A layman’s dictionary for audio engineering and music production.
- The act of increasing the strength of an audio signal.
- The highest and lowest readings in a wave form. These points are the highest and lowest volumes.
- A electronic signal that varies continuously and is not quantized over time. There exists infinite signal levels.
- The initial phase in an audio signal’s cycle that accelerates quickly to hit its maximum level before falling.
- The act of reducing the strength of an audio signal.
Also known as dynamic range compression (DRC). A device that limits the dynamic range of an audio signal.
There are two types of audio compression that can reduce the dynamic range of a signal:
- Upwards compression – increases the volume of sound below a threshold (gain reduction)
- Downwards compression – decreases the volume of sound above a certain level (gain increase)
To control the dynamic range, a compressor has these properties:
- Threshold – The decibel level where the compressor kicks in
- Ratio – The gain reduction ratio after passing over the threshold
- Attack – The time it takes for a signal to decrease gain to the Ratio
- Release – The time it takes for a signal to increase gain to the Ratio
- Make up – The gain to add back for loss in gain reduction
- A measure of the loudness/volume of sound.
- Also known as echo. The noise a sound makes as it bounces off a surface repeatedly.
- An electronic signal that is fixed to discrete quantized values over time.
- The original audio signal prior to effects applied to it.
- An operation to modify an audio signal.
- The characteristic of a sound through four time phases:
- The number of cycles of an audio waveform in a second of time. The faster the frequency, the higher the pitch. The slower the frequency, the lower the pitch.
- The level of strength in an audio signal.
- A device that acts as a gatekeeper of an audio signal. If a signal is below a threshold, it is not allowed to go through – the gate is closed. Only signals that are above the threshold are allowed to pass through (the gate is opened).
- An interconnected change in pitch from one note to another. Also known as a slide or bend.
Depends on the instrument and its discrete nature in producing notes. For example, a piano produces discrete sound as it involves keys. Notes between keys do not exist as they are fixed. A trombone and violin on the other hand are not discrete in sound as they can produce “in-between” sounds.
- One or more whole number multiple frequencies based off a fundamental frequency. For example, if there are three audio waves of 2x, 3x, and 4x multiple of the base fundamental they together as a group are harmonic.
- High Pass Filter
- Limits a signals level below a certain value.
- A compressor that has an infinite Ratio. This high ratio effectively takes any signal above the threshold and outputs at the threshold level.
- Low Pass Filter
- Limits a signals level above a certain value.
- An electronic device that creates periodic waves. Typically these audio waves are square, saw, triangle, and sine.
Each audio wave has a different frequency shape and tone.
- A change in pitch from one note to another. Normally for string instruments and singing.
- The final phase of an audio signal’s cycle that results in silence.
- One or more electronic device that generates sound synthetically through electronic signals. A modular synthesizer consists of several modules arranged in a rack with signals being routed through patch cables. In an all in one synthesizer like a keyboard synthesizer, every component is packed into one unit.
Synths can be software or hardware devices. A hardware synth can be digital or analog form.
- An audio level where the signal will change in gain.
- To change the pitch of a note.
In a chromatic scale, this is done by changing of semitones.
In a scalar scale, this is done by changing relative to a scale and scale steps.
- Unity Gain
- That of being the same strength (gain) between the input and output of a signal.
- An audio signal that has effects applied to it
An envelope in a digital audio workstation refers to a configuration parameter that modifies a sound. For example, an envelope can be a parameter to increase or decrease sound, to pan sound, etc.