Pro Audio Reference


Pro Audio Reference (Z)


Z Electronics. The symbol for impedance.

Z Official (FED-STD-1037C) abbreviation for Zulu time.

zaa zaa Japanese. An onomatopoetic word meaning hard rain, hail, the sound of a heavy downpour or rushing water.

Zadeh, Lotfi A. (1921-    ) Professor emeritus of computer science at the University of California, Berkeley, who is credited with developing the theory of fuzzy sets, as well as pioneering the development of the z-transform along with John R. Ragazzini in 1952.

zag To turn or change direction suddenly. Usually used in contrast to zig: The runner zigged when he should have zagged. [AHD]

Zagrebfest Music festival held in Zagreb, Croatia, famous for many diverse festivals throughout the year, including INmusic festival.

zajal Music. A Spanish strophic song with refrain. [Sadie]

zamacueca A South American, esp. Chilean, dance in which a couple move around one another to the accompaniment of guitar chords and rhythmic handclapping. [OED]

zampogna Musical Instrument. Italian bagpipes. See photo here.

zampona Musical Instrument. Andes pan flute.

Zanuck, Darryl Francis (1902-1979). American motion-picture producer whose works include The Jazz Singer (1927), the first feature-length film with sound sequences. [AHD]

zap To eradicate all or part of a program or database, sometimes by lightning, sometimes intentionally.

Zaphod Beeblebrox Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, President of the Universe character, famous for being able to scream a diminished fifth.

Zappa, Frank Vincent (1940-1993) American composer. My favorite Zappa quote: "Rock journalism is people who can't write interviewing people who can't talk for people who can't read."

Zappa's law There are two things that are universal on earth: Hydrogen and stupidity.

Zappa Tech See ZIT.

Zarzuela Music. A Spanish musical dramatic form that alternates spoken word with songs.

z-axis Mathematics. One of three axes in a three-dimensional Cartesian coordinate system. [AHD]

ZD Official (FED-STD-1037C) abbreviation for zero defects.

Z-domain Mathematics. The discrete time domain. Contrast with s-domain.

zeal "A certain nervous disorder afflicting the young and inexperienced." — Ambrose Bierce.

zed British (as well as Australian and Canadian) word for the letter z.

zee American word for the letter z.

zeibekiko Music. A Greek dance. [Think Anthony Quinn in Zorba the Greek.]

Zeisel number Mathematics. Named after Helmut Zeisel; it's complicated, hit the link for details.

Zen The Sanskrit word for meditation.

zener or zener diode Electronics. A two terminal semiconductor device commonly use in power supply reference circuits. It exhibits a stable voltage over a wide range of currents passing through it, creating a constant-voltage characteristic.

zenith Analog Tape Recorders. Pertaining to the angular alignment of a tape head along its vertical axis and at right angles to its azimuth; a forward/backward tilt of the head, when viewed from the front. [Woram]

zen mail Email message arriving with no content.

zentropic "The state of someone who has a shallow understanding of Zen, and uses it to excuse the fact that she does absolutely nothing, on the basis that she is in tune with the Tao." —

zeptosecond Abbr. zs or zsec One sextillionth (10-21) of a second.

zero Half of all the stored knowledge in computers. Compare with one; See Kaplan's The Nothing That Is for its fascinating story.

zero-based mixing Live Sound. Rick Chinn of Uneeda Audio explains it this way:

"Zero-based mixing refers to starting the mix with all faders down, then listening to the stage sound, and only adding those sources to the mix that can't be heard in the house. The goal is to minimize the build in volume level caused by amplification and to make the overall performance as acoustical as possible."

"Things that work against zero-based mixing are Really Large Venues, loud monitors, and highly directional, but loud instruments such as trumpets which need the sound system for coverage rather than amplification."

zero crossing point Electronics. The point at which a signal waveform crosses from being positive to negative or vice versa. This is the instant the signal has zero value, which makes it the spot where you want to make changes with the least amount of zipper (or other) noise, e.g., change gain in VCAs, or activate switches, transfer data, etc.

zero level or zero reference The reference point used for setting audio signal levels throughout a sound system; usually +4 dBu for pro audio use; named for the original practice of using 0 dBm (then 0 dBu) as the reference level and even earlier using zero VU readings.

zero lobing error Electronic crossovers. See lobing error.

zero matrix Mathematics. Alternate name for a null matrix, i.e., one with all zeroes.

zeros Mathematics. The roots of the numerator of a circuit transfer function, i.e., the values that make the numerator equal zero. Compare with poles.

zero-scale error (aka offset error)  Data Converters. "Indicates how well the actual transfer function matches the ideal transfer function at a single point. For an ideal data converter, the first transition occurs at 0.5 LSB above zero."

[Maxim Integrated AP Note 641]

zettahertz Abbr. ZHz One sextillion (1021) hertz.

zeybek A folk dance named after the Zeybek region of Western Turkey.

Z-Fold® Wire & Cable. Registered trademark of Belden for their unique cable that improves high frequency performance by reducing crosstalk between multipairs.

zhaleika See: jaleika

zheng Musical Instrument. A Chinese zither. Modern ones have between 21 and 25 strings.

zhonghu Musical Instrument. A Chinese bowed 2-string instrument similar to a viola.

zhuihu Musical Instrument. Another Chinese 2-string bowed instrument.

ZIF (zero insertion force socket) A standard IC-socket design requiring the user to move a lever to insert or remove the chip — as opposed to pressing and prying the chip manually -- hence, zero insertion force. The lever actuator (hopefully) eliminates damaging the IC pins.

zig To turn or change direction suddenly. Usually used in contrast to zag: When your opponent zigs, zag! [AHD]

ZigBee (formerly known as PURLnet, RF-Lite, Firefly, and HomeRF Lite.) A low-cost, low-power, two-way, wireless communications standard between compliant devices anywhere in and around the home (automation, toys, PC peripherals, etc.), developed by Philips and others. Claiming lower cost, lower power consumption, higher density of nodes per network and simplicity of protocols, it is an alternative to Bluetooth. [Not to be confused with the Zig Zag man.] See also Z-Wave.

zilch 1. Zero; nothing. 2. A person regarded as being insignificant; a nonentity. 3. Amounting to nothing; nil. (Perhaps from alteration of z(ero) + (n)il.) [AHD]

Zildjian, Robert (1923-2013) Most famous American cymbal maker of Armenian decent. Hit the link for his fascinating story.

zill Musical Instrument. One of a pair of round metal cymbals attached to the fingers and struck together for rhythm and percussion in belly dancing. [AHD]

Zimbalist, Efrem (1889-1985) Born in Russia he was a music virtuoso, becoming first violin in his father's orchestra at age nine. Moved to America in 1912 and became director of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia from 1941-1968. Father of famous movie actor Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., and grandfather of actress Stephanie Zimbalist.

Zimbelstern Pipe Organ Musical Instrument. "A mechanical struck-bell device often located high up in the facade of pipe organs. Modern Zimbelsterns use high-pitched bells struck by strategically placed clappers to produce a continuous ringing of the bells, which highlight the tonal colors of the organ." [D.L. Simmons & Company Church Organs]

Zimmy Nickname for Bob Dylan (birth name: Robert Allen Zimmerman).

zine Abbreviation for magazine; usually refers to a small format magazine

zinke Musical Instruments. A musical instrument of wood or horn, similar to or identical with a cornett and common in 17th- and 18th-century Europe. Also, a loud reed-stop in an organ. [OED]

ZIP (zone improvement plan) As in "Zip Code".

zip-cord In optical communications, a two-fiber cable consisting essentially of two single-fiber cables having their jackets conjoined by a strip of jacket material. Note 1: This name is borrowed from electrical terminology referring to lamp cord. As with lamp cord, optical zip-cord may be easily furcated by slitting or tearing the two jackets apart, permitting the installation of optical connectors. Note 2: Zip-cord cables include both loose-buffer and tight-buffer designs. [FAA (1991), Glossary of Optical Communication Terms, DOT/FAA/CT-TN91/9]

Zippo George G. Blaisdell invented the Zippo Windproof Lighter in 1932. The lighter was given its name as a derivation of the word "zipper" because the inventor liked the sound of the word, which had been patented in nearby Meadville, PA, in 1925 by B.F. Goodrich.

zipper noise Audible steps that occur when a parameter is being varied in a digital audio processor, analog VCA, digitally-controlled attenuator, etc.

zirconium Symbol Zr Chemistry. A lustrous, grayish-white, strong, ductile metallic element obtained primarily from zircon and used chiefly in ceramic and refractory compounds, as an alloying agent, and in nuclear reactors as a highly corrosion-resistant alloy ( since it does not easily absorb neutrons). [AHD] It is also used as a getter in vacuum tubes.

ZIT (Zappa Institute of Technology) (aka Zappa Tech) Music. School specializing in all aspects of live concert production, founded by Gail Zappa, wife of the legend.

zither A musical instrument composed of a flat sound box with about 30 to 40 strings stretched over it and played horizontally with the fingertips, a plectrum, or a bow, or set into vibration by the wind, as in the Aeolian harp. [AHD]

zizz A whizzing or buzzing noise; esp. the noise made by the rapid motion of a wheel. [OED]

Zo Electronics. The symbol for characteristic impedance.

Zobel network or Zobel filter [Also called Boucherot cell after Paul Boucherot who worked extensively with electrical networks and power.] 1. A filter designed according to image parameter techniques. 2. Audio amplifiers. Zobel networks are used in audio amplifiers to dampen out high frequency oscillations that might occur in the absence of loads at high frequencies. It is the commonly seen series resistor-capacitor combination located directly at the output of the driver stage, just before the output inductor (in analog power amplifiers). Typical values are 5-10 ohms in series with 0.1 microfarads. The network limits the rising impedance of a loudspeaker due to the speaker coil inductance. The output inductor found in most analog power amplifiers used to disconnect the load at high frequencies further aggravates this phenomenon. See Douglas Self's book for a good discussion of audio amplifier Zobel networks. 3. Loudspeakers. Some loudspeaker crossover designs include Zobel networks wired across the tweeter (high frequency) driver to compensate for the rise in impedance at high frequencies due to the inductance of the voice coil. The goal here is to try to keep the load seen by the crossover circuitry as resistive as possible. [After Dr. Zobel's paper appearing in the Bell Labs Journal: Zobel, O. J., "Theory and Design of Uniform and Composite Electric Wave Filters," Bell Sys. Tech. J., Vol. 2, pp. 1-46, Jan 1923.]

Zoetrope (pronounced ZOH-uh-trohp) A kind of mechanical cinema invented in 1834 by William George Horner. It was an early form of motion picture projector consisting of a drum containing a set of still images turned in a circular fashion to create the illusion of motion. Horner originally called it the Daedatelum, but Pierre Desvignes, a French inventor, renamed his version of it the Zoetrope (from Greek word root zoo for animal life and trope for "things that turn.") Like other motion simulation devices, the Zoetrope depends on the fact that the human retina retains an image for about 100 milliseconds so that if a new image appears in that time, the sequence was seem to be uninterrupted and continuous. It also depends on what is referred to as the Phi phenomenon, which observes that humans try to make sense out of any sequence of impressions, continuously relating them to each other.

zombie Computers. The name given for a computer belonging to someone else that is captured by hackers to do their evil bidding.

zone Acoustics. Separate and distinct listening locations within a complex sound system acoustically isolated from each other. A complex sound system is often broken up into zones with individual sound treatment for each.

zone of silence Acoustics. "For a given source a region into which acoustic rays cannot penetrate; also known as a sound shadow. In outdoor sound propagation, upward refraction due to a decrease in temperature with height can combine with the ground to produce a zone of silence near the ground, beyond a certain radius from the source." [Morfey] [Agent 99 made good use of this in Get Smart.]

Zonophone Record Label. The name applied to the phonograph records and machines sold by founder Frank Seaman from 1899-1903.

zoom microphone Microphone analogy to the zoom lens. A design that allows synchronization with a zoom lens so that not only does the action get closer but the audio gets louder and focused. The trick is to make the microphone pickup pattern, or directivity, and sensitivity change from omnidirectional (wide-angle and wide soundstage) to supercardioid. At full zoom this makes the microphone very directional and is combined with higher preamp gain. This allows the audio and video to track in a realistic fashion. See Eargle for details.

zoosomnial blurring "The notion that animals probably don't see much difference between dreaming and being awake." [A Dictionary of the Near Future by Douglas Coupland, NY Times, September 12, 2010.]

zot The sound of a lightning bolt in Johnny Hart's great comic "B.C." [This was the first word my daughter read. True story.]

Zout Electronics. Output impedance. [IEEE]

z-plane Mathematics. The complex plane in which the z-transform is represented.

Z score Statistics. A measure of the distance in standard deviations of a sample from the mean. [AHD]

Zt Symbol for surface transfer impedance, the standard measurement used for quality rating of the RF shielding performance of cables, connectors and shield terminations. It measures how much voltage appears on the inner wires when the shield is driven by a strong RF signal and defines ZT as the induced voltage divided by the shield test current.

z-transform A mathematical method used to relate coefficients of a digital filter to its frequency response, and to evaluate stability of the filter. It is equivalent to the Laplace transform of sampled data and is the building block of digital filters.

zuffolo Musical Instrument. A fipple flute invented in the 14th century in Italy.

zugtrompete Musical Instrument. A German slide trumpet similar to a trombone.

Zulu time See: universal time.

zumba Dance. A dance workout featuring hypnotic Latin rhythms.

Zürich Openair Indie, alternative and electro music festival held outdoors usually in late August.

zurna Musical Instrument. A wind reed instrument with a tubular body with finger holes like in a flute. See photos here.

Z-Wave Another proprietary entry into the home automation wireless market. Contrast with ZigBee.

Z-weighting See weighting filters.

Zwicker, Eberhard (1924-1990) German scientist who made significant contributions to the field of psychoacoustic masking and loudness perception.

Zwicker phons or Zwicker method or Zwicker loudness Acoustics. A single-number scale for rating the loudness of complex sounds. It is based on a model that simulates the nonlinear operation of the human ear, in contrast to simple frequency-weighting such as A-weighting. [Morfey] After Professor Eberhard Zwicker (1924-1990).

Zwicker tone Acoustics. A psychoacoustic phenomena where subjects hear a "ghost" as an after tone when presented with a broadband noise source having a "gap," that is, a small band (say, a 1/3-octave band) missing. After the source stops, the subjects report hearing an afterimage centered in the missing gap. (This is a case of hearing something that is not there, after hearing a source that did not contain what you are hearing in the first place! Muy strange.)

zydeco Music. Popular music of southern Louisiana that combines French dance melodies, elements of Caribbean music, and the blues, played by small groups featuring the guitar, the accordion, and a washboard. [AHD]

zylon A thermoplastic polyurethane trade secret (a new high-performance fiber) developed by Toyobo of Japan. The latest thing in tennis racquets and body armor with excellent ballistic impact properties. (Someday, someone, somewhere will apply this to loudspeaker design — remember, you read it here first.)

zymurgist See brewer.

zymurgy The scientific study of the process of fermentation in brewing and distilling.

Zyzyyzyski, Zyzeikkel The last name listed in the 1998 Snohomish County, Washington, U.S.A. telephone directory.

zyzzyva (The last word in the English dictionary) Any of various tropical American weevils of the genus Zyzzyva, often destructive to plants. [New Latin Zyzzyva genus name probably from Zyzza former genus of leafhoppers] [AHD]

ZZ Top Music. They picked this name so they were the last group in the record rack and thus easy to find.

zzz Shorthand for sleeping, bored or tired.

“One more cup of coffee for the road." (Bob Dylan Desire)

AES - Audio Engineering Society