Know Your Audio Terms | Director Bloopers | Help for Your Mental Health

Singer Weekly - Blog Banner - 14
Confusion around audio terms can hold us all back.
Originally published: July 9, 2020

Know Your Audio Terms

Belting. Falsetto. Twang. Mix. Placement. We all know how inconsistent and confusing singing terms can be. The only way to know what we are talking about is to ask for clarification – relentlessly – when discussing matters of the voice. Well, the same is true of audio terms. Volume. Level. Compression. The amount of confusion around what the heck we mean by these terms is enough to drive anyone bonkers. Whether it’s for live sound or recording, any singer, songwriter or engineer stands to gain a whole ton of confidence and make their sound way better, just by learning the precise meanings of these terms.

First of all, we all must stop using the vague and meaningless word, “volume.” Just stop, OK? Good. Instead, use the word, “level” and specify the kind of level you mean (there are quite a few). For example, if you are talking about the force of the sound waves in the air, then you are talking about sound pressure level which is measured in decibels. Lots of things are measured in decibels, so when talking about sound, we specify dB SPL, or sound pressure level.

Compression is the most amazing thing ever, and you’ve been listening to its effect on music whether you know it or not. There are two very different types, which means – again – the correct terms are crucial to avoid confusion. Dynamic range compression is when we squish the level of audio at its highest points so that we can raise the overall level to let us hear a given instrument or voice better. What singer doesn’t want to be heard better, amiright!? On the other hand, when we have a digital audio file that we want to share with someone, we almost always have to make the size of the file smaller. This is the other type of compression: data compression! 

To learn more about foundational audio concepts, upgrade and take Kevin Alexander’s 8-lesson course, Deep Dive into Audio Theory

Director Bloopers!

Ok, directors, admit it. We know you’ve done this at least once: You begin conducting a song only to realize you’re on the wrong song! You’ve put a different piece on your stand than your entire ensemble. Hopefully this was in a rehearsal and not a performance! Another blooper that conductors shared with Singdaptive is when you turn to cue the bass section, only to realize it’s the tenors you were supposed to be cueing! It can happen to the best of us. Directors and singers, we’d love to hear your best bloopers. If you have a good one to share, click on to our chat icon on Singdaptive and tell us all about it – just include the word “bloopers” in your message!

Help for Your Mental Health

Let’s be really honest. Most of us – and especially those of us who are artistic – struggle from time to time with anxiety, distraction and negativity. I know I do. It’s human to have these challenges. If you struggle with these challenges, please, please, PLEASE take a look at A Successful Mindset for Solitary Singing Work – Part 1 and Part 2 by Greg Barker. If you struggle a lot, I recommend you watch them every day.

Greg Barker, one of Singdaptive’s Founders, is not only a music industry journalist who understands singers; but he is also a professor of philosophy, ethics and religion. I know, right!? Who knew!? He has a special interest in mental therapies and cognitive counselling, and what he offers in these two lessons, which are included with free basic accounts, could change your life.

Tune in to Singdaptive’s live chat on Instagram with Sound Engineer and former CEO of TC-Helicon, Kevin Alexander, who knows a thing or two about microphones.

0 replies on “Know Your Audio Terms | Director Bloopers | Help for Your Mental Health”