Quad-8 – RCA's trade name for their quadraphonic (4-channel), eight-track tape cartridges, now defunct. Later shortened to Q-8.
Quadradisc – a discrete 4-channel vinyl record introduced by JVC in 1971. Although this was the only commercially successful discretequadraphonic record, it was rather short lived. Also called CD-4 (Compatible Discrete 4). See also SQ and QS.
quadratic-residue diffusor (QRD) – a structure composed of a large number of wells of various depths, designed so that soundwaves striking them bounce out of each well at slightly different times, thus diffusing the sound. Also called a Schroeder diffusor after its inventor.
quadraphonic – a now defunct audio format consisting of four channels, two in front and two in the rear. Although its configuration was different from modern surround sound, it was the first attempt at a surround sound system. Its commercial failure was due in large part to the numerous competing and incompatible formats for producing quadraphonic sound, as well as the increased hardware expense compared to regular stereo. Sometimes called quadrasonic or quad for short.
quadruplex videotape recorder – the first commercially successful analog videotape format, developed in 1956 by Ampex. A quadruplex recorder has four magnetic heads mounted on a headwheel spinning transversely (width-wise) across the recording tape, with a tape speed of 7½ ips (19.05 cm/sec) or 15 ips (38.10 cm/sec) for NTSC video. This method was called quadrature scanning as opposed to helical scanning formats, which eventually replaced it. Called quad for short.
quality factor (Q) – a dimensionless parameter that designates the sharpness of a peak, most often used in reference to filters and equalizers, but it can be used to describe characteristics in other components, electronic circuits, and speakers. In equalizer circuits, Q is defined as the center frequency divided by the half power bandwidth. (See equations below.) In loudspeakers and microphones, the quality factor is used to designate the directivity (a measure of the directional characteristics). See directivity. Sometimes called resonance. Called Q or Q factor for short.
quantization – (1) The conversion of an analogwave into very small discrete steps prior to digitization. (2) The correction of rhythms in a MIDI sequence or audio signal, such as drum hits that are not quite on the beat. British spelling quantisation.
quantize – (1) To convert an analogsignal or wave into very small discrete steps prior to digitization. (2) To correct the the rhythms in a MIDI sequence or audio signal. This process is used to correct timing errors, but over-use can remove the human feel from a performance. British spelling quantise.
quantizing increment – (1) A step between each sample during analog-to-digital conversion. For example, at a bit depth of 16, there will be 65,536 quantizing increments. (2) The amount of voltage or decibel value that each quantizing step represents. At 16 bits, there are 65,536 steps. To represent a signal voltage from 0.0 V to 1.0 V, each quantizing increment will correspond to 1/65536 V or about 0.000015 V.
quantum microphone – a new technology that can detect sound at the quantum mechanics level developed by scientists at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. It is based on a circuit using a single-electron transistor (SET), a transistor that passes one electron at a time.
quarter note – a music note having one-fourth the time value of a whole note. In 4/4 time, the quarter-note is equal to one beat. Also called a crotchet (mainly British).
quarter space – the sound environment created when a loudspeaker is placed at a junction between two walls, such as in the corner of a room. This situation yields an additional 6 dB of sound power level, especially in the bass frequencies, compared to a speaker in a free field. See also half space and ⅛ space.
quarter tone – (1) Half a semitone or one-fourth of a whole tone. (2) A system of music that has 24 tones per octave with each tone being one-fourth of a whole tone, often used in Eastern music.
quarter-tone bend – a guitar technique, sometimes used in blues, rock, country, and other music genres, in which a string is stretched (bent or curled) producing a tone that is a quarter tone higher in pitch than the original unbent frettednote. Also called a blues curl or microtonal bend.
quiescent noise – the amount of noise in an empty recording or listening space. It consists of all sources of sound, such as traffic noise, HVAC equipment, fluorescent light hum, computer fans, and loudspeaker hum. Sometimes erroneously used interchangeably with noise floor.
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.