The Recording Institute of Detroit & Recording Website provide this glossary as a professional courtesy to the music & recording industry. This is an edited verson of the glossary and audio dictionary used by RID students. There is no charge for individuals use this glossary provided that the use is non-commercial. Distribution of printed copies is strictly forbidden. Feel free to bookmark this page for future use.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Select the first letter of the word from the list above to jump to appropriate section of the glossary.
m - 1) This is the Greek letter "mu", which is actually a forerunner of the English "M", however, the lower-case "u" is often used in place of it because of it's similar appearance. 2) This symbol is used for micro- (one millionth). 3) m s means two microseconds which is 2/1,000,000 of a second.
Unbalanced - A method of interconnecting recorders, amplifiers and other electronic gear using two-conductor cable.
Undo - A command in some computer software that reverses the last command entered.
Uni- - A prefix meaning One.
Unidirectional - A pick-up pattern which is more sensitive to sound arriving from one direction than from any other.
Unison - Several performers, instruments or sound sources that are sounding at the same time and with the same pitch.
Unity Gain - No increase or decrease in signal strength at the output of an amplifier or device compared to the signal strength at the input.
Update By Absolute - Solid State Logic name for re-writing the settings for an automated console control.
Update Mode - A mode of operation of console automation allowing modification of the programming of a channel of a console so that when the slide of the fader is at a predetermined point (usually the point marked "0") the gain variations (fader movements) last programmed in the computer will be in effect, but when the engineer moves the slide up or down from this point gain or loss is added to or subtracted from the programmed level.
Upper Midrange - The frequencies between 2 kHz and 6 kHz.
Upper Toms - Another name for rack toms (small to medium-size drums usually 10 - 14 inch diameter, that are mounted to a rack over the foot drum in a drum kit).
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Vacuum Tube - An amplifying device that is a tube.
Vacuum Tube Volt Meter - A device that measures the electrical voltage and uses a vacuum tube to drive the indicator so that testing the circuit does not load tbe circuit.
Vamp - The repeadng pan of a tune at its end, usually the chorus or part of the chorus.
Vamp and Fade - A method of ending a recording of a tune where the music has a repeating part and the engineer reduces volume until the music is out.
Vari-Speed - A Control on a tape machine that changes the play speed.
Variable-D - A patented invention (and trademark) of Electrovoice where several port are put down the case of the microphone. The ports are less and less sensitive to high frequencies as they are further away from the diaphragm, reducing proximity effect.
VCA - Abbreviation for Voltage Controlled Amplifier (an amplifier that will change gain according to the level of control voltage sent to it).
VCA Automation - A system of computer control of channel gain (or other functions) by use of voltage controlled amplifiers that change gain according to the level of control voltages sent to them by the computer.
VCA Fader - A fader with a VCA in its case arranged so that in manual operation the slide of the fader controls how much control voltage is sent to the VCA and therefore controls the channel gain.
VCA Group - Several VCA faders that are fed control voltages from a group master slide.
VCA Master - One slide feeding control voltages to several VCA's to control the gain in several audio channels.
VCA Trim - One control in an audio system (such as a console) which can adjust the control voltage feeding all VCA's, usnally with limited range.
VCO - An abbreviation for: 1) Voltage Control Oscillator (an oscillator that generates an AC control voltage, usually a low-frequency oscillator putting out a signals between .1 Hz and 10 Hz). 2) Voltage Controlled Oscillator (an oscillator that changes its frequency according to a control voltage feed to its control input).
Velocity Message - In synthesizers and keyboard controllers, a MIDI message giving data on how hard the key was struck.
Velocity Microphone - Another name for Pressure Gradient Microphone (a microphone whose diaphragm is exposed front and back and its movement is caused by the small pressure differences between the front and back of the diaphragm).
Velocity Sensitive - A term with the same meaning as the term Touch Sensitive (capability of a synthesizer keyboard to generate a MIDI velocity message, giving data on how hard the key was struck).
Vertical Interval Code - SMPTE Time code that is recorded as part of the video signal (in the black area between picture frames) so that the time code numbers can be displayed on screen during editing.
VGD - An abbreviation of "very good take", used when writing down the takes recorded on a tune.
Vibrato - A smooth and repeated changing of the pitch up and down from the regular musical pitch, often done by singers.
Virtual Tracking - 1) In MIDI Systems: Having a MIDI sequencer operate in sync with a multitrack tape and controlling the playing of synthesizers along with the recorded parts. 2) In Hard Disk Multitrack Recorders: A track that cannot be played simultaneously with other tracks in the same group. For Example, if "track 8" had 4 "virtual tracks", then only one of these 4 virtual tracks could play back at any one time.
Vocal Booth - A isolation room used for the vocal so that other instruments in the studio do not leak into the vocal microphone or to reduce ambience and reverberation in the vocal recording.
Vocoder - (tradermark) An effects device that will modulate (control) one signal with another.
Voice - 1) In synthesizers, a pitch that can be played at the same tine as other pitches are sounded. 2) In Yamaha synthesizers, a term meaning the same thing as Sound Patch (one sound that can be created by the synthesizer).
Voice Over - The recording of vocal announcements over a bed of music in commercials.
Voc. - An abbreviation for Vocal used on track sheets.
Volatile Memory - Computer memory that will be lost when the computer is turned off.
Volt Meter - A meter that can test the level of voltage.
Voltage - The electrical force pushing electrons to obtain electrical current.
Voltage Control Oscillator - An oscillator that generates an AC control voltage, usually a low-frequency signal bctween .1Hz and 10 llz.
Voltage Controlled - A device that will change its output according to the amount of control voltage sent to its control input.
Voltage Controlled Amplifier - An amplifier that will change gain according to the level of control voltage sent to it.
Voltage Controlled Attenuator - Similar to a voltage controlled amplifier except that the amplifier will, with no control voltage sent to it, have no gain and no loss; as an increasing control voltage is sent to it, the amplifier reduces gain (causing a loss of signal strength).
Voltage Controlled Fader - Full name for VCA Fader (a fader with a VCA in its case arranged so that in manual operation the slide of the fader controls how much control voltage is sent to the VCA and therefore controls gain.
Voltage Controlled Filter - A filter (especially a low-pass filter) that will change its cutoff frequency according to a control voltage fed to its control input.
Voltage Controlled Oscillator - An oscillator that changes its frequency according to a control voltage fed to its control input.
Volume - 1) A common, non-technical term meaning Sound Pressure Level, and loosely applied to also mean audio voltage level. 2) Shon for the term Volume Control (a gain control ofan amplifier).
Volume Control - A gain control of an amplifier.
Volume Envelope - How a musical instrument sounding a pitch changes in volume over time.
Volume Unit - A unit that is designed to measure perceived loudness changes in audio. The unit is basically the decibel change of the average level as read by a VU Meter. The movement of the VU Meter is designed to approximately match the ear's response to changes in level. Abbreviated VU
Volume Pedal - A guitar pedal used to change the volume of an instrument (or a similar device used with other instruments, such as an organ).
Vox - An abbreviation meaning Vocal, used on track logs.
VSO - An abbreviation of the term Vacuum Tube Volt Meter (a device that measures the electrical voltage and uses a vacuum tube to drive the indicator so that testing the circuit does not load the circuit.
VU - Short for the term Volume Unit (a unit that is designed to measure perceived loudness changes in audio).
VU Meter- A meter that reads audio voltage levels in or out of a piece of equipment and is designed to match the ear's response to sudden changes in level.
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Wah Wah (Wah) - A changing filter giving more and less filtering of harmonics of an instrument's sound.
Watt - Unit of electrical power.
Wave - A continuous fluctuation in the amplitude of a quantity with respect to time.
Wave flank - A term with the same meaning as Bank (a collection of sound patches in memory).
Wave Velocity - The time it takes for one point of the waveform to travel a certain distance.
Waveform - The shape made by the fluctuations of a quantity over time.
Waveshape - The shape made by the fluctuations of a quantity over time.
Wavelength - The length of one cycle (in feet, inches, etc.)
Weber - A unit that describes a number of magnetic lines of force and is used in the measurement or statement of magnetic flux density (the strength of magnetism).
Weighting - An equalization curve used in audio tests that compensates for the Fletcher Munson Effect at various levels.
Wet - Having reverberation or ambience.
White Noise - A random energy where there is an energy distribution so that the amount of energy is the same for each cycle, causing the noise level to increase with frequency.
Wide Band Noise - Noise that has energy over a wide range of frequencies.
Width - Another term for Depth (the amount of change in the controlled signal by the control signal).
Wild Sound - Sound recordings that are done completely separate from the master recording (or picture recording) and therefore can not be synched to the master recording.
Window - A portion of a file shown on a screen, usually appearing as a menu on top of the current page of data.
Windscreen - A device that reduces or eliminates wind noise from the microphone being moved or from wind blowing into the microphone on remote location recordings.
Wireless Microphone - A microphone with an FM radio transmitter inside of its case that transmits a signal to an FM receiver off of the stage area.
Woodwind Controller - A device that plays like a woodwind instrument that puts out a control voltage or MIDI command to control a sound module.
Woofer - A speaker that is designed 10 reproduce bass frequencies only.
Word - A shortening of the term Digital Word (a number of information bits that w communicate one value).
Workstation - A device that controls a variety of functions, designed to be operated by one person.
Wow - A low pitch change that happens because the recorder or playback machine fluctuating in speed slowly.
Wrap - The angle formed by the tape as it bends around the head.
Write - To record digital data onto a digital recording or into computer memory.
Write Head - The device in a digital audio tape recorder that records the bits of digital information onto the storage medium.
Write Mode - A mode of operation of an automated console where the engineer is in control of channel gain and the computer is storing changes in gain caused by the engineer over time.
Write Protect - A tab on a floppy disc or a function in a unit which protects recorded or stored data from being damaged or erased by writing over it.
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XLR Connector 1) A common 3 pin connector used in balanced audio connections. 2) A microphone Cable.
XY Micing - A method of placing two cardioid microphones for stereo pickup, with the two microphone heads as close as possible without touching, pointing 90 degrees to each other and also pointing 45 degrees to the center of the sound source.
Y-Cord - A cable with three connectors so that one output may be sent to two inputs.
Zenith - The tilt of the tape head in the direction perpendicular to the tape travel.
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