Impedance and Levels

In the first of a few Music Technology posts, here are a few thoughts about working with levels and impedance for A Level Music Technology.

One of the most complicated topics to get your head around for A Level Music Technology is that of levels and impedance. The two things are linked, and the specification states that you need to know about microphone, instrument and line level.

When you’re working with different signals, you need to think about their difference in impedance. On equipment, it’s common to see Hi-Z and Lo-Z inputs – these are designed for different levels of input signal. Z refers to impedance. Lo-Z inputs are commonly used for microphones and Hi-Z for instruments such as electric guitar.

For your A Level Music Technology exam, you need to know about three different signal levels; microphone, instrument and line. Line level is many times louder than instrument and microphone level; these are closer together, with instrument level generally being slightly louder than instrument level. Pre-amps are used to raise or boost microphone and instrument level signals to line level, with microphone level needing more boost. Some pre-amps require you to switch between different input levels for different connectors; you should be aware of this when working.

A DI box can be used to convert from instrument level to microphone level, and thus from Hi-Z to Lo-Z. The easiest way to think about different levels (although not a hard and fast rule) is to think about the connections we tend to use when plugging equipment together; line level tends to travel through TRS jack or RCA for consumer electronics equipment, microphone level through XLR connectors and instrument level through TS jack connectors.

Some excellent further reading (that goes much beyond A Level) is here


Flat Cap Brass Dance

We had a good time in the studio the other night recording this; our newest video for our Dance Medley.

A Level Music Technology Glossary Resource

I’ve put together a fun free ‘word cloud’ resource for A Level Music Technology; one focusing on effects and processors/controls. Let me know if you think it’s useful! It’s by no means exhaustive but an interesting way of reinforcing key words and terminology.

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Introducing Das Flat Cap Brassen

Introducing Flat Cap Brass’s German sister ensemble. This group is perfect for Oktoberfest events or Bierkeller evenings. Playing classic German drinking songs such as Ein Prosit through to modern day classics such as Engels by Robert Von Wilheims. Complete with lederhosen (if wanted) this ensemble is the business to get your beer themed evening swaying!

#CarolForYorkshire – the update

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Over the past year, students at Greenhead College in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire have been working on a charity Christmas single to support the Make-A-Wish Foundation. ‘What Would Jesus Say’ was written by 17-year old music student Louis Enright and was performed by approximately 125 singers from Greenhead College and three primary schools; Mount Pleasant Primary School, Spring Grove Primary School and Reinwood Junior School.

Louis’s carol was the winner of Greenhead College’s #CarolForYorkshire competition which ran in Summer 2018 and was supported by local music hub Musica Kirklees. Students from schools across the district were invited to compose their own charity Christmas carol, and the entries were judged by Thom Meredith, Principal of Musica Kirklees.

The project is in aid of the Make-A-Wish Foundation; a children’s charity who make the wishes of seriously ill children become reality. In the first two days, the carol received over 4000 views on YouTube, and has already been streamed hundreds of times across Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes and Amazon Music.

The recording of the carol took place at Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield on 21st November and the official launch was held in college on Monday 3rd December. As well as raising money for this incredible fund, the aim of this festive endeavour is to bring together children of all backgrounds and experiences using music and the Christmas spirit.

Louis states he decided to enter because ‘[he likes] composing and it would [gave him] something to do in the 11-week long summer break.’ He added that he ‘was very excited to hear that I won the contest and was excited when [he] first heard the finished result.’

Simon Jacobs, Head of the Music Department at Greenhead College commented:

We are really excited about the Carol project and it is fantastic to have three local primary schools working alongside us. It was wonderful to see our sixth form students performing with younger students on a large scale project such as this one. The carol written by Greenhead student Louis Enright is a really challenging piece with some magical harmony, and it is great to have seen the project come together, with students making such an extensive contribution to its success.

The carol is available to stream and purchase on Apple Music, iTunes, Amazon Music and Spotify. You can donate to Make-A-Wish Foundation on the Greenhead College JustGiving page at We have been tweeting about the carol using #CarolForYorkshire.

You can also donate using the text code GCOL55 followed by an amount e.g. £5 (so GCOL55 £5) to 70070.


Music Mark at Greenhead College


Greenhead College’s Music Department has recently been awarded a Music Mark in recognition of their ‘commitment to providing high quality music education for all children and young people’.

The department, consisting of three passionate musicians; Simon Jacobs (Head of Department), James Reevell and Brian Talbot, received their certificate following a nomination for the award by Musica Kirklees, a Music School based in Huddersfield who have had the Greenhead College Music Department on their list of ‘Outstanding Providers’ for over 5 years.

With the significant decline of music in schools and colleges nationally, Simon, James and Brian are more passionate than ever to keep music education alive. They go above and beyond to provide first class musical education, plus a whole host of enriching musical opportunities to Greenhead College students and beyond.

A recent addition to the Music Curriculum at Greenhead College is a BTEC in Music Performance. This course will commence in September 2019 alongside the existing music courses; A Level Music and A Level Music Technology, catering for an even wider variety of musical interests.

The enrichment opportunities the music department run include; College Choir, Chamber Choir, Subvert Your Ears, Big Band, Wind Band, String Ensemble, Brass Group, Grade 5 Theory, Advanced Theory and Record Label.

Their ensembles regularly have national success, performing in the National Festival and the Mrs Sunderland Festival plus at many other local concerts and events.

Students at Greenhead College have excellent things to say about the department including:

“The Greenhead music staff and facilities are top notch – there is a great relationship between students and staff that is really encouraging and productive. The opportunity to play or sing in the numerous ensembles and perform in the college concerts is also a great addition!”

“Studying Music at Greenhead was a great decision. I learnt an incredible amount in both Music and Music Technology. There is a fantastic dynamic between staff and students which facilitates everyone becoming their best musical selves. The rich extracurricular aspect of the department also means that anyone with a love for making music can get involved and perform in numerous concerts.”


Over the past few months, we’ve been working on our Carol For Yorkshire; an exciting new competition that was run by Greenhead College in collaboration with Musica Kirklees, which saw students from schools across the district compose their own Charity Christmas Carol.

The winner was to be released in aid of the Make-A-Wish Foundation; a children’s charity who make the wishes of seriously ill children become reality.

The winning carol, by Louis Enright was performed by approximately 125 singers from the Greenhead College Choir and three Huddersfield based primary schools; Mount Pleasant Primary School, Spring Grove Junior School and Reinwood Junior School, and will also feature in the Greenhead College annual Christmas Carol Service.

The carol will be released on Monday 3rd December 2018, and will be available as a YouTube video and stream/download on all online music services. Visit to find out more; please support us by donating to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.