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Audio Production Abbreviations and Terms You Need to Know

Audio producer communicating to clients with an understanding of audio production abbreviations

Do you have what it takes to be an audio producer? A true, professional audio producer has a deep understanding of the numerous facets of the field and is armed with a breadth of experience. There are many different audio production abbreviations that you will need to learn that will help you become proficient in audio production. Anyone can do a quick internet research and call themselves a producer, but there are specific skills that you will need, and you can obtain them in a professional academic setting.

An audio producer is someone who takes the raw talent of performing artists and the unrefined recording tracks, mixes them together, and creates a work of art. While some dream of being a Rockstar on stage in front of a massive crowd in the spotlight, others dream of working with a huge and intricate soundboard in a recording studio, making the next great mix that masses of people are going to dance to. If this sounds like something that you want to do, start by learning these basic terms and abbreviations.

Audio Producer Program: What You’ll Learn

Students pursuing a degree in audio production and engineering learn the fundamentals, including abbreviations, terms, and techniques necessary to move deeper into the field and understand the complex layers of the process. A thorough understanding of recording, acoustics, and technology are some of the building blocks that you will learn about in this program. Additionally, you will learn how to actively and critically listen to any type of music, and practice different techniques for capturing specific sounds with different audio equipment.

Being a good audio producer starts by understanding a list of important terms and abbreviations. However, a large part of the job has to do with people skills and the ability to draw a good performance out of the artists you’re working with. This requires session management skills as well as good studio etiquette, to make the overall vision a success. On top of all that, audio producers must know the ins and outs of the music business to stay on top of trends as they arise in the blink of an eye, thanks to internet culture.

Audio Production Abbreviations

There are many different audio production abbreviations that you will need to learn. They will come in handy during your studies at a creative arts college. They will also help you become proficient in audio production.

Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)

Every audio producer spends time at their Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). This is one of the most common abbreviations you come across. A DAW is a software, device, or program that helps you mix and record audio. The digitalization of this process completely revolutionized the world of audio producing and vastly expanded the boundaries of audio producers everywhere. Now, almost anyone can get an open-source DAW and mix their own recordings, but it takes a professional program to create the mixes that reach the Top 40.

Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI)

A Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) is something that audio producers work with on a daily basis. It is through this interface that digital data is communicated from a MIDI instrument to a sequencer, computer, or combination of the two. With the ability to convey 16 channels of data with only one connection, this is the method of choice for digital data protocol communication.

Front of House (FOH)

In a live venue situation, the FOH, front of house, is the area that’s open to the public, including the auditorium and foyers. This is also where the live performance will be controlled and mixed, giving the audio producer optimal ability to hear what the audience hears and adjust accordingly.

Sound Effects (SFX)

SFX is the common abbreviation for Sound Effects. Whenever there are sounds that aren’t dialogue, music, or narration in TV, movies, advertisements, or any other audiovisual medium, it is considered a sound effect. These subtly engineered sounds can have a huge effect on the emotional or dramatic impact of a scene.

Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR)

The SNR or Signal-to-Noise Ratio helps compare the strength of a signal to the actual noise produced by the device itself. Like other expressions of volume, the SNR is described in decibels, marked dB.

DBX

For home studios that aren’t properly soundproofed or unfortunate studios that had an international airport move in next door, some type of advanced noise reduction is necessary to create clean and unobscured mixes. DBX was a company that developed the best technique for doing so, and the systems they created are now simply referred to as DBX. It has seen less use in studios since the advent of the highly successful Dolby systems.

Audio Production Terms

There are many audio production terms that you need to learn and that will be taught during an audio production program. Take the time to learn these terms and use them to your advantage when you create your next great mix.

Absorption and Reflection

Most amateur audio producers are familiar with the difference between a room that sucks up the sound and one that bounces it back at you. It’s the difference between an echoey hallway and a shag-carpeted living room. Reflection is useful for creating an echo effect or even reverberation, which is comprised of thousands of tiny reflections. For a dry recording, meaning one with no echo or reverb, absorption is the way to go. You want to start with a dry version of any track, so proper absorption wall panels are a must for professional studios.

Ambient Micing

There are situations in which an audio producer wants to capture a mix of an instrument or ensemble by placing a microphone in an ambient part of the room. The microphone then picks up the reverberations of the instrument bouncing off the walls rather than coming directly from the instrument itself. When used in conjunction with direct miing, this is an effective way to get a very particular sound.

Daisy Chain

To reduce the need for countless feet of power cables, devices are often powered in a linked chain. The name, derived from the kids’ activity of carefully tying daisies together, suggests exactly what this method entails. In audio production, a daisy chain involves three or more devices connected together to form a chain and the audio signal passing through one device to reach the next one, and so on.

Decca Tree

In situations of micing choirs, symphonies, and other large groups, it’s necessary to have multiple microphones in different positions to fully capture the overall sound of the ensemble. In the case of the Decca tree, three omnidirectional microphones are placed in a T pattern, but there are countless variations of this technique.

Fade and Fader

Most people have heard the term “fade out” before. In audio production, a fade is the gradual lowering of an audio signal strength. It can also refer to a level changed gradually between different pre-sets. Faders are a way to manually create this effect, although there are digital tools to automatically generate a fade. Faders are reflexive and iconic tools used to adjust the gain and attenuation levels of audio signals.

Masking

A useful technique for less-than-perfect recording conditions, masking is a production technique that takes advantage of the fact that loud sounds cover up softer ones in the same frequency range. By inserting a louder track at a similar frequency to an offensive ambient noise in a mix, an audio producer can effectively make it as if the background noise never existed.

Mastering

Some people have heard the term “sweeten the mix” and might wonder how that’s done. Mastering is when the track is fine-tuned and finalized in a mix, and that’s when this sweetening process occurs. The immediate next step is the master itself, so everything must be perfect by the end of this phase.

Sine Wave

Useful for tuning purposes, the Sine Wave is also known as a “pure tone.” It is a waveform that looks like a smooth curve that oscillates back and forth when depicted graphically. This single frequency gives singers a reference point to base their pitch off of, and it can also be used as a temporary track that will be replaced by an instrument later on in the production process.

Final Thoughts

All of these audio production abbreviations and terms are helpful for you to know in order to become a successful audio producer. Take the time to learn these abbreviations and terms while attending an audio production program and you will be ready to take on any task. You might even make the next Top 40 hit.

Audio Production Program

The Audio Production and Engineering Program  at the Institute of Production and Recording is an occupational degree program designed to train producer engineers who are entrepreneurs, musically and technically creative, and proficient in modern recording technology and technique. Throughout the program, students are involved in hands-on exercises and real-world studio projects that enable them to apply their knowledge and refine their skills.

At the end of the audio production and engineering program, each student presents a portfolio — a selection of his or her best work to date. This serves as a demo reel for potential employers and clients — an audio resume with professional content that highlights the graduate’s talent and skill.

Contact us today to learn more about the audio production programs and starting a rewarding career.