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Dictionary of Audio Terminology - E


E - (1) The symbol used in an equation for electro-motive force or voltage. Thanks, Bill! (2) Symbol for electric field strength (3) Symbol for emitter (used on transistor circuit diagrams). (4) Symbol for energy. (5) Symbol for prefix exa.

e - The base of the natural system of logarithms, having a numerical value of approximately 2.71828. [AHD]

EAD (equivalent acoustic distance) - In a live situation without sound reinforcement there is a speaker, or other source, and a listener separated by a straight line distance. Introducing sound reinforcement acts to make the speaker louder thus effectively shorting the distance to the listener. This is called the equivalent acoustic distance.

EAE (electronic acoustic enhancement) (seen shortened to acoustic enhancement and called electronic architecture) - Any of several systems that make use of adding sound energy to a listening space rather than using sound absorbers to improve the quality.

ear - The vertebrate organ of hearing, responsible for maintaining equilibrium as well as sensing sound and divided in mammals into the external ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. [AHD]

ear buds - A special earpiece or earplug containing high quality miniature loudspeaker systems, similar to hearing aids, used for on-stage and recording studio purposes in lieu of traditional floor foldback monitors.

Eargle, John Morgan - (b. 1931-2007) American audio engineer, musician, author, educator, recording engineer and Grammy winner.

early decay time (EDT) - Time (in seconds) that it takes for a signal to decay from 0 to -10 dB relative to its steady state value.


early reflections - The first sound that arrives at a listener is called the direct sound; the next to arrive is the first reflected sound waves, which take a little longer to reach the listener due to traveling a slightly longer path length. The first several reflected sound waves to reach the listener after the direct sound are called early reflections.

Ears - A special earpiece or earplug containing high quality miniature loudspeaker systems, similar to hearing aids, used for on-stage and recording studio purposes in lieu of traditional floor foldback monitors.

earth - Alternate term meaning ground; chiefly British.

Earth's hum - A mysterious infrasonic sound that reverberates through the Earth, believed caused by stormy seas.

EASE (Enhanced Acoustic Simulator for Engineers) - A computer modeling tool distributed by Renkus-Heinz for ADA (Acoustic Design Ahnert), who developed the software and introduced it in 1990 at the 88th AES Convention in Montreux.

EBow (energy bow or electronic bow) - An electric guitar accessory that allows the player to create very eerie sounds. It works by creating a magnetic field near the guitar's pick-ups that causes feedback rich in harmonics and sounds somewhat like a bow on the strings.

EBU (European Broadcasting Union) An international professional society that, among other things, helps establish audio standards.

echo - (1) In reference to acoustics, a discrete sound reflection arriving at least 50 milliseconds after the direct sound, and significantly louder than the background reverberant sound field. (2) In reference to psychoacoustics, a perceptually distinct copy of the original sound; a delayed duplicate. A single echo may be the result of multiple surface reflections. [Blesser]

echo canceller - A technique using DSP (analog circuits exist, but DSP solutions are overwhelmingly superior) that filters unwanted signals caused by echoes from the main audio source. Echoes happen in both voice and data conversation, therefore two types of cancellers are encountered: acoustic and line. "Acoustic" echo cancellers are used in teleconferencing applications to suppress the acoustic echoes caused by the microphone/loudspeaker combination at one end picking up the signal from the other end and returning it to the original end. It is similar to sound system feedback problems (where the sound reinforcement loudspeaker is picked up by the microphone, re-amplified through the loudspeaker, only to be picked up again by the microphone, to be re-amplified, and so on), only made much worse by the additional time delay introduced by the telecommunication link. "Line" echo cancellers are used to suppress electrical echoes caused by the transmission link itself. Such things as non-perfect hybrids, and satellite systems (creating round-trip delays of about 600 ms), contribute to very annoying and disruptive line echoes.

echoic - Of or resembling an echo [AHD].

echolocation (also called echo ranging) - (1) A sensory system in certain animals, such as bats and dolphins, in which usually high-pitched sounds are emitted and their echoes interpreted to determine the direction and distance of objects. (2) Electronics A process for determining the location of objects by emitting sound waves and analyzing the waves reflected back to the sender by the object. [AHD]

echo ranging or echolocation - (1) A sensory system in certain animals, such as bats and dolphins, in which usually high-pitched sounds are emitted and their echoes interpreted to determine the direction and distance of objects. (2) Electronics A process for determining the location of objects by emitting sound waves and analyzing the waves reflected back to the sender by the object. [AHD]

ECM (electret condenser microphone) - A microphone design similar to that of condenser mics except utilizing a permanent electrical charge, thus eliminating the need for an external polarizing voltage. This is done by using a material call an electret [acronym for electricity + magnet] that holds a permanent charge (similar to a permanent magnet, i.e., a solid dielectric that exhibits persistent dielectric polarization). Because electret elements exhibit extremely high output impedance, they often employ an integral built-in impedance converter (usually a single JFET) that requires external power to operate. This low voltage power is often supplied single-ended over an unbalanced connection, or it may operate from standard phantom power. Electret technology was co-pioneered by Jim West and Gerhard Sessler in the 1960s at Bell Labs. Their original research into polymers (an electrical analogy of a permanent magnet) led to electret transducers.

ECS (Engineered Conference Systems) Rane Corporation trademark for their original teleconferencing equipment, now discontinued.

eddy current - An electrical current induced in electrical conductors by fluctuating magnetic fields in the conductors. The current moves contrary to the direction of the main current, just below the surface of the material, flowing in circular motion like river eddies.

Edison effect - In 1883, Thomas Edison noticed that certain materials, when heated by a filament in a vacuum, emitted electrons that could be attracted to an electrode held at a positive potential with respect to the emitter. This became known as the Edison effect and according to Edison, was discovered by accident when experimenting with his new invention, the incandescent lamp. Twenty years later, this effect became the basis for inventing the vacuum tube.

Edison plug - An ordinary household plug with two flat blades and a ground pin.

EDLC (electric double-layer capacitor) - A primary energy storage technology used to replace batteries. Also called ultracapacitors or supercapacitors.

EDM (electronic dance music) Generic term for all types of club dance music. Also see: electronic music genres.

EDT (early decay time) - Time (in seconds) that it takes for a signal to decay from 0 to -10 dB relative to its steady state value.

EEBAD (Earthed equipotential bonding and automatic disconnection) - British abbreviation for a system with all grounds ("Earths") bonded together.

EEPROM or E2PROM (electrically erasable programmable read-only memory) - A version of read-only memory that can be electrically erased and reprogrammed by the designer. Differentiated from standard EPROM (one "E") which requires ultraviolet radiation for erasure.

effects boxes or effects units Abbr. EFX or just FX Any outboard unit designed to produce an alteration of a musical instrument's sound, used chiefly by guitarists.

effects loop - A mixer term used to describe the signal path location where an external (outboard) signal processor is connected. The loop consists of an output Send jack connecting to the effects box input, and an input Return or Receive jack that comes from the effects box output.

Efficiency - The useful power output of an electrical device or circuit divided by the total power input, expressed in percent.

E-field - Electric field.

E-flat - The strike note of The Liberty Bell is E flat.

EFM (eight-to-fourteen modulation) - A data encoding technique that creates a disc that is highly resilient to handling and storage problems such as dust, scratches, etc. The name comes from the fact that each 8-bit block is translated into a corresponding 14-bit codeword. EFP (electronic field production) mixer - Pretentious equivalent for ENG mixer.

EFX (aka effects boxes) - Any outboard unit designed to produce an alteration of a musical instrument's sound, used chiefly by guitarists.

EHF (extremely high frequency) - 30 GHz to 300 GHz

EIA (Electronic Industries Alliance) - Founded in 1924 as the Radio Manufacturers Association (RMA), The EIA is a private trade organization made up of manufacturers which sets standards for voluntary use of its member companies (and all other electronic manufacturers), conducts educational programs, and lobbies in Washington for its members' interests.

EIA-422 or RS-422 - The standard adopted in 1978 by the Electronics Industry Association as EIA-422-A, Electrical characteristics of balanced voltage digital interface circuits. A universal balanced line twisted-pair standard for all long distance (~1000 m, or ~3300 ft) computer interconnections, daisy-chain style.

EIA-485 or RS-485 - The standard describing the electrical characteristics of a balanced interface used as a bus for master/slave operation. Allows up to 32 users to bridge onto the line (as opposed to RS-422's need to daisy chain the interconnections).

EIAJ (Electronic Industry Association of Japan) - A standards body in Japan begun in 1948, now merged into JEITA.

eigentone or modes - The acoustic resonances (or standing waves) in a room (or any enclosed space) caused by parallel surfaces. It is the dimensional resonance of a room, where the distance between the walls equals half the wavelength of the lowest resonant frequency (and resonates at all harmonic frequencies above it). Room modes create uneven sound distribution throughout a room, with alternating louder and quieter spots.

EIN (equivalent input noise) - Output noise of a system or device referred to the input. Done by modeling the object as a noise-free device with an input noise generator equal to the output noise divided by the system or device gain.

Elco plug or Elco connector – One of several connectors used for interconnecting multiple audio channels at once, most often found in recording studios on analog and digital audio tape machines. One of these, a 90-pin version (Vari*con Series 8016), carries 28 shielded pairs of audio channels, allowing 3-wires per channel (positive, negative & shield) for a true balanced system interconnect.

electone (electronic tone) - A trade-marked symbol of the Yamaha Corporation; the brand name of Yamaha's organ instrument line.

electret microphone - A microphone design similar to that of condenser mics except utilizing a permanent electrical charge, thus eliminating the need for an external polarizing voltage.

electromagnetic induction - The generation of an electromotive force (voltage) and current in a circuit or material by a changing magnetic field linking with that circuit or material. Electricity and magnetism are kinfolk and form the foundation of audio transducers found at both ends of any audio chain: dynamic microphones and loudspeakers with voice coils. The principle is beautifully simple: if you pass a coil of wire through a magnetic field, electricity is generated within the coil (dynamic microphone), and if you pass electricity through a coil of wire (voice coil), a magnetic field is generated. Move a magnet, create a voltage; apply a voltage, create a magnet. This is the essence of all electromechanical objects.

electromotive force Abbr. EMF - The energy per unit charge that is converted reversibly from chemical, mechanical, or other forms of energy into electrical energy in a battery or dynamo. [AHD]

electronic acoustic enhancement or EAE - Any of several systems that make use of adding sound energy to a listening space rather than using sound absorbers to improve the quality.

electronic architecture or EAE - Any of several systems that make use of adding sound energy to a listening space rather than using sound absorbers to improve the quality.

electrostatic loudspeaker - A thin sheet of plastic film suspended between two wire grids or screens; the film is conductive and charged with a high voltage; the film is alternately attracted to one grid and then the other resulting in motion that radiates sound.

electrostatic microphone or condenser microphone - [Also called capacitor microphone.] Invented by Wente in 1916, a microphone design where a condenser (the original name for capacitor) is created by stretching a thin diaphragm in front of a metal disc (the backplate). By positioning the two surfaces very close together an electrical capacitor is created whose capacitance varies as a function of sound pressure. Any change in sound pressure causes the diaphragm to move, which changes the distance between the two surfaces. If the capacitor is first given an electrical charge (polarized) then this movement changes the capacitance, and if the charge is fixed, then the backplate voltage varies proportionally to the sound pressure. In order to create the fixed charge, condenser microphones require external voltage (polarizing voltage) to operate. This is normally supplied in the form of phantom power from the microphone preamp or the mixing console.

elephant teeth - Piano keys. [Decharne] elliptic filters or elliptic-function filters also called Cauer filters - A filter having an equiripple passband and an equiminima stopband. [IEEE] Butterworth filters are all-pole types, while elliptic filters have zeros as well as poles at finite frequencies. The location of the poles and zeros creates equiripple behavior in the passband similar to Chebyshev filters. Finite transmission zeros in the stopband reduce the transition region so that extremely sharp roll-off rates result; however the improved performance is obtained at the expense of return lobes ("bounce") in the stopband.

elocution – (1) The art of public speaking in which gesture, vocal production, and delivery are emphasized. (2) A style or manner of speaking, especially in public. [AHD]

EMC Directive (ElectroMagnetic Compatibility) – (1) A directive issued by the European Commission aimed at establishing product compatibility within the EU (European Union). Article 1.4 defines electromagnetic compatibility as the ability of an electrical and electronic appliance, equipment or installation containing electrical and/or electronic components to function satisfactorily in its electromagnetic environment (immunity requirement) without introducing intolerable electromagnetic disturbances to anything in that environment (emission requirement). (2) Due to the significant increases in development time and product costs imposed by the EMC Directive, many believe the initials really stand for "eliminate minor companies."

EMD (electronic music distribution) - Distributing digital music files (compressed using MP3, AAC, AC-3, etc.) from a server to a client.

EME (electromagnetic environment) - "The spatial distribution of electromagnetic fields surrounding a given site."

EMF (electromotive force) - The energy per unit charge that is converted reversibly from chemical, mechanical, or other forms of energy into electrical energy in a battery or dynamo.

EMI (electromagnetic interference) - A measure of electromagnetic radiation from equipment.

emitter follower - One of three basic single-stage bipolar junction transistor (BJT) amplifier topologies, typically used as a voltage buffer. [Wikipedia]

EMP (Experience Music Project) Paul Allen's (co-founder of Microsoft) interactive music museum, located in Seattle, that celebrates and explores creativity and innovation in American popular music as exemplified by rock 'n' roll.

empath - (1) One who practices empathy, i.e., a person who strongly identifies with and understands another's situation, feelings, and motives. (2) A DJ performance mixer combining the vision of Grandmaster Flash and Rane technology.

EMT plate reverb - Invented in 1957 by the German company, EMT (Elektromesstecknik), and used in all the famous recording studios in the '60s and '70s, it is still considered by many to be the best sounding reverb.

EMT 250 Digital Reverb - Invented in 1976, this was the first commercial digital reverb.

emulateTo imitate the function of (another system), as by modifications to hardware or software that allow the imitating system to accept the same data, execute the same programs, and achieve the same results as the imitated system. [AHD]

energy time curve or (ETC) - Originally a three-dimensional graphical plot of acoustic response where frequency, energy and time represent the three axes. Today it is more commonly seen as a two-dimensional graph with energy (in dB-SPL) and time being the axes. In simplest terms it is a plot of the envelope, or instantaneous amplitude decay of the test signal.

ENF (electric network frequency) Criterion - A method for the authentication of digital audio and video recordings.

ENG (electronic news gathering) mixer - Portable battery-powered mixer accommodating at least two or three mic inputs, used in the field to record speech and outdoor sound effects. Some specialized models have built-in telephone line interfacing.

enhancers or exciters - A term referring to any of the popular special-effect signal processing products used primarily in recording and performing. All exciters work by adding harmonic distortion of some sort - but harmonic distortion found pleasing by most listeners.

enharmonic - Of, relating to, or involving tones that are identical in pitch but are written differently according to the key in which they occur, as C sharp and D flat, for example. [AHD]

ENOB (effective number of bits) - A figure of merit for A/D data converters useful in specifying a converter's real AC accuracy and performance.

ENR (excess noise ratio) - The ratio of a source's noise power when it is on to when it is off. A normalized measure of how much noise the device creates above the rule of thumb thermal limit of -174 dB/Hz.

Ensemble – (1) A group of musicians, singers, dancers, or actors who perform together. (2) A work for two or more vocalists or instrumentalists. (3) The performance of such a work. [AHD]

entropy coding - A lossless audio coding technique.

envelope - The boundary of the family of curves obtained by varying a parameter of the wave. [IEEE]

envelope control - A voltage controlling pitch and volume to create a distinctive contour (envelope).

envelope delay or group delay - The rate of change of phase shift with respect to frequency. Mathematically, the first derivative of phase verses frequency. The rate of change is just a measure of the slope of the phase shift verses linear (not log) frequency plot. If this plot is a straight line, it is said to have a "constant" (i.e., not changing) phase shift, or a "linear phase" (or "phase linear" -European) characteristic. Hence, constant group delay, or linear group delay, describes circuits or systems exhibiting constant delay for all frequencies, i.e., all frequencies experience the same delay.

Epidaurus - The Greek theater of Epidaurus is considered one of the most extraordinary acoustic spaces of antiquity. A study by Nico F. Declercq and Cindy Dekeyser of the Georgia Institute of Technology concluded that it was the use of limestone in the seats that created its wonderful acoustic qualities.

EQ (equalizer) - A class of electronic filters designed to augment or adjust electronic or acoustic systems. Equalizers can be fixed or adjustable, active or passive.

equal loudness curves or Fletcher-Munson Curves - In the '30s, researchers Fletcher and Munson first accurately measured and published a set of curves showing the human's ear's sensitivity to pure tone loudness verses frequency ("Loudness, its Definition Measurement and Calculation," J. Acoust. Soc. Am., vol. 5, p 82, Oct. 1933). They conclusively demonstrated that human hearing is extremely dependent upon loudness. The curves show the ear most sensitive to pure tones in the 3 kHz to 4 kHz area. This means sounds above and below 3-4 kHz must be louder in order to be heard just as loud. For this reason, the Fletcher-Munson curves are referred to as "equal loudness contours." They represent a family of curves from "just heard," (0 dB SPL) all the way to "harmfully loud" (130 dB SPL), usually plotted in 10 dB loudness increments.

equal-tempered scale or equal temperament, also even temperament - Today's normal musical scale, it divides a musical octave into twelve equal parts (semitones), i.e., each is 2 1/12 above the other.

equivalent acoustic distance or EAD - In a live situation without sound reinforcement there is a speaker, or other source, and a listener separated by a straight line distance. Introducing sound reinforcement acts to make the speaker louder thus effectively shorting the distance to the listener.

equivalent continuous A-weighted sound pressure level - For airborne sounds that are non-stationary with respect to time, an equivalent continuous sound pressure level (see below) formed by applying A-weighting to the original signal before squaring and averaging. [Morfey] Abbreviated LAeq (15) for a time duration of 15 minutes.

equivalent continuous sound pressure level - Of a non-stationary sound pressure signal between specified time limits, the sound pressure level of a notional unvarying sound that, for the same specified duration has the same signal energy as the original signal. [Morfey] Abbreviated Leq.

equivalent input noise or EIN - Output noise of a system or device referred to the input. Done by modeling the object as a noise-free device with an input noise generator equal to the output noise divided by the system or device gain.

erhu - Chinese 2-stringed fiddle.

error correction - A method using a coding system to correct data errors by use of redundant data within a data block. Often data is interleaved for immunity to burst errors. Corrected data is identical to the original.

ESD (electrostatic discharge) - Electrical discharges of static electricity that build up on personnel or equipment, generated by interaction of dissimilar materials. [IEEE]

ESL (electrostatic loudspeaker) - A thin sheet of plastic film suspended between two wire grids or screens; the film is conductive and charged with a high voltage; the film is alternately attracted to one grid and then the other resulting in motion that radiates sound.

ESO (equipment superior to operator) - Satirical term popular among service technicians used to code invoices for units returned with nothing wrong -- similar to NPF (no problem found).

ESPA (Electronic Systems Professional Alliance) - A non-profit organization specializing in entry-level electronic systems technicians (EST).

ESR (effective series resistance) - The sum of many resistive losses in a capacitor. It includes resistance of the dielectric, plate material, electrolytic solution, and terminal leads at one specified frequency and acts like a resistor in series with a perfect capacitor. It is measured in ohms and is the real part of impedance.

EST (electronic systems technician) or ESPA - A non-profit organization specializing in entry-level electronic systems technicians (EST).

ESTA (Entertainment Services & Technology Association) - A non-profit trade association representing the North American entertainment technology industry. Now merged with PLASA.

E-taper - Similar to a reversed audio taper but with 25% resistance at the 50% rotation point.

ETC (energy time curve) - Originally a three-dimensional graphical plot of acoustic response where frequency, energy and time represent the three axes. Today it is more commonly seen as a two-dimensional graph with energy (in dB-SPL) and time being the axes. In simplest terms it is a plot of the envelope, or instantaneous amplitude decay of the test signal.

ETCP (Entertainment Technician Certification Program) - Industry certification program "focusing on the disciplines that directly affect the health and safety of crews, performers, and audiences." ETCP was created under the auspices of ESTA.

ether - From a Greek word meaning "upper air," a term used in early physics (based on ancient beliefs), a magical medium thought to explain the propagation of electromagnetic waves.

Ethernet - A local area network (LAN), originally developed by Xerox in 1973 (the name was coined by its inventor Bob Metcalfe, et al. [who went on to found 3Com in 1979] after the old science term ether), receiving US Patent 4,063,220 in 1975, used for connecting computers, printers, workstations, terminals, etc., now extended to include audio and video using CobraNet and other new technologies.

Ethernet crossover cable - A connection cable consisting of two pairs crossed plus two pairs uncrossed. Hit the link for a diagram and chart.

EtherSound - Digigram's patented real-time digital audio network based on standard Ethernet cabling and components.

EULA (end user license agreement) - The terms and conditions of a user rights with respect to purchased software.

euphonic - Agreeable sound, especially in the phonetic quality of words. [AHD]

euphonium - A brass wind instrument similar to the tuba but having a somewhat higher pitch and a mellower sound. [AHD]

Euroblocks - Shortened form of European style terminal blocks. A specialized disconnectable, or plugable terminal block consisting of two pieces. The receptacle is permanently mounted on the equipment and the plug is used to terminate both balanced and unbalanced audio connections using screw terminals. Differs from regular terminal strips in its plugability, allowing removal of the equipment by disconnecting the plug section rather than having to unscrew each wire terminal. Unofficial, but popularly followed, is the color-code convention where green is used for inputs and orange is used for outputs.

Eurorack - Nickname for 3U high 19" wide powered rack designed to accommodate modular synthesizer modules available from many manufacturers. Similar to FracRack but with minor (but important) differences.

Eventide H910 Harmonizer - Offered for sale in 1975, it was the first and still the most famous.

EVD (enhanced versatile disc) - The Chinese national DVD standard developed to get around paying royalties to the DVD alliances.

even temperament or equal-tempered scale - Today's normal musical scale, it divides a musical octave into twelve equal parts (semitones), i.e., each is 2 1/12 above the other.

exciters or enhancers - A term referring to any of the popular special-effect signal processing products used primarily in recording and performing. All exciters work by adding harmonic distortion of some sort - but harmonic distortion found pleasing by most listeners. Various means of generating and summing frequency-dependent and amplitude-dependent harmonics exist. Both even- and odd-ordered harmonics find favorite applications. Psychoacoustics teaches that even-harmonics tend to make sounds soft, warm and full, while odd-harmonics tend to make things metallic, hollow and bright. Lower-order harmonics control basic timbre, while higher-order harmonics control the "edge" or "bite" of the sound. Used with discrimination, harmonic distortion changes the original sound dramatically, more so than measured performance might predict.

expander - A signal processing device used to increase the dynamic range of the signal passing through it.

exponent - The component of a floating-point number that normally signifies the integer power to which the radix is raised in determining the value of the represented number (IEEE-100). For example if radix =10 (a decimal number), then the number 183.885 is represented as mantissa = 1.83885 and exponent = 2 (since 183.885 = 1.83885 x 102).

exponential horn - A horn design characterized by having an exponentially increasing cross-sectional area.

extensible - Of or relating to a programming language or a system that can be modified by changing or adding features. Capable of being extended: AES24 is an extensible protocol.

Extreme Programming or XP- A popular software development system created by Kent Beck.

eye pattern - An oscilloscope display of the received voltage waveform in a transmission system. So named because portions of the display take on a human eye-like shape. The eye pattern gives important information. An eye pattern is obtained when a high speed transmission system outputs a long pseudorandom bit sequence. A sampling oscilloscope is used to observe the output such that the scope is triggered to sample on every fourth or eighth pseudorandom clock cycle, and every sample point is plotted on the screen. (The pseudorandom digital data signal from a receiver is repetitively sampled and applied to the vertical input, while the data rate is used to trigger the horizontal sweep.) The picture obtained is a superposition of ones and zeros output. The horizontal "fatness" of the lines indicates the amount of jitter and the rise and fall times is measured from the crossing points.





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HistoryOfRecording.com acknowledges the Elsevier, Inc. publication, Audio Engineering know it all, the University of Washington Press publication, The Audio Dictionary, second edition, the Howard W. Sames & Co., Inc. publication, Audio cyclopedia, the Cambridge University Press publication, The Art of Electronics, Rane Corporation (Dennis A. Bohn, CTO), Houghton Mifflin Company publication, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, the IEEE publication, IEEE 100: The Authoritative Dictionary of IEEE Standards Terms, Seventh Edition and Wikipedia in the preparation of this Dictionary of Audio Terminology.

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