Do you define "sound" and "audio" differently? Do you use them interchangeably?

I noticed that often we (meaning peers in the sound/audio fields) term parts of our processes as "audio", as in "audio post-production", whereas specific roles within a team, for instance, are prefixed with "sound" - "sound designer", "sound editor".

Is it a technical vs. creative difference?

I find myself always wanting to be referenced as being in a "sound" industry. I'm not sure why.

Just curious if and how you all see the difference.


The way i use it, sound is the physical, acoustic phenomenon, and audio is what it becomes when it's converted to electric impulses. So a mic turns sound into audio and a speaker turns audio into sound.

A sound designer or sound editor is more concerned about what the audience will hear; while an audio engineer or audio director is more concerned with getting the signal flow right. This isn't perfect, seeing as we have sound recordists (whose goal is to turn sound into audio), and picture editors talk about audio editing (which we would call sound editing).

Our industry is still pretty young, so our terminology is kind of all over the place, but this is how i like to differentiate it.

  • This is basically how I see itnas well. – Rene Jun 17 '11 at 4:51

I tend to use them interchangeably, except for when I'm stating some sort of job title.

Then I try to use "sound" when I talk about what I do, because I'm not an "audio engineer." I see that particular title as belonging to the math and science geniuses that build the awesome toys we get to play with.


In my own mind I guess I tend to think of "audio" as the raw materials I work with, data. And "sound" as the final product I produce with those materials. Then again, some of the people who sell my work call it "Stock Audio", so who knows. I know one thing; The rest of the sane world couldn't care less what it's called. :)

  • 1
    Sanity is relative. I know people who love Dream Theatre. Now that's crazy. – g.a.harry Jun 17 '11 at 2:29

As the venerable Messrs @Shaun Farley, @theodorejordan, and @Roger Middenway have said; Sound is the stuff that travels through the air. Audio is the stuff that travels through the wires.


Audio refers to sound within the 20-20000Hz range or, simply defined, sound that is audible to humans.


When it comes to titles of jobs though (especially in the games industry) the terms are a little messed up. I am for instance the Audio Lead and I work with 2 Sound Designers. Ironically part of my job is to make sure the 'Sound' is consitent throughout the whole game. As the Sound Designers concern themselves much more with 'Audio' related matters like the raw materials and processes. It is the same for an Audio Director (which we don't have here) who is ultimately resonposible for the 'Sound' of the game. Could it be then that in this case the term 'Audio' means the whole of the audio for the product i.e. Music Dialogue and SFX, and 'Sound' refers more to just the SFX?

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