The Music Espionage

Manufacturers Specifications – Electronics



As all Music “Techies” will tell you at some point you will need a basic understanding of what is happening in that speaker, that microphone, that pre-amp or even mixing desk. In Part one of these tutorials we cover Manufacturers Specifications – Electronics.

 

Whenever you go into a Music shop or shop online you will see and endless list of things that explains how it works and how it might be paired with another device. It’s important to have a fundamental knowledge of these things to ensure all your equipment will work together and most important so you don’t look a ‘tool’ when you start talking with the shop assistant! Part One Manufacturers Specifications – Electronics will help you get all the basic knowledge you need for understanding basic electricity, main element in modern recording and production technology.

 

Manufacturers Specifications – Electronics:

At the heart of it all is electricity, and electricity is what powers all our devices so a basic understanding of what it is and how it works is really important.

 

The Atom and Current:

All matter is made up of Atoms. Each atom is made up of a nucleus that has a certain number of Protons (+) and Neutrons (-) with an equal numbers of electrons in “orbit”.

Manufacturers Specifications – Electronics - Atoms in Metal

The copper atom for example, has 29 protons in its nucleus with 29 electrons orbiting the nucleus. Notice that in the copper atom, the outside shell has only one electron. The outer electron of any atom is called the valence electron. When the valence electron gains sufficient energy from some outside force, it can break away from the parent atom and become what is called a free electron. This is what makes Copper such a good conductor of electricity.

Manufacturers Specifications – Electronics

Electric current is the movement of electrons from one atom to another in a conductor.

Manufacturers Specifications – Electronics

The more electrons that move in a conductor the more current you have in the circuit. The name we give to current so we can talk about it is called AMPERE and the symbol is ‘I’. Basically this relates to the number of electrons passing a specific point. If you think about it as a river, this is the amount of water flowing past a specific point. It is worked out with the following formula:

 

Number of Coulombs passing a point in 1 second:

So: 10 Coulombs passing a point in 1 minute =

10/60(seconds)=0.166 Amps

 

You never need to refer to the Coulomb as it is such a huge number (about 6 million, million, million electrons make up a Coulomb!!). In electronics you will only be given the Amp value.

 

Volts:

The next element is Voltage. Voltage is the potential difference in a circuit and it is caused by the unbalanced state of atoms. If you remember, when an electron leaves the orbit of an atom it leaves a “hole” and makes it positively charge. This hole or positive charge will attract any electron that comes close to it so that it can go back to a normal state. In order to have current flow you must have a source of atoms with missing electrons and you must have a source of negative electrons. This flow of negatively charged electrons is created by the difference in the positive and negative poles and is known as the Potential Difference.

 

As with magnets, opposites attract this means that the electron at the negative pole will by attracted by the positive pole. This is why a battery has a positive (+) and a negative (-) pole.

Manufacturers Specifications – Electronics

A battery has a Voltage (V) rating, for example 1.5V or 9V. This refers to the potential difference. In other words there is potential for the electrons to flow whereas if the + and – poles were equal there would be no potential. Potential difference could be thought of as the pushing power of the battery, the higher the voltage the more able it is to force the electrons around the circuit.

 

Resistance:

Resistance is the opposition of electron flow in a circuit and is based on the physical size of the conductors. Since current is the movement of free electrons in a circuit then the number of atoms in a wire makes a big difference as to how many electrons can flow at any given time. The smaller the diameter of wire the fewer the number of atoms so the fewer the number of free electrons. Different materials have differing resistant properties. This is measured in Ohms (Ω) or sometimes (R).

Manufacturers Specifications – Electronics

 

Resistors are components that are manufactured to have a specific amount of resistance and are marked with various values of OHMS. The markings are in the form of coloured bands around the resistor body.

 

Putting it all together!

It means that these 3 elements must relate to each other in some way when they interact. For instance a circuit with high resistance will restrict the flow of electrons and so the current; whereas low resistance will allow an increased flow. Also a circuit with a high voltage will push more electrons and so increase the current. This is where Ohms Law comes in and joins all three elements together.

Ohms Law is basically a mathematical equation that shows the relationship between Voltage, Current and Resistance in an electrical circuit.

V = I x R         V is Voltage

R = V / I         R is Resistance

I  = V / R        I is Current (Intensity)

This means that if you know two of the values you can work out the third.

 

Examples:

– A Current of 3A and a resistance of 500Ω would have a Voltage of V=3 x 500 so 150Volts.

– A Voltage of 240 and a Current of 0.3A would have 240=0.3 x R so with a little rearranging R = 240/0.3 so Resistance = 800 Ω.

 

The next parts:

Over the course of these tutorial relating to Manufacturers Specifications will look at the practical side of specifications, this will really help when you come to buy that next microphone or set of speakers.

Part 1: Manufacturers Specifications – Electronics

Part 2: Manufacturers Specifications – Microphone (coming soon!)