Haas effect – the ability of the human brain to perceive the location of a sound based on the time of arrival at each ear. Humans will perceive the direction of sound as the direction of the ear where the sound arrives first by up to about 25 ms, even if the later arriving sound is louder by as much as 10 dB. If the second sound arrives later than 25 ms, it is heard as two distinct sounds. The effect is named for Helmut Haas, who described in his 1949 Ph.D. thesis. A similar effect, called the law of first wavefront was described by Lothar Cremer in 1948. Hans Wallach and others described a similar effect in 1949 which they called precedence effect.
Hafler circuit – a passive electronic circuit that extracts ambience from regular stereo recordings without using expensive electronics. It is named after audio engineer David Hafler, owner of Dynaco, who used it in a process he called the Dynaquad system, an early version of quadrasonic sound. Also called the Hafler hookup.
hall effect – a setting on some reverberation units or plug-ins that simulates the reverb typical of a concert hall.
hammer – (1) The devices inside a piano that strike the strings to produce a sound. (2) The device used to strike a xylophone, also called a mallet.
Hammond B-3 – an organ created by Laurens Hammond in 1954. When used with a Leslie® rotating speaker, it quickly became a favorite of jazz musicians, and later a staple of R&B and rock 'n' roll keyboardists.
Hammond USA – a manufacturer of electronic organs founded by Laurens Hammond and John M. Hanert in Evanston, Illinois in 1936. Beginning as the Hammond Clock Company in 1928, it became the Hammond Organ Company in 1936, and later moved its manufacturing facilities to Chicago. Laurens Hammond died in 1973, and the company fell on hard times going out of business in 1985. Parts and service continued to be provided by the Organ Service Company. In 1986, rights to the Hammond brand were acquired by Hammond Organ Australia, which were subsequently purchased by the Suzuki Musical Instrument Corporation in 1989, becoming Hammond-Suzuki. Today Hammond USA is a wholly owned subsidiary of Suzuki Music Corporation of Japan.
handheld microphone – a microphone designed to be held in the hand, such as at a live performance. These mics are usually lighter in weight, but more sturdy than microphones designed to be mounted on a stand.
handling noise – (1) Noise introduced into a microphone through usage and movement, including vibrations transmitted through the microphone stand and mount. Many microphone mounts are designed to minimize these vibrations. (2) A specification used to compare how susceptible various microphones are to movement and shock.
hard disk drive (HDD) – a data storage device used for storing and retrieving digital data on a computer, using rapidly rotating disks or platters coated with a magnetic material, and that retains the data even when powered off. Also called a hard disk or hard drive.
hard-disk recorder (HDR) – a stand-alone or computer-based audio recording device that uses a computer hard disk drive. These systems can include features such as effects processing and digital mixing of the audio signal.
hard disk recording – using a computer hard disk drive to record audio signal that have been converted to digital data.
hard sync – a function available on some synthesizers that designates one oscillator as the master, while a second oscillator becomes the slave. When the master oscillator completes a wave cycle, it triggers the slave oscillator to begin its wave cycle from the start, no matter where in its cycle it may have been. This function creates a harmonically rich, edgy tone.
hardwire bypass – a true bypass of a effects processor in which the input signal is routed directly to the output, without passing through the processor or any other unnecessary circuitry, as opposed to a bypass that passes through a processor without acting on it.
hardwired – (1) A circuit in which connections are made by wires rather than etchings on a circuit board. (2) Used figuratively to refer to the configuration of mechanical or electronic components that cannot be changed by the user. (3) Used figuratively to refer to parameters of some software that cannot be changed by the user.
Harman International Industries, Inc. – an American audio equipment company headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut. The company designs, manufactures, and markets consumer and professional audio products for the home, car, theaters, and performance venues. Their product lines include loudspeakers, CD and DVD players, and amplifiers under several brand names such as Harman Kardon, JBL, AKG, Soundcraft, and Infinity. In 2017, Harman was acquired by Samsung Electronics.
harmonic – any of a series of musical tones whose frequencies are integral multiples of the fundamental frequency. While similar to an overtone, an overtone does not have to be an exact mulitiple of the fundamental, although it usually is. They are, however, numbered differently with the fundamental being the first harmonic, but the first overtone is equivalent to the second harmonic. See also partial.
harmonica – a small rectangular wind instrument that produce sound by holding it in the player's mouth and blowing or sucking through a row of metal reeds running along its length and producing different notes by moving it from side to side. Also called a mouth organ, French harp, blues harp, or simply harp.
harmonic distortion – the presence of harmonics in an outputsignal that were not present in the input signal. Harmonic distortion is sometimes broken down into even-order and odd-order harmonic distortion, with even-order distortion producing harmonics with frequencies that are 2, 4, 6.. times the fundamental, while odd-order harmonic distortion has 3, 5, 7... times the fundamental. It has been said that even-order harmonics produce a pleasing sound, while odd-orders do not, although this is not alway the case. The warmth of tubeamplifiers is sometimes attributed to the presence of even-order harmonics.
harmonic mean – a type of average, expressed as the expressed as the reciprocal of the arithmetic mean of the reciprocals. The harmonic mean H equals n/(1⁄x1 + 1⁄x2 + ...+ 1⁄xn) where x1, x2, ... xn are real positive numbers. See also geometric mean, and median.
harmonic series – all the frequencies that are an integral multiple of the frequency of the fundamental. Humans perceive a harmonic series as a single pitch whose tonal quality is determined by the relative mix of the harmonic content.
harmonic synthesis – a technique used by aural exciters that creates new higher-order harmonics that are not present in the original audio, which can make a sound seem cleaner and more detailed. Also called harmonic enhancement, enhanced harmonic content, or harmonic generation.
harmonize – (1) To sing or play a harmony part with another singer or musician. (2) To add notes to a melody to produce harmony. (3) To produce a pleasing combination of sound.
harmonized scale – a series of chords created by using each note of a musical scale as the root note for the chord. Each chord along the scale is formed by taking the root and the third and fifth notes from the root at that point in the scale. For example, chord I of the C Major scale is C (root note), E (third note), and G (fifth note), which is the C Major chord. Chord II consists of D, F, and A, which is a D minor chord. In a similar manner, chord III is E minor, chord IV is F Major, chord V is G Major, chord VI is A minor, and chord VII is B diminished. In general, any diatonic scale would be written as I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, vii (see Roman numeral analysis). Harmonized scales can be created with any type of scale or mode.
harp – (1) A stringed instrument, somewhat triangular in shape, having a sounding board and frame that supports a series of parallel strings. A harp is played by plucking the strings with fingers. Most modern harps have pedals that allow playing in various keys. (2) Slang for harmonica, short for French harp or blues harp.
HDCD – High Definition Compatible Disc. A new format developed by Pacific Microsonics (now part of Microsoft) for high-resolution audio on regular five-inch optical discs, that are like regular CDs except they are encoded at 20 bits or 24 bits, rather than the normal 16-bit resolution. They are compatible with regular 16-bit CD players, but a special HDCD player is required to reproduce the audio at 20 or 24 bits.
HDCP – High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection. A digitalcopy protection scheme developed by Intel Corporation to prevent copying of digital audio and video content as it is transmiited via certain intrfaces, such as DP (DisplayPort), DVI (Digital Visual Interface), and
HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface). The system is designed to prevent HDCP-encrypted content from being played on unauthorized devices. Before a manufacturer can produces an HDCP-compatible device, it must obtain a license from Digital Content Protection, LLC (a subsidiary of Intel) and pay an annual fee.
HD Radio – the technology that provides for simultaneous broadcasting of analog and digital signals using the current radio spectrum allocations. The HD no longer stands for anything, but originally stood stood for Hybrid Digital. It was formerly called IBOC.
head – (1) A tape head. (2) The part of a device including the transducer that converts sound into electrical signals. (3) The amplifier in a 2-piece guitar amplifier-speaker combination, which usually sits on top of the speaker cabinet. Sometimes called a head unit. See also combo amp. (4) The beginning of a song or audio file. Also called the top. (5) The membrane or skin of a transducer that converts sound into electrical signals. (6) A drumhead.
head amplifier – an amplifier used at the source of an audio or videosignal to boost a signal that would otherwise be too weak for the next stage in the signal chain. It can be thought of as a pre-preamplifier. An example is the preamplifier built-in to a microphone. Called a head amp for short.
head and torso simulator (HATS) – a dummy head and torso, with artificial ears and ear canals containing microphones, used to take acoustic measurements.
head basket – the wire mesh screen surrounding the capsule of a microphone. The head basket protects the capsule from physical damage as well as protects it from electromagnetic interference (EMI), such as ac hum and flourescent light emissions.
head block – the mounting onto which the head stack is attached.
header – metadata usually included at the beginning of an audio file that contains various information such as title, artist, date of creation, encription methods, error detection information, and other data.
head-mounted display (HMD) – a device, worn on the head (or on a helmet in some applications), that provides a small display in front of each eye. HMDs are used in gaming (VR and AR), aviation, engineering, and medicine. Also called a head-mounted device or helmet-mounted display.
headphone amplifier – an amplifier optimized for driving headphones. Some headphone amps offers a variety of features such as independent outputs allowing several listeners the ability to control their own volume level, multiple inputs allowing users to select from among several sources, and independent tone controls for each listener. Sometimes called a cue box.
headphone mix – a mix created in a recording studio that is sent to headphones to provide monitoring to musicians. Also called a cue mix.
head-related transfer function (HRTF) – a method of encoding audio so that a human ear perceives a sound as emanating from a particular point in space. The technique is used by some headphone manufacturers to simulate surround sound from stereo headphones or a pair of stereo loudspeakers. Another method of doing this is by capturing impulse responses that relate to sound locations. This response is called the head-related impulse response (HRIR). The HRTF is the Fourier transform of HRIR. The HRTF is sometimes called the anatomical transfer function (ATF).
head shadow – an acoustic shadow caused by the human head, an area of decreased sound level due to the sound being obstructed by the head. Because of the head shadow, a sound reaches the ear turned away from a sound (the shadowed ear) with much less intensity than the ear turned toward it, resulting in what is called interaural level difference (ILD) or interaural intensity difference (IID). The amount of this difference varies with the frequency of the sound.
heads out – a tape recording that has been rewound to the beginning and is ready to play. For long-term storage it is generally better to leave a recording tails out to minimize print through.
head stack – the assembly of heads in a tape recorder, usually consisting of two or three tape heads positioned on a head block. A two-head configurations consists of an erase head and a record/playback head. A three-head configuration contains an erase head, a record head, which usually is able to playback and act as a sync head, and a playback or repro (short for reproduce) head. The sync head is so called because it allows the engineer and musicians to be able to hear existing tracks in sync with new tracks being overdubbed.
headworn microphone – a small microphone mounted on a short boom and held near a performer's mouth by a headband or similar device. Headworn microphones free up a singer's hands to play an instrument or perform other functions. Also spelled head-worn microphone.
helical antenna – an antenna that consists of a conducting wire wound in the shape of a helix and mounted over a ground plane. Called a helical for short.
helical scan – a method of recording onto magnetic tape using a rotating head on a drum around which the tape passes at an angle to form a spriral (helical) tape path, thereby increasing the amount of data that can be recorded at a given tape speed. This technology is used in video recorders and DAT recorders. See also quadrature scanning.
Helmholtz resonance – the phenomenon of air resonance in a space or cavity creating a sound, such as the that made when someone blows across the top of a bottle. It is named for Hermann von Helmholtz, who created a device now called the Helmholtz resonator in the 1850s. Helmhlotz studied acoustics and used the resonator to identify various frequencies and musical pitches in music and other sounds.
Helmholtz resonator – an enclosure having a small opening and a size and shape that resonates at a single frequency as determined by its geometry. A Helmholtz resonators can be used to enhance or attenuate sound and are often used to reduce reverberation in spaces, such as a churches or auditoriums. The main advantage of the Helmholtz resonator is its simplicity, but it is effective over a relatively narrow frequency range. Therefore, in order to achieve significant attenuation it must be precisely tuned to the noise source of interest. Sometimes called a Helmholtz trap.
Hermode Tuning (HMT) – a method in which software or plug-ins dynamically tunevirtual instruments. Algorithms analyze harmonic structures and retune each note in the direction of just intonation, while remaining close to equal temperament. In this way the performance retains compatibility with familiar instruments, but makes them sound harmonically richer.
hertz (Hz) – the unit for measuring frequency. 1 hertz equal 1 cycle per second; 1,000 hertz (Hz) = 1 kilohertz (kHz). The term hertz, which was named for Heinrich Rudolf Hertz, who proved the existence of electromagnetic waveselectromagnetic waves, was adopted in 1967. Before that, it was simply called cycles per second.
hertz per volt (Hz/V) – a method of specifying control voltage (CV) on some analogsynthesizers to set pitch, where a given voltage represents a specific octave in the pitch range of the synthesizer and for each octave above that, the voltage doubles. The other main way of doing this is called volts per octave (V/oct).
heterophony – a musical style in which a single melody is played by multiple voices, with each performing the melody differently. The variations can include different rhythms or tempos or various styles, embellishments, and elaborations.
Higham amplifier – a mechanical amplifier invented in 1901 by Daniel Higham (pronounced “hi-am”) to increase the output from a phonograph. A tensioned cord attached to the stylus ran over a wheel which amplied the vibrations.
high definition audio (HDA) – (1) Audio recorded at higher sample rates and bit depths than the normal CD specification of 44.1 kHz and 16 bits. See also high resolution audio. (2) An Intel specification called HD audio introduced in 2004 that provides for 2 to 16 channels of audio at sampling rates of 6 to 192 kHz and bit depths of 8 to 32 bits.
high-definition television (HDTV) – a standard for broadcastingtelevision at a resolution that is substantially higher than that of standard-definition television. In the US, the ATSC established the standards for HDTV. It may be transmitted in several formats: 1080p (1920×1080p), 1080i (either 1920×1080i or 1440×1080i), or 720p (1280×720p), where the letter “p” stands for progressive scan while “i” indicates interlaced. Sometimes called high-definition video.
high-dynamic-range imaging (HDRI or HDR) – a technique used to reproduce a greater dynamic range of luminosity than is possible with standard digital imaging or photographic techniques. The goal is to present the human eye with a range of luminance similar to that encountered in real life. The human eye constantly adjusts to the broad range of changes encountered in our environment, using the iris and other methods, and the brain interpret this information so that you can view a wide range of light conditions. HDR images are produced by merging multiple low-dynamic-range (LDR) or standard-dynamic-range (SDR) images.
High Efficiency Advanced Audio Encoding (HE-AAC) – a lossycompression scheme for digital audio optimized for use with streaming audio applications where low bit rates are required such as internet radio and streaming music services. It is defined as an MPEG-4 audio profile. There are two versions of this compression system: HE-AAC and HE-AAC v2, with version 2 having more enhanced features and being more standardized than the first version. HE-AAC was created by introducing spectral band replication (SBR) into AAC-LC (AAC-Low Complexity), which went under the trade name of CT-aacPlus. HE-AAC v2, which was also developed by Coding Technologies, includes Perceptual Noise Shaping (PNS) technology, a type of perceptual modelling, and goes under the trade name Enhanced AAC+. Also known as aacPlus, aac+, CT-HE-AAC, eAAC, eAACplus, and eAAC+. See also AAC.
high end – (1) Slang for expensive or high quality. (2) The upper range of the audio spectrum, typically 5,000 Hz and above. It is sometimes further divided into high end (5 kHz to 10 kHz) and extreme high end (10 kHz to 20 kHz).
higher-order Ambisonics (HOA) – the addition of increassed directionality components to the B-format (see soundfield microphone) used in Ambisonics. The original signal set (first order) can be improved with second order, third order, etc., which all are called higher-order. Ambisonics is essentially a three-dimensional extension of the mid/side (M/S) stereo technique, which adds difference channels for height and depth. Higher order sets no longer correspond to conventional microphonepolar patterns, but are shaped more like clover leaves. There are several different format conventions for higher-order Ambisonics.
high fidelity – the high-quality reproduction of sound made on equipment with minimal noise, minimal distortion, and a flat frequency response. Such equipment began being produced in the late 1940s, replacing the poor quality sound produced by inexpensive and inferior audio equipment in use prior to that time. Also called hi-fi or hifi.
high hat – a standard component of most drum kits, consisting of two cymbals mounted on a stand, one on top of the other and a foot pedal used to crash and hold them together. Sometimes called a sock cymbal. Also spelled hihat, hi-hat, or high-hat.
high impedance – an impedance typically of 5,000 ohms or more.
Hi-MD – a revised version of Sony's MiniDisc (MD) system using a higher capacity disc as well as provideing other improvements. Hi-MD equipment maintains playback compatibility with the older MiniDiscs.
Hitachi, Ltd. – Kabushiki-gaisha Hitachi Seisakusho. A Japanese multinational engineering and electronics company headquartered in Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan. It is the parent company of the Hitachi Group that is involved in a multitude of business ventures.
hole-in-the-middle effect – (1) The undesirable effect caused by a coincident pair of microphones being at too extreme an angle creating a stereo image that is all left and right with very little sound in the center. (2) A phenomenon created by a stereo or surround sound system where the loudspeakers are too far apart to deliver a balanced stereo image to the listener.
holophonics – the aural equivalent to holography. It is a binaural recording system developed by Hugo Zuccarelli based on his claim that the human auditory system acts like an interferometer. Based on phase variance, the sound characteristics of holophonics can be most clearly demonstrated using headphones and to a lesser extent using phase-coherentstereospeakers.
Home Recording Rights Coalition (HRRC) – a non-profit advocacy group of consumers, retailers, manufacturers, and other who want to protect the rights of consumers to view, listen to, and recordradio and televisionbroadcasts.
home studio – a recording studio setup in a private home. At one time, home studios were very expensive and were very similar to professional studios, and were owned primarily by professional recording artists who could afford them. Today professional audio equipment is much more affordable and home studios are now owned by hobbyists, independent bands, singer-songwriters, voice over artist, podcasters, and others. Sometimes used synonymously with project studio.
home theater – television and video equipment (often placed in a separate room in the home) designed to create an in-the-home experience of being in a movie theater, typically having a surround soundspeaker system and a big-screen television set.
homophony – music in which the parts move together, sharing the melody and moving in the same rhythmic pattern. The opposite of polyphony, where the parts move independently with different interwovern melodies.
honky – a descriptive term for a sound with a peak in the frequency range of 500 to 700 Hz, which sounds like your voice when you cup your hands around your mouth. See also nasal.
honky-tonk piano – a piano outfitted with a mandolin rail to create the classic ragtime metallic sound popularized in player pianos and saloon scenes in old western movies.
hook – a catchy part of a song, whether the melody, lyrics, or a riff, that grabs (hooks) the listener's attention.
hookup – (1) The connection between two devices. (2) To connect two or more devices, or to setup a system.
horn – (1) A brass wind instrument, such as a trumpet or french horn. (2) An acoustic horn.
Hornbostel-Sachs – a widely used system for the classification of musical instrument devised by Erich Moritz von Hornbostel and Curt Sachs in 1914. Currently there are five classifications: electrophone, idiophone, membranophone, chordophone, and aerophone. Sometimes called Sachs-Hornbostel.
horn loudspeaker – a loudspeaker or loudspeaker element that uses a flared, horn-shaped duct that conducts sound waves to the open air and increase the overall efficiency of the driver. Also called a horn-loaded loudspeaker.
hot swap – to change out a piece of equipment while the power is on. While this is often not a safe practice as it is potentially detrimental to the equipment, some devices are specifically designed to be able to be hot swapped.
house curve – in live sound reinforcement the adjustments made to the equalization to compensate for the anomalies of a specific venue. The exact adjustment depends of the type of sound (speech or music), the size of the venue, and amount of reverberation. There is no standard curve.
house mix – in live sound reinforcement the mix of audio being presented to the audience in the auditorium (the “house”), as opposed to the monitor mix being sent to the performers.
H-pad – a type of electronic attenuator circuit with a schematic in the shape of the letter “H.” An H-pad functions similarly to a T-pad, except it is designed for use with balanced lines. A T-pad maintains a constant impedance on both the input and output as the attenuation is changed. An L-pad holds either the input or the output impedance constant. All three attenuate signals independent of the frequency. They are called pads because they “pad” down the signal analogous to acoustics. Also spelled H pad.
HTTP Dynamic Streaming (HDS) – an adaptive HTTP-based media-streaming communications protocol developed by Adobe, that enables high quality streaming of media content over the internet using conventional HTTP web servers. Similar to Apple'sHTTP Live Streaming (HLS) and MPEG-DASH, it is a technique used in streaming multimedia over the internet. It works by detecting a user's bandwidth and CPU capacity in real time and adjusting the quality of the stream accordingly.
HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) – an adaptive HTTP-based media-streaming protocol developed by Apple. It is an open format that uses conventional web servers and is widely supported by number of vendors. HLS is used to distribute both live and on-demand files. Similar to MPEG-DASH, it works by breaking the stream into a sequence of small chunks of data. As the stream is played, the client selects from various alternate streams encoded at a different data rates, so that the streaming session adapts to the available data rate.
hub – (1) The innermost part of a CD, which is made of clear plastic and includes the stacking ring, a thin ring of raised plastic on the bottom of each CD used to provide a small amount of space between each disc when stacking or shipping. (2) A tape hub. See also NAB hub.
humanize – a feature of some software plug-ins and MIDIsequencers to make effects and synthesizedaudio signals more natural-sounding by introducing small random variations in timing, duration, velocity, or other parameters to simulate the performance of a live musician.
hybrid picking – guitar playing technique that uses both a pick and one or more fingers to pluck the strings either simultaneously or alternately. Hybrid picking allows a player to use a pick to play riffs and to also play fingerstyle guitar. It also aids on making wide string leaps, such as from the sixth string to the first string, that would be difficult with a pick. The technique is most often used in rockabilly, country, and bluegrass music.
hypercardioid pattern – a microphonepick up pattern where the greatest sensitivity is in front and with the least sensitivity being at two points at about 110 to 120 degrees off axis and having a somewhat narrower pick up pattern than a cardioid pattern. See also polar pattern.
hypersonic – (1) Pertaining to speeds that are more than five times the speed of sound (Mach 5). (2) Sometimes used to refer to frequencies that are above 100 MHz, with the term ultrasonic used for the range from 20 kHz to 100 MHz.
Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) – the protocol, developed by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN in 1989, used to exchange or transfer hypertext and which provides the foundation for data communication on the internet using the World Wide Web. Hypertext is structured text that links between points in documents containing text.
Note: We believe this is the largest dictionary (glossary) of terms specific to usage within the recording industry that is currently available on the internet, with more than 7,800 entries, nearly 600 illustrations, and dozens of tables. Some of the terms have different or additional meanings in other situations, especially within the electronic, automotive, scientific, and computer industries. Of necessity there are obvious overlaps into other fields such as music, electronics, and computers, but such excursions are limited to information deemed pertinent to the knowledge required to operate and/or participate effectively in the workings of a recording studio. Also included are terms related to sound reinforcement (live performances) including wireless microphone technology because a working knowledge of that terminology is necessary for recording at live performance venues. Because recording studios also record audio for video and motion pictures (films), some terminology from those fields is included. Some scientific terms are included because they help explain studio terminology. For example, electromagnetism explains how microphones, loudspeakers, and guitar pickups work. Knowledge of radio waves and the radio frequency spectrum is needed to explain wireless devices. Any trademarks or trade names mentioned belong to their respective owners. The information contained in this dictionary is believed to be accurate at the time of publication. This information is subject to change without notice. The information was obtained from and cross-checked with a variety of sources that are believed to be reliable. However, Los Senderos Studio, LLC does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information contained herein. Please contact us to report any errors, omissions, discrepancies, or broken links. Los Senderos Studio shall not be responsible for any consequences or damages arising out of the use of this information. Nothing in this glossary should be interpreted as legal advice. For a glossary providing information on legal and business matters for musicians, we suggest you consult Musicians Business Dictionary.
A note on alphabetical order: The terms in this glossary are alphabetical without regard to spaces and punctuation. For example, AM Radio follows amplitude. While this may seem to be at odds with other conventions, it eliminates confusion with words such as pickup, which is sometimes written as pick up or pick-up. The entries on the number page (0-9) are listed in increasing value within each digit. For example, all of the entries beginning with 1 are listed before those starting with 2. For Greek letters (α-ω), the entries are in Greek alphabetical order.