The Recording Institute of Detroit & Recording Website provide this glossary as a professional courtesy to the music & recording industry. This is an edited verson of the glossary and audio dictionary used by RID students. There is no charge for individuals use this glossary provided that the use is non-commercial. Distribution of printed copies is strictly forbidden. Feel free to bookmark this page for future use.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Select the first letter of the word from the list above to jump to appropriate section of the glossary.
Fade - 1) A gradual reduction of the level of the audio signal. 2) A gradual change of level from one pre-set level to another.
Fader - A control to control the gain of a channel on the console, thereby determining the level of the signal in that channel.
Far Field - The area from 3 feet away from the sound source up to the critical distance.
Fat - Having more than a normal amount of signal strength at low frequencies or having more sound than normal (by use of compression or delay).
Feed - To send an audio or control signal to.
Feedback - 1) The delayed signal sent back to the input of a delay line, used in repeat-echo effects. 2) The pickup of the signal out of a channel by its input or the howling sound that this produces. 3) In an amplifier, the phase reversed output signal sent back to its input, reducing gain but also distortion and noise.
Feedback Control - The control on a delay line or delay effects device that controls the amount of feedback.
Fidelity - The recording or reproduction quality.
Field - 1) In video, one half of a frame. 2) In computer-controlled devices a window display with functions and choices that the operator can make
Figure Eight Pattern - Another name for Bi-directional Pattern (microphone pickup pattern picking up best from the front and back of the diaphragm and not picking up from the side of the diaphragm).
File - A collection of digital data stored in a computer's memory bank or on a floppy disc.
Filter - 1) A device that removes signals with frequencies above or below a certain point called the cut-off frequency. 2) An equalizer section, used in this sense because filters are used with other components to give an equalizer its frequency response characteristics. 3) The action of removing signals of some frequencies and leaving the rest. 4) A mechanical device to smooth out speed variations in tape machines called a Scrape Flutter Filter- more usually called a Scrape Flutter Idler
Final Mix - The two track stereo master tape which was mixed from the multitrack master.
First Generation - A descriptive term meaning original (as opposed to a copy).
Flange - An effect caused by an approximately even mix of a modulated (varying) short delay with the direct signal.
Flat - 1) Lower in musical pitch. 2) A slang term used to describe the sensitivity to frequency of a microphone, amplifier, etc., as being even at all frequencies, usually within 2 dB.
Fletcher Munson Effect - A hearing limitation shown by Fletcher Munson Equal Loudness Contours (as music is lowered in volume, it is much more difficult to hear bass frequencies and somewhat harder to hear very high frequencies).
Floor - 1) An alternate tam meaning Range (a limit on the amount the signal is reduced when the input signal is low by an expander or gate). 2) A shortening of the term Noise Floor (the level of the noise).
Floor Toms - The large toms to the right of the drummer.
Floppy Disk (Floppy Disc) - A round flat object (usually housed in a protective sleeve) coated with material that can be magnetized in a similar manner to tape.
Flutter - 1) High-frequency variations in pitch of a recorded waveform due to fast speed variations in a recorder or playback machine. 2) Originally, and more formally, any variations (fast or slow) in pitch of a recorded tone due to speed fluctuations in a recorder or playback unit.
Fly In - 1) To add sounds into a mix or recording that have no synchronization. 2) An application of this where a performance from one part of a tune is recorded and then recorded back into the recording at a different time in the recording.
Foldback - A European term for the signal sent to the stage monitors in a live performance.
Foot (Foot Drum) - Another name for Bass Drum (the largest drum in the Drum Kit which puts out bass frequencies and is played with a foot pedal).
Foot Pedal - 1) An effects device where the amount of the effect can be controlled by a musician with his foot. 2) The beater mechanism of a foot drum that is activated by the drummer's foot to play the drum. 3) Any device, like a volume control, that can be operated by the foot.
Foot Switch - A switch placed on the floor and pressed by a musician to do various functions.
Formant - An element in the sound of a voice or instrument that does not change frequency as different pitches are sounded.
Format - 1) The number of tracks, their width, spacing and order for tape recording. 2) To prepare a digital storage medium so that it will accept and store digital information bits.
Frame - 1) A division of one second in synchronization and recording coming from definition two. 2) The amount of time that one still picture is shown in film or video.
Frequency - The number of cycles of a waveform occurring in a second.
Frequency Range - The range of frequencies over which an electronic device is useful or over which a sound source will put out substantial energy.
Frequency Response - How sensitive an electronic device (mic, amplifier, speaker, etc.) is to various frequencies; often communicated with a graph.
Frequency Shift Key / FSK - The full name for FSK (A simple clock signal that can be used to run a sequencer in time with an audio tape).
Full - A quality of the sound of having all frequencies present, especially the low frequencies.
Full Step - A change in pitch that occurs when moving up or down two piano keys
Fundamental - The tuned frequency and (almost always) the lowest frequency that is present in the sounding of a pitch by a musical instrument.
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Gain - The amount of increase in audio signal strength, often expressed in dB.
Gain Control - A device that changes the gain of an amplifier or circuit, often a knob that can be turned or a slide that can be moved up arid down.
Gain Reduction - The working of a limiter or compressor reducing gain during high-level passages.
Gain Structure - The way in which the gain varies in the stages or sections of an audio system.
Gate - A dynamic processing device that turns a channel off or down when the signal drops below a certain level.
Generating Element - The portion of the microphone that actually converts the movement of the diaphragm into electrical current or voltage changes.
Generation - A term used to describe the number of times that the recorded audio signal has been copied.
Golden Section - A ratio of height to width to length of a room to achieve "good acoustics" and first recommended by the ancient Greeks. The ratio is approximately the width 1.62 times the height and the length 2.62 times the height
Graphic Equalizer - An device with several slides controlling the gain of audio signal present which is within one of several evenly spaced frequency bands (spaced according to octaves).
Ground - In electronics, a place (terminal) that has zero volts.
Ground Lift - A switch that breaks the connection between the ground point in one circuit and the ground point in another circuit.
Ground Lifter - An adapter that takes a three prong power cord and plugs into a two prong outlet, used to disconnect the third (ground) pin of the power outlet. WARNING: It can be VERY DANGEROUS to have no ground connection to the case by using a ground lifter and not grounding the unit by other means.
Ground Loop - A double grounding of a line or electronic device at two different "ground" points of differing voltage.
Group - 1) A number of channels or faders that can be controlled by one Master VCA slide. 2) A shortening of the term Recording Group (a buss or the signal present on a buss).
Group Faders - The VCA faders of individual channels that are all controlled by a Group Master Fader (a slide control used to send out a control voltage to several VCA faders in individual channels).
Group Master - A slide control used to send out a control voltage to several VCA faders in individual channels, thus controlling the gain of several channels.
Grouping - 1) Controlling the gain of several individual channels with a Group Fader. 2) The mixing together of several individual audio signals to send a mixed signal out of the console to record a track on a multitrack tape machine.
Guitar Controller - An electric guitar or device played like an electric guitar that puts out MIDI signals that can be used to control synthesizers and sound modules.
Guitar Processor - A unit that will add effects to a direct guitar signal, including a simulated instrument amplifier sound and (often) delay and reverb effects.
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Haas Effect - Simply stated, a factor in human hearing where delay has a much bigger effect on human perception of direction than level does.
Half Step - A pitch difference of the amount that is present between adjacent keys on a piano.
Hall - A large building designed for concerts; also called a concert hall.
Hall Program - A setting of a digital delay/reverb effects unit that approximates concert halls. Hall programs are characterized by pre-delay of up to 25 ms.
Hard Disk (Hard Disc) - A storage unit for digital data that has rigid disks coated with magnetic material in a housing that includes the drive mechanism.
Hard Disk Recording - The recording of digital audio onto a hard disc.
Harmonic Distortion - The presence of harmonics in the output signal of a device which were not present in the input signal.
Harmonics - Whole number multiples of the fundamental frequency that determines the tone rather than the pitch recognition of an instrument's sound.
Head - 1) In tape recording, the transducer (energy converter) that changes the audio energy from electrical energy to magnetic energy and back; also the devices that apply magnetism to the recording tape for other purposes such as in the erase head. 2) The part of a device that immediately includes the transducer to change sound or audio signals from one energy form to another.
Head Amp - British name for Preamplifier (A low-noise amplifier designed to take a low-level signal, such as the output of a tape head, and bring it up to normal line level).
Headphones - Devices that can be worn on the head with small speakers that fit over the ears (or sometimes into the ears).
Headroom - 1) The level difference (in dB) between normal operating level and clipping level in an amplifier or audio device. 2) A similar level difference between normal tape operating level and the level where the distortion would be 3%.
Hearing Limitation - An inability of the ear to hear important characteristics of sound under certain conditions. Characteristics that can be affected include pitch, level, clarity, presence and direction.
Hertz - The unit of frequency. Equivalent to cycles per second. Abbreviation: Hz.
Hi-Z - An abbreviation of the term High Impedance (Impedance of 5000 or more ohms).
High Frequencies - The audio frequencies from 6000 Hz and above.
High Hat - A double cymbal on a stand which can be played with a foot pedal or by the top cymbal being hit with a stick.
High Impedance - Impedance of 5000 or more ohms.
High-Impedance Mic - A microphone designed to be fed into an amplifier with input impedance greater than 20 k ohms.
High-Pass Filter - A device that rejects signals that are below a certain frequency (called the cut-off frequency) and passes signals with frequencies that are higher.
Highs - Short for the term High Frequencies (the audio frequencies from 6000 Hz and above).
House Sync - A synchronization signal such as SMPTE time code that is used by all recorders in the control room.
Howlback - British term for the term Feedback (the pickup of the signal out of a channel by the input of the channel or the howling sound that this produces).
Hum - The 60 Hz power line current accidentally induced or fed into electronic equipment.
Hypercardioid Pattern - A microphone pick up sensitivity pattern where the least sensitive pick up point is more than 90 degrees but less than 150 degrees off axis (usually 120 degrees).
Hz - An abbreviation for the term Hertz (the unit of frequency).
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IC - Abbreviation of Integrated Circuit (A miniature circuit of many components that is in small, sealed housing with prongs to connect it into equipment).
Icon - A visual picture or symbol on a computer screen that represents a file, prograrn or disc that can be used.
ID - An index signal (digital data that gives the machine information of where selections start, their selection number, etc.) on a DAT or CD.
IM Distortion - An abbreviation of the term Internodulation Distortion (Distortion caused by one signal beating with another signal and producing frequencies that are both the sum and the difference of the original frequencies present).
Images - The squaring of the waveform that happens in the conversion of digital audio bits into analog signals.
Impedence - The opposition to alternating current.
Impedance Matching - Having or converting the output impetlance of a device so thar it matches the impedance of the input it will feed.
In - Short For "in the circuit," in other words "active."
In-Line Console - A console with modules that have controls for all console sections in one long strip.
In Port - A jack on a MIDI device or computer that will accept an incoming dnta signal.
Infinite Baffle - A baffle so large that the sounds coming from one side do not reach the other side.
Infinite Repeat - A function on some delay lines that establish enough feedback so that the repeat echo will last forever, but not so much as to cause a howling sound.
Information Bits - The bits in the digital signal that make up actual values or commands being communicated as opposed to bits that are used for checking & correcting data or other purposes.
Initialize - To prepare a digital storage medium (like a floppy disk) so that it will accept and store digital information bits.
Input - 1) The jack or physical location of where a device receives a signal. 2) The signal being received by a device. 3) The action of receiving a signal by a device.
Input Impedence - The opposition to current flow by the first circuits of a device.
Input Monitor - A switch position and operational mode of the electronics of a tape machine where the signal at dtitput of the electronics will be the same as the signal coming into the electronics. rn this mode, the tape machine's meter will read the input signal.
Input/Output Module - A set of controls, on one housing, for an in-line console that has two channels (one for recording and one for monitoring) and has controls for all console sections.
Input Overload - Sending too high of a signal level into a device so that the first amplifler of the device overloads.
Insert - 1) A punch in of the all of the tracks being recorded in a recording session. 2) On Solid State Logic consoles, placing an outboard piece of gear in the channel by patching and activating a switch.
Instrument Amplifier - A device that has a power amplifier and speaker in a case (or in separate cases) to reproduce the signal put out by an electric instrument (such as an electric guitar) and to allow the instrument to be heard.
Instrument Out Direct - Feeding the output of an electric instrument (like an electric guitar) to the recording console or tape recorder without using a microphone.
Insulator - A substance such as glass, air, plastic, etc., that will (for all practical purposes) not conduct electricity.
Integrated Circuit (IC) - A miniature circuit of many components in a small, sealed housing with prongs to connect it into equipment.
Interface - Any device that allows one unit to work, drive or communicate with another unit when they cannot do so by just feeding each other often because the units are manufacturcd by different companies.
Intermodulation Distortion - Distortion caused by one signal beating with another signal and producing frequencies that are both the sum and the difference of the original frequencies.
Inverse Square Law - Simply stated, the fact that in an un-obstructed area (like an open field) the sound pressure level will drop to half-pressure (-6 dB) every time the distance to the sound source is doubled.
I/O - Short for "Input/Output' and referring to: 1) An in-line console module that contains controls for the input section, output section and monitor section. 2) A module in electronic gear containing input and output amplifiers for the device. 3) A digital port (connector) able to both receive digital data and output digital data. 4) A card or separate unit that converts audio to digital audio for input into a digital system and also do the reverse for the output.
Isolation - A containing of the sound wave in a certain area so that it will not leak into other areas and/or unintended mics.
Isolation Booth/Isolation Room - A room that prevents loud sounds from other instruments from leaking in: an isolation booth is usually a smaller room that could be used for ouly one musician.
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Jack - A connector mounted on the case of a device or on a panel.
Jack Bay - A series of jacks which have connections for most of the inputs and outputs of the equipment in the control room.
Jam Sync- A generation of new SMPTE according to the input SMPTE signal
Joystick - 1) A quad pan pot which distributes what percentage of on signal is sent to each of 4 outputs. 2) A control that is separately controlling two functions at one time.
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