"Explain Like I'm 5": Audio Concepts for Beginners

Balanced vs Unbalanced Connections

  • What is the difference between balanced and unbalanced connections?
  • How does balancing work?
  • Why do we need balanced connections?


  • What is impedance?
  • How does it affect audio?
  • What do input/output impedance specs mean?

Audio Levels

  • What's the difference between "pro" and "consumer" line levels?
  • Is it ok to plug an instrument into a line level input?
  • What's the difference between peak and RMS levels?

Audio Filters

  • How do filters work?

The (High) Cost of Pro-audio Gear

  • What are the factors that drive the price of professional recording gear?
  • Why does gear cost so much more than the sum of its components?
  • Are the prices justified, or is someone getting ripped off?


  • What are opamps?
  • How do they work?
  • Do different opamps sound different?


  • Do I really need a deciated box to reamp?
  • Can't I just connect a cable from my interface to an amp?
  • Can't I just use a DI in reverse?

Part Markings and Orientation

  • How can I tell the value of common parts?
  • How can I tell the orientation of common parts?

Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs)

  • What do PCBs do?
  • What are the layers of a PCB?
  • How can I make my own PCBs?