Audio technology encompasses the techniques and equipment involved in the recording and reproduction of sound by electronic means.
Recording as a Linear Process
Like sound itself, recording sound is, in a fundamental way, a linear process. The process is linear in that it must take place over a period of time, proceeding in an orderly fashion for a discernable duration. Recording sound is linear in another respect, in that it is essentially the process of directing sound from the beginning of a chain, to the end. The beginning of this chain is the sound source, most often consisting in the elements of a musical performance. The end is the reproduction of the sound source, most often idealized as a faithful reproduction.
The Signal Chain
The linear chain itself is called a signal chain, because it is an electrical signal which is transmitted through the chain. At the beginning of the signal chain is one of two basic types of electronic sources: a microphone, or an inline source. A microphone is a transducer which converts acoustical energy to an electrical signal, whereas an inline source generates a signal internally, without sound input. At the ultimate end of the signal chain is a transducer such as a loudspeaker or headset, which converts the electrical signal it receives from an amplifier into vibrations of a material medium such as a diaphragm, which in turn displaces the surrounding air.