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Glossary / Definitions


24-bit sound is the current standard for digital audio wherein audio is captured and played back as binary data in a 24-bit word length.

ADC "Analog-to-Digital Converter" a device that receives an analog audio signal and converts it into digital data.

ADSR "Attack/Decay/Sustain/Release." The four properties of a traditional audio envelope.

AES/EBU  "Audio Engineering Society/European Broadcast Union" Format standard for sending and receiving digital audio data.

AIFF  "Apple Audio Interchange File Format." Audio file format developed by Apple also known as ".aif" files.

Aftertouch  is a keyboard effect produced by pushing a key down further than the point at which the key's note sounds. Channel aftertouch applies to all currently sounding notes where polyphonic aftertouch effects only the pressed note.

Ambience resonating of a real or an imaginary space in which a sound occurs.

Amplifier envelope a device that changes the Time Variant Amplifier's settings over time.

Amplitude the signal's volume or loudness.

Analog audio voltage-based representations of sound.

Analog-to-digital conversion using an ADC of analog audio to digital data.

Arpeggiator plays a pre-programmed series of notes. Arpeggio. 

Attack is the parameter that sets the speed at which an envelope or dynamics processor starts.

Attenuate reduces volume.

Audio is another word for sound.

Aux is a nickname for "Auxiliary". Connector used for sending or receiving signals to a sound card, effects, headphones, amplifiers and other devices.

Back up To make a copy of data and to store the copy on an external medium.

Band in reference to an equalizer is a a range of frequencies.

Band pass filter allows only the band of frequencies surrounding the cutoff frequency to pass through unaffected.

Bandwidth in reference to an equalizer is the number of frequencies that are boosted or cut above and below a selected center frequency.

Bass is the lower frequency range of a sound, usually from about 200 Hz down.

Bit depth is the string size in digital recording. Most digital devices record and play audio using bit depths of 16 or 24 bits. Audio CDs use 16 bits.

Boost is to increase in level.

Burn is industry slang for writing data onto a CD.

Bus is a pathway down which one or more signals can travel to a common destination.

COSM is an abbreviation for Roland's "Composite Object Sound Modeling" technology that shapes audio by applying the sonic characteristics of popular or classic microphones, guitars, guitar amplifiers and studio reference speakers.

Chorus is an effect in which multiple copies of a signal are played together slightly out of time to create a shimmering effect.

Clipping is the annoying thumping or clicking noise made when an audio signal exceeds the capacity of the audio device playing it.


An acronym for COmpression DECompression. Codecs are installable Windows components which can be used to compress the size of a media file during save and to decompress the file during playback.

You can view the codecs installed on your computer from the Windows Control Panel by clicking the Sounds and Audio Devices option, and then clicking the Hardware tab...

...and double clicking on Audio Codecs.

You can also get a complete list of audio and video codecs from your DirectX DirectX Diagnostic report.

To create the report, click the Windows   button and select Run.

Type "dxdiag.exe" without the quotes into the "Open" dropdown then click the OK button.

Compressor - A dynamics processor that reduces the level of any signal exceeding a specified threshold volume.

Cut to reduce volume, gain or amplitude.

Cutoff is the delineating point, usually the frequency, at which a filter begins to attenuate.

Cycle is the repetitive wave motion of air measured from the greatest to the least amount of air pressure. Each complete wave is one cycle or one "Hertz."

DAT "Digital Audio Tape"

dB "decibel," a unit of measurement for the amplitude of sound.

DSP  "digital signal processing" This software is a digital signal processor.

Decay The time it takes for the enveloped setting to reach a sustained level after the Attack envelope.

Delay An effect in which a copy of a signal is played back later than the original.

Digital audio Sound represented as binary data.

Dither is the process of deliberately adding noise to a signal in order to mask unwanted sounds. Dithering is often used when converting to a or format that uses a lower bit depth.

Doubling The artificial simulation of a second unison performance by using a delay with a short delay time.

Dry A signal to which no effect has not been added.

Dynamics Volume changes in audio.

EQ or Equalization is the process of altering the levels of frequency bands within an audio signal.

Echo is a delay-based effect where copies of the original signal are introduced trailing off to silence.

Effects are any of a variety of audio processes applied to a signal to modify it.

Envelope is an electrical device or computer algorithm that changes an audio parameter by a specified amount over a specified time interval.

Equalizer or Graphic Equalizer is a device or computer algorithm that boost or cuts the volume of specific bands of frequencies in an audio signal.

Equal temperament  Standard Western tuning that divides an octave into twelve equal parts.

Expander is a device or computer algorithm that reduces the level of a signal when it falls below a specified threshold in order to exaggerate its dynamic range.

FX is an abbreviation for "effects."

Fade In an effect that changes level over time increasing in amplitude from silence.

Fade Out is an effect that changes audio level over time falling gradually to silence.

Fader or Slider is a control device used for the precise manipulation of levels. In some devices, can also be used for the setting of parameter values.

Feedback is the delaying of a repeated signal to produce multiple images of the original signal. The loud squeal created when a channel is receiving its own output such as an open microphone held in front of a speaker when both are connected to the same amplifier.

Filter is a device or computer algorithm that removes specified frequencies from a signal.

Filter envelope is a device or computer algorithm that changes the Time Variant Filter's settings over a period of time.

Flanger is an effect that generates a swirling, ghostly sound by adding a slightly delayed copy of the signal in which the copy's delay time fluctuates.

Flying fader, automatic gain control.

Formant is the harmonic content of a sound which determine the sound's character. In human vocalization formants are produced by the shape of the lips, position of the tongue, length and tensions of the vocal cords.

Frequency is the number of times per second that a sound wave cycle repeats. Higher frequency producing a higher perceived pitch.

Gaussian noise is an audio signal introduced in a bell-shaped curve. (Hiss)

Gain is another term for audio volume, amplitude or level.

Gate a filter that turns audio off or down when it falls below a specified threshold.

Genre, in the context of digital audio, applies to a category list of music styles.

Hz is an abbreviation for "hertz."

Hash marks are the horizontal or vertical ticks along the path of a fader or slider to help identify the value.

Headroom is the space between the warning bar and the amplitude where signal clipping begins to occur.

Hertz (Hz) is a unit of measurement equal to a sound wave's single cycle.

High pass filters allow all frequencies higher than the cutoff frequency to pass through unaffected.

Hum is an undesired low-frequency tone present in a signal often caused by poor grounding of equipment or or proximity to a magnet field. Also called 60 cycle buzz.

I/O is an abbreviation for "input/output" and generally refers to the ports on a computer or peripheral devices.

Input a connection that receives an incoming signal.

kHz a thousand Hertz.

Level is a general term for volume or amplitude.

Limiter is a compressor set to a ratio of 10:1 or greater. This has the effect of preventing all but the fastest signals from exceeding the threshold volume, thus forcing them into the desired level range.

Locator or Marker is a bookmark for a time location.

Loudness is another term for audio volume.

Low pass filters allow all frequencies lower than the cutoff frequency to pass through unaffected.

MIME Type (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions)

A method used by web browsers to associate files of a certain type with helper applications that display files of that type.

Macro is a shortcut that performs a multi-step operation as a single action.

Marker is a bookmark for a specific time location in the editor window.

Mastering is the final step in the process of preparing a mix for publication and/or mass-duplication.

Meter is a gauge or digital read-out that shows the level of a signal. Also syncopation count.

Mic is a common nickname for "microphone."

Mic level is the low-level signal produced by microphones and electric instruments such as electric guitar or bass as opposed to amplified sound.

Microphone is a device that converts sound waves into audio signals.

Mix (noun) A signal that contains one or more other signals. Mix (verb) To creat a combined signal to use a mixer

Mix-down slang for the noun "mix."

A Mixer is a device or algorithm which enhances and directs audio signals to other destinations, singly or together.

Mono or Monaural a single track signal.

Mute (noun) A switch that permits an audio channel's signal to be silenced. (verb) To silence an audio signal.

Normalize is the process by which the gain of digital audio is increased to its maximum allowable volume.

Notch or Notching Filter is filter wherein a selected frequency and a specified number of frequencies above and below it -- called a "band" -- are affected.

Now line is the vertical line marked by a triangle that marks your current play position in the editor.

Open (Open a file, opening files) When a file is opened within the Blaze Media Pro audio editor feature, the waveform of the file is displayed in the editor workspace.

Optical connector A connector that transmits digital data as light using fiber-optic technology.

Oscillator is a hardware device or software that generates an audio signal.

Output A jack that sends out a signal from a device.

Overload occurs when a signal is so loud that it exceeds the capabilities of the device through which it's passing.

PCM "Pulse Code Modulation," a method used for recording and storing samples in many audio formats.

PS/2 is a wiring standard connector for computer peripheral devices developed by IBM.

Panning The left/right positioning of a signal within a stereo image.

Parameter A setting whose value can be changed.

Peak A sudden high-volume burst of signal.

Phasing The synchronization or lack synchronization between the sound waves in two similar signals. An effect in which a swirling sound is added to a signal similar to flanging.

Phase cancellation The complete cancellation of audio that occurs when two signals are 180 degrees out of phase.

Pumping The undesirable sound of a compressor or expander switching on and off.

Punching The process of re-recording sections of a previously recorded track. The act of starting a punch is called "punching in." Ending a punch is called "punching out."

Q A synonym for "bandwidth."

RAM "Random Access Memory," the type of volatile memory used in a device for the storage of user data. If the device has battery-backed RAM, its contents are preserved at power-off. Otherwise, RAM memory is cleared when the device is turned off.

RCA connector The connector typically used for audio cables. Also called "phono" connectors or RCA jacks.

RF For "Radio Frequency," interference from local radio stations that's sometimes picked up and passed along audio cables.

ROM For "Read-Only Memory," the type of memory in a device that can permanently store sounds and other data. The contents of ROM memory cannot be changed by a user.

Redo You can reverse an undo by performing a "redo."

Release With an envelope, Release sets the speed at which the envelope returns to its zero setting. In a dynamics processor, it sets the speed at which the processor stops working.

Resonance A gain control that raises the level of the cutoff frequency. This control can be manipulated manually using performance techniques such as velocity, or automatically using enveloping or LFOs.

Reverb An effect in which the ambience of a physical space is simulated -- a signal is copied many times, and the copies are heard one after another at decreasing levels, so closely together that they are not perceived as individual events.

Ripping CD's is the process of opening a CD-Audio file and saving it to a disk format. This may or may not be illegal depending upon the the content and applicable intellectual property laws, if any.

Roll off In EQ, the reduction of the level of lower-most or upper-most frequencies.

SCMS For "Serial Copy Management System," the system used for write-protecting digital audio so that no unauthorized digital copies of the audio can be made.

SCSI For "Small Computer System Interface." SCSI is a set of cabling and data standards for the passing of data between storage devices.

SCSI Bus The data stream running through cabling connecting a series of SCSI devices.

SMPTE For "Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers"; synchronization technology used for coordinating the timing of audio and video equipment.

S/PDIF For "Sony/Philips Digital Interface Format," a standard for the sending and receiving of digital audio data; typically uses phono connectors.

SPP Short for "Song Position Pointer."

A Sample is a discrete piece of waveform data represented by a single numerical value.

Sampling is the process of converting analog data to digital data by taking samples of the analog waveform at regular intervals.

Sample rate describes how frequently an analog audio signal is sampled as it is converted into a series of numbers. 44.1 kHz is the standard sample rate for compact disks; 48 kHz is often used with digital audio tape (DAT) recording; 22.050 kHz is frequently used for games and multimedia. A higher sample rate allows a higher frequency response. In order to accurately reconstruct a sound, the sample rate must be at least twice the highest frequency in the sound.

Shelving or Shelf Filter A type of filter in which all frequencies above or below a selected frequency are affected; low shelving affects all frequencies below the selected frequency; high shelving all those above it.

Shielding The electric or magnetic materials used in a cable that protect its signal from unwanted noise.

Signal A general term for audio as it travels through audio cables and equipment.

Signal Flow The journey a signal takes from one place to another.

Slapback Type of reverb whose beginning is slightly delayed to simulate the reflection of sound off of a physical wall; also called- "pre-delay."

Slate A spoken label recorded at the beginning of a take, such as "Remix, Take 1."

Solo When monitoring, the isolation of one signal by silencing all other signals.

Sound Card A common PC component with a D-to-A (digital to analog) converter and a set, or "wavetable," of sounds.

Stereo A two-dimensional image created by two signals, each of which is assigned to one of a pair of speakers arranged left and right of each other.

Sustain In a traditional envelope, the level at which an enveloped setting remains after the Attack and Decay stages until the key is released.

Synchronization or Sync is the coordination of timing between audio and/or video devices.

Synth, Synthesizer An instrument that synthesizes new sounds from raw audio materials such as waveforms. A synth may also generate its own completely original sounds using oscillators.

TOC For "Table of Contents," the directory on an audio CD that allows its player to find each selection on the CD.

Tempo Synonym for speed or rate.

Tick The smallest division of a quarter note.

Threshold A designated level that triggers an action in a compressor, gate or expander.

Track A stream of recorded audio data.

Track Minutes A method of expressing the available recording time by measuring the maximum length of a single monaural track of recorded data.

Transient A very brief high-level signal.

Treble The higher frequencies in a signal.

Tremolo A rhythmic fluctuation in level.

Undo allows you to reverse your most recent editing actions. This is called "undoing" the action.

Vibrato A rhythmic fluctuation in pitch.

Volume A general term for a signal's loudness.

WAV A commonly used audio file type developed by Microsoft. Also called ".wav" or "WAVE" files.

Waveform A waveform is one or more samples of a sound. The horizontal axis shows elapsed time, and the vertical axis shows volume, or "amplitude."

Wet A signal to which an effect has been applied.

White noise is an audio signal that contains noise at the same level at all frequencies. (Rainfall)


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