An explanation of terms.
Special thanks to Andy Bereza, Bandive and the Fostex Corporation for allowing us to publish this extract from the 'Fostex Cookbook' - a handy home recording guide available from all Fostex dealers.
A/B Check - Comparing two signals with 'A' being the reference and 'B' the one being tested. In recording, 'A' is normally the source and 'B' the recorded signal on tape.
ADT - Automatic Double Tracking. Created by digital or analogue delay.
Alignment - Precision adjustment of electronic circuits and tape heads for optimum performance.
Ambience - The natural reverberation characteristic of a room or auditorium.
Analogue - An electrical signal whose frequency and level vary continuously in direct relationship to the original acoustical sound waves.
Assignment - See Route.
Attack - The beginning of a sound or the initial transient of a musical note.
Aux (auxiliary) input - A high level input on an amplifier, mixer, tape recorder, etc. which will accept a variety of line level signals from external devices or systems. Sometimes a spare input.
Backing track - Recorded track or tracks which are the accompaniment for any subsequent vocals or solo instruments.
Balanced line - Connection method utilising two signal wires and a ground. As signal is not physically connected to ground line, this helps reduce hum and induced interference.
Bi-Directional - Microphone pickup pattern exhibiting sensitivity to sound in front and behind, but not to the sides.
Bounce - Transfer of one track or more to others during multitrack recording.
Bus - A signal path to which a number of inputs may be connected for feed to one or more outputs.
Cans - Buzz word for Headphones.
Capstan - The rotating shaft on a tape recorder that drives tape forward in conjunction with the pinch roller.
Cardioid - The 'heart-shaped' directivity pattern of microphones.
Cascade - An arrangement of two or more similar circuits or amplifier stages where the output of one stage directly feeds the input of the next.
Clipping - Overload distortion due to amplifier reaching maximum voltage swing.
Compander - An electronic processor which squeezes or 'compresses' the volume range of signals during recording and stretches or 'expands' them during playback, to their original levels.
Concert - A 440Hz International tuning standard for musical instruments.
Cue - 1. See foldback. 2. A mechanical device on tape machine that allows the tape to contact the heads in any mode other than play. Allows checking of tape content.
Dead sound - Also known as dry sound, implying little or no reverberation.
Digital - A numerical representation of the actual analogue frequency and level of an audio signal. 'Digital' also may refer to a control or circuit which changes the level or the assignment of a signal in discrete mathematical steps rather than continuously variable amounts.
Double tracking - A short delay combined with the original signal creates the impression of more performers and a fuller sound.
Drop in - Adding a recorded part onto an already existing track by switching immediately from a play and listening mode to record, during tape run.
Drop out - Poor head contact or faulty tape can cause momentary loss of recorded signal.
Dry - A track, recording or program without echo or reverb. Also see 'wet'.
Echo - Sound reflection heard with as much intensity or a distinct repeat.
Editing - The process of adding to, subtracting from or rearranging a tape recording.
Fader - General term for volume control.
Figure of Eight - See Bi Directional.
Foldback - The mix that is fed to performers for monitoring signals being mixed. Normally taken pre the channel fader.
Gain - The amplification factor of an amplifier.
Headroom - The level above the normal operating point which is regarded as a safety margin in amplifiers, without producing overload or distortion.
Hertz - Replaces the former cycles per second (cps) and quantifies the frequency of sound.
Impedance - The degree to which a circuit restricts the flow of AC signals. Measured in ohms, the higher the figure the greater the impedance.
KHz (Kilo Hertz) - A thousand Hertz.
Leader - Uncoated plastic tape, normally colour coded to identify the beginning and end of a recording.
Line Input /Output - Standard studio levels that ensure compatible matching. Normally 0dBm or -10dBm level.
Motion sensing - Electronic circuit in a recorder which detects tape movement and controls the motors and solenoids to avoid any strain or rough tape handling.
Multicore - A number of single cables combined in one outer sheath and used for interconnecting many microphones or other signals, over a long distance.
Non-directional - See Omni-directional.
Omnidirectional - Microphone pickup pattern which is equally sensitive to sound from all directions.
Overdub - Process of recording a track onto a multitrack tape whilst listening to previously recorded material on the same tape.
Overload - What occurs when a device is 'asked' to supply more power than it is capable of delivering.
Pad - A simple circuit of resistors which reduces signal level by a specific amount.
Panning - Technique of positioning a mono signal in a stereo mix.
Pan-pot - Control on mixer which directs a single input to two outputs. The panoramic position of the knob will determine the position of the sound in the stereo mix.
Patch - Connect up two parts of a circuit by means of an external connection.
Ping pong - A multi-channel recording procedure whereby several recorded tracks are played back in 'sync' mode, mixed into one track, and re-recorded on any open (unrecorded) track. This procedure is done to make additional tracks available, and may be repeated.
Pre-emphasis - High frequency boost internal to a tape recorder, which improves the apparent signal to noise ratio of the tape medium. De-emphasis compensates during playback.
Presence - The degree of 'forwardness' of a sound in a mix. Usually controlled by the mid frequency equaliser.
Punch in - See 'drop in'.
Reduction - Mixing the outputs of a multitrack to create the final mix.
Remix - See reduction.
Reverberation - Extension of the natural length of a sound due to multiple reflections.
Reverberation time - The time it takes for a sound in an enclosed space to fall by 60dB.
Route - The switching function on a mixer that directs the signal to various outputs. May also apply to position of panpot.
Snake - See multicore.
Sub-mixing - Separating signals into separate, controlled groups before the final mix controls, eg. vocals, keyboards etc.
Splicing tape - A specially formulated adhesive tape to use for editing recording tape.
Stage-box - A screened metal box which accepts individual microphones and connects to a multiway cable.
Sync - In multi-track tape recorders, a technique where channels on the record head can be used for tape playback while other channels are being recorded. This permits performers to listen to previously recorded tracks and to record additional tracks in perfect synchronisation.
Talkback - A function normally found on studio consoles that allows the engineer to speak to the performers or directly to tape.
Unbalanced line - Connections made using one conducting wire and earth screen.
Uni-directional - See Cardioid.
Wet - A program to which reverberation or echo effects have been added. Also see 'dry'.
Zero level - Reference voltage level. May be the 0dBm or -10dBm standard.
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