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Professional audio

Professional audio

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Professional audio, also 'pro audio', refers to both an activity and a type of audio equipment. Typically it encompasses the production or reproduction of sound for an audience
Audience
An audience is a group of people who participate in a show or encounter a work of art, literature , theatre, music or academics in any medium...

, by individuals who do such work as an occupation like live event support, using sound reinforcement system
Sound reinforcement system
A sound reinforcement system is the combination of microphones, signal processors, amplifiers, and loudspeakers that makes live or pre-recorded sounds louder and may also distribute those sounds to a larger or more distant audience...

s designed for the purpose. (By contrast, consumer audio is usually confined to the reproduction of sound in the home.) Professional audio can include but is not limited to broadcast radio, audio mastering
Audio mastering
Mastering, a form of audio post-production, is the process of preparing and transferring recorded audio from a source containing the final mix to a data storage device ; the source from which all copies will be produced...

 in a recording studio
Recording studio
A recording studio is a facility for sound recording and mixing. Ideally both the recording and monitoring spaces are specially designed by an acoustician to achieve optimum acoustic properties...

, television studio
Television studio
A television studio is an installation in which a video productions take place, either for the recording of live television to video tape, or for the acquisition of raw footage for post-production. The design of a studio is similar to, and derived from, movie studios, with a few amendments for the...

, sound reinforcement such as a concert, DJ performances, Audio sampling
Sampling (music)
In music, sampling is the act of taking a portion, or sample, of one sound recording and reusing it as an instrument or a different sound recording of a song or piece. Sampling was originally developed by experimental musicians working with musique concrète and electroacoustic music, who physically...

, public address
Public address
A public address system is an electronic amplification system with a mixer, amplifier and loudspeakers, used to reinforce a sound source, e.g., a person giving a speech, a DJ playing prerecorded music, and distributing the sound throughout a venue or building.Simple PA systems are often used in...

, surround sound movie theatres, and in some cases piped music application.

The term 'professional audio' has no precise definition, but its typical features may include:
  • Operations carried out by technicians with at least some formal training
  • The capturing of sound with one or more microphone
    Microphone
    A microphone is an acoustic-to-electric transducer or sensor that converts sound into an electrical signal. In 1877, Emile Berliner invented the first microphone used as a telephone voice transmitter...

    s
  • Balancing sound from multitrack recording
    Multitrack recording
    Multitrack recording is a method of sound recording that allows for the separate recording of multiple sound sources to create a cohesive whole...

     devices using a mixing console
    Mixing console
    In professional audio, a mixing console, or audio mixer, also called a sound board, mixing desk, or mixer is an electronic device for combining , routing, and changing the level, timbre and/or dynamics of audio signals. A mixer can mix analog or digital signals, depending on the type of mixer...

  • The control of audio levels using standardised types of metering
  • Sound signals passing through lengthy signal chain
    Airchain
    In broadcast engineering for radio or television, the airchain or transmission chain is the path or route an audio or video signal takes on its way through a radio station or television station.The airchain begins with cameras, microphones, CD players, turntables, telephone hybrids, video tape...

    s involving processes at different times and places, involving a variety of skills
  • Compliance with organisational, national and international practices and standards established by such bodies as the International Telecommunications Union, Audio Engineering Society
    Audio Engineering Society
    Established in 1948, the Audio Engineering Society draws its membership from amongst engineers, scientists, other individuals with an interest or involvement in the professional audio industry. The membership largely comprises engineers developing devices or products for audio, and persons working...

     and European Broadcasting Union
    European Broadcasting Union
    The European Broadcasting Union is a confederation of 74 broadcasting organisations from 56 countries, and 49 associate broadcasters from a further 25...

    .


Compared to consumer audio equipment, professional audio equipment tends to have such characteristics as:
  • Much greater mechanical robustness
  • Heavy-duty industrial-grade connectors, e.g. XLR
    XLR connector
    The XLR connector is a style of electrical connector, primarily found on professional audio, video, and stage lighting equipment. The connectors are circular in design and have between 3 and 7 pins...

     and Speakon
  • 19-inch rack
    19-inch rack
    A 19-inch rack is a standardized frame or enclosure for mounting multiple equipment modules. Each module has a front panel that is wide, including edges or ears that protrude on each side which allow the module to be fastened to the rack frame with screws.-Overview and history:Equipment designed...

    -mount construction
  • Balanced audio
    Balanced audio
    Balanced audio is a method of interconnecting audio equipment using impedance-balanced lines. This type of connection is very important in sound recording and production because it allows for the use of long cables while reducing susceptibility to external noise.Balanced connections use...

     interfaces
  • Higher analog audio signal levels of 0 dBu
    Decibel
    The decibel is a logarithmic unit that indicates the ratio of a physical quantity relative to a specified or implied reference level. A ratio in decibels is ten times the logarithm to base 10 of the ratio of two power quantities...

     or more
  • AES/EBU digital audio
    Digital audio
    Digital audio is sound reproduction using pulse-code modulation and digital signals. Digital audio systems include analog-to-digital conversion , digital-to-analog conversion , digital storage, processing and transmission components...

     interfaces


The broadcast quality
Broadcast quality
Broadcast Quality is an term stemming from quad videotape to denote the quality achieved by professional video cameras and time base correctors used for broadcast television, usually in standard definition...

 of professional audio equipment is on a par with that of consumer high-end audio
High-end audio
High-end audio is a term used to describe a class of consumer home audio equipment marketed to audio enthusiasts on the basis of high price or quality, and esoteric or novel sound reproduction technologies. High-end audio can refer simply to the price, to the build quality of the components, or to...

 equipment, but is more likely to be designed purely on sound engineering principles and owe little to a consumer oriented audiophile
Audiophile
An audiophile is a person who enjoys listening to recorded music, usually in a home. Some audiophiles are more interested in collecting and listening to music, while others are more interested in collecting and listening to audio components, whose "sound quality" they consider as important as the...

 sub-culture.

See also

  • Audio engineering
    Audio engineering
    An audio engineer, also called audio technician, audio technologist or sound technician, is a specialist in a skilled trade that deals with the use of machinery and equipment for the recording, mixing and reproduction of sounds. The field draws on many artistic and vocational areas, including...

  • Audio Engineering Society
    Audio Engineering Society
    Established in 1948, the Audio Engineering Society draws its membership from amongst engineers, scientists, other individuals with an interest or involvement in the professional audio industry. The membership largely comprises engineers developing devices or products for audio, and persons working...

  • Institute of Broadcast Sound
    Institute of Broadcast Sound
    The Institute of Broadcast Sound is the only organisation in the UK dedicated to the maintenance of the highest standards of professional audio for broadcasting, and was founded in 1977 by sound balancers in BBC Television and Radio and Independent TV...

  • Production engineer
  • Psychoacoustics
    Psychoacoustics
    Psychoacoustics is the scientific study of sound perception. More specifically, it is the branch of science studying the psychological and physiological responses associated with sound...

     on the perception of sound
  • Sound designer
  • Sound operator
    Sound operator
    The sound operator is the person responsible for the overall and total execution of all sound-related aspects of a theatrical performance...

  • Sound recording