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Page added in August, 1996 [Page: First A-B C-D E-F G-H I-K L-M N-O P-Q R-S T-V W-Z]

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Commonly referred to as 'alignment', the adjustment of tape-recorder electronics and head alignment to achieve the best performance for the type of tape being used.


A slang word for headphones.


In a tape-recorder transport, a rotating post that contacts the tape (along with the pinch roller) and pulls the tape past the heads at a constant speed during recording and playback.


An acronym for Compact Disc Read Only Memory. A compact disc full of data such as programs, graphics, sounds, movies, etc., that can be read by a computer, but cannot be written to or changed.


A single path of an audio channel. Usually, each channel contains a different signal or one half of a stereo pair.

Chase lock

A synchronization system for audio equipment..


A track in which the vocalist sounds as if his chest was very large, due to an emphasis in the low-frequency response around 125 to 300 Hz.


Ability to play an instrument. To have great chops is to be technically or stylistically profient on a musical instrument.


A special effect in which a single sound source is made to sound like several, through the use of time delay and detuning. Delaying the input by a slowly varying time between 15 and35 milliseconds and mixing the dry input signal back in, a wavy, multiple-voice effect is achieved. It's also possible to feed a portion of the signal back into the input.


Free of noise, distortion, overhang, leakage. Not muddy sounding.


Easy to hear or differentiate; not distorted. Reproduced with sufficient high freqencies.


A component of a bass drum sound, the attack of the beater on the head of the drum.

Click track

Audio 'clicks' recorded on one track of a multitrack recorder, to indicate the tempo of the music on the tape. Clicks can be translated by certain devices into MIDI sync to control a sequencer, or can simply be used to keep musicians in time when overdubbing.


A track or mix which is too clean, lacking both warmth and an edge.

Close miking

A recording or sound reinforcement technique whereby the mikes are placed close to vocalists and to instruments or amplifier speakers. Close miking yields a great deal of presence and detail for the nearby sound source, while avoiding leakage from more distant sound sources. Most of today's popular music recordings use close miking techniques.

Coincident pair

Two separate mikes placed so that the microphone diaphragms occupy approximately the same point in space. The are mounted one directly above the other, and angled apart.


Non-uniform frequency response resulting in distortion of the tonal quality of the source.


A sound that is not true to life, perhaps due to an unnatural use of external processors. A mix that has a not-flat response with peaks and dips.

Comb-filter effect

The frequency response caused by combining a sound with its delayed duplicate. The frequency response displays a series of peaks and dips caused by phase interference. The peaks and dips look like the teeth of a comb, with very narrow, deep notches where signals are attenuated.

Combining amplifier

An amplifier in which the outputs of two or more signal paths are mixed together, to feed a single track of tape or hard-disk recorder.

Complex wave

A sound wave with more than one frequency component.


A sound, recorded track, or mix where the dynamics are restricted or narrowed.


The intentional reduction in dynamic range to increase sustain and/or add punchiness, caused by a the use of a compressor/limiter.

Compression ratio

Also known as 'slope', in a compressor/limiter, the ratio of change in input level (in dB) to the change in output level (in dB). For example, a 4:1 ratio means that for every 4dB change in input level, the output level changes 1dB.


A signal processor that reduces dynamic range by using automatic volume control. Also, an amplifier whose gain decreases as the input signal level increases above a pre-set point.

Condenser microphone

Also known as 'Cardioid microphone, a mike that works on the principle of variable capacitance to generate an electrical signal.


To prepare a program, modem, keyboard, or other electronic device to operate with specific characteristics.


Also known as a 'plug', the physical interface on cabling or equipment used to connect or hold together a cable and an electronic component that permits a sound signal or data to flow into an external destination, such as a mixing board or a computer.


Also known as 'mixing console' or 'board', a large unit having additional functions such as tone control, equalization, pan pots, channel assigns, monitoring sends, and control of signals sent to external signal processors.


A sound or track with poor reproduction of dynamics; overly compressed or pinched, with distortion at high levels.

Contact pickup

A transducer that contacts a guitar or other musical instrument and converts its vibrations into an electrical signal.

Continuous controller

A type of MIDI message intended to control dynamics (volume, modulation, etc.) or continually changing aspects of a performance. Continuous controllers allow enhanced musical expression for keyboardists and previously sequenced tracks, and also can be used to modulate effects device parameters such as reverb time or chorus depth,

Control room

The room in which the producer and engineer monitor and control the recording.

Control voltage

An electrical signal used to adjust the values of settings in analog circuits. If you send a specific electrical voltage to a module of a synthesizer (such as an ASDR envelope, you can specify what you want the module to do (perhaps lengthen the decay time).


A snare drum sound in which the sharp attack of the stick on the head of the snare has been boosted for emphasis at around 5 to 10 kHz.


A sound or track with an extended high-frequency response. A cymbal sound with sizzle and presence.


An electronic network that divides an incoming signal into two or more frequency bands. Crossovers can be active (with amplifying components) or passive (non-amplifying).

Crossover frequency

The single frequency at which both filters of a crossover network are down 3dB.


An acronym for the Canadian Standards Organization, that regulates and controls Canadian data communications standards.


Also known as 'Cue send', in mixer input module, a control that adjusts the amount of signal feeding the cue mixer which, in turn, feeds a signal to headphones in the studio. Also, a section of music or sound effects used in film or video production. The points in the film where the cues are played to sync with elements of the picture are called hits or cue points.

Cue mixer

A submixer in a mixer input module that takes signals from cue sends as inputs and mixes them into a composite signal that can be used to drive headphones in the studio.

Cue sheet

Typically used during the mixdown stage, a chronological list of mixer control adjustments and fader movements needed at various points in the recorded tracks. The list may have tape-counter or elapsed-time readings to indicate exactly when the adjustments should be made.

Cue system

A monitor system that allows musicians to hear themselves and previously recorded tracks through headphones.

Cutoff frequency

The designated frequency of a filter after which the sound is not allowed to pass. In a high-pass filter, a high cutoff frequency will be excessively trebly and bright, as no low frequencies will be present. In a low-pass filter, a low cutoff frequency may be too muted and dark, as no high frequencies or overtones will be present.

Daisy chain

A term used when a group of modules (such as music modules or SCSI hard drives) are interconnected as follows: Module A's output is connected to module B's input; module B's output is connected to module C's input; module C's output is connected to module D's input, etc.


A sound or track with weak high frequencies; opposite of bright.


An acronym for Digital Audio Tape, a proprietary tape format used in DAT recorders. Similar to VHS VCR machines, DAT recorders use a helical scanning process to encode the digital audio. The digital audio is represented by streams of ones and zeros that are encoded onto the digital tape.


An acronym for Digital Audio Workstation, a stand-alone system of hardware and software which will allow the recording, playback, editing, and storage of digital audio.


Information that is processed or stored by a computer.


Abbreviation for decibel, a unit of measurement of audio level. dB is a logarithmic expression of a ratio comparing two sounds, such as how much louder one sound is than another, or how much quieter the level is at the output of a compressor than at the input.


Having very little or no reverberation; dry.


The segment of the envelope of a note in which the envelope goes from maximum to some mid-range level. Also, the decline in level of reverberation over time.

Decay Time

Also known as 'Reverberation time' or 'RT', the time it takes for reverberation to decay to 60dB below the original sustained level.


The unit of measurement of audio level. Ten times the logarithm of the ratio of two power levels. Twenty times the logarithm of the ratio of two voltages. Standard abbreviations using decibels include: dBV (decibels relative to 1 volt), dBu (decibels relative to 0.775 volt), dBm (decibels relative to 1 milliwatt) and dBA (decibels, A weighted).

Decoded tape

A tape that is expanded after having been compressed/coded by a noise reduction system, such as Dolby. The tape will have normal dynamic range.


A signal processor that removes musically excessive sibilant sounds ("sh" and "s" sounds) by compressing the high frequencies around 5-10kHz.


The time interval between a signal and its repetition. Processors that can delay a signal for anywhere from 10 milliseconds to 10 seconds are called digital delays or delay lines.


A sound with high frequencies up to 15 to 20 kHz, without peaks. Delicate sounds are also described as airy, sweet and open.


Also known as a 'Degausser', an electromagnet with a probe tip that can eliminate residual magnetism by touching it to elements of the tape path (such as tape heads and tape guides).


The audible sense of nearness and farness of recorded instruments or elements of a mix. We perceive close instruments to be those with a high ratio of direct-to-reverberant sound, and distant instruments to be those with a low ratio of direct-to-reverberant sound.

Designation strip

A strip of paper taped near console faders to indicate the instrument that each that each fader controls.

Design center

The portion of fader travel (usually marked), about 10-15dB from the top, where console gain is distributed for optimum headroom and signal-to-noise ratio. As a starting point in gain staging, each fader being used should be placed at, or close to, design center.


An alternate (England, Ireland) word for mixing console or board.


A mix or track in which it is easy to hear tiny details in the music; also described as 'articulate'. Characterized by sharp transient response and good high-frequency response.


An even distribution of sound in a room.


A circuit, processor, or other device using a binary numeric (1 or 0) system to represent and process information. A digital tape recorder converts the incoming analog audio signal into a stream of ones and zeros that are stored onto the tape. Upon playback, the series of numbers are converted back to a analog signal.

Digital audio

Audio signals converted into binary digits (ones and zeros) onto digital tape, CD-R or a hard drive, readable by a computer.

Digital recording

A recording system in which the audio signal is stored in the form of binary digits.

Digital-to-Analog converter

A circuit or chip that converts a digital audio signal into an analog audio signal.


To temporarily reduce the monitor volume by a preset amount.

Direct box

A device used for connecting an amplified instrument directly to a mixer mike input. The function of the direct box is to convert a high-impedance unbalanced audio signal to a low-impedance balanced audio signal.

Direct injection

Also known as 'DI', the process of recording with a direct box.

Direct output

Also known as 'Direct out', an output connector used to feed the signal of an instrument to one track of a tape recorder.

Direct sound

Sound traveling directly from the sound source to the microphone (or to the listener) without early or late reflections.

Directional Microphone

A microphone that has sensitivty in specific directions. Examples include unidirectional or bidirectional microphones.

Directivity factor

For a loudspeaker, a measurement of how much the speaker focuses sound in a given direction. Directivity is measured by taking the ratio of the average sound level in a circle around the speaker to the maximum sound level in front of the speaker (at a given distance and frequency).


A quiet or reverberant sound; opposite of forward.

Distant miking

Also known as ambient miking, a microphone placement technique where one or more mikes are located at a distance of at least several feet from the speakers or performers. Distant miking allows a greater area to be covered using fewer microphones than close miking. Distant miking will not generally provide the presence and detail possible with close mike placement.


An intentional desired, or unintentional unwanted, change in the audio waveform, causing a raspy or edgy sound quality.

Dolby tone

A reference tone recorded at the start of a Dolby-encoded tape, mainly for alignment purposes.


An effect in which an audio signal is combined with its 15-35 millisecond delayed replica. It can sound as if there are two identical voices or instruments playing in almost-perfect unison.

Drop frame

In video production, a mode of SMPTE timecode which causes the timecode to match a regular clock. Once every minute, except for the tenth minute, frame numbers 00 and 01 are dropped.

Drop In/Out

Alos known as 'punch in/out', a feature of a tape or hard-disk recorder that permits insertion of a corrected musical part into a previously recorded track by going into and out of record mode at designated time.


During playback of an analog tape recording, a momentary loss of high frequencies caused by loss of contact of the tape from the playback head due to dust, tape-oxide deterioration, etc.

Drum machine

A device (stand-alone or within a synthesizer) capable of producing drum-like sounds or digital recordings of real drum sounds.


A sound or track having little or no audible reverberation or other effects. Lacking spaciousness. Also, a close-sounding signal that has not been processed by a reverb or delay effect. A sound with an overdamped transient response.

DSP board

An acronym for Digital Signal Processing Board, which may encompass both audio and video processing, that manipulates signals internally within a custom chip in the digital domain.


A sound or track with weak high frequencies; opposite of bright.

Dynamic microphone

A type of mike generating electricity when sound waves cause a conductor to vibrate in a stationary magnetic field. Ribbon mikes and moving-coil mikes are two examples of dynamic microphones.

Dynamic range

The difference (usually measured in dB) between the loudest and the softest sounds in a song or track.

Page: C-D Guitar Nine Glossary of Terms [C-D] [Page: First A-B C-D E-F G-H I-K L-M N-O P-Q R-S T-V W-Z]

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