Microphone Terminology: L (With Definitions)

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Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone:

What is a large-diaphragm condenser microphone? A large-diaphragm condenser (LDC) generally has a diaphragm measuring one inch or more in diameter. Compared to small-diaphragm condensers (SDC), LDCs have lower self-noise but worse specs in areas such as transient and frequency response and polar pattern consistency. LDCs are typically side-address mics.

See: Microphone.

To learn more about large-diaphragm condensers, check out my article Large-Diaphragm Vs. Small-Diaphragm Condenser Microphones.


Laser Microphone:

What is a laser microphone? A laser microphone is considered a surveillance device. Laser mics utilize laser beams to detect sound vibrations in objects and surfaces. The laser beam is directed at a surface and reflects off the surface, returning to a receiver that converts the beam interferometrically into an audio signal.

See: Microphone.


Late Reflections:

Also known as the reverb tail.

What are late reflections and how do they affect microphones? Late reflections are the diffuse, dense reflections that make up the most of the reverberation sound. They typically reach the mic 80 ms or more after the direct sound (having bounced off several surfaces) and provide a great sense of the acoustic space in a mic signal.


Latency:

What is audio latency and how does it apply to microphones? Audio latency is the delay between the entering and exiting of an audio signalin a system. Analog audio signals often start or “enter” at the microphone and latency accrues as the mic signal passes through mic cables, A/D converters, buffering, DSPs, D/A converters, and other processes.

To learn more about microphone audio latency, check out my article How To Fix Microphone Echo And Latency In Your Computer (7 Methods).


Lavalier Microphone:

Also known as a lapel microphone.

What is a lavalier microphone? A lavalier microphone is a tiny clip-on mic designed for hands-free operation in film, theatre, and similar applications. Lav mics typically have tiny electret capsules and are often wireless. They can be clipped onto collars and other clothing, attached to hair and headwear, or positioned elsewhere.

See: Microphone.

For more information on lavalier microphones, check out my article How And Where To Attach A Lavalier/Lapel Microphone.

To learn about my recommended lavalier microphones, check out the following My New Microphone articles:

Best Lavalier Microphones For Interviews/News/Presentations
Best Lavalier Microphones For Actors


LEMO Connector:

What are LEMO connectors and how do they work with microphone technology? A LEMO connector may refer to any of the push/pull connectors manufactured by LEMO. A small 3-pin LEMO connector has become a common connector between lavalier microphones and their wireless transmitters.


Liquid Microphone:

Also known as the liquid transmitter.

What is a liquid microphone? The liquid mic is an Alexandre Graham Bell invention. A cup is filled with conductive liquid (water and sulfuric acid). A diaphragm moves according to sound waves, causing an attached needle to move in the conductive liquid. Coinciding variations in the circuit’s resistance causes an “audio signal.”

See: Microphone.


Line-Of-Sight:

What is line-of-sight and how does it apply to microphones? Line-of-sight simply means there are no physical obstacles between two points in space. Having a clean line-of-sight between a transmitter and a receiver is highly beneficial for wireless microphone signal transmission.


Line Input:

What is line input and how does it apply to microphones? Line input is any analog audio input that expects a line level audio signal. Microphones output mic level signals, which are much lower than line level (100-1000X weaker). Mics shouldn’t be plugged into line inputs without sufficient amplification.


Line Level:

What is line level and how does it apply to microphones? Line level is a specified analog audio signal strength for use in most audio devices. mic signals must be amplified (up to 1000x) to line level and line signals must be amplified to speaker level for loudspeakers/headphones. The nominal line level is +4 dBu for pro audio and -10 dBV for consumer audio.

To learn more about line level and its relation to microphones, check out my article Do Microphones Output Mic, Line, Or Instrument Level Signals?


Live Room:

What is a live room? A live room is a room in a recording studio where musicians perform and sound sources are recorded. Good live rooms are sonically pleasing with calculated amounts of sound-absorbing material and reverberation. Live room mics send their signals to the control room and to the mixing console or DAW.


Live Side:

What is the live side of a microphone? The live side of a unidirectional microphone is the side in which the mic is most sensitive to sound. It is especially important to know the live side of a side-address cardioid mic since it won’t always be obvious (like with a top-address mic).


Lively:

What does the term “lively” mean in reference to microphones and sound? The term “lively” refers to an acoustic space that is rich with reflections and reverberation. Oddly-shaped live rooms are often described as “lively spaces” with sonically pleasing characteristics and weak standing waves. Distant miking techniques in lively spaces often yield very natural sounding reverb at the source.


Load:

What is a load, electronically speaking, and how does it apply to microphones? An electrical load is a term for a device connected to a single electrical source. With mics and mic preamps, the mic is the source (sending signal) and the preamp is the load (receiving signal). The impedance of the load must be much higher than the source for optimal voltage (mic signal) transfer.


Load Impedance:

What is load impedance why is it important to microphones? Load impedance in the input impedance of an electrical device. In the case of a microphone (the source), the load impedance is the input impedance of the preamp or whatever device is next in-line. For optimal mic signal transfer, the load impedance should be at least 10x the mic output impedance.


Lobar Polar Pattern:

Also known as the shotgun polar pattern.

What is the lobar microphone polar pattern? The lobar polar pattern is a broad term for an extremely directional mic polar pattern. Lobar patterns require interference tubes to achieve their directionality and are only found in shotgun mics. The lobar pattern typically features a sensitive frontal lobe with less sensitive rear and side lobes.

For a detailed read on the lobar polar pattern, check out my article The Lobar/Shotgun Microphone Polar Pattern (With Mic Examples).


Lobe:

What are microphone lobes? Microphone lobes refer to the sensitive areas of a microphone polar pattern. Most directional microphones have lobes of sensitivity along with null points (rings or cones of insensitivity). Lobes often refer to the rear sensitivity of lobar, hypercardioid, and supercardioid polar patterns.


Longest Dimension Rule:

What is the longest dimension rule of microphone placement? The longest dimension rule (of thumb) of microphone placement states that when miking an acoustic instrument, the starting position of the mic should be at a distance equal to the longest dimension of the instrument that makes a sound (ie: the longest string). This works best with solo instruments.


Loudness:

What does the term “loudness” mean? The term “loudness” refers to the strength of a sound as it’s perceived by the human ear. Loudness is determined by sound pressure level, frequency, bandwidth, spectral composition, and the duration of the sound itself. Loudness actually has little to do with microphones.


Low-End Roll-Off:

What does low-end roll-off mean in a microphone? A microphone with low-end roll-off has a gradual or sudden decrease in “low-end” (bass) frequency response. Some mics have a natural low-end roll-off of bass frequencies in their frequency responses while other microphones have internal high-pass filters that provide an optional low-end roll-off.


Low-Impedance Microphone:

What is a low-impedance microphone? A low-impedance microphone typically has a nominal output impedance of less than 600Ω. Professional microphones have low output impedances and balanced outputs for optimal bridging with professional preamplifiers, which allows for appropriate voltage/mic signal transfer.

See: Microphone.


Low-End Frequencies:

What are low-end frequencies in relation to microphones? Low-end frequencies (roughly 20-200 Hz) are on the low-end of the human hearing range. Many fundamental frequencies are low-end. However, low-end rumble, EMI, and mechanical noise fit in this range and so many mics have low-end roll-offs or high-pass filters to help eliminate this noise.


Low-Pass Filter:

What is a low-pass filter and how do low-pass filters affect microphones? A low-pass filter (LPF) effectively filters out frequencies in an audio signal above a certain cutoff point. LPFs prove to be useful for reducing the brightness or harshness of a mic signal with excessive high-end frequencies in a mix. Unlike high-pass filters, no mics have optional LPF switches.


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