Confidence: What it means in audio/video production

The word confidence can be both a technical and non-technical term in audio/video production.

Confidence Level 605

In audio/video production, the term confidence is used with both technical and non-technical contexts. From the human to the ultra-geeky, ahead I’ll give several examples of each, both to help those who are new in these fields, and as a reference point for future use. Among other things, you’ll learn about things like confidence heads and confidence monitoring.

Confidence’s etymology (origin) and meanings

According to the sources I’ll quote at the end of this article, the term confidence goes back to 1350–1400; Middle English (< Middle French) < Latin confīdentia.

Here are seven of its meanings:


1. full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing: We have every confidence in their ability to succeed.

2. belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance: His lack of confidence defeated him.

3. certitude; assurance: He described the situation with such confidence that the audience believed him completely.

4. a secret that is confided or imparted trustfully: The friends exchanged many confidences over the years.

5. (especially in European politics) the wish to retain an incumbent government in office, as shown by a vote in a particular issue: a vote of confidence.

6. presumption; impudence: Her disdainful look crushed the confidence of the brash young man.

7. Archaic. something that gives confidence; ground of trust.

(See sources at the end of this article.)

Confidence in non-technical audio/video production contexts

Here are some example sentences of non-geeky use of the term confidence or its adjective form, confident:

  • I am confident that our crew will arrive on time.
  • I have confidence that our on-air talent will perform perfectly.

Confidence in geeky audio/video production contexts

Here are some examples of more technical uses:

  • In order to have confidence in our equipment, we stick to reliable tools.


brd860u D9

The BR-D860 D9 recorder from JVC features a pre-read function
  • Some tape recorders (including some D3, D5 and D9 models) have confidence heads with a pre-read function. These can play back the recorded signal a fraction of a second after recording. Without this feature, we can only monitor the audio/video source, or the source via the recorder in E-to-E (electronics-to-electronics) mode. However, it is important to understand that monitoring E-to-E only confirms that the signals are going through the recorder circuitry properly, not that the recording actually took place.


SoundDevices 702

The 702 portable audio recorder from Sound Devices features confidence monitoring and currently costs US$2,049.
  • In the solid-state era, an audio recorder like the 702 from Sound Devices can essentially do the same thing as the tape recorders indicated above. From the operator’s manual: “The 702 can monitor actual recorded audio written to the Compact Flash card during recording. This is commonly referred to as ‘confidence monitoring’. To monitor recorded tracks, during recording select one of the track monitor modes. Because of the record buffering topology of the 702, a delay of up to 12 seconds can be expected before recorded audio appears at the output. The 702 will play back recorded audio from the media highlighted on the LCD panel.”
  • In the master control of an over-the-air TV or radio station, there is often both a Program monitor and an Air monitor. The Air monitor (which will includes a delay) helps determine whether the signal has actually been transmitted and received properly.

Benefits and weaknesses of confidence monitoring

If we are covering something “live”, then confidence monitoring will help us execute evasive maneuvers to correct a problem as soon as possible, but not to prevent it, unless we had the capability of going back in time to do so, as is the premise of the science fiction television series Seven Days produced by UPN from 1998 to 2001.

If we are covering a non-repeatable event live-to-drive (previously known as live-to-tape), then the only thing that can prevent loss or deteriorated coverage would be to have multiple backup microphones/cameras/recorders. In that case, it is not critical that each recorder offer true confidence monitoring.

If we are covering a repeatable event live-to-drive, then the possibility exists to request the repetition of said event, be it the answer to a question, the reading of a line, or the acting/action.

Given those facts, some producers who are concerned about confidence may prefer to invest in backup cameras/microphones/recording equipment, rather than a single recorder with confidence monitoring. In many cases, it might cost a fraction to do the former rather than the latter.

How much confidence is enough; How much is too much, and how to achieve it

When creating backups of our computer files, the general consensus is that there should be at least three copies of everything, and that some of those should be off site. Some people fall short of that, while others go beyond it.

During the recording of a production, whether it be audio, video or both, there are many approaches to confidence and backups. There was a time that it was popular for in-studio news anchors to where two lavalier microphones simultaneously, and in some cases, those two microphones fed two different audio mixers. Some people might purchase a recorder with confidence monitoring, while others might have a chain of backup recorders connected in parallel. You might use a redundant disk array system like RAID1, RAID5, or RAID6, as I have covered in many prior articles. You might have a backup generator for power. You might have backup microphones, backup cameras, and even a backup news anchor (or other talent). It is a question of cost, complexity and repeatability. This is something I’ll be covering in upcoming articles, including the previously announced A return to multitrack USB audio on Mac, with catches.

Main graphic credit for this article

The Confidence Level graphic by Vic used in this article is used under a Creative Commons CC by 2.0 license.

Dictionary sources

American Psychological Association (APA):

confidence. (n.d.). Unabridged. Retrieved June 30, 2015, from website:

Chicago Manual Style (CMS):

confidence. Unabridged. Random House, Inc. (accessed: June 30, 2015).

Modern Language Association (MLA):

“confidence.” Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 30 Jun. 2015. <>.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE):, “confidence,” in Unabridged. Source location: Random House, Inc. Available: Accessed: June 30, 2015.

BibTeX Bibliography Style (BibTeX)

@article {Dictionary.com2015,
    title = { Unabridged},
    month = {Jun},
    day = {30},
    year = {2015},
    url = {}


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En castellano, se llama La conspiración del castellano. Haz clic aquí para llegar al instante a la página del libro correspondiente a tu zona y moneda en Amazon, según tu dirección IP. De lo contrario, solicítalo en tu librería preferida con los ISBN–10: 1492783390 ó el ISBN–13: 978–1492783398.

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Born in Connecticut, United States, Allan Tépper is an award-winning broadcaster & podcaster, bilingual consultant, multi-title author, tech journalist, translator, and language activist who has been working with professional video since the eighties. Since 1994,…

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