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Music and Audio Glossary of Terms—Part 4

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This post is part of a series called Music and Audio Glossary of Terms.
Music and Audio Glossary of Terms—Part 3

The modern world is full of three-letter acronyms, or TLAs, and other jargon. The world of music and audio is no different.

Every given topic area has its own specific abbreviations and terminology that can, at first, be impenetrable to some. In this tutorial I attempt to demystify a few of the terms that you're likely to read in our tutorials.



In digital audio recording, thousands of individual "samples" are recorded every second. Added together these make up the digital audio signal.


A type of output from a DAW or console that allows signal to be routed to external devices.

Sends usually have returns which accept signal coming back from the external device, the external device typically being processors like reverbs etc. 

In live sound, sends can be used for monitor mixes, alternative board mixes for other devices, and cue mixes in theatre sound.


Sibilance is a hissing sound produced when pronouncing S and Z

Sibilance is undesirable in professional sound reinforcement and can be controlled through the use of a de-esser like Valley Audio's 401 Microphone Processor, 815 Dynamic Sibilance Processor, or 730 DynaMap Digital Dynamics Processor.

Sidechain Compression

Sidechaining a compressor for example, to duck music out of the way for speech.

You send music through a compressor, but send the vocal mic into the sidechain. When the announcer speaks, the compressor pushes the music out of the way. 


Audio that is made up of two channels—left and right.



An audio test signal used to adjust levels, test signal quality, identify signal pathways and so forth.


Any device that converts energy from one form into another. Microphones and loudspeakers are both transducers.



Audio frequencies which are too high to be heard by humans (above approximately 20,000 kHz).



Pertaining to the human voice.


Virtual Studio Technology, or VST is a software interface that integrates software audio synthesiser and effect plugins with audio editors and recording systems.

VST, created by Steinberg, and similar technologies use digital signal processing to simulate traditional recording studio hardware in software. 

VU—Volume Unit

A Volume Unit is a unit used to measure the volume of an audio signal.



The length of a wave, measured from any point on a wave to the corresponding point on the next phase of the wave.



A lockable connector, available with various numbers of pins. The most common XLR in audio work is the 3-pin XLR.

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