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Music on my PC - Music Technology terms
Category: Music and Sound > PC Music
Date & country: 17/11/2007, UK
Words: 200

ADAT Lightpipe
A digital interface that allows 8 individual tracks to pass through an optical (Toslink) cable. Lightpipe is used with ADAT machines and is incorporated in numerous soundcards and multiple AD/DA converters. Sonorus STUDI/O is a ADAT Lightpipe soundcard

Additive Synthesis
A method of synthesis that builds complex waveforms by combining sine waves with independently variable frequencies and amplitudes. Envelope shapers and filters can further process these waveforms. Hammond organs and similar instruments make the most use of simple additive synthesis

Attack, Decay, Sustain, and Release are the four parameters found on a basic synthesizer envelope generator, and they match the physical attributes of naturally occurring sound. An envelope generator is sometimes called a transient generator. The Attack, Decay, and Release parameters are rate or time controls. Sustain is a level. When a key is pressed, the envelope generator will begin to rise to its full level at the rate set by the attack parameter, upon reaching peak level it will begin to fall at the rate set by the decay parameter to the level set by the sustain control. The envelope will remain at the sustain level as long as the key is held down. When a key is released, it will return to zero at the rate set by the release parameter

Unwanted frequencies produced when harmonic components in the audio signal being sampled by a digital recording device or generated within a digital sound source are above the Nyquist frequency. Aliasing is also sometimes referred to as fold-over. See Nyquist Frequency

A programming tool developed by Motorola, Alivec is a short vector architecture technology that accelerates software. (See vector architecture). BIAS's latest version of Peak implements an altivec-based convolution technology which allows natural reverb impulses to be applied to dry audio signals, giving the impression that a file was actually recorded in a particular environment

An analog audio signal is represented by variations such as voltage speed or frequency and the strength of amplitude or volume of an electrical audio signal. The audio outputs from a computer`s soundcard or synthesizer are typically analog outputs even though the file being played is digital through a D/A converter. See D/A

Analog Synthesis
Electronic synthesis, electronic oscillators, filters, and envelopes are used to directly create and manipulate sound. It does not involve sampling rate, bit depth, or other digital factors. (Such as older Analog Synthesizers/Keyboards used in the 1970s)

A person enthusiastic about sound reproduction who is discerning about the quality of the audio

Auto Accompaniment
This generally refers to software such as PG Music`s Band in a Box that provides a ready-made back-up band

An “auxiliary� physical control knob on a mixing console designed to route a portion of the channel or channels signal to the effects or other mix outputs. Edirol`s new audio mixer, the M-100FX has aux bus ports with a stereo return and a mono send

A means of specifying the range of frequencies passed by an electronic circuit such as an amplifier, mixer or filter. A system's bandwidth is the total frequency range of the system. (Example 20Hz-20Khz)

A storage location in a sampler or synthesizer that holds a large number of individual sounds. Typically, any synthesizer that isn`t General MIDI utilizes banks to organize the additional sounds and there can be up to 127 sounds within each bank

Bank Select Message
A MIDI control change message which instructs a receiving synth to switch to a different bank so that another instrument or sound can be accessed within a sequence

Otherwise known as 'Binary Digit,� it is a unit of digital information. A bit represents either an 'on' of 'off' value represented by a “0� or “1.� A bit is 1/8th of a byte

Bayonet Nut Connector provides a secure, easy-to-use means of connecting shielded cables to electronic equipment used for high-end video, computer networking and digital audio. Word clock usually uses a BNC connector and is on the Edirol DA-2496, an 8 in, 8 out PCI soundcard

This is the process of mixing two or more recorded tracks and re-recording (the sum of the original tracks on to another track) these on to another track

Beats per minute. (example: a rap song with 130 bpm has more beats per minute than a classical song at 60 bpm)

Breath Controller
This is a controller that converts breath pressure into MIDI data. Although not common, these controllers are synthesized renditions of acoustic woodwind instruments and are especially beneficial when assigning a wind instrument in a sequence

This is a method for temporarily storing or delaying data samples before processing or conversion

Bulk Dump
Used with synthesizers, a bulk dump transmits a chunk of data commands known as system-exclusive messages. Generally a synth can send and receive bulk dumps to a sequencer, either software or a stand alone synth

A common electrical signal path along which signals may travel, a mixer would have several busses carrying the stereo mix, the groups, and the Aux sends

A unit of digital value which consists of 8 bits, usually in the number of bytes such as kilobytes, megabytes, and gigabytes

Property of an electrical component able to store electrostatic charge, like a battery

Cardioid Microphone-Pattern
A unidirectional microphone with a moderately wide front pickup (131 degrees)

A channel is a path for passing data or digital audio. In sequencing, each channel is assigned to a single instrument in any particular instant of time and in General MIDI, channel 10 is reserved for a percussion voice. One MIDI port makes 16 MIDI channels available so one song could have 16 different channels/instruments assigned to one MIDI port. Also, audio channels on a soundboard

Channel Messages
MIDI channel messages refer to data specific to one particular MIDI channel. Data such as note on/off, note number, velocity, program change, pitch bend, after touch, and controller messages are channel messages

Click track
Metronome pulse provided in software which assists musicians in keeping a consistent tempo

Distortion occurs when an amplifier is driven to play louder than its power supply allows and the result is clipping. This state can cause loudspeaker damage. It is of particular importance with digital audio recording because the clipped waveform contains an excess of high-frequency energy and the sound becomes hard and edgy. With analog linear recording it is standard to record as hot as possible; with digital non-linear recording, recording too hot will result in disastrous clipping

A codec (compression/decompression or coder/decoder) is a software component that is used for compressing and decompressing data such as audio (MP3) or video (MPEG). Among others, codecs exist for WMA, QuickTime, Streaming Audio, and RealAudio

Compression in audio recording means to reduce the dynamic range of a signal

Compressor (Limiter)
A compressor provides a form of automatic level control. It attenuates high levels, thereby reducing the dynamic range, making it easier to control signals and set appropriate fader levels. By reducing the dynamic range, recording levels can be set higher to improve the signal-to-noise performance. Limiting is an extreme form of compression, where the output signal is sharply attenuated so that it cannot exceed a particular level. There are software compressors available such as are within Cakewalk`s AFX1, and hardware units also can have this effect, such as Edirol`s USB audio interface, the UA-700

Condenser Microphone
A microphone that generates an electrical signal when sound waves vary the spacing between two charged surfaces, specifically the diaphragm and the backplate

Control Change Message
A group of MIDI channel messages that are used to alter a sound. Examples of control change messages include volume (#7), pan (#10), modulation wheel (#1), and sustain pedal (#64). Some are continuous controllers and utilize hardware such as sliders, wheels, and sweep foot pedals, while others are on-off switch types such as switches or sustain pedals

Hardware devices that output MIDI and come in a variety of shapes. Although the typical controller is a keyboard, Contour Designs has cool ergonomic palm-fitting controllers: the Shuttle Pro and Space Shuttle

Crossover (Electronic)
An electronic device or circuit that, when inserted between a mixer and amplifier, divides the audio spectrum into individual frequency ranges (low, high, and/or mid) before sending them to specialized amplifier/speaker combinations. In many computer speakers, a crossover routes high-frequency sounds to satellite modules and low frequencies to the bass unit. An advantage of this type of crossover is that it increases efficiency

Crossover Frequency
The frequency in which the audio signal is divided by a crossover

An electronic device that, when inserted after the amplifier, divides the audio spectrum into individual frequency ranges (low, high, and/or mid) before sending them to specialized speakers like tweeters and woofers

Daisy Chain
A group of devices or modules connected to each other in a series, where the first one connects to the computer, the second one connects to the first and so on. This would include SCSI, USB and FireWire connectivity

Damping refers to the ability of an audio component to stop after the signal ends. For example, if a drum is struck with a mallet, the sound will reach a peak level and then decay in a certain amount of time to no sound. An audio component that allows the decay to drag on too long has poor damping and less definition than one wants. An audio component that is over-damped does not allow the initial energy to reach the full peak and cuts the decay short. Boomy or muddy sound is often the result of under-damped systems. Dry or lifeless sound may be the result of an over-damped system

Disc at Once; a recordable CD method where the session is recorded in one pass without interruption (the laser does not turn off). This is ideal when sending audio recordings to be mastered or pressed as most mastering and/or duplication facilities machines will fail or error out if it detects that the laser was turned off

Abbreviation for “Digital Audio Tape,� it is a digital tape-recording format using a small cassette that provides up to two hours of 16-bit, linear, PCM digital recording at a sampling rate of 32, 44.1 or 48 kHz. A significant advantage that a DAT has over most MiniDisc is that most DAT players will have a digital output, useful when transferring the file to the computer for editing, provided that the soundcard has a digital input. The Edirol UA-1D is the perfect device for this digital transfer with both digital ins and outs

Digital Audio Workstation, such as Roland`s VS-2480

dB (Decibel)
A unit used for measuring voltage, current or power. The decibel is often used to measure differences in sound pressure level or relative loudness

Device for reducing the effect of sibilance or excessive “esses� in vocal signals

This is the process whereby information in a compressed digital audio file is read/expanded so that it can be converted from digital to analog to go to speakers so we can hear. There are software MP3 players that both decode and play MP3 files

A common effect in a sampler or synthesizer [or effects] that mimics the time difference between the arrival of a direct sound and its audible first reflection

Physical click stop in the center of a control surface such as a pan or EQ cut/boost knob

The phrase “digital audio recording� is contrasted with “analog audio recording.� Long-playing phonograph records are analog recordings and they capture information in a continuously-variable form. Digital, in contrast, involves binary numbers--1's and 0's. Digital encoding can “think� only in terms of the binary numbers 1 (on) and 0 (off), therefore a synthesizer produces sounds by performing mathematical manipulations upon a stream of numbers which are then transformed by a digital-to-analog converter to an electrical signal. In analog there is no conversion taking place, but every time you copy or boost there can be added noise or loss of original content with each pass which does not happen with digital

Digital Audio Extraction
A method of retrieving audio samples from an audio CD in order to create a computer audio file. This is also known as ripping. This can be accomplished at “CD� quality or MP3 quality MP3, being a digital compression format, will take up less space than a “CD� quality file on a computer audio file

This tool is used with high-end audio recording programs and audio converters to improve audio quality. It is a mathematical process where a random noise is added to the least significant bit of a digital word to improve audio fidelity when needed. The ability to dither an audio file is absolutely required for good digital audio recording and audio editors such as Sonic Foundry`s Sound Forge and Steinberg`s Wavelab have excellent dithering capabilities

Dolby Digital
A five-channel audio system with all processing in the digital domain consisting of left, center, right and left rear, and right rear channels and optional subwoofer. This is also referred to as Dolby Digital 5.1. Unlike Dolby Prologic in which the rear effects channel`s frequency is limited to approx. 100-7000Hz, Dolby Digital rear channels are specified to contain the full 20-20Khz frequency. When an audio file has already been encoded with Dolby Digital, Edirol`s USB audio interface, the UA-3D has the ability to pass through the signal

Piece of software that handles communications between the operating system and a hardware peripheral such as a soundcard, printer, MIDI card or scanner

When recording audio, this refers to an audio signal which has had no effects added. The best practice is to record dry so one can audition a variety of effects in post production

DSP Digital Signal Processing
DSP chips are found in sound cards, synthesizers, effects units, playback and speech synthesis, fax machines, modems, cellular phones, high-capacity hard disks and digital TVs. It is possible that the first DSP was used in the Speak & Spell game in the late 1970s from Texas Instruments. Typically, digital signal processing provides reverb or delay effects, loud speaker processing, EQ limiting and compression as well as feedback destroyers. Other audio uses are amplifiers that simulate concert halls and surround-sound effects for music and home theater. See DSP and Merge

DSP Hardware
DSP hardware frees up a computer`s processing power and speed for other tasks. TC Work`s Powercore is an excellent example of a PCI card which offers DSP processing on the hardware itself—a huge selling feature for this high-end soundcard

DSP Software
DSP software allows you to clean up or enhance the sound quality while others allow you to apply effects such as distortion or flange. There are many digital audio recording programs with DSP features, as well as plug-ins that are available such as Wave`s Renaissance Max

Within audio files, this refers to adding further material to an existing recording and is also known as overdubbing. See Overdubbing

Ducking is used to automatically reduce signal levels when the level of a source signal exceeds a specified threshold. Often used for voice-over applications, the level of background music is automatically reduced (made to 'duck'), allowing an announcer to be heard clearly

DVD audio authoring is DVD encoding software. Minnetonka`s discWelder STEEL allows formats supported in the DVD-A specification, including non-encoded, uncompressed surround and or high-resolution stereo (two channels of 24-bit, up to 192 KHz audio), in WAV or AIFF file format. Surround and stereo tracks may be used on the same disc, and a discWelder-burned disc will play on any DVD-A player that supports DVD-R/RW

Dynamic Microphone
A type of microphone that works on the electric generator principle, where a diaphragm moves a coil of wire within a magnetic field and is typically less sensitive than Condenser Microphones where you need more gain

Dynamic Range
This refers to the difference between the loudest (maximum output level) and quietest (residual noise floor) sounds produced in an audio system without distortion or clipping. The dynamic range in a digital system is determined by the data resolution, about 6 dB per digital bit. In speech, the range rarely exceeds 40 dB; in music, it is the highest in orchestral works where a broad number of instruments are used, where the range may be as much as 75 dB

The relative loudness or softness of a piece of music

Device for treating an audio signal in order to change it in some creative way. Effects often involve the use of delay circuits and include such treatments as reverb and echo. Software plug-ins can provide these effects and they are also available onboard with USB soundcards such as Edirol`s UA-700 and SD-90

Electret Microphone
A condenser microphone that uses an electret (electrical-magnet) to hold a permanent electrical charge, enabling it to function in low-voltage

A device designed to brighten audio material using techniques such as dynamic equalization, phase shifting and harmonic generation

In audio recording software this refers to the way in which the level of a sound or signal varies over time, including alterations in a sound's amplitude, frequency and timbre. In MIDI, an instrument can be altered by manipulating the envelope which contains parameters such as attack, sustain, decay and release. (See ASDR). Using patch editing software the user is able to edit the envelope of a synthesized sound thereby allowing its customization

Envelope Generator
A device or process in a synthesizer or other sound generator that creates a time varying signal used to control some aspect of the sound

Device for selectively cutting or boosting selected parts of the audio spectrum; useful in shaping the vocal or instrument for the desired sound like cutting the high end off of a violin

Because MIDI utilizes commands, most sequencing software has an Event List or an Event Editor where one can scrutinize and change commands such as note on, note off, program change, control change or volume

Event List
Each MIDI track`s content is shown alphanumerically with information such as note, volume and panning, allowing very detailed editing

A circuit designed to enhance the presence of an audio signal by synthesizing new high frequency harmonics to make it sound more clear, punchy, bright, or loud, without the use of ordinary EQ or gain

Fade in-out
A feature of most audio editing software that allows the user to apply a gradual amplitude increase or decrease over some segment of the sound

File Types
There are two MIDI file types and although they sound the same upon playback, they are visually different. Type 0 has all of the information on a single track even though the MIDI file may have been a multiple-channel file; typically these are used in a stand alone MIDI file player. A MIDI File Type 1 contains one or more simultaneous tracks which are better for editing

FM Synthesizers
These produce sounds by generating a pure sine wave (carrier) and then mixing it with a second waveform (modulator). When the two waveforms are close in frequency, a complex waveform is produced. By controlling both the carrier and the modulator it is possible to create different timbres, or instruments. FM synthesis is hardly used today being replaced by more realistic forms of synthesis, such as wave table synthesis

Frequency component or resonance of an instrument or voice sound that doesn't change with the pitch of the note being played or sung. For example, the body resonance of an acoustic guitar remains constant, regardless of the note being played

The rate per second at which an oscillating body vibrates. Usually measured in Hertz (Hz), humans can hear sounds with frequencies in the range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz

Fundamental Frequency
This is the predominant frequency in a complex waveform and typically provides the sound with its strongest pitch reference. Any sound has a fundamental or basic frequency plus harmonics and partials at a higher frequency

General MIDI (GM)
A standard set of rules within MIDI that allows for cross-instrument compatibility. General MIDI instruments such as many Roland products all use the same memory areas for sound storage and always use MIDI channel 10 for drum parts. General MIDI files provide access to 128 instruments, are capable of playing at least 16 sounds simultaneously and have at least 24-note polyphony

General MIDI 2 (GM2)
An expanded set of parameters for fuller compositions that allow additional controllers, effects and more instruments. MIDI files that are GM2 will be backward compatible to GM, but for these files to be heard utilizing all of the additional accoutrements that GM2 has to offer, they must be played back on a GM2 synth. The Edirol HQ Hyper Canvas is a software synthesizer specifically designed for GM2 MIDI files, as are the Edirol modules, the SD-20, SD-80, and SD-90

Global Editing
These are MIDI or audio events which affect an entire file or sequence

Graphic Equalizer
Many audio editing programs such as Cakewalk`s Sonar and Steinberg`s Cubase include this helpful tool; it applies a series of band filters to an audio file, each of which works on a certain range of the spectrum. For example, the frequencies that fall within the range, typically one-third octave, can be boosted or cut

Harmonic Distortion
The addition of harmonics that was not present in the original signal

A frequency that is a whole-number multiple of the fundamental frequency. For example, if the fundamental frequency of a sound is 440Hz, then the first two harmonics are 880Hz and 1,320Hz (1.32kHz). See Overtone

Hertz (Hz)
A unit of measurement denoting frequency originally measured as one cycle per second (CPS): 20 Hz = 20 CPS. Kilohertz (kHz) are Hertz measured in multiples of 1,000

High Pass Filter (HPF)
A device which allows higher frequency data to be transmitted, rejecting lower frequencies, as used in Graphic EQ`s. For example, your HPF is set at 100Hz. This means everything below 100Hz to 20 Hz will not be as present in your audio signal. If you had a bass drum mic`d, you would not get any low end thump. See Low Pass Filter

This is an audio listening term and refers to the ability of a speaker to position sounds precisely in space. A good stereo system can provide a stereo image that has width, depth and height. The best imaging systems will define a nearly holographic recreation of the original sound

A measure of the AC (alternating current) resistance to the flow of electrical or acoustic energy. In electronics it is measured in Ohms

Typically used with synthesizers, it is a procedure which places default values or factory settings into some or all parameters. It is especially helpful when clearing out a multitude of previously sent MIDI messages

An audio interface such as Echo Audio`s Layla allows the computer to communicate with a microphone or line level device. A MIDI interface such as any Edirol USB MIDI product, allows communication between the computer and a synthesizer or controller keyboard

To repeat a sequencer pattern or portion of an audio sample repeatedly. The point to which the program returns, whether the beginning or some other point, is usually definable by the user

Low-Pass Filter (LPF)
Also called a High Cut Filter. A device which allows lower frequency data to be transmitted, rejecting higher frequencies. Most subwoofers have low-pass filters built in and many surround sound decoders have subwoofer outputs that have been low-pass filtered. See High Pass Filter

In sequencing it is the process of identifying patches and keys so that sound files can be played properly. A key map will translate values for MIDI messages so that the correct keys will be played whereas a patch map functions to identify the correct patches or sounds. A typical use would be when a non-General Midi (GM) synth needs to be mapped for a GM file

In sequencing and audio software, a marker is used to record a position for easy editing navigation

Meta Events
The prefix “Meta� often means above or beyond and in computing, a Meta character conveys information about other characters. In MIDI, a Meta event is illustrated by such things as track name, patch name, tempo, time signature, etc. Meta events are contrasted with data streams

An acronym for the Musical Instrument Digital Interface, a standardized digital “language� that allows electronic musical instruments and computers to communicate with one another

MIDI Cable
A special wire used to carry MIDI data; it has three shielded conductors connected to five-pin DIN plugs at both ends. It is not a MIDI interface by itself but most interfaces such as the Edirol UM-1S, the UM-550 and the UM-880 need MIDI cables to complete the communication between the computer and MIDI hardware

MIDI Controller
This is a hardware device that outputs MIDI data such as Edirol`s PCR-30 or PCR-50 keyboards. Other forms of controllers include drum, guitar, or wind controller. Real-time controllers are either continuous controllers (wheels, joysticks, sliders, foot pedals, breath controllers) or switch controllers (footswitches or other on-off devices). Many MIDI controllers do not have sounds but are used specifically to send MIDI data to another device such as a computer or a sound module

MIDI Filter
Many sequencing and digital audio recording programs utilize filters to assist the user with the editing of their data. A filter is especially useful if you are replacing MIDI data such as changing a violin to a viola

MIDI Implementation Chart
This comprehensive document resides within most synthesizer manuals and describes what MIDI messages, such as note number, velocity, aftertouch, bender, control change, program change, and system exclusive messages are transmitted or recognized by the synthesizer

MIDI Messages
The net effect of MIDI is sound: melodies, harmonies, rhythms, but the MIDI message or MIDI event itself is not a sound but a command. MIDI messages transmitted are digital commands and capable of sending about 1,000 events per second