How Much Do You Know About Audio Engineering?

By: Zach Turner
Estimated Completion Time
4 min
How Much Do You Know About Audio Engineering?
Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Recording music has evolved a lot since the initial days of the microphone. Whether you are recording at a professional studio with a large analog console or are recording into an interface connected to your laptop at your home studio, there are concepts, terms and processes that separate the good from the great. Think you're one of the greats? Test your knowledge!
What is the typical fundamental frequency of a kick drum?
60 Hz
175 Hz
30 Hz
400 Hz
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

A kick drum hit in the center of the drum typically has a fundamental frequency of 60 Hz. The fundamental frequency will adjust slightly based upon the size of the drum, which typically range from 18"-22".

What is the Haas Effect?
A reverb that has a very long decay time
A flanging effect
A delay between 2ms and 50ms
When distorted harmonics combine to produce a single tone
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The Haas Effect was developed by Helmut Haas in his PhD thesis to describe the effect that two sounds arriving at very close times created. When one sound occurs very shortly after another (2ms - 50ms), listeners perceive the sounds as coming from the same location.

What does it mean when someone describes a instrument or track as sounding muddy?
There is too much gain in the 2 kHz - 5 kHz range
The sound is too open
There is too much gain in the 200 Hz - 500 Hz range
The sound is too choppy
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Songs or instrument tracks that sound muddy have too much gain in the 200 Hz - 500 Hz and can be audibly recognized by the dull and boxy sound.


What is headroom?
The amount of space between the ceiling of your car and the top of your head
The amount of decibels a mix has beneath 0 db
The sonic space between two instruments' fundamental frequencies
The amount of decibels a mix has beneath -10 db
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Headroom provides a safety net of space between your digital signal and the threshold at which your signal will clip, which occurs when your audio signal exceeds 0db.

What is the range (in Hz) of a bass guitar's fundamental frequencies?
40 Hz - 400 Hz
400 Hz - 2kHz
100 Hz - 1,000 Hz
50 Hz - 200 Hz
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

On a 4-string 24 fret bass, the low open E string is 41 Hz and the high G string (24th fret on G string) is 392 Hz.

Which two terms mean the same thing?
Short Cut & Low Pass
Low Cut & High Pass
Far Cut & High Pass
Low Cut & Low Pass
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

A Low Cut is a term used within equalizers (EQ's) and other devices that removes (cuts) the low frequencies from the audio signal at the specified frequency. A High Pass is a similarly used term that means that the high frequencies from the audio signal will be kept (passed over), and the low frequencies will be removed.


What is the purpose of a De-Esser?
To widen an audio signal
To remove the sibilant noises from an audio signal
To narrow an audio signal
To add sibilant noises to an audio signal
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

De-Essers, appropriately named, remove the S sounds and other sibilant sounds from audio signals. Sibilant sounds tend to be noises made from the mouth (breaths, gasping, etc.) and are sharply heard in contrast to other vocal noises and other instrument tracks.

A compressor becomes a limiter when it reaches or surpasses what ratio?
2 : 1
10 : 1
50 : 1
100 : 1
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Limiters are designed to remove the possibility of your signal clipping or exceeding a specific threshold, and due to this they use a higher ratio than compressors in order to create a threshold at which the transient signals cannot pass.

In the context of a sound wave, which two pairs of terms mean the same thing?
Rarefaction/Push & Compression/Pull
Pull/Push & Compression/Rarefaction
Rarefaction/Pull & Compression/Push
Push/Pull & Rarefaction/Compression
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

When looking at a sound wave, the top half of the wave is called the compression (or the push) of the wave, and the bottom half is called the rarefaction (or the pull) of the wave.


If an input signal of -10db is sent into a compressor that has a threshold of -20db set to a ratio of 2:1, what is the amplitude of the output signal from the compressor?
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

To determine the output signal's amplitude: Take the difference in decibels between the input signal (-10 db in the question) and the threshold level of the compressor (-20 db in the question), and then divide that number (10) by the ratio of the compressor (2:1 in the question), and then add that divided number (5) to the input signal (10 db) to get your compressed signal's amplitude (15 db).

What does a Gate do?
Prevents audio signals below a set threshold from being heard
Lets you enter a yard
Distorts the audio signal
Surrounds the audio signal of an entire song
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Think of a Gate as the automatic doors at a grocery store: They open as they sense an object approaching and then close once that object passes through its reach completely. An audio Gate opens when it detects a signal above a certain threshold, and then closes once the signal goes beneath that same threshold.

What is the purpose of an Expander?
Decreases the threshold of an audio signal once it goes beneath a set amplitude
Makes the entire audio signal larger
Increases the amplitude of an audio signal once it goes beneath a set threshold
Enhances your mind
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Expanders work just like gates, but in the opposite way: Expanders increase the amplitude of a signal once it goes beneath a certain threshold


What is a DAW?
Digital Audio Wheel
Digital Audio Workstation
Digital Agitator
Dancing Apple Workshop
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) have become staples at studios everywhere from major labels to bedrooms, and provide audio engineers and musicians with a recording framework as well as tools to manipulate the audio.

What does MIDI stand for?
Musical Instrument Development Interface
Musical Instrument Data Intercept
Musical Instrument Data Interface
Musical Instrument Development Intercept
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

MIDI instruments are used in wide-ranging ways, and provide digital information for DAWs to process as opposed to audio information like a guitar or acoustic instrument that is recorded by microphone. This digital information is much easier to manipulate than audio information, which is a major appeal to using MIDI instruments.

What delay time creates a doubling effect?
0ms - 35ms
75ms - 100ms
100ms - 150ms
200ms - 400ms
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

When a second signal is delayed by a time under 35 milliseconds, it is so short after the second signal that it sounds as though the two signals are one signal, hence the doubling effect.


What delay time creates a slapback effect?
0ms - 10ms
35ms - 125ms
15ms - 25ms
10ms - 95ms
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The slapback effect is the next longest delay after the Haas effect, which is a delay of 0ms to 35ms. Elvis is famous for using the slapback effect in his recordings.

What delay time creates an echo effect?
0ms - 10ms
50ms - 100ms
125ms - 350ms
375ms - 500ms
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Echoes are the next longest delay after slapback delays, which are between 35ms and 125ms.

Does the order of your plugins on a track within a DAW make a difference on the final sound of that track?
Depends on what plugins you use
Only if you have a lot of plugins
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Just like an analog audio chain, the order of the plugins in your digital audio chain has an effect on the final product of your audio chain.


What two instruments often compete for sonic space within the low Hz range of mixes?
Bass guitar and kick drum
Snare drum and cymbals
Hi hat and trumpet
Vocals and flute
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The fundamental frequency range of a 4-string bass guitar is 40Hz to 400 Hz, and a kick drum's fundamental frequency is 60Hz.

Which one of these pieces of classic outboard gear is not a compressor?
API 550A
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The LA-2A and 1176 are two of the most famous and classic compressors of all time, and the dbx-160 is a close contender of its legacy as a classic compressor. The API 550A is a 500 series EQ or is featured in API consoles such as the API1608.

What is the Proximity Effect?
The build up of low Hz sound signals from a closely positioned sound source
That feeling when someone walks too close to you
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The proximity effect is the build up of low Hz sound material when received by a microphone.


What is Phase Cancellation?
When two sound waves align so that when one wave is pushing, the other wave is pulling
When you get over a period of your life
When two identical recordings play at the same time
When two sound waves align perfectly
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Phase cancellation occurs when one wave is pulling while the other is pulling. The result of the opposite frequencies cancel each other out and cause a silence if the waves are perfectly out of phase or a muffled sound if slightly out of phase.

What is a guitar's fundamental frequency range (6-string, 24 fret guitar)?
82 Hz - 1319 Hz
53 Hz - 450 Hz
201 Hz - 553 Hz
400 Hz - 850 Hz
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The open low E string of a guitar is 82 Hz and the 24th fret of the high E string is 1318 Hz.

What is the room called where the recording console is located in a studio?
The control room
The take-off pad
The recording room
The live room
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The control room is the name of the room where a recording console would be located. The live room is where the musicians perform.


What is a metronome track called in a DAW?
Metronome signal
Time keeper
Life saver
Click track
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Click tracks feature a metronome that is set to the global BPM of the DAW.

If someone says an instrument or track sounds "honky," what frequency area is affected?
500 Hz
800 Hz
50 Hz
10 kHz
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Sounds are susceptible to sounding honky if too much gain is added near 500 Hz.

When talking about Reverb effects, what is a Pre-Delay?
The amount of time between the input signal and the beginning of the reverb
The delay of the reverb after it begins
The amount of time before the input signal occurs
The amount of time after the reverb
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Pre-delay is the amount of time between the input signal and the beginning of the reverb.


How many pushes and pulls occur within a second of a sound wave that is 100 Hertz?
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

There are 100 pushes and pulls in one second of a sound wave that is 100 Hertz.

Technically, what is a chorus effect?
Several modulating delays between 20ms and 50 ms
A group of singers
A repeating set of lines
Many people telling you the same thing
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

A chorus effect is the result of several modulating delays between 20ms and 50ms

What piece of revolutionary recording equipment did the engineers at Abbey Road Studios create for the Beatles?
Artificial Double Tracking (ADT)
Mic stands
Sheet music holders
Wah-wah pedal
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Ken Townsend created Artificial Double Tracking (ADT) for the Beatles after John Lennon complained about having to do second and third vocal takes for doubled vocal effects.


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