Microphone Terminology: T (With Definitions)

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T-Power:

Also known as A-B Powering.

What is T-Power and how does it apply to microphones? T-power is a method of powering active mics and mixers. T-Power applies 12 volts through 180-ohm resistors between pins 2 and 3 of a balanced mic cable, powering mics designed to receive it. T-Power would likely damage dynamic or ribbon mics and is largely being replaced by the safer phantom power.


Take:

What is a “take” in regards to recording? A take refers to one recording of one specified section of a performance. Takes are most often ordered numerically. Safety takes have become standard where the talent will perform another take even if there is already a perfect take. Alternate takes are also common for flexibility in mixing stages.


Talent:

What does the term “talent” mean when dealing with microphones? The talent is a general term for the performers in music, film, broadcast, theatre, and other industries. Talent includes musicians, actors, broadcast announcers, etc. and are typically not involved in the tech aspects of the overall performance (ie: running recording equipment, mixing, etc.).


Talkback Microphone:

What is a talkback microphone? A talkback microphone is any mic that allows for communication from the control room of a studio to the live room(s), allowing producers and engineers to speak to performers quickly without having to enter the live rooms. Talkback systems often have a mic and speaker (or headphones) in each room.

See: Microphone.

To learn more about talkback microphones, check out my article What Are Talkback Microphones And Why Are They Important?


Tech:

What does the term “tech” mean when dealing with microphones? Tech is a general term for the technicians in music, film, broadcast, theatre, and related industries. Audio techs set up, test, and troubleshoot issues with mics. They use audio equipment to record, mix, and create an audio product. Techs are typically not involved with talent aspects of an event.


Tetrahedral Microphone:

What is a tetrahedral microphone? A tetrahedral microphone is a type of ambisonic mic that has 4 subcardioid capsules pointing equally divided directions. Raw tetrahedral mic recordings (B-Format) must be decoded for use in stereo, surround, or 3-D ambisonic mixes.

See: Microphone.


Thread Adapter:

What are thread adapters and why are they important to microphones? Thread adapters adapt one size thread to another and are very common when connecting mic stands to mic clips and shock mounts that have varying thread sizes. There is no one standard thread size and so thread adapters are used quite often when connecting mics to mic stands.

See threaded connector for common thread sizes.


Threaded Connector:

What is a threaded connector and why is it important to microphones? A threaded connector is a helical ridge on a cylindrical fastener. In other words, they are twist-on/off mechanical connections. Microphones fit inside mic clips or shock mounts, which are then typically connected to mic stands via threaded connections.

Here are the common thread sizes for microphone stands and clips:

  • ⅝″ 27 threads per inch – Unified Special thread (U.S. and the rest of the world)
  • ½” 12 threads per inch – British Standard Whitworth (older European)
  • ⅜″ 16 threads per inch – British Standard Whitworth (Global)
  • ¼″ 20 threads per inch – British Standard Whitworth (Global)

For more information on threaded connectors, check out my article How To Attach A Microphone To A Microphone Stand.


Throw:

What does the term “throw” mean in relation to microphones? The throw of a microphone is the maximum distance its diaphragm will move from its resting position. Reaching the throw hardly ever happens but would result in some sort of signal distortion. In condenser mics, the diaphragm at maximum throw would likely stick to the backplate.


Tip-Sleeve:

What does tip-sleeve mean and how does it apply to microphones? In the audio world, tip-sleeve (TS) connections and cables carry unbalanced audio. TS connectors are typically in the form of a phone connector with tip and sleeve separated by an electrical insulator. Because tip-sleeve connections are unbalanced, they only ever used with cheap consumer-grade mics.


Tip-Ring-Sleeve:

What does tip-ring-sleeve mean and how does it apply to microphones? Tip-ring-sleeve (TRS) connections and cables carry either mono balanced audio or stereo unbalanced audio. In mono/balanced, the tip is positive, the ring is negative, and the sleeve is shield/ground. In stereo, the tip is left, the ring is right, and the sleeve is ground for tip and ring. Consumer-grade mics often use TRS.


Top-Address:

What is a top-address microphone? A top-address microphone has an on-axis line pointing out of its top. Top-address mics have capsules at the top or end of their bodies and a most sensitive (if directional) in the direction they point in. Pencil mics and most handheld mics are top-address.


Total Harmonic Distortion:

What is total harmonic distortion and how does it apply to microphones? Total harmonic distortion (THD) is a measurement of the harmonic distortion in an audio signal as a percentage of cumulative overtones added to a fundamental frequency. 1% THD is the typical threshold when measuring a mic’s maximum sound pressure level.

For a detailed read on total harmonic distortion, check out my article What Is Total Harmonic Distortion In Audio And Microphones?


Transducer:

What is a transducer? A transducer is a device that converts one form of energy to another. Microphones are transducers that convert mechanical wave energy (sound waves) into electrical energy (mic signals). Dynamic mics transduce energy via electromagnetic induction while condenser mics utilize electrostatic principles.

For a detailed read on microphone transducers, check out my article Microphone Types: The 2 Primary Transducer Types + 5 Subtypes.


Transduction:

What is transduction and why is it important to microphones? Transduction is the process of converting one form of energy into another. Microphones transduce sound waves (mechanical wave energy) to mic signals (electrical energy).

See: transducer.


Transformer:

What is an electric transformer? A transformer transfers electrical energy between multiple circuits without the circuits being connected. They work by having two coils wrapped around one magnetic core. If one coil is in an AC circuit, it produces a varying magnetic flux with the core, which induces an AC voltage on the other coil.

Why are transformers important to microphones? Transformers are crucial at the outputs of some mics (especially passive dynamics) for two main reasons. First, transformers stop DC voltage from passing through which helps to protect the mic. Second, step-up transformers effectively “amplify” the capsule signal to mic level for use with a preamp.

To learn more about microphone transformers, check out my article What Are Microphone Transformers And What Is Their Role? and Do All Microphones Have Transformers And Transistors? (+ Mic Examples).


Transient:

What is a transient and why are transients important to microphones? A transient is a momentary variation in current, voltage, or frequency. Mic transients are caused by spikes in sound pressure level variance (like the pluck of a string, strike of a drum, or a vocal plosive). Mics must be able to recreate transients effectively without being overloaded.


Transient Response:

What is a microphone transient response? A microphone’s transient response refers to the accuracy and speed at which its diaphragm moves according to the sound waves around it. Lighter, thinner and tighter diaphragms (small diaphragm condensers and ribbons) have faster transient responses and are more accurate as transducers as a result.


Transistor:

What is a transistor and what role do transistors play in microphones? A transistor is a semiconductor device used to amplify or switch electric signals and power within a circuit. Transistors (especially FETs) have largely replaced vacuum tubes in active mic design and act as amplifiers that use the mic capsule signal to alter a larger supplied current to create a strong mic signal.

To learn more about microphone transistors, check out my articles What Are FETs & What Is Their Role In Microphone Design? and Do All Microphones Have Transformers And Transistors? (+ Mic Examples).


Transmission Loss:

What is transmission loss and how does it affect microphones? Transmission loss (TL) is the loss of power in a signal as it travels from one point to another. Mic signals experience TL in wires due to impedance, inductance, and capacitance. Wireless mic signals (radio signals) sustain TL due to physical barriers and distance between a transmitter and receiver.


Transmitter:

What is a transmitter and what is its role in microphones? A wireless microphone transmitter embeds a mic signal in a single radio frequency and emits this frequency through the air for a wireless receiver to accept. Transmitters come as belt packs, handles, and plug-ins in order to connect to a microphone and send its signal wirelessly.


True Condenser Microphone:

What is a true condenser microphone? True condenser mics came before electrets and are distinguishable from electrets by the fact that they require an external voltage to polarize their capsules. True condensers draw DC voltage from phantom power or power supplies to properly polarize their capsules and power their circuitry.

See: Microphone.


True Diversity:

What is true diversity and how does it apply to microphones? True diversity is a wireless receiver system designed to improve reception and minimize wireless mic signal dropouts. A true diversity receiver will automatically switch between two separate receivers and antennae depending on which is receiving the stronger signal.


True Stereo:

Also known as real stereo.

What does true stereo mean in terms of microphones? True stereo refers to the recording of a sound source with a stereo miking technique. Stereo miking techniques capture true timing, phase, and amplitude differences of a source based on the positions of the mics. True stereo is different than recording single sources and panning them in a mix.


Tube Microphone:

What is a tube microphone? A tube mic is an active mic that utilizes vacuum tubes (valves) rather than a transistor circuit to amplify its signal internally. The warm “tube sound” characterized by saturation and gentle high-frequency roll-off makes vintage tube mics highly sought after by tube and mic enthusiasts.

See: Microphone.

To learn more about tube microphones, check out my article What Are The Differences Between Tube & FET Microphones?


Tuchel Connector:

Also known as a DIN connector.

What is a Tuchel connector and what is its role in microphones? Tuchel connectors are 3-pin or 5-pin connectors that were commonly used on early microphones, especially in Europe. These connectors were originally developed by Tuchel and have long been replaced by XLR.


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