Dubspot Producer’s Handbook

Welcome to Dubspot’s Electronic Music Production Program! Soon you will be making your way into the world of beats and production, creating your own original sounds and recordings. Music production is a vast topic, with years of history, techniques, and technological developments. Provided in this workbook is some general information, technical descriptions, and terminology to benefit all new and aspiring producers. Read this workbook and familiarize yourself with the information; the terms and concepts presented here will undoubtedly cross your path time and time again as your progress through your courses at Dubspot and into your future music projects!

History of Music Recording

Let’s begin with a look at some important chapters and milestones in the history of music recording that have carried us to the point we are today. Early Recordings The earliest methods of recording sounds involved recording of a live performance directly to the recording medium. One of the earliest recording devices was the phonograph, invented by Thomas Edison in 1877. The phonograph was a device with a cylinder covered with a soft material such as tin foil, lead, or wax. The sound of the performers was captured by a diaphragm with the cutting needle connected to it, the sound caused the stylus to draw grooves into the surface of the recording material. The depth of the grooves made by the stylus corresponded to change in air pressure created by the original sound. The recording could be played back by tracing a needle through the groove and amplifying, through mechanical means, the resulting vibrations, resulting in what soon became a very popular means of recording and distributing music. This changed with the advent of the gramophone (phonograph in American English), which was patented by Emile Berliner in 1887. The gramophone imprinted grooves on the flat side of a disc rather than the outside of a cylinder. Instead of recording by varying the depth of the groove (vertically), as with the phonograph, the vibration of the recording stylus was across the width of the track ( horizontally).

He developed almost all the techniques and tricks that later became standard in multitrack sessions--headphone or cue mixing. These machines were mono. and special varispeed operations. Such mono-to-mono copy-overdubbing was the standard in pop music production up until 1962. overdubbing. The poor sound quality obtained on that early equipment soon improved with the introduction of commercial recorders and new tapes by Telefunken in Europe and Ampex in the United States. who also helped design the famous electric guitar that bears his name. In 1955. In the history of record production. and sending the composite signal to a second recorder. . Nevertheless. prelaying effects and delays. Stereo quickly became the norm for commercial classical recordings and radio broadcasts. Multitrack Recording The next major development in magnetic tape was multitrack recording. bouncing tracks. Unfortunately.Tape Recording Magnetic tape recording. this early form of multi-tracking rivaled the invention of the wheel. Much of the credit for the development of multitrack recording goes to guitarist. Basic tracks could be laid down on one track. the tracks stay in perfect synchronization. full track (one 1/4" wide track). Les Paul commissioned Ampex Corporation to build a custom recorder. It was discovered early on that you could overdub by playing back a previously recorded tape through a mixer. and Les proceeded to make a string of Top 10 hits on it. The next development in multitracking was stereo sound. was used both in radio broadcasts and for the deciphering of intercepted code messages. Because they are carried on the same medium. some instrumental overdubs (perhaps even horns or strings) on the second track (recorded while these musicians heard a headphone playback of track 1). The first Ampex 8-track was delivered the next year. developed by the Germans during the Second World War. this technique did allow artists to add layers of new music. the pretaped music lost a bit of sound quality and gained a bit of extra noise. in which the tape is divided into multiple tracks parallel with each other. pop and rock records were made to sound good on AM radio-in highly compressed mono. Until that time. although many pop music and jazz recordings continued to be issued in monophonic sound until the mid-1960s. blending that with live mics. which divided the recording head into two tracks. composer and technician Les Paul. with eight parallel tracks to be recorded onto special 1" wide tape. then both tracks mixed onto a second machine.

in which each of the four tracks was used to simulate a complete 360degree surround sound. Although it is now considered a gimmick. it was the direct precursor of the surround sound technology that has become standard in many modern home theatre systems. such as a studio. In a professional setting today. but 'quad' failed to gain wide commercial acceptance. Three-track recorders remained in widespread commercial use until the mid-1960s and many famous pop recordings. in which multiple tracks were recorded onto one 4-track machine and then mixed together and transferred (bounced down) to one track of a second 4-track machine. These proved extremely useful for popular music.Multitrack recording was immediately taken up in a limited way by Ampex. Studying Popular Music. including many of Phil Spector's so-called "Wall of Sound" productions and early Motown hits. who soon produced a commercial 3-track recorder. The next important development was 4-track recording. it was possible to record literally dozens of separate tracks and combine them into finished recordings of great complexity. In this way. audio engineers may use 24 tracks or more for their recordings. or to create a full stereo backing track) while the third track was reserved for the lead vocalist. utilizing one or more tracks for each instrument played. and the engineers at London's Abbey Road Studios became particularly adept at a technique called "reduction mixes" in the UK and "bouncing down" in the United States. source: Middleton. Philadelphia: Open University Press . The advent of this improved system gave recording engineers and musicians vastly greater flexibility for recording and overdubbing. A number of albums including Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells were released both in stereo and quadrophonic format in the 1970s. and 4-track was the studio standard for most of the later 1960s. Richard (1990/2002). 4-track tape also enabled the development of quadraphonic sound. since they enabled backing music to be recorded on two tracks (either to allow the overdubbing of separate parts. were taped on Ampex 3-track recorders. Many of the most famous recordings by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were recorded on 4-track.

the ADAT machine is capable of recording 8 tracks of digital audio onto a single S-VHS video cassette. Stevie Wonder. Notable Producers & Engineers Here is a short list of some of the countless great producers who have contributed to the wide range of music that shaped the world we live in. In the early 1990s. Common. digital systems were introduced and began to prevail. King Tubby (Jamaica) Legendary Jamaican producer and one of pioneers of dub and reggae music as we know it today. Charlie Parker. responsible for the beats behind countless hits for Tribe Called Quest. soul. USB.Digital Recording In the 1990s. and rock artists. hard disk recording became more popular. Ken Scott (UK) From Abbey Roads Studio. developing innovative ways of using effects and the mixing console as an instrument. the Pharcyde. with adapters for encoding audio into tracks of digital audio. These adapters can either be built-in soundcards or external. The most notable of this type of recorder is the ADAT. Within a few years after the introduction of digital recording. and David Bowie. connecting to the computer using internal audio interface cards. or Firewire cables. Tom Dowd (Atlantic Records) Produced early hit record for Ray Charles. they returned to recording on videotape. Busta Rhymes. Ken was behind the boards for the Beatles. are actually single-purpose computers. The other form of hard disk recording uses a dedicated recorder unit which contains analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog converters as well as one or two removable hard drives for data storage. multitrack recorders were being commonly used in professional studios. and many more. Berry Gordy (Motown) Founder of legendary label Motown. and Smokey Robinson to name a few. Aretha Franklin. be sure to check the liner notes and find out who was behind the scenes making the music sound so amazing! . One is the use of standard desktop or laptop computers. Pink Floyd. Next time you are listening to your favorite albums. and dozens of other famous jazz. which can in turn be connected to standard computers for editing. and other successful acts. Hard disk recording is available in two forms. packing 24 tracks in a few units of studio rack space. Such recorders. As hard disk capacities and computer CPU speeds increased at the end of the 1990s. Developed by Alesis and first released in 1991. The ADAT machine is still a very common fixture in professional and home studios around the world. relatively low-priced multitrack digital recorders were introduced for use in home studios. J-Dilla (Detroit) Highly influential hip hop producer. his artists included the Supremes. De La Soul.

you might have had your keyboard set to a violin sound when you recorded your MIDI signal. but it will still sound like a violin.What is the difference between audio and MIDI? A seemingly simple question that perplexes many newcomers to audio and recording. say. With the popularity of desktop or laptop studios. and controller devices that transmit MIDI information to the computer thru a USB cable to allow hands-on performance and control of software instruments and devices. The recording is a representation of the sound the instrument actually made. but when you play it back you can set your keyboard to any sound you like. The advantage of using MIDI is that you can change the instrumentation the MIDI notes you recorded will play later. You can correct wrong notes. is recorded. For instance you can correct the timing of notes. and more! Since MIDI's introduction in the music industry. etc. Regular audio isn't as flexible: Your recording of a violin will always sound like a violin. there are also a wide variety of keyboards.. MIDI has further advantages: You can edit the MIDI data more flexibly than audio. and it contains information about which keys are being pressed. An audio signal is recorded on an audio track of a digital audio workstation software. whereas instruments such as synths or drum machines use 1/4” audio cables. You can EQ it. However. or how forcefully they were played.. it is merely a list of which keys were pressed and when. transpose parts. Only the data about which keys were pressed. The ports use special MIDI cable to communicate performance data. most electronic instruments sold have built in MIDI ports to connect them to a sequencer or other MIDI instruments. Typically. drum pads. plus other associated data. Audio signals from an instrument or microphone need to be routed into the audio inputs on digital music interface or mixer using the appropriate cables. So what was once a violin can now very easily become a trumpet. So the MIDI signal doesn't sound like a violin or a trumpet. a violin or a trumpet. . A MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) signal is normally generated by a playing on a keyboard. and will be different according to whether the instrument was. When you record an audio signal. microphones use XLR mic cables. then the acoustic or electronic waveform that the instrument produces is captured directly. change the tempo. The MIDI signal can be recorded on a MIDI track of a digital audio workstation.

such as Cubase. Logic Express. they take the form of synthesizers. is an interface standard for connecting synthesizers and effects to audio editors and recording systems. This includes mixing consoles. A VST host is usually a software application. AU are used by Apple applications such as GarageBand. high-quality effects.A Guide To Hardware Devices vs. many players still prefer the sound and feel of physical equipment. They can be played in real time. or others. including many rare and expensive rack mount hardware processors previously only available to a handful of producers in a few of the world's top-notch recording studios.000!) as well as the limits of physical space available for mountains of equipment in a small home or professional studio. and editing music? What is Hardware? Hardware refers to any physical piece of music equipment. and more. nearly every studio and producer was using all hardware devices to make and record their music. They are basically a software version of a piece of hardware. The advantage of having dedicated hardware equipment is the reliability of a dedicated piece of gear (no software crashes!). drum machines and other instruments. Audio Units (AU) . synthesizers. the unique sound qualities and properties each unit possesses. They may also be synched by the use of MIDI cables to play together with other devices. Logic. and the powerful music software programs we take for granted now. They are a system-level plug-in architecture provided by Core Audio in Mac OS X developed by Apple Computer. making it the most widely used plug-in type. samplers. Soundtrack Pro. and still swear by certain classic hardware gear as part of their recording process. or be controlled by a sequencer. and drum machines capable of emulating and in some cases surpassing its much more expensive hardware counterparts. like any other type of audio effect. . you may have heard the terms hardware and VST. Steinberg's VST. giving you an tremendously expanded palette of sounds and production tools right on your existing computer! There are 2 different types of VST plug-ins. Prior to advent of cheap and powerful computers on the market. Lugging the soft synth version of the B3 Organ around on a laptop is a whole lot easier than having to carry around the hardware version! VST effects – VST effects are used to process audio. The 2 main types are: VST instruments – Also know as a VSTi.Similar to VST are Audio Unit or AU plug-ins. drum machines. What is VST? VST. There are VST equivalents to every type of audio effect available as hardware. control another device. Virtual Instruments & Effects If you have been recording or producing music. makers of the Cubase audio recording programs. with thousands of different varieties. The downside is the high-cost (certain hardware synths exceed $3000 and high-quality mixing consoles can exceed $25. Final Cut Pro and most 3rd party audio software developed for Mac OS X. Hardware instruments are recorded by connecting audio cables from the outputs of the instruments to the mixer or recording device being used. VST replaces traditional audio recording hardware with software equivalents. Virtual Studio Technology. rack mount effects processors. It may be thought of as Apple's architectural equivalent to the other popular plug-in format. samplers. Invented and developed by Steinberg. What is the difference between hardware and VST and how does it figure in to playing. The advantage of VSTs is there is a wide range of virtual synths. Even with today's music technology. or also used in conjunction with MIDI for live performance. Ableton Live. VST instruments and effects must be used in conjunction with a VST host. recording. Logic Pro. and the hands-on "tweak-ablility" of the dedicated knobs and sliders on a physical piece of gear. samplers.

here is a list of some of the main programs we teach and a description of each. it can be confusing what the different programs do. some producers may choose to focus on just one program to create their music. but it also excels in the studio for mixing with its innovative production tools and endless sound and automation possibilities. though. No audio recording but configurable for hands-on live performance. ABLETON LIVE The current market leader for electronic music production due to it’s unique and easy interface that allows you to build tracks in a improvisational way both with audio and midi clips. This program will appeal to the hardware lovers as it mimics the functionality of a real hardware rack with cables for customized wiring. This is a all in one package suitable equally for live. REASON 4 An easy to learn all in one compositional tool for midi-programming containing a big rack of instruments and effects and an intuitive sequencer layout. while others will find using a combination of several programs together will yield the best sounding results. The Suite ships with synthesizers and a big Library. a nice collection of midi instruments and the unique Ultra beat Drum sequencer. In the end. Live is the software of choice for performing electronic musicians and Djs alike.Music Software: “Which Do I Choose?” With so many great software options to make electronic music currently on the market. The most important point with music production to remember. huge sound library with easy pre listen and load features. This app has a lot of detail and depth for producing great sounding tracks and songs in and is equally suited for the recording of live instruments and midi sequencing. ideal for learning the basics of synth and midi programming. but ultimately making great songs that you and others enjoy listening to! At Dubspot. LOGIC 8 This great Legacy Software by Apple is particularly strong for studio uses with great overall sound quality. studio and DJ uses It is particularly well equipped for mixing and mashing audio content due to it’s automatic tempo matching capabilities (warping). . Reason 4 offers an ideal introduction to music production with midi instruments. we teach many of the most popular music programs used by today’s producers. Logic 8 comes with a big sound library of both midi and audio content. automation and mixing but the the overall structure makes it less suitable for improvisational live performance. Many new producers might feel discouraged just trying to figure out which programs to pursue. is that it’s not about the software you use. Recording and editing midi can be done in or out of timeline. Composition is done in a straightforward timeline format only and offers a lot of control for editing.

and the final destination of your audio. an electronic audio signal at regular intervals (of time). digital audio samples use binary numbers (bits) to represent the strength of each audio sample. which can represent 65. as technology improves. You can also think of the sample rate as the number of electronic snapshots made of the sound wave per second. Which sample rate you choose to work with depends on the source material you’re working with. or sampling. Higher bit depths mean your audio signal is more accurately represented when it is sampled. The number of bits used for quantization is referred to as bit depth. For years.1 kHz) and 48 kHz. think of each digital audio sample as a ladder with equally spaced rungs that climb from silence to full volume. which have an infinite range of volume levels. The accuracy of each sample is determined by its bit depth. Converting the amplitude of each sample to a binary number is called quantization. An analog-to-digital (A/D) converter measures and stores each sample as a numerical value that represents the audio amplitude at that particular moment.Digital Audio Digital audio recording works by recording. Sample rate and bit depth are two of the most important factors when determining the quality of a digital audio system. while the spaces between rungs are in-between volumes that a sample cannot represent.100 Hz (44. Sample Rate The sample rate is the number of times an analog signal is measured—or sampled— per second. To better understand bit depth. 96 kHz and even 192 kHz sample rates are becoming common. Most digital audio systems use a minimum of 16 bits per sample. the digital audio sample rate standards have been 44. Higher sample rates result in higher sound quality because the analog waveform is more closely approximated by the discrete samples.536 possible levels (24-bit samples can represent over 16 million possible levels). . Bit Depth Unlike analog signals. However. the capabilities of your audio interface. Each rung on the ladder is a possible volume that a sample can represent.

Quantization errors occur when a digital audio sample does not exactly match the analog signal strength it is supposed to represent (in other words. Such a system would have absolutely no subtlety. For example. the audio level of the analog signal often falls in the spaces between rungs. and therefore the audio samples more accurately reflect the shape of the original analog audio signal. . In this case. For example.Sample Rates When a sample is made. the more precisely the original signal can be represented. suppose an audio signal is exactly 1. rounding smooth analog signals to a square-shaped waveform. and nothing in between. the less space between rungs). but the analog-to-digital converter rounds this to 1 volt because this is the closest bit value available. While quantization noise may be imperceptible. The bit depth of a digital audio sample determines how closely the rungs are spaced. Any audio sample that falls between these rungs must be rounded to full volume or silence.15 volts. Always try to use the highest bit depth possible to avoid quantization errors. the digital audio sample is slightly higher or lower than the analog signal). it can potentially be exacerbated by further digital processing. a 1-bit system (a ladder with only two rungs) can represent either silence or full volume. This rounding error causes noise in your digital audio signal. Quantization errors are also called rounding errors because imprecise numbers represent the original analog audio. the sample must be rounded to the nearest rung. The more rungs available (or. The diagram on the far right shows the highest bit depth.

each sample can more accurately represent the audio signal. professional audio recording devices usually support 24-bit audio. you should always use the highest bit depth your equipment supports. Most digital video devices use 16. which has become the industry standard .or 20-bit audio.When the number of bits per sample is increased. To avoid rounding errors. so you may be limited to one of these bit depths. However.

Also. The main portion of a song that is repeated several times throughout the song with the same lyrics. the ratio of the change in input level (in dB) to the change in output level (in dB). each channel contains a different signal. 2. data compression reduces the number of bytes in a file without losing essential information. forming a region with higherthan-normal atmospheric pressure. ASSIGN: To route or send an audio signal to one or more selected channels. The first portion of a note's envelope in which a note rises from silence to its maximum volume. . DAW: Abbreviation for digital audio workstation. The microphone diaphragm and an adjacent metallic disk (called a backplate) are charged to form two plates of a capacitor. the output level changes 1 dB. COMPRESSION RATIO (SLOPE): In a compressor. Usually. ATTACK: The beginning of a note. With this system. A special effect in which a signal is delayed by 15 to 35 milliseconds.GLOSSARY OF TERMS ANALOG-TO-DIGITAL (A/D) CONVERTER: A circuit that converts an analog audio signal into a stream of digital data (bit stream). DECIBEL: The unit of measurement of audio level. which in turn varies the voltage between the diaphragm and backplate. shimmering effect. CHORUS: 1. CUE SYSTEM: A monitor system that allows musicians to hear themselves and previously recorded tracks through headphones. a filter that passes a band or range of frequencies but sharply attenuates or rejects frequencies outside the band. CROSSOVER: An electronic network that divides an incoming signal into two or more frequency bands. varying its spacing to the backplate. which varies the capacitance. CHANNEL: A single path of an audio signal. ATTACK TIME: In a compressor. The peaks and dips resemble the teeth of a comb. BANDPASS FILTER: In a crossover. Ten times the logarithm of the ratio of two power levels. The portion of a sound wave in which molecules are pushed together. COMPRESSOR: A signal processor that reduces dynamic range or gain by means of automatic volume control. the decline in level of reverberation over time. a mix can be performed and refined in several stages and played back at a later date exactly as set u previously. the reduction in dynamic range or gain caused by a compressor. In computing. The frequency response has a series of peaks and dips caused by phase interference. Twenty times the logarithm of the ratio of two voltages. 2. COMB-FILTER EFFECT: The frequency response caused by combining a sound with its delayed replica. Incoming sound waves vibrate the diaphragm. DECAY: The portion of the envelope of a note in which the envelope goes from maximum to some midrange level. CONDENSER MICROPHONE: A microphone that works on the principle of variable capacitance to generate an electrical signal. the time it takes for gain reduction to occur in response to a musical attack. COMPRESSION: 1. a 2:1 ratio means that for every 2 dB change in input level. An amplifier whose gain decreases as the input signal level increases above a preset point. 3. the delayed signal is combined with the original signal. and the delay is varied randomly or periodically. This creates a wavy. dB: Abbreviation for decibel. For example. AUTOMATED MIXING: A system of mixing in which a computer remembers and updates console settings. In signal processing.

Stand-alone DAWs include real mixer controls. EFFECTS RETURN (EFFECTS RECEIVE): In the output section of a mixing console. combined with the original sound. (Distortion can be desirable--for an electric guitar. DRUM MACHINE: A device that plays samples of real drums. DSP: Abbreviation for Digital Signal Processing. DIGITAL AUDIO: An encoding of an analog audio signal in the form of binary digits (ones and zeros).sounding signal that is not yet processed by a reverberation or delay device. Each harmonic in the note might have a different envelope. components failing. EFFECTS SEND: In an input module of a mixing console. for example. such as reverberation. echo. a control that adjusts the amount of signal sent to a specialeffects device. Also. Distortion is caused by recording at too high a level. improper mixer settings. such as a reverberation or delay unit. DIGITAL AUDIO WORKSTATION (DAW): A computer. DIRECT BOX: A device used for connecting an amplified instrument directly to a mixer mic input. They might be labeled "bus in" instead. DIGITAL RECORDING: A recording system in which the audio signal is stored in the form of binary digits. In another type of doubling. . ECHO: A delayed repetition of a signal or sound. Effects Return. The envelope connects successive peaks of the waves comprising a note.) DOUBLING: A special effect in which a signal is combined with its 15 to 35 millisecond delayed replica. the connector in a mixer which you connect to the input of an effects unit. The effects loop includes a send section and a receive section. doubling. or vacuum tubes distorting. DRY: Having no echo or reverberation. compression. EFFECTS: Interesting sound phenomena created by signal processors. Also. DYNAMIC RANGE: The range of volume levels in a program from softest to loudest. or chorus. and editing software that allows you to record. Referring to a close. DIGITAL-TO-ANALOG CONVERTER: A circuit that converts a digital audio signal into an analog audio signal. A sound delayed 50 milliseconds or more. such as a reverb or delay device. DISTORTION: An unwanted change in the audio waveform. two indentical performances are recorded and played back to thicken the sound. modifying a signal in digital form. This process mimics the sound of two identical voices or instruments playing in unison. EQUALIZATION (EQ): The adjustment of frequency response to alter the tonal balance or to attenuate unwanted frequencies. The direct box converts a high-impedance unbalanced audio signal into a low-impedance balanced audio signal. and includes a sequencer to record rhythm patterns. causing a raspy or gritty sound quality. ENVELOPE: The rise and fall in volume of one note. computer DAWS have virtual controls on-screen. flanging. A digital delay or a delay line is a signal processor that delays a signal for a short time. The effects-send control normally adjusts the amount of reverberation or echo heard on each instrument.DE-ESSER: A signal processor that removes excessive sibilance ("s" and "sh" sounds) by compressing high frequencies around 5 to 10 kHz. The effects-return signal is mixed with the program bus signal. edit and mix audio programs entirely in digital form. a control that adjusts the amount of signal received from an effects unit. The appearance of frequencies in a device's output signal that were not in the input signal. EFFECTS LOOP: A set of connectors in a mixer for connecting an external effects unit. See Effects Send. the connectors in a mixer to which you connect the effects-unit output signal. sound card. DELAY: The time interval between a signal and its repetition.

between the signal level and the maximum undistorted signal level. The original definition of level is the power in watts. a signal whose level is approximately 1. Used to reduce noise and leakage above or below the frequency range of an instrument or voice.23 volts (+4 dBm).EQUALIZER: A circuit (usually in each input module of a mixing console. from full level down to silence. A compressor with a compression ratio of 10:1 or greater. or between the output power and the input power. The international hi-fi norm is from 30Hz to 16Khz. An amplifer whose gain decreases as its input level decreases. a signal whose level is approximately 0. INPUT: The connection going into an audio device. GRAPHIC EQUALIZER: An equalizer with a horizontal row of faders. A low frequency (for example. or sound pressure level. between the output voltage and the input voltage. A signal processor that increases the dynamic range of a signal passed through it. measured in hertz (Hz). A hollow. In unbalanced equipment (most home hi-fi or semipro recording equipment). an expander reduces the gain of low-level signals to reduce noise between notes. the dB difference between standard operating level (corresponding to a 0 VU reading) and the level causing 3 percent total harmonic distortion. High-frequency headroom increases with analog tape speed. FREQUENCY: The number of cycles per second of a sound wave or an audio signal. The human communication sounds (speech) reach from about 65Hz to 10 kHz. 2. the unit of measurement of frequency. by slowly pulling down the master fader. LIMITER: A signal processor whose output is constant above a preset input level. HEADROOM: The safety margin. Sometimes used for complex EQ of a track. LEVEL: The degree of intensity of an audio signal--the voltage. HIGHPASS FILTER: A filter that passes frequencies above a certain frequency and attenuates frequencies below that same frequency. GAIN: Amplification. 100 Hz) has a low pitch.316 volt (-10 dBV). LOWPASS FILTER: A filter that passes frequencies below a certain frequency and attenuates frequencies above that same frequency. A low-cut filter. In a tape recorder. A variable comb filter produces the flanging effect.000 Hz) has a high pitch. a connector for a microphone. FADE-OUT: To gradually reduce the volume of the last several seconds of a recorded song. Any frequency below 20Hz is called subsonic. Used to prevent distortion of attack transients or peaks. the fader-knob positions indicate graphically the frequency response of the equalizer. with the threshold set just below the point of distortion of the following device. 10. line-level device. or other signal source. FADER: A linear or sliding volume control used to adjust signal level. measured in decibels. ethereal effect like a variable-length pipe. FILTER: 1. In a mixer or mixing console. a high frequency (for example. A high-cut filter. FLANGING: A special effect in which a signal is combined with its delayed replica. A circuit that sharply attenuates frequencies above or below a certain frequency. expressed in decibels. HERTZ (Hz): Cycles per second. . and the delay is varied between 0 and 20 milliseconds. LINE LEVEL: In balanced professional recording equipment. power. 2. A MIDI Filter removes selected note parameters. or in a separate unit) that alters the frequency spectrum of a signal passed through it. Usually used to equalize monitor speakers for the room they are in. When used as a noise gate. swishing. or like a jet plane passing overhead. any frequency above 20K is ultrasonic. HUMAN HEARING: Human Hearing is limited from 20Hz to 20kHz. The ratio. EXPANDER: 1.

used for judging sound quality. MIDI INTERFACE: A circuit that plugs into a computer.MASTER FADER: A volume control that affects the level of all program buses simultaneously. MIXDOWN: The process of playing recorded tape tracks through a mixing console and mixing them to two stereo channels for recording on a two-track tape recorder. It is the last stage of gain adjustment before the 2-track recorder. MIDI CONTROLLER: A musical performance device (keyboard. MIX: 1. To combine two or more different signals into a common signal. or headphones. 2. PEAK: On a graph of a sound wave or signal. and so on. OCTAVE: The interval between any two frequencies where the upper frequency is twice the lower frequency. drum pads. Referring to a single channel of audio. MIDI THRU--A connector in a MIDI device that duplicates the MIDI information at the MIDI-In connector. Up to 16 channels can be sent on a single MIDI cable. solo functions. monitoring controls. A control on a delay unit that varies the ratio between the dry signal and the delayed signal. A mono-compatible stereo program has the same frequency response in stereo or mono because there is no delay or phase shift between channels to cause phase NOISE GATE: A gate used to reduce or eliminate noise between notes. drum machines. OUTBOARD EQUIPMENT: Signal processors that are external to the mixing console. MONITOR: A loudspeaker in a control room. MIDI: Abbreviation for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. and computers that allows them to communicate with and/or control each other. A monophonic program can be played over one or more loudspeakers. breath controller. or one or more headphones. in which the program channels can be combined to a mono program without altering the frequency response or balance. and amount of boost or cut. typically 2 millivolts. a specification for a connection between synthesizers. and converts MIDI data into computer data for storage in memory or on hard disk. . PARAMETRIC EQUALIZER: An equalizer with continuously variable parameters. MONO. etc. OVERDUB: To record a new musical part on an unused track in synchronization with previously recorded tracks. The point of greatest voltage or sound pressure in a cycle. the highest point in the waveform.) that outputs a MIDI signal designating note numbers. such as frequency. and feeds successive devices. MIC LEVEL: The level or voltage of a signal produced by a microphone. bandwidth. The interface also converts computer data into MIDI data. MONOPHONIC: 1. pan pots. Describing a synthesizer that plays only one note at a time (not chords). Each channel controls a separate MIDI musical instrument or synth patch. MIDI IN: A connector in a MIDI device that receives MIDI messages. MIDI OUT--A connector in a MIDI device that transmits MIDI messages. MIXING CONSOLE: A large mixer with additional functions such as equalization or tone control. Used to connect another MIDI device in the series. OUTPUT: A connector in an audio device from which the signal comes. MONO-COMPATIBLE: A characteristic of a stereo program. MIXER: A device that mixes or combines audio signals and controls the relative levels of the signals. note on. channel assigns. MIDI CHANNEL: A route for transmitting and receiving MIDI signals. note off. and control of signals sent to external signal processors. 2.

such as a digital editing program. During playback.) into computer memory or hard disk for later playback. The pitch of a tone usually correlates with the fundamental frequency. Used in acoustic guitars. SAMPLING: Recording a short sound event into computer memory. they cancel out. . An unbalanced phone plug has a tip for the hot signal and a sleeve for the shield or ground. SEQUENCER: A device that records a musical performance done on a MIDI controller (in the form of note numbers. to do another mixdown with different console settings or different editing. PHONO PLUG: A coaxial plug with a central pin for the hot signal and a ring of pressure-fit tabs for the shield or ground. and when combined. the sequencer plays synthesizer sound generators or samples. PLUG-IN: Software effects that you install in your computer. RELEASE TIME: In a compressor. See also Flanging. PHONE PLUG: A cylindrical. and the echoes increase in number with time as they decay. At certain frequencies. PICKUP: A piezoelectric transducer that converts mechanical vibrations to an electrical signal. RELEASE: The final portion of a note's envelope in which the note falls from its sustain level back to silence. PHASE: The degree of progression in the cycle of a wave. and fiddles. or concert hall--by generating random multiple echoes that are too numerous and rapid for the ear to resolve. and the data is stored in memory chips. POLYPHONIC--Describing a synthesizer that can play more than one note at a time (chords). PHASE CANCELLATION. The plug-in software becomes part of another program you are using. and a sleeve for the shield or ground. there is a phase shift between them of 2[pi]FT. PHASE INTERFERENCE: The cancellation of certain frequency components of a signal that occurs when the signal is combined with its delayed replica. or can occur at a microphone picking up both a direct sound and its reflection from a nearby surface. PITCH SHIFTER: A signal processor that changes the pitch of an instrument without changing its duration. An echo is a discrete repetition of a sound. a magnetic transducer in an electric guitar that converts string vibration to a corresponding electrical signal. reverberation is a continuous fade-out of sound. A balanced phone plug has a tip for the signal hot signal. REVERB: Natural reverberation in a room is a series of multiple sound reflections which makes the original sound persist and gradually die away or decay. The audio signal is converted into digital data representing the signal waveform. If one wave is delayed with respect to another. note off. A computer can act as a sequencer when it runs a sequencer program. acoustic basses. where one complete cycle is 360 degrees. A reverb effect simulates the sound of a room--a club. Also. note on. The result is a combfilter frequency response having a periodic series of peaks and dips. the time it takes for the gain to return to normal after the end of a loud passage. etc. reverberation is the sound you hear just after you shout in an empty gymnasium. the direct and delayed signals are of equal level and opposite polarity (180 degrees out of phase). PITCH: The subjective lowness or highness of a tone. F = frequency in Hz. PHASE SHIFT: The difference in degrees of phase angle between corresponding points on two waves. PHASING: A special effect in which a signal is combined with its phase-shifted replica to produce a variable comb-filter effect.14. Also called RCA plug. auditorium. a ring for the return signal. These reflections tell the ear that you're listening in a large or hard-surfaced room. and T = delay in seconds. The timing of the echoes is random. Phase interference can occur between the signals of two microphones picking up the same source at different distances. REMIX: To mix again. For example. where [pi] = 3. co-axial plug (usually 1/4-inch diameter). tape or disc for later playback.PHANTOM POWER: A DC voltage (usually 12 to 48 volts) applied to microphone signal conductors to power condenser microphones.

SYNTHESIZER: A musical instrument (usually with a piano-style keyboard) that creates sounds electronically. and converts an audio signal into computer data for storage in memory or on hard disk. STEREOPHONIC--An audio recording and reproduction system with correlated information between two channels (usually discrete channels). The switch routes only that input signal to the monitor system. or by a MIDI controller. containing several different timbres or voices.1 surround system uses the following speakers: front-left. and subwoofer. right-surround. a switch that lets you monitor that particular input signal by itself. the ability of a note to continue without noticeably decaying. The sound card also converts computer data into an audio signal. high frequencies have short wavelengths. SOUND MODULE (SOUND GENERATOR): 1. STEREO. Low frequencies have long wavelengths. WAVELENGTH: The physical length between corresponding points of successive waves. These sounds are triggered or played by MIDI signals from a sequencer program. The 5. WAVEFORM: A graph of a signal's sound pressure or voltage versus time.SOLO: On an input module in a mixing console. left-surround. An oscillator. measured in decibels above the threshold of hearing. SOUND PRESSURE LEVEL (SPL)--The acoustic pressure of a sound wave. STEREO IMAGING: The ability of a stereo recording or reproduction system to form clearly defined audio images at various locations between a stereo pair of loudspeakers. front-right. SUSTAIN: The portion of the envelope of a note in which the level is constant. and allows control of the sound parameters to simulate a variety of conventional or unique instruments. the louder it is. . SOUND CARD: A circuit card that plugs into a computer. 2. A synthesizer without a keyboard. Also. and meant to be heard over two or more loudspeakers to give the illusion of soundsource localization and depth. TRACK: A single channel of audio or MIDI. SURROUND SOUND: A multichannel recording and reproduction system that plays sound all around the listener. dB SPL = 20 log (P/P ref). often aided by compression. The waveform of a pure tone is a sine wave. [ref is subscript] SOUND WAVE: The periodic variations in sound pressure radiating from a sound source. where P = the measured acoustic pressure and P ref = 0.0002 dyne/cm[superscript]2[end superscript]. The higher the SPL of a sound. center.

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