173: Do You Really Know What These Audio Terms Mean?

173: Do You Really Know What These Audio Terms Mean?

I've built a page that offers simple explanations for the most common terms in audio, as well as all the common features and functions found on recording studio equipment. It is completely free, super awesome and today we're gonna introduce it to you on the podcast.


Book a free feedback call with Benedikt, the host of the show!

I've built a page that offers simple explanations for the most common terms in audio, as well as all the common features and functions found on recording studio equipment. It is completely free, super awesome and today we're gonna introduce it to you on the podcast.

Making and recording music is about the art. About creativity. When you write or record, you want to be in the zone. You want to be in flow state. 

And nothing is more distracting and annoying than having to google seemingly complicated terms, features or functions that you come across while you’re creating.

So here's the resource to find your answers quickly and end the confusion.

The good news is: Most of that stuff is not complicated at all and you don’t have to understand all the technical ins and outs of every piece of gear, in order to make or record a great song.

And once you find out what the important terms mean, you don’t have to be afraid of making a mistake, anymore. You can finally focus on the art and what comes out of the speakers. Because ultimately, that’s all that matters.

To know the right terms and their meaning also helps in situations where you collaborate and communicate with others. Because sometimes people say one thing and actually mean something completely different. We don't want that happening to you.

So, to save you from that frustrating waste of time and energy, I’ve put together categorized lists with short, simple explanations of all those things. Boiled down to what really matters and already filtering out the stuff you don’t necessarily need to know to get started.

On this episode we'll explain some of the most confusing, important and common audio terms. And then you can look up the rest on this page when you need to.

Fellow audio nerds, please note:

The explanations are as non-technical and simple, as possible. We want it to be practical and useful and we don’t really care if everything is 100% scientifically correct. All that matters to us are the results that the people who listen to this will hopefully get.

It’s not meant to be an academic piece of work on audio technology and if you are an experienced engineer who thinks this is stupid, then I’m really sorry, but this is not for you then. And I can definitely understand your desire for accuracy and your love for nerdy discussions, because I’m a total freak in this regard, myself. I just think inflating our egos by throwing around complicated terms and definitions is not going to help anyone trying to capture a great song.


Let's go!



Automatic Episode Transcript — Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy (click for full transcript)

Benedikt: We know that clipping means the red lights come on and you've over driven something, and usually not intentionally. And so it's a bad thing when things clip, but then you hear someone talk about how they clipped their master or they bought a clipper blood room and you're wondering why. Why would I want to do this? This is the Self Recording Band podcast, the show where we help you make exciting records on your own, wherever you are. DIY style. Let's go. Hello and welcome to the Self Recording Band podcast. I'm your host Ben Time. If you're on new to the show, welcome. Cool. So glad we have you, and if you are already a listener, thank you for coming back. Super cool to see you. Uh, you join us again and, uh, today we're gonna talk about a resource that I've built a while ago. Uh, I've actually built a page on the surf recording band website, which the pages, the surf recording band.com/audio terms. And that page offers simple explanation for the most common terms in audio as well as features and functions found on recording studio equipment. And I've built that because a lot of people seem to be and un, like, understandably so, seem to be confused by some of the terms that. Are being thrown around out there. And sometimes, you know, when you're in a session, you just wanna, you, you come across something you don't know what it means. And so you start Googling and it's distracting and confusing and frustrating. And so I wanted to build this resource where you'll find all of the common terms and simple solu uh, like explanations for them in one place. So whenever you get stuck and come across something like that, you can just go there and find your answer. And this is what we're gonna talk about in this episode. Um, I'm gonna grab some of the most important terms that I, that I talk to people about all the time or that, that I come across all the time that people get confused by. We're gonna give you simple explanations for those, and then we're gonna tell you where to find those in written form on this page. So this is a audio terms explained kind of episode, and I'm doing this with my friend and co-host, Malcolm Owen Flood. Hello, Malcolm. How are you? Hey, Benny. I'm great, man. How are you? I'm doing great too. Fantastic, man. Okay. I got, we still didn't manage to get back into a normal rhythm. We, we rescheduled this time. This was my fault. But the baby from next week on, we're gonna be on Mondays again. Yeah,

Malcom: we, we'll get there. We'll get there. It's all good though. We both made it. We both remembered. So we're here. Um, okay. First off, I got coffee news. Oh, that's always good news. This is what I've been using for coffee lately. It's like a, I don't even, I think it's pronounced Hario V 30 or V 60, I think it's called V 60. Mm-hmm. V 30, the speaker, right? Yep. Pour, pour over. And I gotta say I'm loving it, man. Might be worth trying. Um, it, uh, oh. If you open this the right way, it pours properly, but I, uh, I really don't mind not waiting for, uh, the coffee to kind of brew before you press it. You just pour it and you start drinking. It's amazing. And, and

Benedikt: what is the like, maybe that I, I just don't get it. Is that just a normal coffee maker? It

Malcom: is like a very nice pour over is what it is. It's what the coffee snobs say is good.

Benedikt: Ah, okay. Okay. Got it. Got it.

Malcom: Yeah, I'll send you the deeds. It's, I'm, I'm pretty impressed so far. Um, but I, I'm yet to do, uh, comparison against my French press or my arrow press. Like, uh, like I set 'em all up and see how they

Benedikt: go.

Awesome. Like, do you guys don't have that like, um, Those fully automatic things, like, not the, not the, the, the capsules espresso crap thing, but like the, the, you know, where you put the beans on top and then it grinds them and turns them into, you know, black coffee or espresso or latte, whatever you want. Because those are basically what well, so many people have over here. And what we used to, did you use that other thing there? Because I always wanna talk to Americans about, like, or Canadians, about coffee. They either have air press or pour over or something like this, but rarely an espresso machine or these, these types of, right.


Malcom: okay. I think you're a little more biased than, you know, because I think a lot of our Canadian audience, uh, on this podcast is in the West Coast. Probably the majority of us. And, uh, we are coffee snobs out here, so our coffee culture's pretty good, especially in the music world, I would say. Okay. But there's, there's a lot of people with just kind of like the black and Decker, uh, generic coffee maker for sure. A lot of, lot of people wake up and just click a button and make 'em some coffee, but, uh, It's usually mediocre.

Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah. It, it is. I mean, there's good ones out there too. Oh, there's totally good ones. Yeah. And, and it depends on if you want the krema or not, because you can't really do that with a lot of the other things. You know, some people just want the, the, yeah. The krema on top of the coffee and you can't do that with the other things. There's ways with, I figured it out with the Euro press now so I can do it with the Euro press, which is awesome. Very nice. Very nice. Um, but you know, when you, if you want that espresso style sort of coffee, then you, the only way is with a machine like that.

Malcom: So, yeah. Speaking of West Coast listeners, uh, I had an experiment I wanted to see because, uh, I think last week I told you and everyone that I was gonna be playing music at a festival called Lake Town Shakedown with an artist. Mm-hmm. And I just in the chat through a link to you, Benny, that I want you to have a look at, uh, and it is the lineup for the festival and there's some like, Big, big bands for us over here, but I'm like, I wonder if you over in Germany know these bands?

Benedikt: Okay, I'm gonna have a look at it. I'm just, just a second. I just now bookmarked the, the thing you just told me that Hario v V 60 is what I have here and there's a V 40, I think, no V 60 is this one market. I can research it because I'm a coffeen too, so I just wanna know.

Malcom: It seems to be pretty well respected.

Benedikt: Cool. Yeah, I have an espresso machine and the arrow press and I got rid of the automatic thing. Um, but maybe this one, one more, the annoying thing about my setup is that I can only make individual like cups and when, when there's people and there's more people, I would love to be able to make more at once, and this is a perfect solution for that. Cool. Thank you. No problem, buddy. So now I've gotta gonna look at the

Malcom: lineup. Could you just always assume that, uh, yeah, like a big band is a big band everywhere,

Benedikt: but, ah, it's awesome. No, that's not the case. You're right. Okay. And I definitely know Shaggy. All right. Um, Aqua is this thing, are those the nineties Barbie girl

Malcom: Aqua? That is the aqua, yep. Oh, shit. I know those, I'm doing all of this because I want to convince you to make sure you come to the festival when you're Yeah, yeah, yeah,

Benedikt: yeah, yeah. For sure. For sure, for sure. I don't know any of the other Sunday artists, to be honest, and people listening to this. If you go to this link, you probably, you probably know those. I don't. Um, Saturday Portugal, the Man, I know those,

Malcom: yeah, they're, they're definitely famous worldwide, aren't they?

Benedikt: Yep. The rest, not really. Um, the second, I don't know how to pronounce them, but the second one, I know two K Canan Canan. Yep. I know. Definitely know that, know him.

Malcom: That's great. Yep. That's cool. Okay, so Friday's the day that I'm playing. Okay, so

Benedikt: Wet Future is there. Cool. Yep. Third Eye Blind. I know those

Malcom: Sweet. Have you heard Brain Wolf? Nope. Oh man. I'm gonna send you a record. Ray Wolf put out like one of my favorite rock records of the last few years for sure. Cool. Um, ooh, so,

Benedikt: so good. And which is the one you are

Malcom: in just looking at this.

I'm just realizing we're not on this website. Yeah, I was just wondering. We just got skipped. We're gonna have to email. Yep. That's hilarious.

Benedikt: Great. Um, yeah, but I, uh, but that, that look, that looks, looks like fun for

Malcom: sure. Yeah. Yeah. It should be a good time, I think. Um, but, uh, but yeah. Yeah. Well, you should come, dude. I mean, I know you're gonna have lots of plans while you're here, but that would be a pretty

Benedikt: fun time. Yeah. That, but that was definitely a fun plan. I'll like that work. I have it already in my calendar, so it's gonna happen. Sweet. Yeah. That's cool. Awesome. Really, really cool.

Malcom: All right. What are we talking about today?

Benedikt: Audio terms, um, right. Audio terms. I wanted to, like, I don't, I won't do it. Uh, I actually wanted to talk about the fact that I'm back into racing again, but we can do the next episode. Right. I keep

Malcom: stealing all the banter time. No, that's fine. We've never actually told everybody about how you destroyed your feet or anything.

Benedikt: That's perfect. We can do that later. And I mean, there's, uh, always good to have banter topics. Yeah. Saved up. So, okay.

Malcom: It's all good. Stay tuned for the destruction of Denny's feet. Yeah, exactly. He's coming on the next episode.

Benedikt: Exactly. Exactly. And a couple of other things that went wrong, but, uh, let's do the audio terms episode. Sorry guys. Um, for that banter again, as I said, um, The thing is making and recording music is about art, you know, and about creativity and when you wanna, when you record, you wanna be in flow state, you wanna be in the zone. And nothing is more distracting or annoying than having to Google like, you know, seemingly complicated features and functions and terms and things you come across while you're creating. And honestly, many of those you don't even need to know or you don't even need to remember. You need to them once, maybe need to know what to click or what to do, and then you can forget about them, honestly. So, um, this is the resource to find your answers quickly and, and this confusion like this, this post that I was talking about, this, this page and on this, um, podcast today, we're gonna walk you through a bunch of those things. The good news is that most of that stuff is not actually complicated. You just have to know really quick a definition of it or where to look it up. And you don't even have to understand all the technical ins and outs of every piece in gear in order to make a record or a great song. It's not necessary. Um, And then, but once you found out what the most important terms are, you don't have to be afraid of making a mistake anymore because I've, I've realized that a lot of people are sort of paralyzed and don't, and don't move on with their project or don't touch certain things because they think they will break something or make a crucial mistake when oftentimes it's just a simple answer they only need, and then you can move on and don't have to be afraid anymore. So, um, this is the reason why I, why I built this helps you also and you collaborate or communicate with other artists or engineers. Because sometimes two people say one, they each say one thing, but they do the same thing, but they actually mean something completely different, and we don't want that happening to you. And so, yeah. And what, maybe one disclaimer before we get to this list here, and before I, uh, ask Malcolm what he thinks about all of this is that if you're an audio engineer now and you're a professional, please know that these explanations are. As non-technical and simple as possible, intentional. So we want it to be practical and useful and we don't really care if everything is like a hundred percent scientifically correct here because all that matters to us is the results that the people who listen to this will hopefully get. And it's not meant to be, you know, this academic piece of work, uh, on audio technology. So this is just something I wanna say. So if you're an experienced engineer who thinks this is all stupid, then I'm really sorry, but this is not for you then, uh, I could definitely understand that because I'm a nerd myself and I wanna make things correct usually until freak in this regard actually. But in, I think in this, you know, in this case it doesn't help us, um, if we, if, or help people if we keep throwing around complicated terms and definitions. So

Malcom: definitely, definitely. Yeah. Benny and I are both super avid readers, um, and. Benny, a a question for you. When you are reading and you encounter a word you don't know, do you stop and look it up or, for sure. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. All right. Here we go. So I knew it. There's, there's two, two types of people in the world, I think. Yeah. You don't do it. Um, I don't do it really, really? Okay. I keep reading, uh, I mean, every once in a while of course I will, but I generally try to see if I can figure out what I'm pr Pretty sure it means just by the context that it's used in. And then I assume that if it really matters, it'll come up again and give, gimme even more context the next time I see it, and then I'll just learn that eventually. Okay.

Benedikt: I, I, sorry, I need to, okay. I understand that, and I probably was a little fast answering this because I do a similar thing first. Um, so I try to figure it out. And then also some of the words. You can buy their, you know, I dunno if you ever had Latin in school or something like that, but by, by just, you know, looking at, like, sometimes you can figure out what the word means, even if you had haven't heard it before. Totally. Because of like parts of the word that, you know, from other words and like the origin of it and some, sometimes it makes sense, you know what I mean? Um, so that is a thing. And then also I, I just said yes, I do that because I read a lot on the Kindle and there it's so easy because you just click the word and it tells you what it is. Yeah, I know. And so I, it's awesome. I definitely do this, in this case, if I read a, like a paper book, then I don't immediately go, but sometimes my phone is not even close to me, so I don't immediately look it up. So I try to figure out the context and if I can't, I will look it up for sure. Yeah. So, yeah.

Malcom: But the, the point I'm making is, and uh, cuz there's nothing wrong with learning words. If you wanna learn words and what they mean, by all means, look them up. But, uh, what I am kind of advocating for is when you're learning and getting into recording and stuff like that, I would encourage you to not get overly concerned if you're trying to read through the menu of your interface. Trying to figure things out and you don't know what all the words are, just try and hone in on just the problem that you're facing. And there's gonna be a couple words correl related to that. Uh, like maybe you're just trying to make a connection. So you're gonna have audio playback, engines gonna be like a, a term that comes up. Um, you might have sample rate come up, like these are the ones that are gonna matter to you in that instance. So now is a good time to learn them. But don't worry about all of the other terms on that page, cuz there's gonna be a hundred other ones that are all equally as confusing if you don't know them. So it's just like, uh, just in time learning and just kind of faking it until you're making it, I think is beneficial in this, this world.

Benedikt: Yes, for sure. And you, and also I'd, I'd say there's rarely a situation where, You should be afraid of like anything or where, like you can't, most of the times, like nothing really bad can happen or you, you can't break things, you can just try things and it, and if it doesn't work, it doesn't work. But like, um, there's usually no reason to be afraid. Um, you can probably, I mean, I don't want to give bad advice now because I don't want someone to break their gear, but usually no matter which button you push, nothing breaks usually. Yeah, it's, it's a few exceptions. And in the doll in the digital world especially, like, there's nothing really that can't go that wrong. So, uh, just try to figure it out. Uh, when in doubt, make a safe as, or whatever, but like, you know, um, yeah, just, just, just do it. Malcolm just, uh, suggested here, and if you go to this page, this, uh, the self recording band.com/audio terms, it will lead you to sort of the, the master page of this. It's a, a series of block posts that are linked together. So it starts at a page that has the, the headline, what does the damn thing actually do and how does this all work? And then at the bottom of this, there are links, two different categories. So this general audio terms, the production process, routing and processing, microphones and micro accessories, preempts, converters and interfaces, cables and connectors, computers, software and audio files. And if you click any of these, it takes you to a different page. And there you have the quick navigation thing at the top where you can just jump to whatever term you wanna look up, or you can scroll down and you find all the terms that belong to this category, um, you know, lined up there and organized there. And, and I've tried to make these, I've looked them all up so they are actually correct. I, there's this disclaimer and sometimes I, I might, you know, cut corners and make it and simplify it. But, um, I try to find the simplest possible, shortest possible explanation and definition for all of these. And it took a long time to build this, but if you, you know it, it's very organized. So if you wanna look anything up, you just go to the category and then order, just type it in the search, and then you click on whatever, like, Loves. So I click on Loves and it takes me to loves loudness units relative to full scale. And then there's a short sentence explaining it, and then I know what it is. So this is how this works. And I've, for this episode today, I've picked out, um, a few of those things on the list. As Malcolm said, it's a huge list, um, but I picked out a few of them and I would just wanna talk about them on the episode because I know that not everybody will actually go to this page and read it. And I want you to get value from the episode itself. So we're just gonna explain a few of the most important and common ones that people seem to get wrong all the time. And hopefully you get value out of this. And if there's anything missing here, then just go to the surf recording band.com/audio terms for the rest.

Malcom: Yeah, it's, uh, cheat sheet. You should just bookmark on your, on your, uh, your browser or whatever you use to look things up because it's just gonna save you time. You don't have to go forum hunting. It's all in one place, so Exactly. Big time saver.

Benedikt: Cool. All right, so let's start here. The first one seems pretty obvious, but it's something that I absolutely wanted to do in this episode, um, to talk about real quick. And this is. Mono and stereo. Most people probably think they know what this is, but I see it all the time that people don't really have an idea what it actually is. So I don't know if you have any thoughts on the Snuck or if you can think of a situation where, uh, you have to explain that,

Malcom: um, the most.

Important time. I have to explain it is when a band sends a music video out that is in mono and not stereo, that's when it's like, all right, you really need to now know what the difference between mono and stereo is because you just released a terrible sounding music video. Yeah. When your song sounds great. So

Benedikt: that's a very co that's a very common one. And I don't know why video people get this wrong so often, but it happens all the time. I always double check when, when band, when a band sends me their video before they release it, I always double check it immediately, not just on the phone, because chances are it's mono.

Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. Please check with your audio engineer friend that your music video is in stereo, because I, I, I honestly, I think it's just one of the video editing softwares out there just sometimes defaults a stereo file to mono. I think so too. And I think that's what's

Benedikt: happening. It happens in the export, it's not during their edit, editing the video, but on the export

Malcom: somewhere.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. And it's, yeah, so simple to fix, but it gets missed and it's a

Benedikt: bummer. Yeah. So quick definition here. My quick definition is that mono means just one channel of audio. And if a mono signal is played back to, uh, through two or more speakers, the same signal will come out of every speaker. So all of your speakers are playing back the exact same thing. And if the speakers are at the same volume, the signal will seem to come out the middle between the speakers if you're in a stereo setup. But that is because both speakers are doing exactly the same thing. Stereo means still both speakers do something, but now they play slightly different things at the same time. They have different information and left and right, and that is stereo. So if you have a stereo mix where you know there's a guitar left and a guitar right, and then you turn that into something like into a mono file on the export, for example. Everything gets summed together and all of a sudden both speakers do the same thing and then it sounds very narrow and as if it was coming out of the middle and you don't have this left and right information anymore. So there you go. I'm just saying this because, um, so I've heard people think or say that mono means just one speaker is doing something, but ma I mono, both speakers are still doing something. If it's pant to the center, it just means that, however, like whatever the, the amount of speakers you have, they're

Malcom: all doing the Yeah, yeah.

It's kind of fascinating cause uh, an instrument can be mono. Um, and, but we can hear it in stereo, uh, and you can, like, there's kind of mixing and matching that can happen and you can have a, a stereo mix played back in monos that we hear it in mono. Like, like one doesn't mean the other essentially. Um, so you just need to make sure that if you are meant to have something stereo happening, that it actually is.

Benedikt: Yeah, exactly. And again, for a detailed like definition and so you can remember it, just go to that page. It is there. But just know that there's definitely a difference. And when we usually talk about stereo, we mean that in, um, left and right, there's some difference. We have some sort of left and right, um, information. And if we don't have that, if we have headphones on and everything sounds just right in the middle, it's probably mono. Cool. Um, the next thing here, phase and polarity. Um, so. Thoughts on that, Malcolm?

Malcom: Yeah. Um, so if you're engineering phase and polarity become infinitely important, uh, because we'll hopefully listening I have episode even on this, right? Yeah, yeah. We definitely have phase and polarity episodes. Um, and well Benny's looking that up, I'll just briefly go into it. Yeah. But if you get those wrong, your recordings sound bad. I'm keeping this very simple. Yes. If you do this wrong incorrectly, this is one of those things that it does affect the end result. Um, and that might be. Fixable and reversible by a mix engineer after the fact and hopefully is, but it's going to kind of cause you to work with this, you know, thinner, less full sounding recording up to that point. And you're gonna end up compensating for it in some way. That's gonna be stupid and you're not gonna be as inspired. It's gonna lose impact. So like drums is the classic example. If you get the polarity wrong, generally you're like, maybe you forget to flip the bottom snare mic and your snare just sounds empty and tiny. Nobody's enjoying this recording as soon as that's happened. Yeah, yeah. It's just like, it just seems wrong. Yeah. Um, and it happens all the time. It's just a silent killer because it's just a button you

Benedikt: have to click. Yeah, exactly. Totally. And so the episode is episode four. Is how to improve your recording speed, time, and get punchy drums by avoiding phase issues. We're probably, I don't know about, I don't even wanna listen to this because we, we, we have probably terrible podcast hosts at this point, episode four. Uh, but the content is still good, I hope. And so episode four is about this. And then also I know that Wayne, um, who edits this podcast and mixes this podcast for us, he also creates social media posts for me. And I know that he created, um, a post on Instagram just not too long ago, a few, two weeks ago or so where he actually explained phase and polarity very well. So if you go to my Instagram, which is just Benedictine, then you'll find it there. And yeah, it's called, like the first slide says, sit down, we need to talk about phase alignment. And then it goes, there's a couple of slides where he really in, in a great way with pictures, images and everything. He explains phase and polarity. Um, and so yeah, basically the, the reason why I have it on this list is that phase and polarity are not necessarily the same. And I just wanna say that be because I see it happen all the time where people confuse this or get confused by the use of those two words and the button you see, for example, on your interface, if it has it, or in the, in the do where it says it can either say face or polarity, like different manufacturers call it differently. Or sometimes it's just a circle, like with a, you know, like what's the, how would you describe it in English? Just like a diagonal line through Yeah, a line through the circle. Yeah. So if you see that, then um, That means you are reversing the, the polarity. You're flipping the polarity. And that's where we, the correct thing to talk about is polarity because it's like a 180 degree face shift. So imagine a waveform going up and down. So it goes up and then it goes down. If you flip the polarity, it goes down and then up. So you just reversed it. That is what happens. And that's where we talk about polarity phase mean can mean anything in between. Like the phase relationship between two things. It might mean that it's just slight, there's a slight delay, there's a slight difference. Uh, it doesn't mean to to be flipped entirely. And that's why sometimes it's confusing for people because not always just flipping the polarity solves the problem. So if you wanna learn more about this and see the complete definition, again, audio terms, um, tur record ban.com/audio terms, or if you go to my Instagram, there's this nice slide. It's way too much to explain it in this episode because that would be an episode in and of itself. And it's also very hard. To just talk about if you don't hear and see it. Um, but just know that you, this is one of those things that I think you need to learn. This is not one of those things that you don't need to know about. This is something you, you will eventually run to run into, and once you get it, it's not that hard, but you will have to learn it. So, yeah. Yeah.

Malcom: Yeah. Very, very essential for engineering, but also essential in the mix as well, because you'll, you'll run into getting sent tracks that are a mess in polarity or phase and just knowing how to fix them. Um, and yeah, there, there's a, a lot of tricks to that. So we, we can't get into all of them on this episode, but like, yeah, there's the button for correcting it. There's lining up the wave forms and flipping them around in the, duh. There's software that can assist with this as well. Um, doing it automatically. I, I don't use any of that stuff, but um, I know people that like it, so whatever works for

Benedikt: you, I guess. Yeah, totally. The, and. Um, I would just wanna say something because that, that helps me really understand this concept, and I think that helps people too. Uh, and Wayne put it in this, in this post, so, so well, so he says, like, a waveform represents the variation in air pressure created by an audio signal. So when the waveform is above the horizontal line, it indicates positive pressure telling the speaker cone to move outward when the, like it's pushing air and producing sound when the waveform is below the line, it represents negative pressure causing the speaker cone to move inward. You know, the movement of a speaker that you can imagine that. And now if you have two identical signals and you flip the polarity on one, you're telling your speaker. To do to at the same time move out and in which is not possible. So the result is silence. This is all something that helped me understand this concept. If you, you know, you, you have one signal that tells the speaker something and then you have another signal that tells it the exact opposite. And so it doesn't do anything because you can't breathe in and out at the same time. And so your speakers can't do that as well. Um, and maybe that helps you understand it. And if you then take this, these things, you have the original one and the inverted one, and then you shift them slightly, like the timing of them. All of a sudden you hear something again, but just a tiny bit of it because most of it is still canceling and just a tiny bit is not like overlapping in a weird way. And so maybe that helps you understand it and the more you move it apart, the more the speaker starts to move again. And so maybe that helps understand that concept a little bit.

Malcom: Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. This is, uh, it's kind of fascinating, honestly. I, I love being like, I clicked play. It's play in the file right now, but we don't hear anything because it can't.

Benedikt: Yes, exactly. It's kind of, kind of fascinating. Really cool. Now onto the next thing, loudness. This is a term I wanted to have here because it seems like it describes. You know, something you can easily measure or like the, the, the volume, like the, the, the pressure that is in the air coming from your speakers. And it just, it seems like something that describes how loud something is. But loudness, this specific term describes something else. It describes how loud something is perceived. So there, there, there's a possibility of two different signals, um, that measure exactly the same with like a standard DB meter, but one feels and sounds way louder than the other one. And that is because it is more dense and because the difference between the quieter parts of it and the loud parts of it is less. And so, It feels more intense and more loud, but the peak is exact, could be the exact, the same, um, as on, on a different one that is just less dense, more dynamic, for

Malcom: example. So, so when we say this is a loud mix, it has nothing to do with where our volume meter is. That like, where the volume not in our interface could be very low. We can listen to a very loud mix very quietly. Yeah. It is, uh, the dynamic range of that mix is really kind of like the, and the frequency response is the, the, the leading indicator of the perceived loudness. Um, so if, uh, it goes from a whisper part to a loud part, but it doesn't actually get any quieter, you've got a loud mix.

Benedikt: Yeah, absolutely. And this is just con, I heard some people tell me that this is confusing to them because, um, some mastering engineers when they talk about this, they call it, they talk about the volume. Some do that probably to simplify the thing because everybody understands that. So they, they ask if they should bring up the volume more or bring the volume down more or whatever. And some call it loudness. And I heard people that, uh, who were confused about what the correct term is and what the difference is. And so,

Malcom: yeah. I mean, we can't really tell people how to communicate. Yeah. But I would encourage people to use loudness for loudness and volume as more so an indicator of what volume you're listening at. Yeah. You know? Um, cuz that is controlling the volume knob on your interface. Yeah. That it's, that's more accurate.

Benedikt: Yeah. At least know that when you are talking about how loud. The song ends up being like, you're probably talking about loudness because most songs are re very, very close to the, the digital ceiling. Um, and, and the, the difference between them is, is just the loudness. Like how loud do they feel like that You're probably talking about that when it comes to mastering. Uh, next one is actually related. It's clipping. And this is also, I mean, clipping is, I think the confusing thing about this is that. It can be a good or a bad thing or it, it's, in many cases it's a bad thing and people wonder why when they hear someone talk about it in, in like an when they do it intentionally, you know? So we know that clipping means, um, the red lights come on, it's distorting and you've over driven something and usually not intentionally. And so it's a bad thing when things clip. But then you hear someone talk about how they clipped their master or they clipped their net drumm or they bought a clipper plugin and you're wondering, why, why, why would I want to do this? And, and so this is why I have it on this list. So clipping in both mean the same by the way. So there is like, the bad and the good clipping are kind of the same, but there's situations where you want it and there's situations where you don't want it. And then there's things like soft clipping and you know, other types of clipping. But essentially you're just chopping off the peaks of an audio signal or you're rounding them off. Um, and that can help. Control dynamics that can be done in a very transparent way, believe it or not, even though it's distorting, but it's distortion. But depending on the signal, it can be inaudible, and then it can be done in a very obvious way, which is causes, crackles and like, you know, distorted sounds. And then it can be a bad thing when you just want to hear it clean. But for some part of the chain is clipping and you hear distortion that you don't want. But all of these, uh, situations are just a signal, hits a ceiling can't go any further. And the more you push into it, the more it distorts, and you need to know if you like that

Malcom: or not.

Yeah. So I think it's, again, helpful to picture a waveform. Um, so if you picture a spiky, particular spiky waveform, hopefully a snare, if you're used to what that looks like, um, that the top of the, the, the peak of the spike, there is gonna be the loudest point of that signal. And if that exceeds the gear that you're running through. Um, so say your preamp. Is is clipping, you're that top of that spike is running into your, you're seedling there and chopping it off at, because it can't, it can't do it, it can't handle anymore. Yeah. So that is clipping, it is, uh, causing like the, the deletion of, of information essentially. Um, and, uh, That sounds bad in when the gear doesn't do that very well, doesn't handle that happening. Um, but some gear does. Some gear sounds kind of nice when you do it too with that. Uh, and that's generally, obviously clipping plugins are meant to sound pleasing. Um, certain preempts do it well. Uh, certain compressors can clip kind of nicely too if you overload 'em. Like there's all sorts of opportunities to experiment with clipping, but it's generally when, especially when you're getting started, being like, just don't hit the red, don't clip. And that is just to ensure that you're getting a clean signal. Um, so if you do clip and it sounds good, don't worry about it, I guess if you like it, but if you want to just make sure that you're getting a clean recording, just yeah, avoid

Benedikt: clipping. Yeah. And, and the reason why you want to do it in a transparent way versus like limiting, for example, why you even reach for a clipper instead is because it leaves the rest of the music intact. The rest of the information, there's this great picture that helped me understand this concept as well. Um, imagine like a tree with all kinds of branches and like there's branches close to the bottom and then up further up and all, and so on and so forth. And now what a limiter does is imagine someone with a huge hammer hammering the tree into the ground and all the, like, not just the top, but the whole tree, including all this branches, like gets into the ground more and more and lower and lower and lower. So it changes everything about the tree. Um, imagine now someone with a saw, giant saw just chopping off the top of the tree. Now that is gone, but the rest is just the same. And that is the difference between clipping and limiting the clip. The limiter pushes. Your transients down and everything that's below it. So it affects the whole music, the whole information. Um, whereas when the clipper leaves everything intact and just chops off the top, and you, if you do that tastefully and in on the right, um, source, like a snare round for example, where it's like a loud transient anyways, then you don't even hear that like everything else does. The stays the, uh, the same and, um, yeah, it's, it's very, very transparent. And so, but if you push down on a snare drum or a master with a limiter, with a limiter, it might be that the guitars start to duck every time the limiter controls the snare, for example. And this doesn't happen with clipping. Right. Yeah.

Malcom: And, uh, that, that's actually a super awesome visual way to think about it. I love that. Um, but the, the last thing I'll add is that sometimes the limiter is way better sounding than a, a clipper. Like it goes both ways. Yeah. Just because that sounds like, it's like, well that makes more sense. You, why wouldn't you always clip it? It's not that way,

Benedikt: unfortunately. Exactly. Exactly. It's more complicated, but it's a simplified explanation of why, why you would even want to try it. Cool. Again, full explanation is on that page two next thing, very related, uh, transient. This is a, a, a term that is so normal for us to use. We talk about it all the time. We use it on the podcast all the time, but I'm absolutely aware that most musicians out there probably don't even know what a transient is or what that means. Um, this is one of those things that are second nature to us, but probably not very obvious to most people.

Malcom: Yeah. So, uh, I think this again, is easy if it's done with the imagination here. And we could do like three really quick examples. Um, If you are a hard rock or metal fan and you hear a kick drum, you probably think about, oh, that's got a cool sounding click. Uh, that is the transient and then the sustain that comes after it. Uh, the bass kind of sound of it usually is the decay. So transient decay signals can usually be split into a transient and a decay. Um, so a snare again is gonna have that stick kind of impact. That'll be your transient spike. And then there's the big, which is the decay of the snare. Acoustic guitar is gonna be like the pick attack that's gonna be your transient and then the ringing out of the strings, the actual notes is gonna be your decay. So you can kind of do that to anything. Consonants is, consonance is cons. Yeah. Totally get the point, right? That's, uh, the transient is that first bit of the note. It is how we perceive the timing of the note as well.

Benedikt: Yeah, totally. And if you look at a waveform, um, you see it that there's this spike at the beginning and then it gets lower and lower in volume later on. And the spike at the beginning is your, your transient.

Malcom: Yep. Now, okay, one more thing be just because you're all picturing that right now, if it takes a long time to get to that spike, you have a slow attack. If it is an immediate jump to that spike, you have a fast attack, attack's another very common term. Mm. The attack of that seems a little, little sharp on the snare. Mm-hmm. That's a fast

Benedikt: attack. Yeah. Yeah. You're totally, you're totally right. So this is probably a little too much, but I, what I wanna say is sometimes what looks like the transient is not really the transient. This can also be the case. I just wanna bring it up because on drums and like loud, progressive things, it's pretty sure that you see the transient. But I just wanna bring it up because, um, it's actually relevant. So I have to do it. Um, because when people record themselves and send their stuff off to mixing, or even if you're mixing yourself, what, what I see, what I've seen happen a lot is. When they clean up their guitars or edit their guitars, especially, um, if they, if they edit the DI's then people cut into the pick attacks very often, and this is because. On an amp when you have, when you play through a distorted amp, the actual pick scratch, the first part of the transient is very audible, but pretty low in volume compared to that huge buildup that the amp creates after that initial pick attack, especially with palm mutes, chucks and stuff like that. So you might look at that waveform and, um, it doesn't even matter if you, if you're editing, whether you're editing the, the amp or the di, but most commonly the DI's if you, if people look at the di and then they edit where the big spike is, that's actually the note already. But they cut away the pick attack, the pick scratch, and when you play through an amp, the buildup gets bigger. But sometimes also the pick attack gets a little more visible and maybe, and then you catch, uh, the pick attack can go both ways. I'm just saying that the loudest part of a, of a guitar attack is sometimes, or the, the one that looks the loudest is sometimes not the real transient and the, the actual start of the transient is earlier. So, There's that hope that made any

Malcom: sense. Yeah, no, no, that, that's a, it's a great little warning as it can be a little deceiving with

Benedikt: guitars. Yeah. Yeah. Again, look the up, the, the definition, but, uh, what Malcolm says there with those examples should make it pretty clear for you, um, what the, what this is. Okay. Next one. Pre-pro, post pro, pre-production. Post-production. This is something we talk a lot about on the podcast, thankfully, like, and rightfully so. The pre-production, it is really important and these two terms exist because it, we apparently, people assume that there's like the production and then there's the pre-production and the post-production, but to me it's all like production. But these are just the terms, and this means that to me at least pre-pro is everything you do before you go to the studio or before you do your actual recording session. It's, um, recording demos, refining them, creating a draft sort of version that you can listen to. Yeah, that, that's like pre-production, that's preparing yourself at the songs for the studio. And there's, at the end of pre-production, there's su there, there should be some, some results. This is not just something you do where you practice in the jam space, but there should be some recording. Um, that, that is the final thing you listen to where you're like, okay, this is it. This is what we're gonna record. This is what the song's like, and, and, and, and then you go to the studio prepared and you do the proper thing. Basically. This is sort of what I think about in terms of pre-pro. What do you think in terms of post-production, Malcolm, because this is a term that I think people get confused about because I think, and I don't know too much about this world, but I think that. It's very common to use that word in video in the video world, and, and it means maybe slightly different. It could mean slightly different things compared to like what we usually use it in the audio

Malcom: world for. I think if you took it from the video world, you'd consider mixing and mastering to be post-production. Yeah. Where you've, the production is the recording, the tracking, the engineering, and like that's the capture, that's production. And then everything else would be post-production, but, Really what I think of it as, maybe I'm starting a question, if that's correct, um, is any additions that were not discovered in pre-production. So you do pre-production, you then record all of that in production, and now it's like, all right, what else can we do? Can we get like SubD drops in there? Can we get some riser effects and they maybe experiment with another instrument, like that's kind of post-production. Yeah. In my brain. Um, but I'm, I kind of think the other way of thinking of it is probably a more accurate way. What, what we should decide. Benny, what do you do

Benedikt: now? I think about it exact same way. Like, like you, so I, to me post Pro is I, I think about these additional elements that are not part of the actual production. Like the band has left the studio and now we add things to the production. Um, and this is sort of, The Post Pro, um, when we change the production without, um, having the band in the room anymore. So we add things that are not part of the band. And to

Malcom: be fair, a lot of that happens in mixing, you know, like if I come up with like a delay, throw echo after a course, like that's a post-production idea. It's creative. It's another instrument, essentially. Yeah. Um, and, and, or like adding like, you know, certain snare samples for a certain part, like that's a production choice. Um, and that is kind of another form of post-production.

Benedikt: Absolutely. Um, yeah, it's, but technically I think post-production would be everything. Post, like what is production? Yeah, let's just leave it like that. I think, I think in, in audio, just know when people talk about post pro, they usually mean, um, adding things to the production that aren't like that done after the fact, after the recording sessions are done, basically in a way. Um, but you could also mean, you could also include mixing and mastering into that. It's like not, not really well defined. Um, yeah, but just know that there's, there are these terms and they might not be exactly the same when people, um, use those as you might know 'em from the video world, for example. Okay. Now mixing and mastering is on this list too. Seems pretty obvious, but I, I have it there because I've heard a, I've heard it a lot of times where people are like, oh, I heard you mastered this song. And they mean mixing, but they say mastering. I don't know if that is the thing in, in English too, like when with native speakers, but like Germans do that a lot where, where they ask me if I mastered something and they actually mean mixing.

Malcom: Definitely. Yeah. No, that, that definitely happens. Yeah. Mixing, you're working with multi-track files, you gotta. The whole session as it was recorded and you are summing it down to generally, uh, one stereo wave file. Um, and then a master engineer works with just that single stereo file, no multi-tracks. That is like the easiest way to separate it, I think.

Benedikt: Yeah, totally. And it's important to know, because I've had it a couple of times where people were asking for a quote, for example, and I told 'em what mixing costs and what mastering would cost. So they, they ask for both sometimes, and then they're like, well, if mastering is that much cheaper, and then we just do mastering, I guess, because I think that's all we need. And, and they don't realize that, but they have the expectation of what you would to get, what you would get from mixing. So mastering is necessary, it's a part of the process, but you're very limited in what you can do because you don't have access to the individual tracks. And if you do have access, then it's mixing. I even, I actually even stem mastering, which some, which is sort of an in between thing, is, to me is more mixing than mastering. Mastering is, you have a mix, a decision has been made, it's committed, and now you make sure that it, it translates well to all kinds of different stereo or like, uh, playback systems and um, and streaming platforms. That's the job of mastering and the moment you change how things interact with each other really, and like the moment you can turn individual things up and down. And so these are mixing decisions to me, so yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Agreed. Cool. Gain one of my favorites too. Uh, for some reason or like, it's actually obvious. I think the fact that the gain up on an amp makes it distort more, makes people believe that gain means distortion when actually gain just means more level. It's just the volume, not just a different. Um, different way of say, of of saying volume. Uh, it, and, and the gain knob on an amp causes it to distort because you're sending more signal into the circuit that actually distorts it. But it's just a volume knob in front of the amp. And the master volume is the volume knob after the amp. So gain, if you see someone use a gain plugin for example, doesn't mean they're distorting things. They're just turning things up. A, a typical gain plugin in a door is just clean gain. It's just volume. Nothing else. Yeah. If

Malcom: you've got another piece of gear that says input that is the same thing. It is. Input gain would be the full name of that knob. Um, so yeah, it's just volume

Benedikt: like Benny said. Yeah. Cool. Now, insert, I mean these are things you should probably look 'em up. I have 'em on a list here, but like, there's different positions where you can put a plugin, um, you can put it directly on a track, you can have it on a different track and as send and return configuration. We talked about that in other episodes a lot. Um, I think this is one of those where when you come across those terms, you just look 'em up, but. Just know that you can have a plugin directly on the track, and in that case it's called insert. And if you put it on a different track and you blend the two tracks, it's a different thing. But then the plugin is still an insert, but not on the track itself, but on a different track. Yes. So the insert just means that every, each track be it like an aux track, a send return, audio track, whatever. Every, each track that has an insert means there's a point on in the signal chain, in this track, um, in where you can insert an external piece of gear. So the signal comes into the track, into the channel. Shouldn't say track ch into the channel at the top and then goes through the channel until it derives at the fader and somewhere in between where it comes in and where it comes out, there is a spot where you can plug in. An external piece of gear. It's the same on an analog console. You plug in a real piece of gear and in the doll you plug in a virtual piece of gear. But there's this insert spot that lets you add a different thing to the chain. And if you don't do it, it just goes straight through. That's the insert. Okay. Um, oh, saturation. Not come very hard to explain here, but sometimes I think people have an idea about, have an idea of what like distortion is. And we explained clipping before, but saturation is a term that people have a hard time understanding sometimes. Because I think the way we use it, it's, it can be, it can be pretty subtle. Yeah. Because to me it is actually distortion, it's the same thing. So

Malcom: yeah, maybe I think of it as distortion entirely. Um, but it, when the, the at the point, the language changes from saturation to distortion is how noticeable it is for me. So if it is an obviously like very distorted black keys, vocal kind of sound, um, I'm gonna use the word distortion, but it if is much less distorted, like a Robert Plant vocal, uh, which is just like, probably often tape distortion kind of thing. You could say, oh, that's a very saturated sounding vocal. It, it's just like, that's the language change for me is like, once it is sounds like a guitar amp or, or something like that. I use distortion. But if it's just like warming something up, I use saturation. What

Benedikt: about you? Yeah. Makes total sense. Do exactly the same thing. I do exactly the same thing. Yeah. Let's sleep

Malcom: like that. Point, point being though, saturation is distortion.

Benedikt: Yes, exactly. Cool. And then again, too much to dive into this on this episode, like the different applications and why you wanna use it, but um, whenever we come across that it's probably a subtle, a tool that can distort your, your sounds in a subtle way. Um, dynamic mics, condenser mics, ribbon mics. Um, these are three different types of microphones that you've probably heard about. And I just have it on this list because it's not too long ago that I saw. Someone sent me tracks to mix and one of the tracks, they tracked it with a ribbon and ribbon and they track, so they labeled the tracks depending on which mic they used, and they called the track, uh, a ribbon condenser. And it's like, you know, I, I can totally see that. Like they, people just don't know that there is like this third category and the ribbon is not a dynamic and not a condenser. It's just a different type of mic. There's just three different ways you can build, like probably more than that. Two mics are a thing too, but there's different ways to build a microphone and, um, a dynamic and a condenser and the ribbon are different things. And it's actually one of those things where you don't need to know all the technical ins and outs of it, but you need to know a few key things if you don't wanna damage your equipment. Um, in that is that, for example, ribbon mics, especially old ones, you shouldn't use phantom power on those. Yeah, and that's basically it. Yeah, and you probably shouldn't drop 'em on the floor because they're very sensitive and can break

Malcom: easily. I shouldn't, shouldn't drop any of 'em on the floor, but especially ribbon mics. Yeah.

Benedikt: Yeah. I mean, unless in 58 or 57 you can, you know, do anything with, but like, yeah. Nah, I won't, I won't say this because people damage their mics don't drop any

Malcom: on the floor.

Totally. Ribbons are also generally, uh, more fragile for to high sbl as well. Um, like, like throwing a trumpet right in front of uh oh yeah. A ribbon microphone is probably not a great idea.

Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah. There's more modern versions of the these that can take more and stuff. But in general, like rule of thumb, uh, be careful with ribbons. Don't send any voltage through them, like phantom power or, and I don't drop 'em on the floor

Malcom: when they don't use volume. A pop filter, keep 'em safe cuz they're great sounding

Benedikt: mics. Yeah, exactly. Cool. Um, then let me, let me pick a few. So we have phantom power, let, that's just the logical one. Uh, the most logical one after this. Um, You'll find a button on your interface. Probably. That's, I think this is important because this is one of those things where you don't. Really need to know a lot about it. You just need to know when to use it and not use it. And you'll find it on your interface. And it can say phantom or it can say 48 v. Both are the same thing. Um, and I've seen it so often that people think their mics don't work because they didn't, um, activate like phantom power because a condenser mic doesn't work without phantom power. It just means it, there's an active part of the mic that needs to be powered and that can be done in, some mics have batteries, but other, but mostly it's done through phantom power. That just means that through your mic cable, um, There's not only going the mic signal, but there's power going the other way to power the mic. And you turn that off with that 48 volts, um, phantom power switch. Yeah.

Malcom: Now I just want to add that if you, again, just picture what that's happening is you click the button and it is now sending power to your microphone. It is obviously a good idea to not do that if you don't need to, um, again, like, uh, at SM 58, it's gonna be totally fine if you do do that, if you do. Send Phantom power to it, nothing will happen. But in best practice, you shouldn't do that because an SM 58 doesn't need power. And you don't necessarily wanna be sending power up a cable to what you're holding either. Like, I, I just think it's like a button just to avoid unless you need it. Um, because like literally this other day I was like trying to, we were trying to get signal going through a live mixer and, uh, Luke Bless our drummer, came up and just started clicking the fountain power buttons and says like, stop it. Stop. Get outta here. Yeah. Those are not gonna help us. Yeah,

Benedikt: exactly. Exactly. Yeah. And, and also sometimes, you know, they can cause pops and clicks and if you have your headphones on in your monitors or something and somebody accidentally turns that on, it can cause like, weird, you know, it's gonna be very, very annoying and unpleasant. Yeah. Just you, you

Malcom: don't wanna send power around willy-nilly.

Benedikt: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And uh, yeah, so yeah, that, that's it. And I've seen people return mics because they thought they were broken be just because they didn't turn on phantom power. I would just know that this is it. And I remember myself, honestly, when I got my first like small, it was a small antelope mixer that my dad gave me and I remember myself like using the thing for a long time and always wondering what the phantom switch was at the back. It had one global phantom switch. It's just, just said phantom. And I was like, what is this Phantom like, oh, I remember that. So, okay,

Malcom: one more thing to mention here. Um, yeah, cuz Phantom does look cool, so you do wanna click it, but yeah, exactly. But sometimes it doesn't say phantom tower, sometimes it just says like, plus 18, plus 24. Uh oh yeah, that's different. Plus 12. Those are all phantom powers. They're just describing how much power is gonna be sent. Um, and certain mics might have a different requirement generally, in most cases. Uh, I can't, I can't even remember what it is. Is it 48 is the most common? Um,

Benedikt: yeah, it is. I'm not sure 40 is the most common. Yeah. Yeah,

Malcom: absolutely. Like you, gen like I've never actually run into a problem where I've had a piece of gear that my interface or console, whatever I'm using, couldn't power it. But in theory, there could be a case where it requires more power or has to have less or something. So it's kind of, I guess good to be aware of what you're meant to be sending.

Benedikt: Yep, yep. Totally. Yeah. But 48 is the, is the common one for most. Yeah, there's different ones, but 48 is usually what most, most pieces of gear have. Yep, you're right. So, um, the next one is cool actually too. So I skipped a few here because like polar patterns and stereo making techniques, um, I just wanna say that. Please know that um, there are different ways to set up mics and there are sort of standards for it. That's why I have it on this list. So whenever you, someone asks you if you have tried a certain MIC technique with two mics, then uh, know there are some common ones, x Y or TF AB bloom line, couple of different ones. So if you wanna look those up, go to the self recording band.com/audio terms. And then under the mic category you see different stereo micing techniques and they explain exactly what it is, like where to put the mics, what the correct angle is, and so on and so forth. So if, if, if you ever get asked what your overhead com creation was or whatever, then um, you know what they're talking about. Um, polar patterns, same thing. It's like there's too many in it too, too complex to explain it properly, but it's just, um, a characteristic that your mics have. And, um, e every mic has, is more sensitive in one direction and less sensitive in a different direction. And there is more narrower patterns, wider patterns, patterns that pick up everything around the mic.

And, uh, just look up what your polar pattern for your microphone is, if you wonder what that is and if you wanna know the, all the different ones and what to, what to use in which situation. Again, it's all on that, on that page. But the next one I wanna actually talk about on the episode is just real quick because I find it fascinating, uh, and, and actually really confusing sometimes is low cut and high cut or high pass and low pass. It makes total sense if you think about it, but. Every once in a while I catch myself saying the wrong thing still, because it's so confusing.

Malcom: This is so common. Yeah. Yeah,

Benedikt: exactly. So, yeah. Uh, I mean, happened to you, I guess, too, Malcolm, right? Yeah. Yeah. Like,

Malcom: and I, like you said, I still make this mistake more often than I'd like to admit.

It just happens. Um, so low cut, very obvious. You're gonna cut low end if you click a low cut button. A low pass button. We'll do the opposite. And what happens is that my pea brain just sees low, I guess you must exactly cut it. Same here. But, um, so just have to pay attention and make sure I'm clicking the right one. Um, but yeah, so it, it, it is exactly as a sound. Low cut. We'll cut, low pass is gonna allow the low end pass through and it's actually gonna cut the high end so it does the opposite. Um, and then high pass is going to let the high end pass and cut the low end high cut is going cut the low, cut the high end and not, not just low end. Yeah. Two. So there, there's a low pass and, and, uh, high cut are the same thing.

Benedikt: And then vice versa. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So yeah, I struggle through that. If you just describing it, if you think of Yeah, that's totally correct though. If you, and as I said, if you think about it just for a second, it all makes total sense. It's all in there, like in the words, but like sometimes when we just see a low, we think of low cut and because we are affecting the low, so we, we think it's that, but if it says low pass, then uh, we're actually affecting the highs because the lows can pass

Malcom: and the highs not. Yeah. Now I do wonder why we bothered creating the pass terminology. Yeah, I would like to think it's because like on a say 1176 vocal compressor, you may want to remove the low end to let the mids and high end pass through to the circuit to control it more. Cause we don't want like low rumbly vocal sounds and breaths throwing the compressor around. So we're letting that pass through. You know, it's a high pass. Um, so that might be why, but I don't know.

Benedikt: No, I think the reason is that the actual term is high pass and low pass. That's the correct terms because we talk about filters here, different types of filters. And when we talk about filters, um, there's a band pass and there's a low pass and a high pass. So that's just the terminology that people use. A band pass is like, To define a certain target frequency and then with a certain bandwidth around it, and that band can pass and everything else is filtered out. You're right. Yeah. And low pass and high. This is just a common filter, technol, uh, terminology. I think that's, and actually low cut and high cut have come after the fact. And, and, um, so we, we created those because probably they seem more Those are simpler. Yeah, simpler. Exactly. But those are the correct filter terms. I'll low pass and high pass, I'm pretty sure. Yeah. Yeah.

Malcom: That makes a ton of sense.

We can blame the

Benedikt: scientists. Yes, exactly. That's what they told me when I was still studying like the, the electro engineering part of what I was when I was in like college before I dropped out. But that, that's the part I still remember. Awesome. Um, okay, cool. Then, um, the next one here is like, we can put this together in one ca category is like everything that belongs to your audio interface. We have an episode on that, by the way too, where we explain this, but just real quick, when people, when you hear someone talk about a mic, pre-emp. That's not just an external preempt, that's a part like that's, let me put it differently. You probably use, most people listening now use an audio interface and they consider their the whole thing ass. The audio interface, like the whole box, it's an all in one interface. Typically. Actually this interface consists of different parts. So it starts with a mic pre, a mic, pre-emp, that prepl amplifies the signal, the very low signal that's coming from your mic. It amplifies it so that it can then be processed by different parts of the chain later. And so every single audio interface, if it can take microphones and amplify those and record those, has a mic preempt into it. I'm saying this because a lot of people ask me, do I need a mic Preem? And my answer is, yes, definitely, but you already have one and maybe that's good enough. Right? And what they think is that they don't have one and they need to buy an external one. So, but the interface has a mic preemt built into it. It's the thing where you, that you plug your mic cable into and then you have to gain knob to turn it up. That's the mic preem part of it. After that, when it's amplified, it's not a mic signal anymore. It's a line signal. And that is then, Converted by the analog to digital converter. That's also a your interface to a digital signal. And then this digital signal is sent to your computer through the actual interface. So your all in one interface is actually a preempt, plus a converter, plus the actual interface. And you could buy all those components individually or you can have it as a all in one sort of thing. And a lot, a lot of people are not aware of that. It's the exact same thing. And I w I remember I was wondering about that a lot when I saw professional setups for the first time and they had like a converter in the rack and then they had, or like these mini channels of converters and then they had a card in the computer as their interface. And I was like, I thought an interface with is this box with the mic inputs, you know? And like what, how, how is this an interface and why is there a converter and why is this for, it's the exact same thing. It just looks complex. It's the exact same thing. Yeah. Something turns your mic signals into line signals by turning them up and changing the impedance, and then something converts those line signals into a digital one, and then something sends that to your computer. And all of this can happen in different boxes or it can happen in one, all in one device. Yeah.

Malcom: Every. Recording interface that involves a computer and, uh, an analog instrument needs, uh, a converter, it needs a preamp and it needs a clock. Um, and all of that is always built into an interface. So when you're reading forums, you're gonna see those words come up individually as if they're not included in that, because at the highest end, you can buy just a clock, you can buy just a converter and have your preempts totally separate from that and, you know, get the highest quality parts for every little piece kind of thing, which is a lot of money and not what you're doing. Yeah. You're buying one box that hopefully does a good job at all those things.

Benedikt: Yes, exactly. Um, so just, yeah, totally. What Malcolm says here now, the, the, the clock is, yeah, this is one of those, you said it before we started recording this episode. This is one of those things. You need to know that it exists. Maybe, maybe you don't even, you can probably get by without ever knowing that it exists. It's the only time this becomes relevant is when you are having two digital devices work together and there has to be a clock that syncs the two. But unless that is the case, you don't really know it. And when it comes up, just look it up on this page. That's why it's there. If you're just using one interface and that's it. Don't even worry about this. You're good. Exactly. Okay. Um, and yeah, maybe one thing you need to know though. Yeah, definitely. I touched on it quickly, but an interface or basically the. The different parts of the interface, especially the preempt in the beginning, they can deal with, usually with different types of signals. There's different types of signals, and they might have the same connector, they might look the same, like the, the physical thing you plug into it might look the same, but you're dealing with different types of SI signals. And the three main ones are a mic signal, which is the very small, like current that is, that is, that is, uh, being produced in the, in the microphone, like the, the, the very small amount of power, for like a better word, that the signal, the, that is produced by the microphone that the microphone sends to your preempt. And then this is a mic signal that has a certain impedance, it has a certain power, and the pre-emp takes that and turns it up and turns it into something more powerful and useful. Now there is a line signal that is already amplified, a little louder, has a different type of impedance. This is the, your typical output of any. Audio gear thing, any audio device, like your typical, it says line out most of the times. Or if you have like, like anything, basically any piece of audio gear that has an output is typically a line line signal. And this is a different impedance compared to a mic. It's louder, um, just a different thing now. And then there is an instrument signal, which is again, quieter. It's what your pickups produce in your instrument. It's not the same as a mic signal, not the same as a line signal, different impedance, different type of power. Then it depends on the type of pickups, but it's just a different thing. So it requires, again, a different type of preem because it needs to handle this specific impedance and this specific type of signal. And that's why your interface probably has a MIC input xlr. Then it has some sort of instrument input. You can either push a switch to turn it into an instrument or there's a separate one that says DI or high Z or instrument or something like that. It's just. So you can handle an instrument signal, and then you have line inputs where it says line in. Those are for the line signals. It's like these three things. And it's important to just keep them separate and plug the right thing into the right hole, basically, because, um, otherwise it's not gonna sound the way you want it to sound. It. You can have a high frequency roll off. You can have distortion because the signal is too hot. You can have all kinds of side effects. It might work, but it, it, chances are it doesn't sound the way it should sound. So just put the signals where they belong. Basically. This was my very long-winded way of explaining this, but this is like different things and, and pe and it's important because, uh, so many people plug in their guitar into a line in, or they, they call the di signal a line signal, which is a different thing.

Malcom: Yeah. Trial and and error is gonna help you remember this.

Benedikt: Yeah, probably, probably. Yeah. But a lot of people I've got, I've gotten a lot of recordings of guitars plugged into the line of some digital mixer or something into the line input. So, uh, I prefer the iBox there or an instrument input, but yeah. Yeah. Cool. Um, audio file formats, no need to go into this. Uh, you, if you ever come across one that you don't know, go to this page and look 'em up. Like, there's flack, there's mp3, there's wave, there's, um, W M A and all these. Um, just know that in 99% of all cases, or more than that, close to a hundred percent, you will use WAV files, w a v, uh, and professional audio. Every once in a while someone may, might, might request an MP3 still or something, and there's aif, which is the Apple equivalent of a w a, like a Lossless audio file. But as long as you keep, as long as you stick to wave files, like you're good. So, and everything else, you can just look up the, one of my favorites, and some people don't care about this, but I do stems tracks and multi-tracks. I still

Malcom: get this wrong even though I care.

Benedikt: Yeah. So stems are not tracks. If you talk about stems. If you tell me you have stems for me to mix, then I assume you're gonna send me groups of instruments and not a hundred individual tracks. Because tracks or a multi-track session, um, means individual tracks like a sned around microphone or a microphone or a guitar, or a di of a guitar or a lead vocal. Those are tracks. Multi-tracks is like a set of tracks in a folder or in a session where if I put 'em all together into my session, I have the full song and I have control over everything and stems are being created from the tracks. If I mix them down into groups. So if I take all my drum tracks, I kick my snare, my Toms, et cetera, and I turn 'em into all drums, and then I take all my vocals and I turn 'em into all vocals, and I export those groups, then I have stems and. And this is important because this, I know that a lot of people call tracks stems and it's, it's kind of accepted almost at this point, but it's still wrong. That it's still really wrong. The definition of it is wrong, and you could run into problems because if you tell an engineer, um, that you have stems and it's tracks, then it is, you know, you get a problem there.

So, Yeah.

Malcom: Yeah. So just to reiterate what Benny was saying there, you take all the drums and then you make it all drums. That's a way file. Now it's one single audio file that is the sound of all the drums. So it's common to do this. Uh, the, well, I wouldn't say it's that common. Every once in a while somebody requests, um, the, the mix stems from a finished mix I've done with them, and then they're gonna get like one file for all the drums, one for all the bass, one for all the guitars, one for all the vocals, and may be one for all the keys. So usually around five for me, five stems. Or I'll do an instrument stem as well. So just one sense vocals. Um, and yeah, so those are stems where if they ask for the multitrack, that would be literally every track in the session instead. So, you know, it's, it's quite a difference really. It's a, it's not actually close to the same, but it is just this language. People say stems when they mean multi-track.

Benedikt: Yeah, exactly. Cool. Um, get this right people. And I saw like, you know, it's funny because some, even some big name mixers use it the wrong way. But then there's also these people who really ins like, who really want the, want people to use it correctly. Like I saw this, this long rant post that Property Mountain, I think was it, uh, post it once and then get shared by a bunch of engineers where, uh, he, he was like really pissed off about because people call, call track stems all the time and he's confused and just, you know, has to do a bunch of back and forth via email because they, they get it wrong all the time. So,

Malcom: Yeah, I mean, it, it is, yeah. It's been a, a huge time waster for me as well, kinda thing. And uh, like another way to think of stems, I mean, stems happens for mixing engineers where they sometimes wanna stem something down to make it simpler to mix. Mm-hmm. So they have less tracks in the session. So if, you know, if you've got like 200 tracks and you just need to make it smaller and more manageable, maybe there's like 18 choir tracks, they're all singing kind of the same part. You could just make a rough balance of that and stem it down to a single wave file and then work from there. That's like a, a fa old-fashioned way of getting lots of tracks down to something manageable that could sit fit on one console. Um, yeah, so that's stemming. Or another more, uh, band relevant version of stemming would be, Hey, we need backing tracks from our album. So we want to have, you know, like this guitar and this lead guitar and this keyboard on a track that we can send out to front of house to play live to. So you create a custom stem for that scenario.

Benedikt: Yeah, totally. Exactly. And, and this is why it's so important also because, uh, at the end of the mixing process, people often ask me to give them stems. And I do that, um, like real stems. I do that to with, with every single project, just in case I always bounce about, uh, bounce out those two and send it to people in case they need it for backing tracks or remixes or whatever, or remasters. Um, so I always do that and sometimes people ask me, Sometimes also people ask me when we talk about the project, ask me for stems or at the end of the project. And I'm like, yeah, sure. That's always included. So I send them the stems and then they're like, Hey, uh, we meant like all the stems. And so they meant they wanted the multi-track session, all the individual tracks. So, you know, and if you. Sometimes I don't even do that, or it's not possible, but sometimes it is. But if you want that, you have to tell me, you know, and call 'em tracks, because otherwise I'll assume you mean stems and I'll send you stems and then I have to do it twice. You

Malcom: know, so we, we need to have an episode specifically on this, because that is way more complicated than people think it is. Like, yeah, just give us all the tracks. I'm like, yeah. But yeah. It won't sound like what you think. It will sound like it's, uh, it's really Yeah. Hard to provide what they're looking for until you've explained Yeah. Like figured out how they're gonna use it and Yeah, usually, And, and I don't mean this as an insult, but just most bands don't understand how they will actually use the files. So what they're asking for is usually way off what they actually need. And it takes a lot of conversation to get there. And it's kind of my pet peeve because by the time we do that, they realize that they're in over their head and they decide they don't want 'em anymore. It's just a huge couple hours gone. Yeah. Just talking about it.

Benedikt: Yeah, you're totally right. You're totally right. That's a, that's a topic for an episode for sure. Yeah. And then you added something to this list here, Malcolm. Um, the monophonic and polyphonic. Um, that's interesting too. I have, I've forgotten about this, but Yeah, totally. Right.

Malcom: Yeah. Um, and this isn't come up that much, but there's monophonic material, uh, which means that it can play one note at a time. Um, so you might run into a synth that can't play chords because it's monophonic. It can only play OneNote at a time. Bass is often considered a monophonic instrument, even though it's, it's not, you can play polyphonic stuff on a bass. It's just generally most bass parts are monophonic OneNote at a time. Um, where polyphonic, like storming a guitar chord, you've got, you know, usually three, three notes in a guitar chord. Uh, that is polyphonic pianos, very polyphonic instruments. And the reason I think it's a term worth knowing is because if you're doing any kind of modern. Uh, editing in a, in a, in your do like logic users, you, you're probably using time compression stuff. There's usually an algorithm that is suited for polyphonic and one that is suited for monophonic just to optimize for it. So I thought it was relevant.

Benedikt: Yeah, it absolutely is relevant. Totally. Uh, yeah, what Malcolm said, maybe you remember the, I had to think about it when I saw it was like, The evolution of, of phone ring tones when they started like monophonic. Yeah. And it was just this one voice, you know, and then they, it's just a melody. Yeah. And then they turn into polyphonic ring tones, but no real recordings still. It like, was this mini synths still in the phone? And then, and then at some point it switched to actual like, you know, MP threes or whatever they use

Malcom: reproduction. Wild. Forgot all about that. I spent so much money on ring tones for no reason. Yeah, exactly. That

Benedikt: was a thing, right? It was a whole industry, like selling

Malcom: ring tones. It's huge industry.

Benedikt: And it started with these beeps, like the monophonic ones and then the polyphonic were a little more fancy and on the new phones and more, more expensive. And then all of a sudden it was all gone. One

Malcom: more place. You might see the word poly come up is, uh, something called a poly wave. Um mm-hmm. And, uh, or often on a broadcast wave file, but that's a poly wave. Um, and that is a wav file. It looks like one file, but when you drag it into your doll, it expands to be a bunch of files. Um, so that can be confusing. It happens more so in television than. Other places, but I kind of, I wouldn't be surprised if we start seeing poly waves more commonly in music as well. But yeah. Uh, like you could ask for the drums that I recorded on my mixer, I'll give you one file and you'd be like, oh no, he just recorded one file. We're screwed. But then when you drag it into your da, it'll populate all the individual tracks that were existing the side of it. Good call. Yeah, you're right. So again, Polly, think of that as more than one.

Benedikt: Cool. Uh, I think that's it. Let's, let's, uh, stop here because the list goes on and on and you know where to find it. Now. You go to the self recording band.com/audio terms, and you can look all of that up. If there is a specific one you can't find on that list, or if you want us to do another episode explaining these things, just let us know and we're happy to do it. And another one, and go through some more. Uh, or if you want me to add some to this, uh, through these posts, then also let me know and also let me know if this is helpful at all and keep sharing it with your friends and other bands, you know, because I, I really think this is a great resource and, um, you know, it's not the, the sexiest thing in the world, so it didn't get that much traffic. You know, it's not like search engine super, like search engine friendly. It's not clickbait. It's not like people, nothing, people get, nothing people get excited about, but it's ver so it doesn't get the traffic. I wish it would have. Um, so maybe help with that and share it with your, with your peers and with your, uh, friends if you find it helpful. Book market and refer to it whenever you need it.

Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, if honestly, if you go to it and you just look through it, you're gonna be like, oh, right, what does that actually mean? I've seen that before. Oh, okay. Got it. Yeah, it's, it's really helpful. Um, and yeah, we just tried to choose the ones that we thought would be most relevant to our listeners and that we see get, you know, misconstrued all the, misconstrued all the time. I think that's the word, uh, and a podcast episode about explaining words, and I'm not sure if I'm using proper words very good. Uh, but like, we're just scraping the, the, the top of the barrel. Like there's, yeah. So it's infinite, the, the audio terms that you're gonna come across in, in your journey on this world. So have a look. You'll find some cool stuff. Awesome.

Benedikt: Really cool. Then, um, let's wrap it up. Thank you for listening to this episode. As always, thank you Malcolm, for being here and um, I'm looking forward to next week.

Malcom: Yeah, we'll see you next week and you'll have the story of how Ben's feet got destroyed.

Benedikt: Yep. We'll get that one. Alright, bye-bye. Jokes you soon.

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