Musical Terms Dictionary – Part 1 – Recording Terms

Posted: April 25, 2012 in General
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Useful Audio Engineering Terms or Recording Terms.

Hello audio masters and beginners,
I hope you had a great week, and I wish it will get even better.

these series of articles that I am about to publish, will deal with terms that are used often in the music world, and give them an easy to understand definitions, so you can use them whenever you need to communicate clearer when you are working with other musicians or technicians whom you just meet.

another HUGE advantage of these terms definitions is that you can look at the list of terms, and recognize immediately which subjects you need to strengthen your knowledge, this is of course besides the fact that you are sharpening your musical vocabulary.

for example :
if you look at the list and see the “haas effect” term, and you don’t know what it means or where it got from, reading about this term in google or everywhere else can grow your knowledge and better if you now know what is the haas effect it is now time to find ways to use it in more creative ways to leverage your production to the next level.

there are a lot of useful terms so I will try publishing the most important ones, and of course I can’t cover every word in the dictionary, so I am sorry about that, and I will update whenever possible to keep this article and more importantly you, more updated.

this is part 1 of the series, and it will deal with Audio engineering terms or Recording terms if you like.

  1. A-B listening – a listening technique to compare different settings of the same effect or soundm to make more accurate relative decision.
  2. Ambience: a mixture of acoustics and reverberations, also the sound of an environment.
  3. Attack: the first portion of a sound and in synthesizing the first portion of a note.
  4. Auxiliary Bus: a channel that dedicated mostly for effects like delay, reverb, chorus etc.
  5. Balance: The relative volume levels of various sounds.
  6. Balanced Line: A cable with two equal impedance conductors and opposite polarity. the opposing polarity cancels the noise.
  7. Bidirectional Pattern: or figure 8, a settings on a microphone the sets the microphone sensitivity to records mostly sounds coming from the front and from the back, it ignores (not completely) sounds coming from the sides
  8. BPM: Beat Per Minute.
  9. Cans: headphones.
  10. Comb-Filter Effect: the effect that’s created when combining a sound with it’s delayed duplication.
  11. Comping: recording a composite tracks.
  12. Composite Tracks: several recording of the same performance, used later for taking the best sagments of each and combining them to a better sounding part.
  13. Compressor: FX that reduces dynamic range of a part in an automatic fashion.
  14. Condenser Microphone: a microphone that generate an electrical signal using variable capacitance.
  15. Control Room: The room with most of the recording hardware, where the engineer controls and monitors the recording.
  16. Crossover: An electronic part that divides an incoming signal into two or more frequency bands.
  17. Desk: a Mixing Console
  18. Digital Audio: a sound that is formed with binary digits (1 and 0).
  19. DAW: Digital Audio Workstation, Music software to that deals with digital audio recording and editing.
  20. Digital Recording: a recording that is stored on a computer or other binary devices or products.
  21. Digital to Analog Converter: Device that transforms a digital signal into an analog signal.
  22. Distortion: a change in audio signal that causes it to sound rough or edgy.
  23. Dynamic Microphone: a microphone that works on the principle of a stationary magnetic field.
  24. Effects: devices that creates interesting sound phenomena like chorus, reverb etc.
  25. Envelope: the change in volume of one note or sound.
  26. Feedback: an output signal that enters into the same system input.
  27. Filter: a device that reduces the range of frequencies.
  28. FLETCHER MUNSON Effect: the phenomena where the frequencies balance change with the change of volume.
  29. Gain: Amplification.
  30. Hot signal: A high level sound causing slight distortion
  31. Hum: A diturbing low-pitched tone (60 Hz) that sneaks into recording.
  32. Live recording: recording that was made at a theater, show, hall etc.
  33. Meter: A device that measure voltage, or signal level.
  34. M-S Recording: a technique to record the main sound and the ambience at the same time.
  35. Muddy: sound the is not clear.
  36. Noise: an unwanted sound, such as hiss from tape.
  37. Overload: distortion that occurs a signal exceeds a system’s maximum level.
  38. Phantom Power: 48V that’s required to condensers and other devices.
  39. Pitch: The subjective highness of a tone.
  40. Plug-In: effects that’s being installed to the computer in the form of software.
  41. Polyphonic: the ability to play more than one note.
  42. Pop Filter: a screen to put in front of the microphone to filter disturbances.
  43. Punch IN/OUT: recording options, available in most DAWs today, that is used to record a correction while the track is being played.
  44. Ride Gain: to change the gain/amplification of a track in real time while the performance is being created.
  45. Saturation: Overload of magnetic tape, often perceived as a kind of distortion, and sometimes used to add color to a signal.
  46. Slapback Echo: An echo of about 40 to 160 milliseconds that is added to the original sound.
  47. SMPTE Time Code: a signal used to synchroinze two or more devices.
  48. Splitter: splits a signal into two, so there will be option to connect the same signal to two devices.
  49. Stereo: recording or reproduction of two channels where positioning of sounds (left and right) can be perceived.
  50. Submix: a small mix within a larger mix like drums mix or rhythm section mix etc.
  51. Tight: a well recorded track, or well played (synchronized) instrument.
  52. Transient: the first couple of milliseconds of a sound.
  53. VU Meter: a voltmeter, used to show sound volume.
  54. SUB-Woofer: Super Low frequencies Speaker.
  55. Warm: refers to the pleasant quality of a sound

list such as these are not only for reading, some of these terms can help understand other, a lot more complex concepts and theories.
by knowing more, we are able to try new directions in music theory, productions, and the other categories inside the huge world of music, and by trying new things, we are keeping ourselves in the right way to find something unique and fresh.

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