da capo – a musical term, literally meaning “from the head,” which instructs a musician to repeat a song or passage from the beginning, often abbreviation D. C.Da capo al fine means repeat from beginning to end. Da capo al segno means repeat until the point marked with a sign is reached.
DAE – (1) Digidesign Audio Engine. The DAE is the underlying code designed by Avid (formerly Digidesign) used to allow Pro Tools to communicate with computer hardware and software. Pro Tools is basically a user interface that tells the DAE (which runs in the background) what needs to be done. With PT 11, it was replaced with the AAE. (2) Digital Audio Extraction. See rip.
dailies – the raw, unedited footage shot each day during a film production, used to assess the progress of the film. Also called rushes.
daisy chain – (1) The connection of several devices in such a manner that the signal must pass through one device to reach a second device and through a second device to reach a third device and so on. (2) To connect several devices in such a manner.
damp – to suppress or reduce vibrations of a musical instrumentmusical instrument to reduce the volume of sound. Also called to choke, especially with cymbals. Also sometimes used incorrectly as dampen, which means to make wet.
damped waves – (1) A wave in which the amplitude decreases with time. (2) An early method of radio transmission produced by spark-gap transmitters. By turning the transmitter on and off (on-off keying), information could be transmitted with damped electromagnetic waves using Morse code and were the first practical means of radio communication (now called Class B emissions). There is a general prohibition of using Class B damped waves, because they use a wide bandwidth and generate noise (electromagnetic interference) that interferes with other radio transmissions. See also continuous wave.
dampening – often used incorrectly for damping. Dampening is the act of making something moist.
damping – (1) The suppression of vibrations using an electrical or mechanical device. (2) The quieting or silencing of the strings of an instrument after they have been played. Sometimes called choking. (3) The decreasing in amplitude of an electrical or mechanical wave due to friction and other forces. (4) The reduction of echoes and reverberations by using sound-absorbing material. Sometimes incorrectly called dampening.
damping factor – (1) In an audio system, the ratio of the rated impedance of a loudspeaker to the source impedance, using only the resistive portion of the impedance of both the speaker and amplifier. It is an indication of the ability of an amplifier to absorb voltagefeedback from the speaker. When a signal going to the speaker stops, inertia causes the cone to continue to vibrate, which generates a voltage. The output circuit of the amplifier attempts to stop the vibrations by presenting a very low impedance load. (2) In a series of dampedoscillations, the ratio of the amplitude of one oscillation to the next.
damping material – a substance that absorbs, reduces, or disperses sound waves in order to control reverberation. Sometimes incorrectly called dampening material.
damping ratio (ζ) – a measure of how rapidly a vibration decays. It is represented by the Greek letter zeta (ζ). ζ = 1/2Q, where Q = quality factor. A system is defined as overdamped when Q < ½, underdamped when Q > ½, and critical damped when Q = ½. The damping ratio is defined as ζ = damping/critical damping = c/cc, where c is the damping coefficient and cc is the critical damping coefficient.
data compression – the computer process in which a data file is reduced in size by eliminating redundant information, useless information, or data determined by various algorithms to be unnecessary. The file is returned to usable form through decompression. Data compression is sometimes divided into three levels: (a) Low bit rate (used in mobile and free streaming services), (b) Medium bit rate (used on desktop and mobile subscription services), and (c) High bit rate (used in desktop subscription services). Also called data compression, digital compression, or data reduction.
datapath – a collection of functional units in a computer, such as data processors, registers, and buses, that along with the control unit make up the central processing unit (CPU). Sometimes spelled data path.
datapath width – the size of the datapath in a computer in bits. The datapath width is a large factor in determining a computer's performance and is part of its architecture. Early computers had 8-bit datapath widths, and progressively have grown to 16, 32, and now 64 bits. Sometimes called bit version, bit architecture, digital data architecture, or bit computing.
dBm – a unit for the power ratio in decibels (dB) referenced to one milliwatt (mW) (1⁄1000 watt) at an impedance of 600 ohms. dBm = 10 x log (P/P1mw), where P is the power being meausured and P1mw is the reference value of 1 milliwatt. Sometimes designated dBmW. The official designation is dB(mw).
dB(mW) – the official designation for the preferred informal abbreviation of dBm.
dBr – a unit for a ratio to an arbitrary reference level that must be specified. dBr = 10 x log (P/Pr), where P is a power being measured and Pr is the reference power. Officially indicated as dB(relative).
dB(relative) – the official designation for the preferred informal abbreviation of dBr.
dB-SPL – the sound pressure level measured in decibels (dB) above the standard reference level for no sound. The commonly used zero reference point for sound pressure level in air is 20 μPa (RMS) at 1000 Hz—usually considered the threshold of human hearing (at 1 kHz). dB(SPL)) = 20 x log (P/P0), where P is the sound pressure being meausured and P0 is the 0 reference point. Sometimes shown as dBSPL and the official designation of dB(SPL). See also 0 dB(SPL).
dBu – a unit for the audio voltage in decibels (dB) referenced to 0.775 volts RMS (Vrms). This unit is derived from the power standard of 0 dBm being equals to 1 mW into 600 ohms. A level of +4 dBu is the standard professional reference level equal to 1.228 volts RMS (Vrms) and is equal to 0 VU for a 1000 Hz tone for most professional equipment. dBu = 20 x log (V/V0.775V), where V is the voltage being meausured and V0.775V is the reference voltage. At one time, this unit was designated dBv, but was changed to dBu to avoid confusion with dBV. The dBu unit is often used in professional audio, whereas the dBV is frequently used in consumer audio specifications. The official designation is dB(0.775V).
dBV – a unit for the audio voltage in decibels (dB) referenced to 1.0 volt RMS (VRMS) at any impedance. dBV = 20 x log (V), where V is the voltage being meausured. The dBV unit is often used in consumer audio, whereas the dBu is frequently used in professional audio specifications. The official designation is dB(1.0V).
dBW – a unit for the power ratio in decibels (dB) referenced to one watt (W). dBW = 10 x log (P), where P is the power being meausured. The official designation is dB(W).
dB(W) – the official designation for the preferred informal abbreviation of dBW.
dbx 160 Compressor – a compressor designed by David Blackmer and introduced by dbx in 1976. Using RMS level-detection and feed forward circuits, it provided a much smoother gain reduction and allowed infinite compression without excessive distortion or oscillation. It was one of the first compressors with a soft knee.
dbx, Inc. – a US manufacturer of professional audio and recording equipment headquartered in Sandy, Utah. Founded in 1971, its name came from early products based on the concept of “decibel expansion.” It is probably best known not only for building dynamics processors, but for the dbx noise reduction system which became synonomous with its name.
DCC – Digital Compact Cassette. The digital version of the standard analogcassette tape system developed by Philips. It could play and record digital cassettes as well as analog cassettes. The system never really caught on commercially.
DCE – Data Communications Equipment. The part of the RS-232 standard that specifies the equipment needed to establish, maintain, and terminate a connection, and the signal conversion and coding for communication between the data terminal equipment and the data circuit.
dc offset – the amount of voltage above or below the zero point when no signal is present. This offset is an imbalance occasionally introduced by A/D converters, and when present in an audio signal, consumes headroom and can cause clicks and pops during editing. It can and should be removed with software applications desgined for that purpose.
DDEX – Digital Data Exchange, LLC. An organization founded in 2006 by a consortium of media companies, music licensing organizations, and digital service providers to create digital supply chain standards (originally for digital music, but later expanded to include all forms of digital media). DDEX established the standard format for including information in XML messages and the method of exchanging these messages between interested parties. Some of standards developed by DDEX include (a) ERN (electronic release notification), which provides commercial information about releases, (b) DSR (digital sales report), a standard method of reporting sales figures to record labels and PROs, and (c) RIN (recording industry notification), a standard for metadata that provides recording credits, such as the names of musicians, producers, engineers, studios, and other parties. All names include the ISNI (international standard name identifier).
DDP® – Disc Description Protocol. A standard protocol for describing the files and parameters needed to replicatecompact discs and DVDs. It includes the content files, as well as additional files, such as table of contents, file structure, subcodes, indexing files, and other files that are needed to create a finished disc. This protocol makes it possible for a mastering house to send a complete disc definition to a pressing plant as a single file. DDP is a registered trademark of DCA, Inc.
decade – (1) The interval between two values where the second value is ten times the first, often plotted on a logarthmic graph. (2) A frequency ratio or interval of 10:1, as opposed to an octave, which is a 2:1 ratio. [The decade interval has no musical significance, but is used for convenience with logarithmic units, such as decibels.] (3) Sometimes the rolloff of a filter or equalizer is expressed in dB/decade, rather than in dB/octave. Because there are 3.3219 octaves in one decade, a rolloff of 6 dB/octave equals 20 dB/decade, 12 dB/octave equals 40 dB/decade, etc.
decay rate – how fast an echo or reverberation diminishes after the sound has stopped, measured in decibels per second. Depending on the sound source and the space, the decay rate may be linear (decreasing at a constant number of dB/sec), or it may begin to decay slowly or rapidly and then change. The decay rate depends on the amount of sound absorption in a room, the room geometry, and the frequency of the sound.
decay time – (1) The time (in seconds) it takes for a reverberation to be reduced in level by 60 db. Also called reverberation time, abbreviated as RT, RT60, RT-60, or RT60. (2) The time (in seconds) it takes for the amplitude of a signal to decay from one specified value to another specified value, typically from 90% of the maximum amplitude down to 10%. Also called fall time. See also rise time.
Decca Records – a record label established in the UK in 1929. The US division of the label was established in 1934. However, during World War II, the link between the two companies was severed for several decades. Both labels are now part of the Universal Music Group which is owned by Vivendi, a media conglomerate headquartered in France.
deci- (d) – the SI prefix for a factor of one tenth (10‑1).
decibel (dB) – 1⁄10 of a bel, a logarithmic unit used to express the ratio between two values of power. It has come to be used for expressing the ratio of other values as well. Because a decibel is a logarithmic expression of relative power levels, a change in sound volume expressed in decibels approximates the change heard by the human ear. (See dB(SPL).) In order to express the level of a signal in dB, you need to know the reference level of the power to which it refers. The decibel abbreviation (dB) usually adds a suffix to indicates which reference level is used. For example, dBm indicates a reference level of one milliwatt. To calculate the dB value of a power, the formula is dBm = 10 log (P/P1mw), where P is the power being measured and P1mw is the reference value. When used with voltage, the formula becomes dBVR = 10 x log (V/VR)2 or dBVR = 20 x log (V/VR), where V is voltage being measured and VR is the reference voltage, because power is proportional to the square of the voltage. There are a variety of units to measure sound, such as dB(A), dB(C), and dB(SPL). Units for measuring voltage include dBu and dBV. Units for measuring power include dBm and dBf. For other decibel units, look under dB above.
decompress – to return a data file that has been previously reduced in size using compression to a usable form. Not to be confused with uncompressed which refers to a file that has never been compressed.
decompression – the process in which a data file that has been previously reduced in size using compression is returned to a usable form.
deconvolution – a mathematical process for separating two signals that have been convolved (mathematically combined using convolution).
decorrelation – the process of transforming an audio signal into multiple output signals with different but similar-sounding waveforms. These signals can be sent to various loudspeakers, such as in a surround sound system, to create the sense of space and sound location.
decrescendo – (1) A gradual decrease in the loudness of a section of music. (2) A musical symbol resembling a long “V” laying on its side and pointing to the right that indicates a decrease in loudness. The opposite of crescendo. Also called diminuendo.
decrement – (1) To decrease the settings on a device, especially by a small amount. (2) A decrease in the settings of a parameter. Opposite of increment. Compare with cut definitions #1 and #2.
deep bass – one of four subdivisions into which bass is sometimes divided, covering the range of 20 Hz to 40 Hz. The other three subdivisions are low bass (40 Hz to 80 Hz), mid bass (80 Hz to 160 Hz), and upper bass (160 to 350 Hz), although these ranges vary from source to source. See also audio spectrum.
definition – the quality of a sound that allows it to be differentiated from other sounds.
DEG – Digital Entertainment Group. A group of movie studios, consumer electronics retailers and manufactureres, and technology providers formed to promote new forms of digital home entertainment. It was formed in 1997 as the DVD Video Group. It was later renamed DVD Entertainment Group, to include DVD-Audio and DVD-ROM. In 2003, it changed its name to the Digital Entertainment Group, to include newer formats including HDTV, 3D TV, 4K Ultra HD TV, Blu-ray Disc, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc, and Digital HD downloads.degausser – see demagnetizer.
delay – (1) The time it takes for a hardware or software function to accomplish a task, which can lead to latency. (2) A delay effect. (3) A delay time.
delay effect – a signal processor that temporarily stores a sound and then play back after period of time. The delayed signal may be played back one time or multiple times to create the sound of a repeating, decaying echo.
delay time – the time interval between a sound and the repeat of that sound, used to create an echo effect.
delicate – a descriptive term for smooth sounds in the very high frequencies—in the 15 kHz to 20 kHz range.
delta-sigma modulation – a method for converting analog signals into digital signals using an analog-to-digital converter (ADC). It is also used to convert higher-resolution digital signals into lower-resolution digital signals. With conventional ADC, an analog signal is sampled one sample after another at a given sampling rate, a process that introduces quantization errornoise. With delta-sigma modulation the first step is delta modulation, which determines the change (the delta) in the signal, not its absolute value. Using oversampling (64 times the CD rate of 44.1 Hz or 2.8224 mHz) a 1-bit sample is taken. The sample is 1 if the signal is rising, zero if decreasing, and alternating 0 and 1 if flat. This results in a stream of analog-like pulses, as opposed to a stream of digits as with PCM. This signal is decimated (downsized) before it is summed (sigma) to the input signal. This technique is finding increased use due to its lower cost and simpler circuit design. Although delta-sigma signals are inherently less data-intensive than PCM, they cannot be manipulated mathematically as easily, which makes them somewhat more difficult to process. Sometimes called sigma-delta and abbreviated as ΔΣ or ΣΔ. See also Direct Stream Digital (DSD).
demo – (1) A recording made to exhibit the capabilities of an artist, usually to obtain a contract with a label or to obtain a booking. (2) A recording made to present a new song, usually recorded by or for the songwriter for submitting to an artist or producer in hopes of inducing the artist to record it. (3) A recording made to introduce a new song to other members of a band or group to aid in rehearsing the song prior to performing it live or in a studio. Short for demonstration.
demodulation – the process of extracting a signal from a carrier wave upon which the signal was originally imposed during modulation. For example, the process of extracting music or voice from an FM broadcast signal.
dempo – short for down tempo. To decrease the tempo of a song. Opposite of umpo.
demultiplex – to split a file containing both audio and video data into separate files, each containing video or audio only. The demuxing process does not degrade the video nor audio quality. Called demux for short.
Denon – Kabushiki Kaisha Denon. A Japanese electronics company involved the design and manufacture of professional audio and consumer audio equipment. It was one of the early pioneers in the development of digital audio technology. The company was founded in 1910 as Nippon Denki Onkyo Kabushikigaisha, a division of Nippon Chikuonki Shokai (Japan Recorders Corporation), and manufactured single-sided records and gramophone discs. The was shortened Denon. It merged with Japan-US Recorders Manufacturing in 1912 and then in 1928 it became Japan Columbia Recorders. In 1946 the company was renamed Nippon Columbia. In 2001 Denon was spun off as a separate company. In 2002 it merged with Marantz to form D&M Holdings. It is now part of inMusic Brands.
density – (1) A parameter found on many reverb units or plug-ins that determines the space between reflections. Higher settings place reflections closer together. As a rule, higher densities work better for percussive sounds, while lower densities work better for vocals and sustained sounds. Compare with diffusion. (2) The mass per unit volume of a material, expressed as kilogram per cubic meter (kg/m3). Density (ρ) is defined by ρ = m/V where ρ is the density, m is the mass, and V is the volume. Density is an important factor in choosing materials for sound absorption.
depth – (1) The perception of nearness and farness in an audio mix. The human ear determines depth by the ratio of direct and reverberant sounds for a given instrument or voice with more reverberation being perceived as farther away. Also called depth perception or front-to-back imaging. (2) A descriptive term for a full-bodied sound, especially of an instrument. See body. (3) A parameter in a digital delay or flanger that adjusts the length of delay. (4) Short for bit depth.
designation strip – a piece of tape or a strip of paper taped along the bottom edge of a mixer or console to indicate the instrument that each fader controls.
derivative work – work (such as a piece of music, a works of art, or a work of literature) that is based on another pre-existing work. Since a copyrighted work is protected from any and all derivatives of that work, permission from the original copyright holder must be obtained before the derivative work may be copyrighted.
detent – a stop, catch, or notch in a rotating control, such as in a variable resistor to denote various steps or in the midpoint of a pan control to designate the default setting.
detune – to tune slightly off the correct tuning, usually slightly flat, in order to create certain special effects, such as a fuller sound when doubletracking.
detuner – an effect that detunes a note by a small amount and then combines it with the original note, and sometimes adds a delay of up to 60 ms. The effect is similar to chorus, but without the swirling effect. It is useful for thickening up guitar notes or enhancing chords.
device driver – a computer program that operates and controls a specific device that is attached to a computer. Every device, such as a printer, disk drive, keyboard, or audio interface, must have a driver. Some drivers come with the operating system, but for other devices, it is necessay to install a new driver when connecting a new device to the computer. In Window systems, drivers typically are files with a .sys or .drv extension. Often called a driver for short.
dialog – the lines spoken by characters in a stage, movie, or television performance. British spelling dialogue.
dialog normalization (DN) – the metadata parameter within Dolby Digital (AC-3) for control of playbackgain. DN is an integer value in the range of 1 to 31 that corresponds to a playback gain of -30 to 0 dB (unity gain) respectively. Lower values provide more headroom and are appropriate for material with greater dynamic range, such as action films. The DN value should be determined by measuring the average dialog level using A-weighted audio levels in all channels. In this way, the dialog levels will be normalized—thus the name dialog normalization. [Note: DN does not comply with the loudness standard ATSC A/85.] Called dialnorm for short.
diatonic scale – an eight-note musical scale composed of seven pitches and a repeated octave. The diatonic scale uses five tones (whole steps) and two semitones (half steps) (in the equal tempered tuning system). Diatonic scales can be in either a major or minor key, depending on the sequence of intervals in terms of tones and semitones. A major scale has the following sequence: tone-tone-semitone-tone-tone-tone-semitone. A natural minor scale has this sequence: tone-semitone-tone-tone-semitone-tone-tone. A harmonic minor scale follows this sequence: tone-semitone-tone-tone-semitone-1½ tones-semitone. The melodic minor scale is like the natural minor scale except the sixth and seventh notes are raise a semitone when ascending and remains the same when descending. See also mode.
dichotic – having different sounds present in each ear, the opposite of diotic.
dichotic listening – listening to different audio signals simultaneously in each ear.
diegesis – (1) The telling of a story in which the experiences of the characters are revealed by a narrator who lays out the plot and sometimes comments on the conversations and thoughts of the characters. (2) The world in which such narrated events and other actions take place. See also mimesis.
diegetic sound – a sound that is present or implied as being present in a film, video, or video game, such as character voices, sound effects, or music that is being played on the screen. Diegetic sound is any sound presented as originating within the world being depicted. It is also called actual sound. It is the opposite of non-diegetic sound.
difference tone – a tone equal to the difference in frequency of two other tones sounded at the same time. For example, two tones of 2,000 Hz and 2,500 Hz will generate a difference tone of 500 Hz, which is also called the beat frequency. A difference tone will occur if the two tones are not in the same harmonic series and have a difference greater than 20 Hz. A frequency difference of less than that is perceived as beating. Also called a subjective tone or resultant tone.
differential mode – a signal that has a positive component and an equal but negative component that are transferred along two wires. This is the opposite of common mode. Also called normal mode.
differential signal – a signal that uses two wires that are the inverse of one other (when one is positive, the other is negative and of equal magnitude) with the signal being the difference between the two. Any common-modevoltage is ignored. This arrangement minimizes electrical interference as external noise will affect both wires equally. This is the type of signal used for most microphone inputs and uses a balanced line.
diffraction grating – an optical device consisting of extremely small, parallel lines that break light down into its component colors. This concept has been used to desgn a sound diffuser, called a reflection phase grating (RPG).
diffuse – (1) Widely scattered or spread out. Not concentrated. (2) A descriptive term for a sound without directionality, seeming to come from no particular direction. The opposite of focused. (3) To scatter or evenly distribute sound energy within a space.
diffuser – a material that scatters sound or evenly distributes sound within a space. British spelling diffusor. See also acoustic treatment.
diffuse sound field – a space with many reflecting surfaces and little absorption. A space having good diffusion and a uniform distribution of sound energy. Some examples are gymnasia, swimming pools, and interior spaces with hard walls made from concrete, marble, or glass.
diffusion – (1) The irregular reflection, refraction, and diffraction of sound in many directions. Also called scattering or acoustic scattering. (2) A parameter found on many reverb units or plug-ins that determines how diffuse the reflections are. A low setting produces reflections that are distinct echoes while higher settings produce diffuse, smeared, and indistinct sounds. In genersl, higher diffusion works better with percussive sounds, while lower diffusion works better for vocals and sustained sounds. Sometimes confused with density, a parameter that controls the number or rate of reflections.
Digidesign – the American digitalaudio technology company that designed Pro Tools. Digidesign was bought by Avid who phased out the Digidesign name in 2010.
digital – (1) A number or value represented as binary digits that can be read by a computer and converted back into data, as opposed to analog. (2) Indicating a readout, such as time or voltage, by means of displayed digits rather than hands or a pointer. (3) Using a computer or computer program to modify or improve data or a signal, as opposed to using analog methods, such as circuits.
digital audio coding – (1) The process of converting an audio signal into a particular form that can be read by a computer or that can be transmitted. (2) The process of compressing an audio file into a smaller size. (3) The process of adding additional information onto an audio signal, such as spatial information. Also called digital audio encoding.
Digital Audio Denmark (DAD) – a wholly-owned business unit and brand of NTP Technology AS, that builds high-end analog-digital converters for the audio recording industry. It is headquartered in Gentofte, Denmark.
Digital Audio Stationary Head (DASH) – a digital audio system using stationary heads that was an early competitor to DAT, but never became a commercial success. In fact the term R-DAT was used originally to distinguish it as the rotating head version, but eventually the “R” was dropped. It was also called S-DAT.
digital audio taperecorder – a device that uses magnetic tape to digitally record audio. There are many types of digital tape recorder using a variety of non-compatible formats. They use two fundamental methods: multiple tracks or high tape speeds. Multitrack systems are expensive, but reliable. High speed machines achieve speed by using a rotating head, similar to video recorders. Early models were simply modified VTRs. In fact, the reason for the unusual CDsample rate of 44.1 kHz is because you can easily record 3 samples in a video frame. At 490 lines and 30 frames per second, you can record 44,100 samples per second.
Digital Cinema Initiatives, LLC (DCI) – a joint venture established in 2002 by many of the major motion picture studios to to establish and document specifications for an open architecture for digital cinema that provides a uniform and high level of performance, reliability, and quality in digital motion pictures.
digital compression – the same as data compression. See compression, definition #3.
digital computer – a type of computer that performs calculations, processes data, and carries out logical operations with quantities expressed as digits, usually in the binary number system. It is the most commonly used type of computer. Compare with analog computer.
digital content – products and information available in digital form, such as music, video, images, and information, that can be downloaded or otherwise distributed on electronic media.
digital distribution – the delivery or distribution of digital media, such as audio, video, software, and video games, over the internet. Also called content delivery, online distribution, or electronic software distribution (ESD).
digital domain – the processing of images, sounds, video, and other data that has been converted into a digital format and manipulated within a computer, as opposed to the analog domain.
Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) – a digital communications standard, used primarily for cordless phone systems, but also used in industrial applications such as for remote controls. Originated in Europe, it has become the standard there as well as in most other countries, having replaced earlier cordless phone standards. In the US a slightly different frequency range is used, making it incompatible with systems in other countries. Also called Digital European Cordless Telecommunications.
Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) – a computer company once headquartered in Maynard, Massachusetts, that manufactured and sold computers, software, and peripherals under the Digital trademark. In 1998 it was purchased by Compaq Computers, which subsequently merged with Hewlett-Packard in 2002, with some divisions of DEC being sold to Intel.
digital instrument – (1) A musical instrument that can be played or controlled by means of digitalinputs, such as MIDI signals. (2) A measuring device that has a digital display.
digital jitter – timing variations in the sampling clocks used in digital audio, occurring both during A/D conversion and D/A conversion. Jitter causes low level distortion or noise and a loss of high-end definition in the audio signal. Although a compact disc itself has no jitter, the digital data can contain the effects of jitter produced during the A/D process and jitter can be further introduced when the CD is decoded in the D/A conversion. Once jitter has been introduced into the digital data it cannot be removed. Also called jitter, word-clock jitter, clock jitter, or sample offset uncertainty. See also intersymbol interference.
digital media streamer – a consumer electronics device that can connect to a home network to streamdigital media, such as music, pictures, or video, from personal computers, storage networks, or other networked media server, and even the internet. Also called digital media extender, digital media hub, digital media adapter, digital media player (not to be confused with a portable digital media player, or digital media receiver (not to be confused with an AV Receiver (AVR).
digital mixer – an electronic device (mixing board or console) used to combine, route, and change the dynamics of digitalaudio signals. Compared to analog mixers, digital mixers usually offer additional features, such as automation, presets, digital effects, and digital I/O. In some cases, digital mixers can function as a digital audio interface that can be used with a computer. Sometimes called a digital mixing console.
digital sampling – (1) The process of taking a recorded portion from an existing recording and using it in a new recording. The section of recorded music, vocal, or spoken word is called a sample. Samples are often used in a repetitive manner, sometimes played backwards, or otherwise manipulated and sometimes used in combination with other sounds or samples. Because a copyright prohibits anyone from copying the original artistic work of another without consent, permission must be obtained from the copyright owner in order to use a sample. (2) The process of using a digital sampler to record a portion of an audio track and playing it back using an electronic keyboard or sampler. (3) Using recordings or samples of an instrument to be used to reproduce the sound of that instrument with an electronic keyboard or synthesizer.
Digital Tape Recording System (DTRS) – a system using Hi 8videocassettes to record digital audio, used for awhile by several manufacturers, but now mostly obsolete.
digital television (DTV) – the broadcasting of television in which the audio and video are transmitted using a digitally processed and multiplexed signal that is decoded at the receiving television set, in contrast with analog television that used separate analog video and audio channels. DTV broadcasts can be standard definition, intermediate definition, or high definition. Although all HDTV broadcasts are DTV, not all DTV is HDTV. There are four main standards for digital television terrestrial broadcasting (DTTB): (a) Advanced Television System Committee (ATSC) used in the United States, Canada, Mexico, South Korea, Dominican Republic and Honduras, (b) Digital Video Broadcasting-Terrestrial (DVB-T) used in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, (c) Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting - Terrestrial (ISDB-T) used in Japan and the Philippines, and a version designated ISDB-T International used in South America and some African countries, and (d) Digital Terrestrial Multimedia Broadcasting (DTMB) used in the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong, and Macau.
digital-to-analog converter – an electronic device that converts a digital signal or data stream to an analog signal. Sometimes called a digital audio converter. Abbreviated as DA converter, D-A converter, D/A converter, D-to-A converter, and DAC.
digital-to-digital conversion – the process of changing a digital signal from one sampling rate to another and/or from one bit depth to another. The result is the same digital information using a different sampling rate and/or bit depth.
digital video – the capturing, editing, and storage of video in a digital format, as opposed to analog video, which uses analog signals.
diminished scale – a musical scale in which the octave is divided symmetrically into eight intervals with the step pattern tone–semitone–tone–semitone–tone–semitone–tone–semitone. For example, the C diminished scale is C-D-E♭-F-G♭-A♭-A-B-C. Also called the symmetric scale.
diminished second – an interval of zero semitones. It is a semitone lower than a minor second, and is enharmonically equivalent to a perfect unison. In other words, it is the interval between notes on two adjacent positions on the musical staff or notes having adjacent letters that are altered such that they have no difference in pitch. Examples are the interval from a B to the C♭ immediately above it and the interval from a B♯ to the C immediately above it.
diminished seventh chord – a four-notechord that consist of a diminished triad plus the interval of a diminished seventh (equivalent to a major sixth) above the root. It is (1, ♭3,♭5, ♭♭7), or enharmonically (1, ♭3, ♭5, 6), of a minor scale. For example, C diminished-seventh would be (C, E♭, G♭, B♭♭), or enharmonically (C, E♭, G♭, A). It occurs as a leading tone seventh chord in harmonic minor. It can also be viewed as four notes stacked in intervals of a minor third. The diminished seventh also contains two diminished fifths. A diminished seventh chord with root C is usually indicated as Cdim or C°, but in some modern jazz books and music theory literature Cdim, C7°, or Cm is used to denote a diminished triad, while Cdim7, C°7, or Cm6(♭5) denotes a diminished seventh chord.
diminished triad – a triad consisting of two minor thirds above the root. For example, a C diminished triad would have a C, an E♭, and a G♭. It resembles a minor triad with a flattenedfifth. It is considered dissonant, or unstable, because the diminished fifth symmetrically splits the octave. The lack of a tonal center and having a leading tone and a dominant give the chord drive. For example, an A diminished chord contains the notes A, C, and E♭, and would want to resolve like an F7 dominant chord, which contains the same notes (F, A, C, and E♭). Diminished chords are mostly used in jazz, somewhat less so in classical music, but occasionally in pop music, especially when modulating between keys. Also known as a minor flatted fifth.
DIN connector – one of a group of round connectors originally standardized by DIN for analogaudio signals. Some of these connectors have been adopted for other applications such as the 5-pin DIN connector for MIDI and several computer applications. These connectors are no longer inluded in the DIN standards, but the IEC has issued equivalent standards that replace them. . DIN stereo – see DIN stereo technique.
DIN sync – a mostly obsolete method for synchronizingvirtual instruments that, for the most part, has been replaced by MIDI. It is called “DIN” sync because it uses the same 5-pin DIN connector as used by MIDI, but the two systems are not compatible. Sometimes called Sync 24 because it transmits at a rate of 24 PPQN.
DIP switch – Dual Inline Package switch. A compact electric switch with small sliders that may be set to “on” (1) or “off” (0). This type of switch is typically used to customize settings in hardware devices. DIP switches are usually easier to use than jumper blocks.
dipole speaker – a loudspeaker mounted on a flat panel, having two drivers that radiate sound equally in opposite directions. This design results in high frequencies being reflected from the rear wall creating more diffuse reverberations, resulting a more natural sound. For this reason dipole speakers are often used as surround channel speakers, because the diffuse sound creates a desirable ambience.
direct-broadcast satellite (DBS) – the broadcast of digital television programming directly for home reception. Another term which predates DBS is direct-to-home (DTH), which was initially used to distinguish the transmissions intended for home viewers from cable television distributors that sometimes use the same satellite. DTH is sometimes used for services carried by lower power satellites which required dishes 1.7 m (about 5 feet) in diameter or larger for reception. See also satellite television.
DirectConnect – the name given by Avid for a method of bringing an audio stream directly into Pro Tools using one of their audio cards.
direct input – conncecting the output from an instrument, such as an electric guitar or electric bass, directly into a console or DAW without first passing through an amplifier/speaker and using a microphone. This is often done using a direct input box. Also called direct injection, direct recording or direct pickup.
direct input box – a device that converts high-impedanceunbalancedaudio signal into a low-impedance audio signal allowing you to connect an instrument (such as an electric guitar or bass guitar) directly into a DAW or console. Also called a direct box, direct injection box, DI box, or DI unit.
directivity – (1) A measure of the directional characteristic of a sound source. It is often expressed as a directivity index (DI), which is measured in decibels (dB), or as a directivity factor (Q), a dimensionless value. When a balloon is popped, it sends out a sound almost equally in all directions. This is equivalent to a Q value of 1. A person talking has a Q value of about 2, since the sound radiates in a hemispherical pattern (half a sphere). DI is equal to 10 time the logarythm of Q. Both directivy factor (Q) and directivity index (DI) are used to measure the directivity of loudspeakers and microphones (also called pickup pattern and polar pattern). See chart showing characteristics of directional microphones. (2) Antenna directivity.
direct memory access (DMA) – a method that allows some hardware devices to access computer memory without using the central processing unit (CPU). DMA sometimes allocates channels, which can transfer data to and from devices faster than by using the CPU. There are a limited number of DMA channels, and only one channel can be used per device. A faster, enhanced versions of DMA is known as Ultra DMA (UDMA).
direct metal mastering (DMM) – a two-step process for vinyl mastering in which the master is created by cutting the audio signal directly into a copper-coated steel disc using a diamond stylus vibrating at 60 kHz. The stamper is created directly from this disc. The usual three-step process cuts the audio signal into a lacquer-coated aluminum disc, from which electroforming is used to create an intermediate disc used to create stampers. See also lathe and vinyl mastering.
direct output – a jack used to feed a signal directly from one device to another, such as from a mixer or guitar amp directly to a digital recorder or DAW. Also called a direct out or instrument out direct.
direct sound – (1) A sound wave that travels straight from the source to the listener (or microphone) without reflecting or bouncing off any surfaces. Also called incident wave or incident sound. See also reverberation. (2) Another name for direct field or near field. (3) A sound recorded directly during the filming process, as opposed to being added later.
Direct Stream Digital™ (DSD™) – a joint trademark of Sony and Philips for encoding the SACD format, using pulse density modulation at a sampling rate of 2.8224 MHz with a one-bit resolution. That is 64 times the sampling rate of CD audio (44.1 kHz), but 1⁄16 the 16-bit resolution. It uses two file formats: DSDIFF (DFF) with the extension .dff and DSF, with the extension .dsf. There is also a higher rate version with a sampling rate of 5.6448 MHz (128 times the CD rate or Fs128), sometimes designated as DSD-128 or double-rate DSD. To distinguish it from the higher-rate version, the original DSD format (single-rate DSD) is designated as DSD-64 (Fs64).
direct-to-reverberant ratio (DRR) – the ratio of the sound pressure level (SPL) of a direct sound (D) to the sound pressure level of the reverberant sound (R). The distance from the sound source at which the DRR equals 1 (D = R) is defined as the critical distance (dc). Also called direct-to-reverberation ratio.
dirt – slang for distortion, especially when referring to a guitar tone.
dirty – a descriptive term meaning distorted, whether intentional, such as a distorted guitar tone, or unintentional, such as an overdriven or clipped signal. The opposite of clean.
disable – the function in some DAWs of turning off a track or plug-in, so that it is not using CPU or DSP resources. The opposite of enable. Depending on the DAW this process may be referred to as deactivate, mute track with CPU-saving preference selected, or archive.
disc – (1) A flat circular object. The same as disk except disk usually refers to magnetic storage media (hard drives and floppy disks) while disc usually refers to optical storage media (CD and DVD). (2) A record in the form of a flat disc that for a time competed with the wax cylinder, but by the early 1920s eventually won the format war. Originally made of a shellac composition, they were later made of vinyl. Also called a phonograph disc or phonograph record.
disc drive – a storage device on a computer using magnetic storage media (hard drives and floppy disks) or optical storage media (CD and DVD). Note that disc usually refers to optical media while disk usually refers magnetic media.
disc jockey – a person who plays recorded music on the radio, at nightclubs, at discos, or at parties. Also called a deejay or DJ.
disclosure triangle – a small triangle you click to show or hide details or other choices in a user interface.
discography – a catalog of all recordings made by a particular performer or the works of a particular composer.
discordant – a sound that is harsh and lacks harmony.
discrete – consisting of distinct and unconnected parts. For example, in an audio context, the term is used to indicate that a circuit is made up of individual componets rather than using an integrated circuit. The term is also used to indicate separate and isolated channels are used rather than being combined using matrix encoding. The opposite of integrated.
discrete surround – a method of delivering surround sound in which each channel is separate from one another, as opposed to a matrix encoding, in which various channels are embedded into one or two main channels that have to be decoded when reproduced. Discrete surround provides better performance than matrix surround. Examples of discrete surround formats included Dolby Digital and DTS.
dished – a descriptive term for a sound with too much bass and treble, an exaggerated depth, and a lifeless quality due to a frequency response that is scooped out (dished) through out the entire midrange. Opposite of humped.
dispersion – (1) Spreading sound waves over a wide area. (2) The distribution of the particles of magnetic coating within the binder on a recording tape. Good dispersion is having an equal number of particles within each extremely small volume of coating. Dispersion affects particle orientation, surface smoothness, and modulation noise. Also called particle dispersion. (3) Short for dispersion pattern.
dispersion angle – the angle of effective coverage of the sound projected from a loudspeaker, defined as the area between the angles at which the SPL of the speaker is 6 dB lower than its on-axis level, in both a vertical and horizontal direction. The angles vary with frequency. Speaker specifications usually list both horizontal and vertical dispersion angles.
dispersion pattern – the sound projection plot of a loudspeaker, often characterized in general terms as “broad” or “narrow.” See also dispersion angle.
displacement sensitivity – the distance that a key is pressed down on a keyboard. Displacement-sensitive keyboards are often found on organs. The distance the key is pressed can produce a different volume, pitch, or tone. See also keyboard expression.
display – an electronic device for the visual presentation of data or graphics. Sometimes called a video display.
display resolution – see resolution, definition #2.
dissonance – in music, a sound that is not consonant. However, the term is used to describe a gradation from the most consonant to the most dissonant sounds or intervals. The opposite extreme is consonance.
distant miking – a technique that places one or more microphones at some distance from the performers. This technique allows coverage of a greater area with fewer microphones, but does not have the presence and detail possible with close miking. Also called distant pickup. Sometimes spelled distant micing. See also ambient microphone and spot microphone.
distortion effect – an effect that produces intentional distortion, with parameters to control the amount and type of distortion. Distortion effects are used for guitar effects and in some digital plug-ins.
diversity – a system used with wireless microphones to improve reception and minimize signal dropouts by sending redunctant signals by various means. There are several methods of achieving diversity including, time diversity, frequency diversity, space diversity, and antenna diversity. A regular wireless system that uses none of these methods is now referred to as non-diversity. See also true diversity and antenna diversity.
divided pickup – an instrument pickup that has separate outputs for each string, typically used with pitch-to-MIDI converters. They also allow separate processing and amplification of each string. Also called hexaphonic pickup (for six strings, as on a guitar) or polyphonic pickup.
DOA – (1) Discrete Operational Amplifier. An operational amplifier built using discrete transistors, as opposed to using an integrated circuit. (2) Dead On Arrival. The situation in which a piece of equipment that has been ordered online or by mailorder has been received broken or in a non-functioning condition.
Dobro® – a trademark of the Gibson Guitar Corporation for their version of a resonator guitar. The name is a contraction of the Dopyera brothers, who founded the National String Instrument Corporation in 1927 and the Dobro Manufacturing Company in 1928. In 1932, National and Dobro merged to form the National Dobro Corporation, which was acquired by Gibson in 1994. Dobro is sometimes used as a term for any resonator guitar. However, the term National is also used to distinguish the designs created by the National String Instrument Corporation from those of Dobro.
doghouse – an extended portion of a mixer case that allows cables to be connected to the back of the mixer while the mixer is sitting in the case. Typically the top lifts off the bottom portion of the mixer case, and the doghouse swings or folds up and over connected cables to protect them while still allowing access to the connections.
Dolby Atmos – an immersive audio format developed by Dolby Laboratories in 2012. The Atmos technology uses object-based audio, which allows for an unlimited number of audio tracks to be distributed to theaters for optimal presentation to speakers based on the theater capabilities. Ambient sounds are separately pre-mixed in a traditional multichannel format, but during playback the Atmos system mixes and renders the sounds in real-time to make each sound seem to be coming from a designated spot, depending on that particular theater's speaker configuration.
Dolby E – an audio encoding and decoding method developed by Dolby Labs that provides for 6 to 8 channels of audio that can be compressed into a standard pair of digitalstereo audio tracks and transmitted using the AES3 (AES/EBU) standard. Dolby E is designed for use by post-production and broadcast facilities. Audio transmitted in the Dolby E format is encoded with Dolby Digital prior to final transmission to the consumer.
Dolby HX Pro – developed in 1982, Dolby HX is not a noise reduction system, but electronic circuitry used to increase the dynamic range for high-frequency signals during analogrecording. HX (for Headroom eXtension) dynamically adjusts the recording bias level to counteract what is known as self biasing, which can occur when recording high frequencies to analog tape. HX greatly improves headroom making it possible to record at higher levels, thus increasing the signal-to-noise ratio. After Bang & Olufsen modified the process for consumer equipment, Dolby Labs marketed the technology as Dolby HX Pro. HX Pro is used in many professional and consumer recording machines. Because it is a record-only process, it is active all the time on such machines, since it has no known negative side effects.
Dolby Laboratories, Inc. – a company founded in 1965 to develope noise reduction systems. They have gone on to created many advancements in sound technology, including noise reduction systems, stereo and surround soundencoding, and digital media compression and reproduction. The word Dolby is frequently used generically to refer to noise reduction.
Dolby Motion Picture 4:2:4 – a matrixedsurround-sound system develped by Dolby Labs in 1977 for the first ”Star Wars” movie. It encodes 4-channel audio (left, right, center, and sides) into a two-channel, stereo-compatible format that can be broadcast or recorded and susequently decoded back into four channels. Because matrix systems cannot completely eliminate crosstalk, the decoder overcomes the problem with a process that emphasizes the signal sent to the appropriate loudspeaker and minimizing the crosstalk in adjacent channels.
Dolby noise reduction (Dolby NR) – several processes developed by Dolby Labs for removing unwanted noise when using analogmagnetic recording tape. Dolby's first noise reduction system was Dolby A, which was released in 1965. Intended for use in professional recording studios, it splits the signal into four frequency bands and provides about 10 dB of noise reduction, which increases to about 15 dB at 15 kHz. Dolby B was released in 1968 for consumer tape decks. It is a simpler, less expensive system using a single-band in the higher frequencies and provides about 10 dB of noise reduction. Dolby C was introduced in 1980 for consumer tape decks (primarily higher end) and has two bands (essentially using Dolby B twice), which is extended to lower frequencies and provides about 15 dB of noise reduction. Dolby SR (for Spectral Recording) was introduced in 1986 for professional recording studios. It uses a complex series of filters that change with the input signal providing up to 25 dB of noise reduction in the higher frequency range, as well as other innovations. Dolby S was introduced in 1989 for use on commercial pre-recorded cassettes. It is a less complex version of Dolby SR that uses many of the same noise reduction techniques. Dolby S is capable of 10 dB of noise reduction at low frequencies and up to 24 dB of noise reduction at high frequencies. Because it was introduced to the market when the compact disc was becoming the major music format, Dolby S was never widely used.
Dolby Pro Logic – an advancement over Dolby Surround, this second generation surround sound format for the home was a 5-channel matrix system that provided an active center channel with its own speaker that its predecessor did not have.
Dolby reference level – a standard level established by Dolby Labs for playing audio systems in homes, theaters, and other venues. With the volume control set a 0 dB with a test tone, the volume at the listening position measured on an SPL meter should be 85 dB-SPL from the left and right speakers, with peaks up to 105 dB. The volume from the LFE channel can be up to 115 dB. Some systems automatically add 10 dB to the LFE channel, but others allow it to be set. THX requires internal test tones to be at -30 dB and nearly all systems use that level whether they are THX-certified or not.
Dolby Rendering and Mastering Unit (RMU) – the hardware and software tools required to produce a digital cinema package (DCP) using Dolby Atmos for theatrical productions. The Dolby RMU is only available from Dolby and requires room certification by a Dolby representative or agent. The RMU renders a 7.1.2 Atmos bed and the required panningmetadata.
Dolby S – the consumer version of the Dolby SR system introduced in 1989. Intended primarily for high-endcassette decks, Dolby S provided the home consumer the ability to record on cassettes with sound quality approaching that of compact discs. Using a less complex version of Dolby SR, Dolby S is capable of 10 dB of noise reduction at low frequencies and up to 24 dB of noise reduction at high frequencies. Because it was introduced to the market when the compact disc was becoming the major music format, Dolby S was never widely used.
Dolby SR – a signal processing system introduced by Dolby Labs in 1986 for use in professional recording studios. It provided improved noise reduction over past systems (up to 25 dB of noise reduction at higher frequencies), and it also included several other technological innovations such as extended dynamic range, anti-saturation, spectral skewing, and modulation control. Dolby SR (for Spectral Recording) made it possible to create very high quality master recordings almost approaching digital quality. Because Dolby SR was introduced shortly after some of the first digital machines arrived, it helped keep analog recording alive for a few more years.
Dolby Virtual Speaker – an algorithm devloped by Dolby Labs that emulates the surround-sound effects of a 5.1-channel speaker system using only two speakers. The technology uses psychoacoustic, biological, psychological, and physical principals to create the impression of additional speakers placed for a surround sound system having five actual speakers.
dominant – the fifth tone of a diatonic scale. It is called “dominant” because it is the next most important note to the tonic. A dominant chord is any chord using the dominanat pitch along with other notes of the same diatonic scale. Also called a dominant note or dominant tone.
dongle – a copy protection device that plugs into a USB, parallel, or other port on a computer that allows access to a particular program or plug-in. If the dongle is not present, the program will not run.
Doppler distortion – a type of distortion that occurs when a speaker cone simultaneously reproduces low-frequency sounds and high-frequency sounds. As the speaker cone moves slowly back and forth with the low frequency it is vibrating more rapidly at the high frequency. Just as the pitch of a moving car horn seems higher when it is moving toward you and lower as it moves away (the Doppler effect), so the motion of the cone caused by low frequencies will modulate the frequency of the higher pitched sounds. There is some argument as to whether Doppler distortion even exists, while others claim it is the same as phase modulation.
Dorian mode – one of the seven musical modes or scales with the interval pattern of tone-semitone-tone-tone-tone-semitone-tone.
dotted note – a musical notation that consists of a note followed by a small dot that indicates the duration of the note should be increased by half its original value. For example, a dotted half note would be three beats instead of the usual two, and a dotted quarter note would have a duration of 1½ beats instead of the usual one (both examples indicated for 4/4 time.
double bar – a musical notation consisting of two vertical lines that occurs in a piece of music indicating the end of a section, movement, or complete work. A double bar preceded by two dots, one over the other, indicates that the section is to be repeated, and is called a repeat mark.
double bass – the largest and lowest-pitchedstring instrument of the violin family. It is normally a four-string instrument usually played with a bow while standing upright, but can be plucked or slapped. It is a half octave lower than a cello, but it is transposed by one octave (written one octave higher than it is played). Also called a string bass, upright bass, stand-up bass, bass violin, bass fiddle, contrabass, doghouse bass, or bull fiddle.
double-blind comparator – a type of testing in which a subject hears audio sample A, then audio sample B, followed by audio sample X. The subject must determine whether X is A or B. It is a double-blind test because neither the tester nor the subject knows which source is A, B, or X. Also called ABX testing or sometimes ABY testing.
double fast – a method of transmitting audio at a higher data rate than the AES3 (AES/EBU) standard maximum rate of 48 kHz by doubling the rate to 96 kHz. Another method of transmitting high bandwidth AES3 signals is double wide, which transmits the data over two cables. Neither method is compatible with the other.
double flat – the equivalent of two flats (♭♭), which lowers the pitch of a note by two semitones or one whole step. Double flats are used to indicate accidentals in a flat key or altered pitches in a chord. The double-flat symbol () is placed before a note like other accidentals. Although a double-flatted note in a chord such as D can be indicated as one note lower (C), it would make the notes in the chord appear odd.
double-headed – a drum that had a head on both the top and bottom.
double mid-side array – a version of the mid-sidemicrophone technique extending the method to surround sound, as well as other applications. It uses two unidirectionalmicrophones, one facing front and one facing backward, each shared with one side-facing figure-eight microphone. The recorded tracks can be decoded into signals for the left front, right front, left side, and right side. Also called double MS, double M-S, double M/S, MSM, or Mid-Side-Mid.
double sharp – the equivalent of two sharps (♯♯), which raises the pitch of a note by two semitones or one whole step. Double sharps are used to indicate accidentals in a sharp key or altered pitches in a chord. The double-sharp symbol () is placed before a note like other accidentals. Although a double-flatted note in a chord such as C can be indicated as one note higher (D), it would make the notes in the chord appear odd.
double tracking – (1) Recording a vocal on one track and then re-recording the vocal (in a separate performance that closely matches the first) on a second track. Sometimes called re-tracking, stacking, layering, or doubling. See also ins and outs. (2) A special effect that simulates the effect of double tracking by combining a signal with a duplicate signal that is slightly detuned and/or delayed by 15 to 35 milliseconds. Sometimes called automatic double tracking.
double wide – a method of transmitting audio at higher than the the AES3 (AES/EBU) standard maximum rate of 48 kHz by splitting the audio into two data streams that are transmitted separately over two cables. Another method of transmitting high bandwidth AES3 signals is double fast, which essentially doubles the data rate of an existing single channel data stream sending it over one cable. Neither method is compatible with the other.
download – (1) To transfer data from a larger to a smaller computer (often from the internet), from a distant to a nearby computer, or from a computer to another device. (2) Data that has been transferred in such a manner. (3) The process of transferring such data. The opposite of upload.
downmix – to mix a number of distinct audio channels into a lower number of channels. See also mix down. Also called fold down.
downsample – to convert from a higher sampling rate to a lower one, such as converting audio at 88.2 kHz to 44.1kHz to meet the standard compact disc sampling rate. Sometimes written as down sample.
DPD – Digital Phonorecord Delivery or Digital Permanent Download or Digital Product Download. A digitaldownload of a sound recording containing music (phonorecord) delivered from the internet. DPDs may be stored on the computer of the recipient indefinitely or they may be transferred to portable devices or burned onto compact discs (as allowed by the distributor of a specific DPD). Just as with physical copies of musical works, DPDs must have mechanical licenses. Also called a digital mechanical license. See also digital distribution.
DRACULA – Dynamic Range Audio Controller with Unobtrusive Level Adjustment. The BBC system for reducing the dynamic range of musical programming on AM and FMbroadcasts.
dreadnought – a style of acoustic guitar originally developed in 1916 by C. F. Martin & Company. The design had a square bottom and shoulders with a larger body than most other guitars at that time, which provided a louder sound. The term dreadnought referred class of battleship of the type initiated by the HMS Dreadnought in 1906. The dreadnought is now a common style of guitar, having been copied by other guitar manufacturers. Also called a D-size or dread for short.
drop-frame time code (DFTC) – a method of correcting the difference between the NTSC color video frame rate of 29.97 frames per second (fps) when playing video with a frame rate of 30 fps. The 30 fps NTSC video frame rate was changed to 29.97 with the advent of NTSC color for technical reasons, but the 0.03 fps amounts to an error of 3.59 seconds each hour. Drop frame time code was developed to handle this discrepancy. This procedure drops frame numbers 0 and 1 of the first second of every minute, except when the number of minutes is divisible by ten. See 3:2 pull down.
Dr Pepper setting – slang for a common starting point setting for the 1176 compressor. The name is taken from an early Dr Pepper label which had the numbers 10, 2, and 4 positioned around a clock. Many engineers found that placing the attack control at 10 o’clock, the release at 2 o’clock, and the ratio at 4:1 yielded excellent results.
drum – a percussion instrument typically cylindrical, barrel-shaped, or bowl-shaped with a membrane stretched tightly over one or both ends, played by beating with the hands, sticks, or brushes. There are many types of drums including the snare, tom-tom, bongos, cajón, conga, djembe, tabla, timpani, and many others.
drumbeat – (1) A stroke on a drum. (2) The sound of a drum being struck. (3) A series of drum strokes. (4) A drum pattern. Sometimes spelled drum beat.
drum booth – an isolation booth or a small room used as an enclosure for recording drums and other percussion instruments, to avoid the bleed into microphones of other instruments being recorded at the same time. Some drum booths are not fully enclosed and do not provide complete isolation, but avoid the problem of standing waves and midrangeresonances that can give small rooms an unnatural, boxy sound. Also called a drum room.
drum felt – a strip of felt that can be affixed to a drumhead to eliminate ringing or other unwanted tones.
drum fill – an improvisational solo played by the drummer between melodic phrases or during a transition in the music.
drumhead – the membrane or skin of a drum. They come in several varieties: (a) Single ply, typically made from one layer of 7-mil Mylar, the thinnest drum heads. Designed for light hitters, they produce high-end frequencies and their pronounced tones are useful in arena rock shows as well as quiet jazz ballads. (b) Double ply, made of two layers of 7-mil Mylar. The two layers of Mylar provide more attack and better control of the sound and are usually better in recording studio applications. (c) Coated, having an application of some form of dampening material. The coating softens the sound of the head producing a warmer sound. (3) Pre-muffled, with foam or other damping material to suppress undesired frequencies. Useful on kick drums to prevent ringing in order to achieve a nice blend of the “thud” of the drumhead and “thwack” of the beater against the batter head. Called a head for short. Sometimes spelled drum head.
drum replacement – plug-in software that detects when a drum on a recording is hit and replaces or overlays the hit with a sampled drum sound. This procedure either reinforces the sound of the drum or replaces it completely.
drum shell – the cylindrical part of a drum to which one or more drumheads are attached. The shell can be made of metal, wood, or plastic—the choice of material affects the tone of the drum.
drumstick – a thin rod about 16 inches (40 cm) long, usually made of wood, with a round or oblong tip, that is used to strike a drumhead or a percussion instrument. The tip is sometimes covered with nylon or other material. Sometimes spelled drum stick.
drum throne – the stool or seat upon which a drummer sits when playing a drum kit. Called a throne for short.
drum trigger – an electronic device attached to the drums of an acoustic drum kit that sends out a MIDI signal when the drum is struck. The signal can either trigger either a note or close a connection on an outboardprocessor to produces a MIDI note or a drum sound.
D.S – Dal Signo. A notation used in music that instructs a musician to repeat a passage starting from the segno sign. D.S. al coda instructs the musician to go back to the sign, and when al coda or to coda is reached, to jump to the coda symbol. D.S. al fine instructs the musician to go back to the sign, and end the piece at the measure marked fine. Al segno indicates that the musician should go to the sign.
DSP accelerator – Digital Signal Processing accelerator. A microprocessor, located either on an internal card or an external piece of hardware, that accelerates the performance of a DAW by performing the operation of plug-ins, thus allowing the computer's CPU to process other demands. Also called hardware accelerator or DSP hardware.
DSP server – Digital Signal Processing server. A server used only for handling digital signal processing applications. A DSP server handles processes offloaded from the host machine to conserve CPU and processing capabilities.
D-subminiature connector – a multi-pin connector originally developed by ITT Cannon that comes in a variety of sizes and pin configurations, and is used for computer and audio applications. Probably the most common version is the DB25, used for RS232 ports. Also called a D connector, D-type connector, or D-sub for short.
DTS-ES – DTS Extended Surround. A version of DTSsurround sound that adds a third surround channel to the left and right surround channels. There are two versions: (a) Regular DTS-ES which matrix-encodes the third surround channel into the existing left and right surround signals in a 5.1-channel source and (b) DTS-ES Discrete that adds a separate third surround channel. See also THX Surround EX.
DTS HD-Master Audio – a combined lossless and lossy audio codec developed by DTS for use on Blu-ray discs for surround sound. It is an extension of the previous DTS Coherent Acoustics codec. Although it was originally an optional audio format for Blu-ray, it has steadily become the standard Blu-ray lossless audio format. The format supports a maximum sample rate of 192-kHz at a 24-bit resolution from 2 (stereo) to 5.1 channels and a 96-kHz rate and a 24-bit resolution up to 7.1 channels. However, when played back on devices that do not support the Master Audio high-resolution extension, it downgrades to a lossy track. Previously known as DTS++.
DTS, Inc. – a company founded in 1990 as Digital Theater Systems, Inc. and headquartered in Calabasas, California, that was an innovator in the field of multichanneldigital audio. It is the main competitor of Dolby Laboratories, Inc. in the theater and home theater markets. In 2008, the cinema division was divested to form DTS Digital Cinema, which was subsequently purchased by Beaufort International Group Plc in 2009, changing the name to Datasat Digital Entertainment. In 2011, the DTS cinema brand was dropped, in favor of the Datasat Digital Sound branding. DTS, Inc. continues to develope and license DTS products in the home consumer market.
DTS:X – an immersive audio format developed by DTS in 2015, that uses object-based audio, similar to Dolby Atmos. Although Dolby Atmos requires the addition of extra height channels to a 5.1 or 7.1 setup, DTS:X works with standard speaker setups. It can support up to 32 speaker locations, equivalent to an 11.2 setup. DTS:X uses Multi-Dimensional Audio (MDA), an open and licence-free platform that allows movie producers to control the placement, movement, and volume of sound objects. DTS:X also allows users to adjust the volume of voices on a soundtrack to make hard-to-hear dialog easier to understand.
DVB-T – Digital Video Broadcasting-Terrestrial. See DTV.
dual banana plug – a type of banana plug with two plugs held together with a plastic yoke and spaced ¾" apart, the typical distance between binding posts on speakers. This format is designed to simplify speaker installation.
dual capstan – a type of tape machine that has one capstan before and another after the head assembly. This design provides smoother tape motion and minimizes the effects due to tension by supply and take-up reels. Also called a closed-loop drive.
DualDisc – a double-sided optical disc introduced in 2004 that has a non-Red Book-standard audio layer similar to a compact disc on one side and a DVD layer on the other. This configuration allows for the distribution of audio in both 16-bit/44.1 kHz (regular CD) and high-resolution [24-bit/96 kHz or 192 kHz] (DVD-A) formats and possibly including surround-sound versions, in addition to video. To date, the format has not had much acceptance.
dual-layer DVD – a DVD having two layers of data, one above the other with the top one being semi-transparent so that both can be read from the same side. A dual-layer disc can hold almost twice as much data as a single-layer disc (about 4 hours of video), which means long movies can use higher data rates to provide better quality video on a single disc.
dual mono – pertaining to a two-channel device in which each channel is separate and unrelated to the other, as opposed to stereo where the two channels are related and are usually routed together. For example, with a dual-mono preamp, you can have a vocal in one channel and an electric guitar in the other, each with its own settings and routed to different destinations.
dub – (1) To copy a recording. (2) A copy of a recording. (3) The process of adding dialog in sync with a movie soundtrack after the movie has been completed. Also called automatic dialog replacement or ADR. (4) To re-record sound effects, ambient sounds, music, dialog, or Foley effects for a film or video. (5) To mix together onto a single track all of the separate edited tracks for a film or video production.
dubber – a machine used to playback the sound for a movie or video.
dub stage – a special studio where music is added to the dialog and sound effects for the final soundtrack of a movie or video. It consists of a small movie theater, with a large screen, full surround sound system, a large mixing console in the place of a row of seats, and an sound-isolated machine room that houses dubbers and projectors. The DME stems can be mixed together in sync with film being projected on the screen. The theater is designed with acoustics similar to a public movie theater. Also called a mixing studio, re-recording studio, re-recording stage, dubbing stage, or dubbing theater.
Duophonic – a trade name used by Capitol Records for a sound process in which monophonic recordings were reprocessed into “fake stereo.” The process consisted of splitting the monophonic signal into two channels, delaying one channel by a few milliseconds, reducing the bass frequencies in one channel, and cutting the high frequencies in the other. The result was a simulated stereo effect, but without any directional characteristics of true stereo. In some cases, the effect was enhanced with reverberation and other technical tricks. The process was used when commercial stereophonic records were first introduced to produce simulated stereo records from existing monophonic recordings to satisfy the demand for stereo records, as well as to be able to charge a higher price. In most cases, the simulated stereo recordings sounded nothing like stereo recordings and were usually not as good as the mono versions.
duple meter – a musical meter or time signature having a primary division of 2 beats to the bar, such as 2/2, 2/4, and 6/8.
duplication – (1) The process of making a copy of a compact disc using a recordable CD such as a CD-R. Duplicators use machines that duplicate anywhere from 10 to 100 or more CDs at a time by loading multiple CD-Rs into a machine and copying the master. This process is used for small quantities, typically less than 300 copies. For larger quantities, replication is used. (2) The process of making multiple copies of a cassette.
duplicator – (1) A device used to copy data or music onto blank CD-R discs. These units can be as simple as two drives that require manual loading and loading to towers containing a dozen or more drives. Automatic units can hold hundreds of blank discs that can run for hours between loading and can print color labels directly on the disc. An automated unit is sometimes called a CD publisher. Some machines also can duplicate DVD and Blu-ray discs. (2) A device used to copy music from a master tape to multiple blank cassettes. (3) A company that manufactures compact discs, DVDs, and/or Blu-ray discs using the process of duplication.
dust cap – the dome-shaped object over the central hole of most loudspeaker cones. (See diagram.) Its purpose is to protects the inner mechanisms, such as the voice coil and the pole pieces, from being contaminated by dust. With some loudspeaker designs, the dust cap can be part of the acoustic design of the driver acting to enhance or suppress some the radiation of some frequencies. In some digitizingtweeter designs, the the entire sound-radiating surface is the dust cap. (See diagram.) Also called a dust dome or dome.
DVC – Digital Video Cassette. The cassette containing magnetic recording tape used for recording digital video (DV). DVCs come in four different sizes, all of which contain tape that is ¼ inch (6.35 mm) wide. Small cassettes (S-size or Mini DV cassettes) are intended for amateur use, but often are used by professionals. Medium (M-size) cassettes are often called DVCPRO tapes and are for use in professional Panasonic equipment. Large (L-size) cassettes are often called DVCAM tapes and are used in standalone DV tape recorders and many shoulder-mount camcorders. Extra-large (XL-size) cassettes are sometimes called DVCPRO XL and are for use in some Panasonic equipment.
DVD – Originally stood for Digital Video Disc and then Digital Versatile Disc, but now officially stands for nothing. An optical disc the size of a compact disc, with more than 6 times the storage capacity of a CD, that can be used to store video, audio, and data. Once called an hdCD in Europe. Just as CD specification are enumerated in books by color, DVD specifications are provided in books labeled A through E:
DVD-A (Audio Only)
DVD-AV (Audio & Video + Subset of DVD-V)
DVD-Audio – an optical disc for delivering digital audio on a DVD introduced in 2000. Providing surround sound and longer playing time than a CD, it or its competing format SACD were intended to be the successor to the compact disc, but neither has made a significant impact on the consumer market. It is sometimes abbreviated DVD-A.
DVD authoring – the process of making a DVD video that can be played on a DVD player. DVD authoring is the final step in the process of recording a recordable DVD or the last step before the process of manufacturing (replicating) mass-produce DVDs. During authoring, menus are created, chapter points are inserted, and various other options and data are added.
DVD player – (1) Software designed to play DVD discs. (2) An electronic device designed to play DVD discs. Most players can also play music CDs, as well as both read-only DVD+R and DVD-R and rewritable DVD+RW and DVD-RW, although some older players may play either the plus or the minus group. DVD players may also read and write DVD-RAM discs, but they are not alway compatible between brands. A DVD drive can also play such discs, but a DVD player is typically used with a TV or home theater, whereas a drive is a peripheral device for use with a computer.
DVD-R – a recordable DVD with a capacity of 4.7 GB that can only be written once. A DVD-R uses a different and somewhat incompatible format from a DVD+R
DVD+R – a recordable DVD with a capacity of 4.7 GB that can only be written once. A DVD+R uses a different and somewhat incompatible format from a DVD-R
DVD-RAM – a rewritable DVD with a capacity of 2.6 GB, that can recorded and erased and re-recorded.
DVI – (1) Digital Visual Interface. A specification created by the Digital Display Working Group (DDWG) for converting analogvideosignals into digital signals so both analog and digital monitors could handle the input. (2) Digital Video Interactive. A mostly obsolete codec developed by RCA, Intel, and GTE for storing digital graphics, audio, and full-motion video on a CD-ROM.
D-weighting – a method for measuring sound using an equalization curve that was designed specifically for use in measuring high-level aircraft noise in accordance with standard IEC 537. The large peak in the D-weighting curve does not come from equal-loudness contours, but occurs because the humans ear hears random noise differently from pure tones, which is especially pronounced around 6 kHz. Also called D-filter or D-curve. See also A-weighting, B-weighting, C-weighting, K-weighting, and Z-weighting..
dyad – a set of two musical notes or pitches. Although, a chord has three or more notes, in some cases a dyad can be considered to be a chord or a chord substitute, particularly for a guitarist.
Dynaco – a manufacturer of affordable, high quality audio kits, found in 1954 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by David Hafler and Ed Laurent. Dynaco became a wholly owned subsidiary of Tyco, Inc. in 1969. In 1991, the Pan Orient Corporation (now Panor) purchased the right to the Dynaco trademark.
dynamic – a descriptive term for a punchy sound that produces an impression of a wide of dynamic range, related to both fast response and contrasts in volume.
Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH) – an adaptive media-streaming technique technique that enables high quality streaming of media content over the internet using conventional HTTP web servers. Similar to Apple'sHTTP Live Streaming (HLS), DASH works by breaking the content into a sequence of small file segments, each containing a short interval of playback time of content that can be many hours in duration, such as a movie or the live broadcast of a sporting event. Alternative segments are encoded at different bit rates so that while the content is being played back, the client automatically selects the best alternative bit rate for the next segment to download and play back based on current network conditions. The client selects the segment with the highest possible bit rate that will not cause stalls or buffering during playback. This allows DASH to seamlessly adapt to changing network conditions, and provide high quality play back with minimal playback glitches. Unlike HLS, HDS, and Smooth Streaming, DASH is codec-independent. Also known as MPEG-DASH.
dynamic amplification factor (Q) – the mechanical gain of a vibrating object when it is excited at its resonant frequency. The amplification factor is a function of the system damping. When the damping ratio (ζ) equals zero (no damping), the amplification factor is infinite. When ζ = 1 (critically damped), there is no amplification. Sometimes called simply amplification factor, which should not be confused with amplifier gain.
dynamic filter – (1) An early type of single-ended noise reduction system that used filters with cutoff frequencies that were controlled by the signallevel. During soft passages as the high-frequency signal level decreases, the high-frequency response was reduced. When the signal level was high, the full spectrum was restored. (2) A circuit used in aural exciters where a side-chain signal is used to modify the original both additively and subtractively to create the impression of an increase in both bass and high frequencies, while the mid-range sounds more focused. Such spectral shaping is designed to be related to the way the human hearing system changes at different listening levels.
dynamic host processing – a process found in some DAWs in which plug-ins only use CPU power when they are active in a track or a track has audio upon which the plugin can operate. The CPU power can then be diverted to other uses during such situations making the DAW more efficient. Also called dynamic plugin processing.
dynamic microphone – a microphone that does not require a power source. There are two basic varieties of dynamic mics: (a) the moving coil microphone, usually referred to as a dynamic microphone and (b) the ribbon microphone. Each converts sound into an electric signal by causing a conductor to vibrate within a magnetic field. The dynamic microphone uses a moving coil and the ribbon microphone uses a thin ribbon for the conductor.
Dynamic Noise Reduction (DNR) – a noise reduction system that was similar those designed by Dolby, but was not as effective.
dynamic range – (1) The range in volume from the quietest to the loudest in a program. Also called dynamics. (2) The range in level that a device can handle or is capable of reproducing. The theoretical dynamic range for various bit depths are shown in the table below:
Dymanic Range (dB)
dynamic range compression – see compression, definition #2.
dynamics – (1) The same as dynamic range. (2) The playing of instruments or singing loudly or softly at different places as indicated in a piece of music.
dyne – a unit of force in the CGS system that when acting on a mass of one gram, increases its velocity by one centimeter per second every second along the direction that it acts. One dyne is equal to 10 micronewtons.
Note: We believe this is the largest dictionary (glossary) of terms specific to usage within the recording industry that is currently available on the internet, with more than 7,800 entries, nearly 600 illustrations, and dozens of tables. Some of the terms have different or additional meanings in other situations, especially within the electronic, automotive, scientific, and computer industries. Of necessity there are obvious overlaps into other fields such as music, electronics, and computers, but such excursions are limited to information deemed pertinent to the knowledge required to operate and/or participate effectively in the workings of a recording studio. Also included are terms related to sound reinforcement (live performances) including wireless microphone technology because a working knowledge of that terminology is necessary for recording at live performance venues. Because recording studios also record audio for video and motion pictures (films), some terminology from those fields is included. Some scientific terms are included because they help explain studio terminology. For example, electromagnetism explains how microphones, loudspeakers, and guitar pickups work. Knowledge of radio waves and the radio frequency spectrum is needed to explain wireless devices. Any trademarks or trade names mentioned belong to their respective owners. The information contained in this dictionary is believed to be accurate at the time of publication. This information is subject to change without notice. The information was obtained from and cross-checked with a variety of sources that are believed to be reliable. However, Los Senderos Studio, LLC does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information contained herein. Please contact us to report any errors, omissions, discrepancies, or broken links. Los Senderos Studio shall not be responsible for any consequences or damages arising out of the use of this information. Nothing in this glossary should be interpreted as legal advice. For a glossary providing information on legal and business matters for musicians, we suggest you consult Musicians Business Dictionary.
A note on alphabetical order: The terms in this glossary are alphabetical without regard to spaces and punctuation. For example, AM Radio follows amplitude. While this may seem to be at odds with other conventions, it eliminates confusion with words such as pickup, which is sometimes written as pick up or pick-up. The entries on the number page (0-9) are listed in increasing value within each digit. For example, all of the entries beginning with 1 are listed before those starting with 2. For Greek letters (α-ω), the entries are in Greek alphabetical order.