Audio? Confusing? Learning Is A Life-Long Process

Consider the input types that may exist on a mixing console. I found all of these on units sitting around the shop...

By Pat Brown October 18, 2011

Almost every Syn-Aud-Con seminar has attendees from other technical fields that need to learn about sound systems and audio.

These fields include networking, telephony, lighting, electrical and others.

Many tell us that audio is the most confusing thing they have encountered in their technical careers – and it is no wonder.

Consider the input types that may exist on a mixing console. I found all of these on units sitting around the shop.

There are nine (9) analog topologies and twelve (12) digital topologies. Each serves a purpose. Each works fine for its intended application. Each is defensible from a technical and practical point-of-view. Each will likely remain in use as other connector types and topologies emerge.

Consider also that some of these have several variations, such as the polarity convention on an XLR connector or AES3 on a DB25 connector.

It is ironic that digital I/O is often touted as making things easier, yet there are more digital connector types than analog! Add to this the confusion caused by the need to configure digital I/O for the correct sample rate, bit-depth, etc.

It’s no wonder that noise and distortion remain the weak links of most sound systems. They often result from feeding the wrong signal to the wrong jack.

We have all heard a DVD player over-driving a microphone input. Yes, you get sound, but in audio the presence of sound does not necessarily mean that you hooked it up right.

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About Patrick

Pat Brown
Pat Brown

Principals, Synergetic Audio Concepts
Pat & Brenda Brown lead SynAudCon, conducting audio seminars and workshops online and around the world. For more information go to


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