatres, making the whole room shake.
Because more and more home consumers filled their homes with home surround
audio equipment, the music companies thought it might be a good idea to offer
music releases that would play in surround sound - not just in stereo, the
music format since the early 60’s. Of course, the makers of surround sound
audio equipment thought it would be a good idea too. More equipment would be
sold! The music industry executives thought they could sell more music too if “surround
sound” was on the label of new music releases. But, they had a problem. A
conventional CD does not play surround sound. It can play older versions of
surround sound, but not the newer types. However, the DVD was already being
used for film surround soundtracks. With more and more consumers having DVD
players, and the DVD able to hold many times more data than a CD, surround
sound for music started appearing in 1998. Now, new (and older) music is being
prepared and released in “surround sound” often in addition to a stereo
version. Music surround sound is becoming more and more popular and
major labels are now releasing music in Surround Sound. One can go to any major
electronics dealer such as
SURROUND SOUND (Formats and types):
The following is a list of the names and different types of surround sound formats commonly used within the industry and by home consumers.
All technical words and terms used are defined as separate entries in this glossary.
By each type is listed the number of channels of loudspeakers that format is capable of. For example, five channels plus subwoofer are, in the industry, written as “5.1”.
NAMES AND TYPES OF SURROUND SOUND FORMATS.
Each format type is fully defined as a separate entry in this glossary as are any technical words used below.
FOR PROFESSIONAL THEATRE and BROADCAST.
True multi-channel Discrete Surround mixes
Some studios are mixing discrete, uncompressed, surround sound with as high as 10.2 (10 channels and 2 subwoofers) and even up to 16 channels of independent, discrete surround. While not released in these formats, such can be used for special applications such as large venue showings or specialty events. Such multiple surround mixes may also be used in some amusement applications.
SDDS - Sony Dynamic Digital Sound (8.1)
This is Sony’s professional surround sound system for general cinema installations, not for home use or for music mixing as yet.
“THX SURROUND EX” (Extended) or “DOLBY DIGITAL THX” (7.1)
Dolby EX, but at THX Certified theatres with 2 channels of rear surrounds. Is a compressed audio format (12 to 1) to get the digital audio information on the film. Is Dolby AC-3 based, as are all the various Dolby digital systems for general cinema theatres and home use.
DOLBY DIGITAL SURROUND EX - Surround Extended (7.1)
At non-THX Certified theatres with 2 channels of rear surrounds
DOLBY DIGITAL EX - Surround Extended (6.1)
The first version of Dolby EX, which had only one channel of rear surround and was installed in many theatres. Most are upgrading to 7.1, which provides 2 channels of rear wall surround.
DTS ES - Extended Surround (6.1)
DTS’ normal digital surround system for theatres. Has one channel of rear surround.
DOLBY DIGITAL SURROUND (5.1)
Dolby’s normal, original digital surround system for theatres. No rear wall surrounds. But has stereo (L & R) surrounds. Also called “AC-3” (as are all Dolby’s newer Digital surround formats). Now being phased out in general cinema theatres and replaced by Dolby EX and THX Surround EX.
DOLBY E (5.1)
Digital TV broadcasting, via airwaves or cable has surround sound. The format used is Dolby Digital AC-3. It is called “Dolby E” when used for Digital TV. (DTS is not used for Digital TV broadcasting and, though MPEG Surround may be used, its quality is not up to Dolby’s standards.
DOLBY STEREO SR (4.1)
The older style “Dolby Stereo Surround”, not a digital system. Dolby SR Noise Reduction used. No rear surround and only a mono surround for left and right. Now being phased out of general cinema theatre use and replaced by Dolby EX and THX Surround EX.
DOLBY STEREO A (4.1)
The older style “Dolby Stereo Surround”, not a digital system. Dolby A Noise Reduction used. No rear surround and only a mono surround for left and right. Now being phased out of general cinema theatre use and replaced by Dolby EX and THX Surround EX.
MPEG SURROUND (5.1)
This is MPEG’s processing for surround sound audio, similar to Dolby Digital, but using entirely different digital processing. Can be used for television broadcast and even for DVD production. (See MPEG SURROUND.)
FOR HOME CONSUMER USE:
THX Surround EX - (Surround Extended) (7.1)
Dolby EX with 2 rear surround channels. This is a compressed audio format compressing approximately 12 to 1. The system includes “THX Re-Equalisation” and “THX Timbre Matching” (Each of the above THX added features are defined as separate entries in this glossary.)
NOTE: THX presently certifies consumer home theatre components with two levels of certification. Better equipment is certified “Ultra” and less expensive components are certified with the “Select” labelling, though the latter may be dropped in the future with only the “Ultra” certification used.
DOLBY DIGITAL EX - (Surround Extended) (7.1)
Dolby EX with 2 rear surround channels. Not THX certified as it does not have the additional THX features listed above under “THX Surround EX”.
LEXICON LOGIC 7 (7.1)
Lexicon is a manufacturer of extremely high quality surround processing equipment. Their better processors have the capability of taking a 5.1 surround sound mix and turning it into 7 channels of surround sound.
DOLBY DIGITAL EX - (Surround Extended) (6.1)
Dolby EX, as first released, with only one channel of rear surround.
DOLBY DIGITAL MATRIX EX - (Surround Extended) (6.1)
Specifically for playing films originally issued with only Dolby Digital 5.1 (with no rear surround channels) to expand their playback, through electronic trickery, to 6.1 (deriving one rear channel of surround).
DTS ES Extended Surround 6.1 DISCRETE (6.1)
This is the basic DTS digital surround sound format. It has one rear channel of surround as well as separate Left and Right surround channels just like normal Dolby Digital 6.1 EX. This is a compressed audio format (4 to 1 compression compared to Dolby’s 12 to 1 compression).
DTS ES Extended Surround 6.1 MATRIX (6.1)
Specifically for playing original DTS (5.1) mixed films and expanding them to 6.1 (creates one rear channel of sound information to 5.1 mix).
DTS NEO 6 (6.1)
Specifically for playing any stereo film’s audio (2 channel) and expanding it to 6.1. Home movies recorded with stereo microphones as well as any older movies in stereo only will play over this format.
DTS NEO 5 (5.1)
Specifically for playing any stereo music, tapes, videos, game audio, etc. and expanding them to 5.1.
DOLBY DIGITAL SURROUND (DOLBY AC-3) (5.1)
Plays back film videos that, since 1992, have been mixed in AC-3, 5.1 digital surround. Note: The newer “Dolby EX 6.1 Matrix” format will play these films adding 1 channel of rear surround (6.1). Note: Many home consumers still only have older style audio equipment with the original Dolby Pro-Logic setting, not the new “Dolby Digital” setting required to play AC3 surround sound films. This means any film (video or DVD) which had “Dolby Digital” surround, would not play for these consumers. The 2.0 version of AC3 (Dolby Digital) handled this problem so now, even though the home consumer has the old gear, he can at least hear some sort of surround sound when listening to a Dolby Digital surround sound film. Dolby DP 570, 571 and 572 units provide AC-3 surround mixing for Digital TV, HDTV broadcasts.
DTS’ normal digital surround as found on many Surround CDs and early DVD-Music releases as well as film videos and early DVD releases. This is really just the same DTS system as their 5.1 film surround processing, only done for music-only releases on CD and now on DVD. There are over 200 such releases, which the consumer must play using a DTS setting on their home audio equipment.
DOLBY STEREO PRO-LOGIC II (5.1)
Designed to play normal stereo music as “surround” which the original Pro-Logic did horribly. Also improves the audio quality compared to the older Pro-Logic, when playing films with the older Pro-Logic (“Dolby Stereo”) type surround sound. Pro Logic II is Dolby’s direct competition with the DTS Neo 5 and 6 systems and performs the same functions of taking stereo film soundtracks, music CDs and other stereo programmes and allows them to be played back in 5.1 surround sound.
THX CERTIFIED DOLBY STEREO PRO-LOGIC (4.1)
THX added a special electronic feature to the original home version of Dolby Stereo surround sound (Dolby Pro-Logic). The feature is called “THX Decorrelation” and involves the slight alteration of phase (timing) of the two surround loudspeakers located to the left and to the right of the home consumer viewer, listener. These two loudspeakers both operate on just one mono surround sound signal so they each play the same sounds into the consumer’s room. THX certification for Dolby Pro-Logic required these two loudspeakers to constantly have their phase slightly altered, which would create a bigger sense of sound spaciousness, more similar to hearing a film in surround sound in a large professional theatre.
DOLBY STEREO PRO-LOGIC (4.1)
The original home surround format for all “Dolby Stereo” or “Dolby” marked videos.
DOLBY E (5.1)
Digital TV broadcasting, via airwaves, satellite or cable TV has surround sound. The format used is Dolby Digital AC-3. It is called “Dolby E” when used for Digital TV. DTS is not used for Digital TV broadcasting. MPEG Surround may be used, but the quality is better with the Dolby E system.
MPEG SURROUND (5.1)
More commonly used overseas on DVD’s and on Digital TV broadcasts. Many consumer surround sound receiver-processors have the ability to decode MPEG audio broadcasts. More frequently used in the non-US.
MUSIC SURROUND SOUND SYSTEM (5.1, 6.1 or 7.1)
This is a general term but included here as in listening to music releases, as opposed to films over a surround sound audio system, there are certain requirements that the usual home surround loudspeaker installations do not meet.
VIRTUAL SURROUND (3.0)
Home consumer systems having no surround speakers can, on many home systems, be set to “virtual surround”, a setting which places the surround information in the left and right channels. Compare to “Phantom Surround” below.
ADVANCED VIRTUAL SURROUND (3.0)
Panasonic’s latest “Virtual Surround” setting for their DVD Players. See Virtual Surround above.
DOLBY DIGITAL 2 CHANNEL MOVIE (2.0) or “2 CHANNEL SURROUND” (2.0)
Home consumer systems having no surround speakers AND no centre channel speaker can, on many home systems, be set to “2 Channel Surround” (or similar setting) thus assigning the centre channel information and surround ambience information into the left and right speakers for a balance of sound better than just playing the film mix through a “stereo” setting. Compare to Phantom Surround below.
CINEMA DSP or SOUNDFIELD PROCESSING (6.1)
This is an advanced Yamaha film surround sound system found on its home consumer surround sound audio receivers. It adds two additional loudspeakers to the front wall of the home theatre and these are then used to create different room type effects and to expand upon the surround sound effect. It will do this with any Dolby or DTS surround sound signal received.
Mainly intended for headphone listening, this is a quasi-surround mode that has been out for a number of years. It is included on some computer sound cards for listening to video games over one’s little computer loudspeakers or headphones. However, there have been some CDs mixed with the Q-surround process which gave a panoramic effect to the sound.
CAR STEREO SURROUND (5.1)
Panasonic has now released the first true Dolby 5.1 for automotive installations with the centre channel speaker to be centred in the car’s dash. More to follow as DVD video players are becoming more common in mobile applications as well.
PSEUDO SURROUND (2)
Any one of many false surround modes on home and auto consumer audio electronics which attempt, usually through phase shifting and altering of signal timings, to create a pseudo surround effect. May have many different names and be included on everything from Ghetto blasters to cheap TV sets.
PHANTOM MODE SURROUND (2.0)
The “Phantom mode” is selected when playing a surround sound source on just two stereo speakers. The centre channel information is routed to the left and right speakers thus creating a “phantom centre channel image”. Compare to “Virtual Surround” above.
NORMAL MODE SURROUND
Not another surround format, but commonly seen on most home consumer surround equipment. The “Normal Mode” is to be selected when the consumer’s centre channel speaker is small and unable to produce full range audio. With “Normal Mode” selected all bass below 100 Hz is routed to the left and right speakers which are usually larger in size. Many home surround audio systems use smaller speakers for the centre channel than they do for the left and right speakers because the centre loudspeaker is placed on or below the television where there is not much room for a large full range loudspeaker. It’s the “normal” size used. Compare to Wide Mode Surround below.
WIDE MODE SURROUND
Not another surround format, but commonly
seen on much home consumer surround equipment. “Wide Mode” is selected when the
consumer’s centre channel speaker can handle full range audio (has full bass
response). The Wide Mode ensures full frequencies are routed to the centre
channel. Compare to
RANDOM SURROUND SOUND FORMATS
There are some audio equipment
manufacturers who are creating their own various surround sound formats. One
SURROUND (SOUND) RECEIVER: See AVR - it’s the same thing.
SURROUND (SOUND) PROCESSOR: Not a “receiver” as it does not have an AM-FM radio built in (so does not “receive” broadcasts). However, it has full surround sound processing capabilities. It is a unit that is connected between surround video sources, such as a DVD player. It then converts the DVD’s audio to surround sound (Dolby, DTS or other) and then routes the signal on to amplification then to loudspeakers. There are professional surround processors, such as the Dolby units installed in professional theatres and there are consumer level processors. Usually such processors are used by “audiophile” consumers - those that have very expensive audio equipment and who prefer the higher quality of a processor instead of a multi-purpose receiver. Warning: Some high tech audio system owners will wish to purchase a processor instead of a normal consumer receiver, but unless that processor also has 6 discrete audio inputs, or if the processor can be bypassed altogether in the system so 6 audio feeds can be sent directly to amplification then to loudspeakers, DVD-AUDIO discs will not be able to be played at their full potential. (Compare AVR and DIGITAL CONTROLLER.)
SUSTAIN: The volume at which a sound will continue to play as long as the note is held (such as on a piano or other type of keyboard). On some keyboard instruments, especially real pianos, the pressed keys sustain volume will diminish after a short time. Other electronic keyboards, including organs, have sounds that will continue to play as long as one holds the key down.
SVCD: Super Video Compact Disc. Same as a CD-V, but has the higher quality Super VHS picture, which requires more digital information. (See CD TYPES OF for full listing of all current different names and-or types of CDs and what they are.)
SVGA: Abbreviation for Super Video Graphics Array. SVGA screens have 1024 horizontal lines and 768 vertical. Actually, the term SVGA is becoming old hat, as an SVGA screen is not considered extraordinary in most modern computers. Designations for the resolution of video screens are now usually just written within their technical specifications.
S VIDEO: Another name for Super VHS. See SUPER VHS.
S VIDEO INPUT-OUTPUT: Special connectors which provide a sharper, higher-resolution picture by processing luminance and colour signals separately to avoid interference. Available on high-resolution video sources, such as Hi-8, S-VHS VCRs, Sony’s DSS Digital Satellite System, and on selected Sony direct-view and projection TVs.
S/VHS: Super Video Home System. (See SUPER VHS.)
SWEEP (TONES): Some electronic audio testing equipment can generate test tones of all frequencies from 20 cycles to 20,000 cycles per second. However, they don’t play every frequency at once. Instead, the equipment shifts (“sweeps”) from the low frequencies to the high frequencies. These tone generators can be set up to generate one tone at a time, or sweep the tones up and down the entire range.
SWEETENING: In preparing a film or video soundtrack to add additional sounds to those already existing to improve impact or reality. “We sweetened the car crash with some dumpster hits.”
SWEET SPOT: The best listening or viewing position. The best seat in the room. The sweet spot is centred in front of the screen and-or between the speakers at a distance away that the listener-viewer likes the best.
SWINTEK: The name of a company that manufactures wireless microphones.
SWITCH: A device that makes and-or breaks electrical connections.
SWITCH BETWEEN MONITORS, SWITCHABLE MONITORING: The action of checking one’s mix over the two or more different types of loudspeakers in a mixing control room. One can select any of the loudspeakers and ensure that the mix plays well in each.
SWITCHING: The ability of any audio or video equipment to route signals in ways desired by the user. The equipment can “switch” (route) signals to other equipment. This is usually done by pressing a button or combinations of buttons.
SWITCHABLE: Activated by throwing a switch “on” or “off”. Some circuits on mixboards are “switchable” - meaning they can be turned on or off so they do or do not affect the audio signal. Any feature, system, circuit, etc. that can be activated or deactivated by turning on or off a switch.
SWITCHER: 1) An electronic device that permits instant cuts between television cameras. Also called a video mixer. 2) The individual who performs the function of switching. 3) A device in a video tape recorder that activates the recording, playback and erase heads. 4) Any sort of electronic router that switches so as to route audio and-or video signals to selected or multiple locations.
SWTV: An abbreviation for Southwest
SX: A Sony brand type of video tape. Stands for “Superior Digital” with the “X” being a symbol that Sony marketing division and engineers picked as a letter to symbolise “digital”.
SYMETRIX: A brand name of audio equipment.
1) The running of two or more audiovisual devices in unison - at the exact same timing and speed, such as an audio tape recorder with a video playback deck.
2) A signal, which is used to cause two or more A.V. machine actions to run simultaneously or at the same rate of speed.
3) A signal supplied with TV video picture to stabilise the picture on the TV screen.
SIGNALS: Audiovisual equipment, when used
professionally, often must operate in exact synchronisation (exact time) with
other equipment, such as two video decks operating together or a video deck and
a digital audio workstation producing sound and pictures exactly in time
together. Electronic synchronisation signals provided by a controlling machine
(the “master”) are received by “slaves”. The slaves can then operate “in synch”
with the master. For example, the video deck could be the “master” and the
audio workstation recorder the “slave”. Digital audiovisual equipment has
unique synchronisation signal requirements and such are critical when hooking
this equipment up to operate together. Even sending a digital audio signal from
one machine to another requires a certain type of synchronisation between the
two machines. Note: Any technical terms below are
covered as separate entries in this glossary. There are two types of
synchronisation signals; those that provide speed reference and those that
provide position reference. (Speed reference regulates the mechanical speed of
the machines as well as how fast the digital information is sent, received and
processed. Position reference tells the exact location of a sound or picture on
a tape or computer file - for example, the relationship of sound to picture.) “Pilot
tone”, “word clock”, “bit clock”, AES/EBU and S/PDIF
interface connections, “Digidesign Superclock”, “tach pulses”, “bi-phase”
and “video synch” provide speed information. This speed information is used to
synchronise recorders and playbacks so they all run and operate at the same
speed. Position reference signals include
SYNC MOTOR: A motor whose speed is controlled by the frequency of the AC power line feeding the motor. Such motors keep very exact speed providing the AC wall power is kept constant. Given very stable electrical power, a synch motor runs a film projector with great precision.
SYNC POP: A single film frame of a beep tone used as a guide to synchronise sound and picture. The pop occurs 2 seconds before the first frame of picture, and thus corresponds to the “2” frame on the sweep-hand SMPTE leader. Also called “2-pop” as the pop sound matches the 2-second frame mark.
SYNCHRONISATION: See SYNCH.
SYNCH PULSE GENERATOR: Abbreviated SPG. SPG is a term used in the SADiE digital audio computer manual. A synch pulse generator is an electronic box that sends out a signal that other machines can use as a stable datum to run themselves simultaneously, perfectly in time one with another.
SYNCLAVIER: Brand name of a computerised musical instrument and controlling keyboard. The Synclavier was formerly used on the music production lines at Gold. It has been superseded by the Logic (brand) computer and keyboard instrument.
SYNTH, SYNTHESISER: An electronic musical instrument. It “synthesises” (generates, creates) sounds that in many cases sound very much like real instruments. Initially synthesisers always had a keyboard, like a piano. But now a synthesiser can be activated (“played” or “triggered”) by playing a guitar, a saxophone or other musical instrument. Several synthesisers can be hooked up to and controlled using a single keyboard. The synthesisers that don’t have their own keyboards, but are so connected are called “synth modules”. The word, “synthesise” comes from the Greek word meaning, “put together”.
SYNTH MODULE: See SOUND MODULE. It’s the same thing.
SYSTEM: An assembled collection of audio or audiovisual components which, together, present the audio for listening and-or visual information for viewing. All the various parts add up to a system.
System for Improved Acoustic Performance (SIAP): (See AUDITORIUM SYNTHESIS for full definition.)
SYSTEM MANAGED AUDIO RESOURCE TECHNIQUE (“SMART”): See SMART FOLD-DOWN.