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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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A wooden or metal cabinet with standardized dimensions and hole spacings used to mount audio equipment. The rack holes are spaced exactly 19 inches apart, side to side.

Rack mount unit

Any unit that conforms to the 19-inch E.I.A. (Electronic Industry Association) specifications for rack hole alignment.

Radio frequency interference

Also known by the abbreviation 'RFI', the presence of electronic waves at AM or FM frequencies in audio cables or equipment, causing unwanted noise in the audio signal.


An acronym for Random Access Memory, memory that can be read from and written to (as opposed to ROM). Data stored in RAM is lost when the power is turned off.


A harsh sound, like a rasp. Also used to describe vocals with excessive sibilance or sounds with a piercing quality, which can be caused by peaks in the frequency response at about 6 to 7 kHz.

Real time recording

Recording notes or other MIDI performance data into a sequencer at the tempo at which it was performed. Also, recording and mixing a performance directly to two-track tape or lacquer disk.


To store a visual, MIDI, or audio event in a permanent form.

Record equalization

Adjustments to specific frequencies applied to the signal by a tape recorder to compensate for certain frequency losses.

Record head

The head in a tape recorder that puts the audio signal on tape by magnetizing the tape particles in a pattern corresponding to the signal.

Reflected sound

Those sound waves that reach the listener or audience after being reflected from one or more surfaces (walls, ceilings, floors, etc.)


The process of taking incoming SMPTE, which may have shaping problems or dropouts, and generating new, perfect SMPTE, that is perfectly time-locked to old SMPTE. This process is called regeneration because instead of being generated for the first time, the SMPTE is being "regenerated" from another SMPTE source. Also, the feeding of the output of a delay device back into its input to create multiple echoes.


User-defined sections of audio that can be edited, looped, or processed.


The final portion of a sound's envelope in which the sound falls from its sustain level back to silence.

Release time

Also known as 'Recovery time', the time it takes for the gain to return to normal from its processed level in a signal processor. Also, pertaining to a synthesizer, the time it takes for the sound to go from its sustained level to silence.


To do another mixdown with different edits or different mixing parameters.

Remote recording

Also known as 'On location recording', a recording made outside the studio, in a room, club, or other venue where live music is usually performed.


The opposition of a circuit to the flow of current . Resistance is measured in ohms, and can be calculated by dividing the voltage by current.


A function on a tape recorder that rewinds the tape to the zero counter position on the tape. The zero counter position can be anywhere on the tape, since it is established whenever the user resets the counter.


Often shortened to 'Reverb', the persistence of sound in a room or other space, even after the original sound has ended, caused by many sound reflections that decrease in intensity with time. The reflections, or echoes, are so closely spaced in time as to merge into a single continuous sound. The reflected sound eventually decays completely by being absorbed into the surfaces of the room. Reverberation in modern recordings is commonly generated by signal processors, rather than acoustically.

Reverberation time

The time it takes for reverberation to decay to 60dB below the original level. Reverb time is commonly abbreviated to RT60, and is usually measured at 500Hz.

Reverse echo

An echo that precedes the sound that caused it, building up from silence into the original sound. Reverse echo can be created either electronically (using a signal processor), or by reversing a tape track, adding the echo effect, and reversing the tape back to the original direction.

Rhythm tracks

The generic name for the recorded tracks of the rhythm instruments (rhythm guitar, bass, drums, keyboards).

Ribbon microphone

A dynamic mic in which the conductor is a long metallic diaphragm (ribbon) suspended in a magnetic field.


Tracks or sounds having euphonic distortion made of even-order harmonics (harmonics sometimes added by aural exciters). A rich sound is also frequently described as 'full'.

Ride gain

To manually adjust the volume of a microphone or mixer channel,. raising the fader when the signal is quiet, and lowering the fader when the signal is loud, in an attempt to reduce the dynamic range of the signal. Using a compressor is an automatic way to solve the same problem.


A common word for a musical motif or phrase, especially popular with guitarists and keyboard players.


Standardized 6 pin telephone interface in North America. Also used in most telecommunications equipment worldwide.


An acronym for Read Only Memory, memory that can only be read and cannot be used for temporary storage. ROM retains its contents even when power is turned off.


A sound with a high-frequency rolloff or dip. A track or sound which is not trebly or edgy.


Standardized 6 pin telephone interface in North America. Also used in most telecommunications equipment worldwide.

Safety copy

A duplicate of the master tape or disc, to be used if the master tape or disc is lost or damaged.


The recording of a short sound event into a sampler or computer. The audio signal is converted into digital data representing the signal's waveform, and is then stored onto magnetic disk for editing and playback.


Overload of a magnetic tape. The saturation point is the point at which an increase in magnetizing force does not cause a corresponding increase in magnetization of the tape oxide particles.


An acronym for Small Computer System Interface, a communications system that loads massive amounts of sound data into samplers, or data into computers at extremely high speeds, then returns the data back out to removable media hard disks and optical drives for storage.

Scratch vocals

Vocal performances that are typically done as the rhythm instruments are being recorded so that the musicians can get a feel for the song and keep track of where they are in the tune. If the scratch vocals are recorded, they can contain leakage from other instruments, in which case they are usually deleted or erased. At times, the scratch vocals are so good they are kept as the main vocal tracks of the song.


An acronym for Sample Dump Standard, a standard for transferring samples via MIDI.


The output of a microphone in volts for a given input in sound pressure level. Sensitivity can also mean the sound pressure level (SPL) a loudspeaker produces at one meter when driven with one watt of pink noise.


A dedicated device that records a series of synthesizer note parameters (via MIDI) into a storage device for subsequent editing and playback. Or, a software program that records note data onto a computer's disk drive. Most sequencers can also record system exclusive messages, MIDI mixer or recorder data, and store bulk dumps of parameter data from signal processors. During playback, the sequencer triggers the synthesizer sound generators and sample playback devices as well as reproducing mixer movements and controlling signal processing programs and parameters.


A excessively trebly or edgy sound, with too many high frequencies. It can also be used positively to describe a tight sound with good low-frequency transient response and detail.

Shelving equalizer

An equalizer that applies a constant boost or cut to a signal either above or below a chosen frequency. The resulting waveform shape resembles a shelf.


A conductive enclosure (usually metallic) around one or more signal conductors, used to keep out electrostatic fields that can cause hum, buzz, or other noise.

Shock mount

A suspension system that mechanically separates a mic from its stand or boom, preventing the transfer of vibrations.


In a vocal recording, excessive peaks in the frequency response in the 6-10kHz range, due to an overemphasis of 's' and 'sh' sounds. Sibilance can usually be minimized in a recorded track through the use of a signal processor known as a de-esser.


A vocal track with excessive or exaggerated 's' and 'sh' sounds, due to a peak in the frequency response around 6 to 10 kHz. Also known as 'essy'.


A varying electrical voltage that represents sound.

Signal path

The route a signal travels from input to output in a piece of audio gear or in an audio system.

Signal processor

A device that is used to deliberately alter a signal in a controlled manner. Examples of signal processors include reverberation units, digital delays, flangers, equalizers, etc.

Signal-to-Noise ratio

The ratio in decibels between an audio signal voltage and noise voltage. A device with a low signal-to-noise ratio is considered noisy, and a device with a high signal-to-noise ratio is considered clean or quiet, with little background noise accompanying the signal.

Sine wave

The wave form of a sound containing just a fundamental frequency without overtones, commonly referred to as a "pure tone".

Single-D microphone

A type of directional mic having an identical distance between its front and rear sound entry points.


A noise reduction system that only needs to be placed at the output end of the signal chain. Single-ended noise reduction does not involve encoding of the signal, and therefore does not need to be decoded by a device receiving the signal.


When describing vocals, a track with excessive or exaggerated 's' and 'sh' sounds. Also used to refer to a cymbal sound with too many high frequencies.


A repetition of a sound approximately 50 to 200 milliseconds after the original sound is heard.


When syncing two devices together, the controlling device becomes the master and the other device becomes the slave. The slave only responds to commands from the master; it does not also control the master. When syncing a sequencer to tape, the tape deck usually acts as the master and the sequencer becomes the slave.


A sound sample or track lacking detail and clarity. Also a track exhibiting poor transient response or excessive leakage between mics.


An acronym for Standard MIDI File, a file exchange format that allows different sequencer programs to share the same MIDI information.


Sounds which are not harsh and easy on the ears, due to a nearly flat frequency response, especially in the midrange response. Also used to describe sounds which have a lack of dips and peaks in the frequency response.


A timing standard (and an acronym) created by the Society of Motion Pictures and Television Engineers. This standard describes how hours, minutes, seconds, and frames are encoded (along with other miscellaneous data) into an audio signal that can be recorded to tape and read back.

SMPTE formats

SMPTE time code can be written in several ways, called formats. The formats differ depending on whether the time code is for film, European video, American video or music. Some common SMPTE formats are 24 frames per second, 25 frames per second, 30 frames per second or 30 drop frame.


A multi-pair or multi-channel microphone cable. Also, a multi-pair microphone cable hooked to a connector junction box.


When applied to a snare drum, the attack of the stick on the head, usually around 5 kHz. When describing a kick drum sound, the attack of the beater on the head of the kick drum. To emphasize the snap, you can boost the frequencies around 3 to 6 kHz and/or use a wooden beater.


Sounds or recorded tracks with poor transient response; too mellow or gentle. Sounds in which the peaks seem squashed or smeared.


A method of singing music that employs syllables (do,re,mi,fa,so,la,ti) to represent pitches, with a single syllable corresponding to a single note.


On an input module to a mixer, a switch allowing you to monitor the selected input signal by itself. All other inputs are muted so you may hear the input in isolation.

Song pointer message

The MIDI message that specifies, to a 16th note, how far into a piece you are. This permits a master device to send a song position pointer to a slave device, such as a drum machine, to begin playing at any point in the song

Song position pointer

A message sent by a master device that allows slaves to begin at any point within a sequence or song.


Longitudinal vibrations in a medium in the frequency range 20Hz to 20,000Hz.

Sound generator

A sample-playback module or synthesizer without a keyboard. The sounds are triggered by MIDI signals from an external keyboard, a dedicated hardware sequencer, or a computer sequencing program.

Sound pressure level

Abbreviated SPL, the acoustic pressure of a sound wave, measured in decibels above the threshold of hearing.

Spaced pair

A method of miking in which two microphones are spaced horizontally several feet apart. The mics are typically aimed straight ahead toward the sound source.


Conveying a sense of ambiance or room around the instruments. Sounds with noticeable reverberation and early reflections.


The consumer standard for digital audio transfers, using RCA-type plugs.


Also known as a 'Loudspeaker', a transducer that converts electrical energy (the signal) into acoustical energy (sound waves).


The output versus the frequency of a sound source, including the fundamental frequency and overtones.


An abbreviation for 'Sound pressure level', the acoustic pressure of a sound wave, measured in decibels above the threshold of hearing.


To join the ends of two pieces of magnetic tape with adhesive tape. Splice also refers to the taped joint between two sections of magnetic tape.


A circuit used to divide a signal into two or more identical signals to feed separate inputs. Split signals can then be processed or amplified in different ways.

Spot microphone

A microphone placed close to the sound source. Usually spot microphone signals are mixed with signals from more distant microphones to add presence.


Sound with a very limited dynamic range; highly compressed.

Stacking tracks

The technique of recording several performances of a musical part on separate tracks. so that the best portions of each performance can be played in sequence during mixdown.

Standard MIDI file

A universal MIDI file format, read by almost all MIDI software. Two formats are available--type 0, which is a single track sequence, and type 1, which is a multi-track sequence.

Standing wave

A stationary waveform, created by multiple reflections between opposite room surfaces. At certain points along the standing wave, the direct and reflected waves cancel, and at other points the waves add together or reinforce each other. In a room prone to standing waves, this resonance causes drastic changes in the perceived loudness of sounds at certain frequencies based on where you may be listening.


Sounds with an emphasized upper midrange response around 3 to 6 kHz. Also used to describe sound with a peaky, non-flat high-frequency response, or with too many overall high frequencies.

Step-time recording

Recording data into a sequencer one chord or note at a time, choosing the note durations for each chord or note. The sequence can then be played back at a normal tempo.


Originally an abbreviation for 'Stereophonic', an audio recording and reproduction system with correlated information between two discrete channels, meant to be heard over two or more loudspeakers to give the illusion of sound source localization and depth.

Stereo imaging

The ability of a stereo recording or monitor system to accurately position audio images at various locations between a stereo pair of speakers.

Stereo microphone

A microphone containing two coincident microphone capsules in a single housing for stereo recording.


A distorted track having unwanted harmonics, adding an edge or raspiness to the overall sound.

Sub dominant

A music theory term literally meaning the scale degree of four. May refer to a note or the chord based on a note.


A master volume control for an output buss.

Sub mediant

A music theory term literally meaning the scale degree of six. May refer to a note or the chord based on a note.


A smaller mix within a larger mix. Submixes are typically made for drums, keyboards, and/or effects.


A small mixer, which can be a separate mixer or contained within a larger mixer, that is used to feed submixed drums, keyboards, effects, etc. to an overall mix.

Supercardioid microphone

A unidirectional microphone that attenuates sounds arriving from the sides and rear, with maximum sound rejection occurring at 125 degrees either side off-axis.

Supply reel

Also known as the 'Feed reel', the reel on the left side of a tape recorder that unwinds during recording or playback.


The portion of the envelope of a sound in which the level is constant. It can also mean the ability of a sound to continue without decaying noticeably.


Delicate sounds exhibiting low distortion and a flat high-frequency response extended to the full range of human hearing (up to 20 kHz).


The addition of brass, strings, chorus, harp, orchestra, etc. to previously recorded rhythm tracks.


Short for 'synchronize' or 'synchronous recording'.

Sync box

1. A box that synchronizes a MIDI sequencer (either computer- or hardware- based) to a tape recorder, so the sequencer becomes a natural extension of the tape deck and does not waste audio tracks. The sync box permits the computer to shuttle forward and backward and stay precisely synched to what is on tape. 2. A unit that translates between the sync messages of MIDI and a special sync signal that is recorded on one tape track.

Sync stripe

A special audio signal recorded to one track on a tape that contains specially encoded digital information. This information can be decoded by a sync box and converted into meaningful MIDI sync information that is then sent to a sequencer.


The process of keeping two devices or software systems precisely locked together, typically through the use of SMPTE, MIDI time code, or MC/SPP standards. An example is keeping a sequencer precisely locked to a tape deck, maintaining the same location and speed.

Synchronous recording

The technique of using a record head as a playback head during an overdub session to keep the overdubbed parts in sync with the previously recorded music.


A musical instrument (usually with a keyboard) that generates sound electronically, and allows changes to the sound parameters to simulate conventional instruments or to create entirely new sounds.

Synthesizer programming

Creating new sounds, or changing existing sounds in a synthesizer.

System exclusive

Also known as 'Sys Ex', messages that represent unique or proprietary characteristics of devices or instruments.

Page: R-S Guitar Nine Glossary of Terms [R-S] [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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