"Music Computer Help Index"

Computer Tech Tip

09/15/2009 When to Install?
09/14/2009 Hard Drive Swap
08/11/2009 Ethernet Crossover Cables
07/13/2009 Save Often Under A Unique Name
06/17/2009 StealthPedal Drivers
06/04/2009 Creating a PDF of a Sibelius Score
05/28/2009 Multiple EZdrummers?
05/27/2009 New Computer Hard Drive Swap
05/11/2009 The F8 Spaces Trick
05/06/2009 More MacBook Memory
04/22/2009 Lose The Leash
04/07/2009 Disk Speed
04/06/2009 How Much RAM for Your Mac?
04/02/2009 Computer Boost
03/31/2009 G5 RAM Installation
03/12/2009 RAM Performance in Nehalem Macs
03/05/2009 BR600 Transfer to Computer
03/02/2009 Buffers and Latency
02/16/2009 Documenting Sessions
02/03/2009 Torn Between Two Libraries
01/14/2009 Quick Pro Tools Plug-in Access in OS X
01/06/2009 Real-time Markers in SONAR
12/01/2008 Real-time Stretching in Cubase
11/20/2008 Creativity Across the Seas
10/17/2008 Using an Apogee Mobile Card with Apple's Newest MacBook Pros
10/14/2008 Authorizing Finale 2009
10/07/2008 Connecting FireWire Gear to Your Computer
10/03/2008 Getting Help When Using BIAS SoundSoap Pro
09/03/2008 Mac OS X Screen Captures
08/07/2008 Knowing When to Use the OS X Force Quit Command
07/14/2008 Playing "FireWire Fear Factor"
06/25/2008 Choosing Your Software Synth
06/19/2008 KikAxxe First, Ask Questions Later
06/03/2008 Adding Richness to a Rhythm Guitar Track
05/27/2008 The Fabled PAF Pickup Revealed
04/24/2008 Accessing the Effects on NI's Pro-53
04/22/2008 Changing the Number of Voices in Pro-53's Unison Mode
04/17/2008 It Still Pays to Zap Your PRAM!
04/04/2008 Serial Number Blues (A Slight Return)
03/13/2008 Trashing Pro Tools Prefs
01/21/2008 Caution: Step Away from the Speakers
01/18/2008 Maximizing Polyphony
01/17/2008 Where to Save Your Sample Libraries
12/31/2007 Is Convolution Reverb Bogging Down Your CPU?
12/28/2007 Building Your Own Custom Rack in Guitar Rig 3
12/12/2007 More Convincing String Sections Using Samples
12/07/2007 Massive Licenses
11/29/2007 FireWire Hotplugging
11/26/2007 Voice Stealing Mode in KONTAKT 3
11/20/2007 Miss Soundcard
11/16/2007 Using the OS X Archive and Install Feature
11/14/2007 Self-Oscillating a Filter in KONTAKT 3
11/01/2007 Using KONTAKT 3's Purge Mode
10/29/2007 Setting the Latency on NI's KONTAKT 3
10/23/2007 You've Heard of "Tired Blood", But What About "Tired Ears"?
10/18/2007 Should I change the pickups in my Strat?
09/25/2007 Using the Fast Reverbs to Speed Up MOTU Ethno
08/17/2007 Increasing Fidelity in NI's FM8 Virtual Synth
08/13/2007 It's 10 PM - Do You Know Where Your Samples Are?
07/30/2007 Selecting Waveforms in Absynth
07/19/2007 Your Focusrite Saffire Pulls Double-duty
07/09/2007 Dealing with Crackles or Dropouts in Akoustik Piano
06/28/2007 Importing Akai Format Sounds into Kontakt 2
06/22/2007 Exercise Caution When Upgrading to Newer Drivers
06/13/2007 Make your guitar sound HUGE
04/24/2007 Fixing Dropouts in Ivory
04/19/2007 Q: Can I run more than one ReWire slave from the same host at one time?
03/28/2007 Disk Streaming Technology in Kontakt 2.1
03/23/2007 Using Virtual Instruments in BIAS Peak
03/21/2007 Setting Garage Band's Preferences to Minimize Processor load
02/13/2007 Who Needs A Controller?
02/08/2007 Projects versus Songs in Logic Pro
01/31/2007 ReWiring in Pro Tools 7
01/25/2007 Kontakt Question
01/23/2007 Warm-up Song for your Software Samplers
01/19/2007 Simple High-quality Audio from Your Laptop
01/17/2007 Permission to Function Properly
01/12/2007 Free Up Space on Your Hard Drive Fast
01/09/2007 Lost Loops or Instruments in Garage Band 3
12/14/2006 Maximizing RAM with the Vienna Instruments Symphonic Cube
12/11/2006 Restoring the Correct Time Zone in Windows XP
12/07/2006 The End of SCSI — or is it?
12/04/2006 Using Key Commands in Logic Pro 7
11/17/2006 Resetting an iPod
11/09/2006 Windows XP's "Hidden On-Screen Keyboard"
11/07/2006 Keeping Your Memory Card Data Safe
10/30/2006 Conserving CPU in Virtual Instruments
10/27/2006 Using DOS-formatted Drives with Apple Logic Pro
10/17/2006 Creating a Spacious Rhythm Guitar Track
10/10/2006 Copying Multiple Files or Folders to CD in Windows XP
10/02/2006 Good News: Windows Does Windows
09/29/2006 Sibelius and Kontakt Player - Optimal Settings to Improve Playback
09/28/2006 How the MOTU UltraLite Does Windows Audio
09/13/2006 Upgrading Your Mac with a New hard Drive
09/06/2006 VSL Symphonic Cube Install Tips (Mac OS X)
08/29/2006 Miroslav Philharmonik Polyphony and CPU Performance
08/28/2006 Play "Find That File!"
08/25/2006 Clean Your PC's Registry (and Keep It Clean)
08/23/2006 Mousing Around on the Roland VS-2400CD
08/17/2006 Zip It in One Fast Mouse Click
08/04/2006 Taking Garage Band Center Stage
08/03/2006 Power-hungry Virtual Instruments
08/01/2006 Troubleshooting USB Ports
07/26/2006 Using The Alesis Fusion Convertor
07/24/2006 Protecting Your Valuable Serial Numbers and Authorization Codes
07/19/2006 Importing audio into your projects from CDs at 48kHz
07/13/2006 Proper Shutdown Procedure of FireWire Drives on Mac OS X
07/11/2006 Disabling Dashboard in OS X Tiger
06/28/2006 Keyboard Shortcuts for Plug-in Controls in Pro Tools #1
06/09/2006 What to do if a bounce to disc fails in Pro Tools
06/07/2006 More Optimization of Windows XP for Audio
06/02/2006 Prepare for the future
05/01/2006 Sweetwater Dual-Core Creation Station PCs
03/23/2006 Public Service Announcement
03/20/2006 Conserving Plug-in Resources in Windows XP
02/03/2006 The quickie guide to mixing, part 2
02/02/2006 The quickie guide to mixing, part 1
01/16/2006 Mac OS X CD Tray on the Desktop
01/11/2006 Copying and Pasting Audio Tracks in Digital Performer
01/04/2006 Upgrade your Mac OS in peace — build a sandbox!
11/21/2005 Transferring from PC to VS workstation and back
10/19/2005 Protecting Your PC Hardware — Static Precautions
10/07/2005 MOTU PCI Cards and Cable Length
09/01/2005 Controlling Guitar Rig in Logic
08/31/2005 Samson's USB Mic in Apple Audio Applications
08/16/2005 Fun with SONAR Mutes, Part 1
08/10/2005 How to get a good clean recorded guitar sound in a DAW.
06/29/2005 Q: What is the Difference Between a Sample and a Virtual Instrument?
06/21/2005 Power Basics: Power Conditioners and Your Wall Outlets
06/02/2005 SONAR 4 and CPU Power Conservation
05/12/2005 What do you need to take advantage of 64-bit computer processing on Windows?
05/05/2005 Resetting passwords in Mac OS X 10.3 and 10.4
03/02/2005 Using the UAD-1 in Pro Tools HD and Automatic Delay Compensation
02/08/2005 "Mysterious" Program Changes in Standard MIDI Files
01/11/2005 System recommendations for Avid Xpress Pro & Mojo
01/10/2005 Planning a PC Upgrade? What to Choose?
01/04/2005 Don't Mouse Around: Mac OS X "Hidden" Key Commands
12/23/2004 Tips for desktop music production for DJ's
12/21/2004 What FireWire Cable Do I Need?
12/15/2004 Mac OS X Tip: Optimize Your Processor Performance for Audio/Video
12/10/2004 Two Quick Pro Tools Tips
12/08/2004 Final Cut Pro Scratch Disk Management
12/02/2004 How to choose the right sized UPS for your gear
12/01/2004 Ableton Live For Guitarists: Using the "Simpler" Sampler (Part 4)
11/29/2004 Muse Research Receptor and Supported Plug-Ins
11/24/2004 Creative Possibilities For Guitarists Using Ableton Live (Part 1)
11/23/2004 Upgrade to Panther Without Losing Your FireWire 400 Drive
11/17/2004 How to enable VNC (Virtual Network Computing)
11/16/2004 Using keyboard shortcut presets from other DAWs in SONAR 4
11/12/2004 The Yamaha 01X and MOTU's Digital Performer.
10/11/2004 Tascam's FW-1884 as a standalone mixer.
10/01/2004 Korg Triton Storage and CompactFlash Cards
09/29/2004 Pro Tools "Lost Files" and How to Keep Everything Together
09/09/2004 Pro Tools Tip: Scroll Through Your Windows Without Moving the Cursor
09/08/2004 GigaStudio 3 Short Q&A
08/18/2004 Wi-Fi and Bluetooth - Happy Together?
08/13/2004 Capturing Audio while Shooting Video Using House Sync
08/06/2004 Creating a Full Sounding Bass in Reason
07/15/2004 Multi-threading Concepts and SONAR 3.1
07/12/2004 OS X Issues and Edirol Keyboard MIDI/Audio Controllers
07/08/2004 Connecting FireWire audio interfaces to two computers.
06/29/2004 Korg Triton USB Outputs
06/11/2004 PC Optimization Guide for Windows XP Desktops & Laptops
06/01/2004 Power Conditioner,Voltage Regulator and UPS differences explained.
05/19/2004 USB 2.0 benefits and features.
05/03/2004 Barry's Guitar Recording Techniques: Not all guitars sound the same!
04/28/2004 What to look for when purchasing a pro keyboard!
04/06/2004 Glyph's hot-swapping FireWire technology explained.
04/03/2004 Barry's Guitar Recording Techniques: Not all guitars sound the same!
03/08/2004 Keep a lid on it! How your G5's door helps keep the airflow working.
03/05/2004 Basic Differences Between Digidesign's Control|24 and ProControl.
02/06/2004 MOTU's DP4 and Freeze!
02/03/2004 Resolve issues caused by unusable preference files in Final Cut Pro 4.
01/14/2004 Roland VS-2400 File System.
01/12/2004 USB 2 and FireWire cable run lengths.
12/26/2003 MIDI merging - still valid today!
12/24/2003 Audio transfer from Roland VS-2400CD to computer!
12/22/2003 Cut, Copy and Paste Conventions Explained!
12/11/2003 FireWire drive's LED works - even when there are power issues.
12/08/2003 Visual differences between 5 V and 3.3 V PCI cards/slots.
11/25/2003 Microphone Mysteries Revealed by Senior Sales Engineer, Ted Hunter - Benefits of variable polar patterns.
11/12/2003 Q: "What kind of RAM does the new Power Mac G5 use?"
10/02/2003 Memory allocation in BitHeadz's Osmosis.
09/26/2003 Creating chapter markers in Final Cut Express for iDVD.
09/16/2003 DVD capacities explained.
09/08/2003 Specs of Apple's new G5 digial I/O.
09/05/2003 Using Reason on laptops.
08/28/2003 USB and Yamaha's Motif (6, 7, 8, and Rack versions)
08/20/2003 Using the HDR Pro to transfer audio into Pro Tools.
08/19/2003 Pro Tools LE and PCI Errors.
08/15/2003 Memory allocation within Mac OS X
07/16/2003 Do all computer audio interfaces include a mic preamp?
07/03/2003 Sure, you can use your PCs sound card, but...
06/24/2003 Using the USB port on the new Reverb4000
06/19/2003 More on the Macintosh's use of Dual Processors.
05/30/2003 Offline editing in Final Cut Pro
05/14/2003 Optimizing OSX for DP4
04/28/2003 Getting your parallel MIDI interface to work in Windows XP
04/23/2003 Cables: the lifeblood of your setup.
04/14/2003 Digital Mixing
04/07/2003 Roland Studio Package Pro issues
04/04/2003 Issues with connecting multiple synths to a computer.
03/27/2003 Reinstalling Giga Software
03/25/2003 Getting your MIDI sequences from your keyboard sequencer into your computer.
03/21/2003 Pros and Cons of the ADAT/FST format used in the HD24.
03/18/2003 Synchronizing your VS recorder to Pro Tools
03/10/2003 Slow response to Import Audio in Pro Tools.
02/28/2003 Interchanging sounds between TritonLE and Triton (Classic or Studio)
02/14/2003 Fader resolution issues in control surfaces
02/13/2003 Recording vinyl records
02/12/2003 Apogee\'s MiniMe dealing with multiple sample rates and bit depths
02/06/2003 Multiple sound cards with Gigastudio
02/05/2003 Transferring files between computers using FireWire.
02/03/2003 Virtual Drum Machine compatibility
01/15/2003 Getting GigaStudio to launch with the piano sound loaded when the computer is turned on
01/10/2003 MOTU HD192 popular questions
01/08/2003 D8B CPU issue
12/24/2002 Check those cables and connections before you panic!
12/16/2002 Installing M-Audio\'s DUO on Windows XP
12/13/2002 Pro Tools session compatibility between Mac and PC.
12/11/2002 Transferring files to a USB equipped mini disc player
12/09/2002 MBox on Windows questions
11/29/2002 2408mk3 common questions
11/19/2002 Disk optimization when you can\'t boot from Norton
11/15/2002 DC offset problems with sound cards
11/13/2002 Direct Pro Q10 Latency
11/11/2002 Playing songs from an iPod connected to a Mac.
10/15/2002 Common Digi002 Questions
10/14/2002 Motif Tips
10/04/2002 Digital Performer memory allocation issues.
10/03/2002 How to ascertain what the chipset is in your PC.
09/26/2002 Important Firmware update for Pioneer DVD mechanisms.
09/19/2002 Adding additional I/O to your Aardvark DAW.
09/16/2002 USB cable run lengths.
09/09/2002 Getting a click track out of your Mbox, part 2.
09/03/2002 Getting a click out of your Mbox.
08/28/2002 MBox USB errors.
08/05/2002 Mbox latency issues.
07/17/2002 Getting Radikal's Sak2.2 working with Digital Performer through USB.
06/25/2002 Clarification on how to get audio from your PC's CD drive out of your sound card.
06/13/2002 Getting more effects going in Ableton's Live software.
06/10/2002 Getting CD audio to play back through your PC sound card.
05/24/2002 Syncing your Roland VS-2480HD with Cakewalk or Sonar
05/23/2002 Configuring your system for optimum performance
05/14/2002 A look inside OS X.
05/08/2002 UPS Mania
05/07/2002 Moving sequences from your keyboard to your computer.
04/15/2002 Getting Battery to work with ProTools.
04/11/2002 Getting your HD24 talking to your computer for file transfers.
04/09/2002 Why do people think moving fader automation sounds better?
04/08/2002 Why has the Mac been so popular for audio and MIDI work?
03/29/2002 Outboard effects versus plug-ins.
03/28/2002 What is mLan good for?
03/27/2002 iMac for music?
03/26/2002 Firewire versus USB.
03/19/2002 Word clock, digital audio, and Stepped Power issues.
03/14/2002 Importing samples into your K2500 or K2600.
03/13/2002 Minimizing latency in your Digi001 system.
03/11/2002 Sonar/MOTU tips.
03/04/2002 Getting Logic to work with your Delta sound card.
02/27/2002 Advantages of power sequencing your gear.
02/15/2002 Getting CD's to work in your Mac when it's mounted on its side.
02/07/2002 More on Crossover Cable uses
02/04/2002 Burning data DVD discs on Quicksilver Macs.
01/07/2002 Getting Bank Change commands to work on the new Proteus modules.
01/02/2002 Mapping bad blocks on IDE drives. 1/2/02 (Issue #1242, WFTD #1080)
12/27/2001 Addendum tip to PC Optimization Guide.
12/20/2001 Part 3 of PC optimization guide.
12/19/2001 Part 2 of the PC Optimization Guide.
12/18/2001 PC Optimization Guide, part 1
12/14/2001 Emagic statement on Windows XP support.
12/13/2001 More detail about printing effects to audio tracks.
12/12/2001 Shaky stills in Final Cut Pro.
12/11/2001 Setting your Mac extensions for optimal performance.
12/05/2001 A good trick for being able to use more plug-ins with your project.
12/04/2001 Crashing MAS plug-ins.
11/29/2001 Getting adequate signal from your Mackie insert sends to your recorder.
11/26/2001 Problems with 2408 and certain Dell computers.
10/31/2001 Memory allocation with Digital Performer.
10/30/2001 Monitoring through your 828 or other audio interface.
10/22/2001 Getting Pro Tools and your MIDI sequencer to synchronize with each other.
10/18/2001 Altiverb impulse responses not showing up.
10/17/2001 Usefulness of Conflict Catcher on your Mac.
10/09/2001 Solutions for DAE 6010 errors.
10/08/2001 Getting your PC to automatically recognize a MIDI interface.
10/05/2001 Firewire drives and the MOTU 828.
10/03/2001 Moving files from a Mackie HDR24/96 to your DAW.
09/24/2001 MIDIMan USB interface and Windows 2000.
09/18/2001 Problems mounting removable media.
09/11/2001 Mac Software Update issues.
09/06/2001 Using the Thru switch on USB MOTU Fastlanes.
08/31/2001 Component recommendations for building your own PC DAW.
08/29/2001 OSX on Macs with Pro Tools
08/24/2001 Longevity of data on hard drives and CD's.
08/22/2001 Pro Tools: 32 or 64 tracks?
08/09/2001 Word clock and MIDI interfaces.
07/13/2001 How to look even more professional in your Studio
07/02/2001 AutoTune3 operation with non MIDI applications.
06/29/2001 A great way to work around latency in your host based recording system.
06/14/2001 Differences between UHF and VHF wireless systems.
06/07/2001 Windows XP implementation in music computer systems.
06/04/2001 More on Roland VS data compression.
05/09/2001 RAM differences and Kurzweil samplers.
05/02/2001 Benefits (or not) of high sampling rates.
04/30/2001 How Many Volts?!
04/20/2001 Gear in racks getting too hot.
04/12/2001 Mac firmware upgrades and problems with RAM.
04/06/2001 G4 shut down problems with USB.
04/05/2001 828/Firewire common questions.
03/30/2001 Differences between front loaded and horn loaded speaker cabinets.
03/28/2001 Synching that old drum machine to your recorder.
03/26/2001 Adding Optical Drives to Macs.
03/23/2001 Encoding MPEG-2 Audio
03/20/2001 Loading Kurzweil sounds/problems with file extensions.
03/19/2001 Capturing QuickTime movies into your Mac w/o a PCI card.
03/15/2001 Slow Mac
03/12/2001 Trials and tribulations of trouble-shooting intermittent problems.
02/23/2001 More detail on computer monitor energy saving modes
02/21/2001 Workarounds for multitracking when short on outboard gear
02/09/2001 CD and DVD compatibility issues
02/08/2001 Converters, and what specifies quality differences
02/02/2001 Athlon/AMD and Aardvark DAW systems
01/31/2001 How to sync up your old drum machines
01/17/2001 USB 2.0
01/12/2001 Packet Writing with DirectCD for Mac
01/11/2001 Recording audio files to a RAM disk
01/10/2001 Using your computer to manage and load files with your Kurzweil sampler
01/08/2001 Monitor sleep or stand-by mode
01/02/2001 Streaming Media for the new Millennium
12/19/2000 More in Mac Sleep mode and alternatives
12/13/2000 Transferring files between a SCSI based sampler and a FireWire Mac
12/12/2000 Mac Tips - Networking with Firewire and fan running in sleep mode
12/07/2000 Data Integrity in audio files
12/01/2000 To partition or not to partition, that is the question.
11/30/2000 More on computer boot times and disabling RAM tests
11/27/2000 Music recognition: One reason why it's still cooler to be a human than a computer.
11/24/2000 What to do about slow start ups on your Mac, and monitor burn-in
11/17/2000 Moving video and audio files between distant facilities
11/15/2000 Is it okay to use Ultra160 hardware in my DAW system?
11/14/2000 What causes data to become corrupt and how to deal with it
11/09/2000 What to do with that Dongle
11/08/2000 To buy an audio interface now, or wait for FireWire? That is the question.
11/06/2000 The Cutting Edge vs. the Bleeding Edge
10/30/2000 Synchronizing separate audio and MIDI computers to each other and ADATs
10/25/2000 Getting data off of your Roland BR8 or VS zip drive
10/20/2000 USB related Tech Support updates
10/18/2000 Basics of how to put audio and video on a disc together
10/17/2000 Sample Rate Conversion - what's the big deal?
10/13/2000 Some possible solutions for clicks and pops in your host based PC recording system
10/11/2000 Putting larger or faster ATA drives into your computer
10/10/2000 Long periods of delay when installing Pro Tools software
10/06/2000 New "error free" CD burning; is it for you?
09/21/2000 Adding ATA drives to old blue G3 Macs
09/15/2000 More CDR woes; buffer underun errors and fragmented drives.
09/06/2000 Audio card quality when inside of a computer
08/22/2000 SCSI versus IDE/DMA in DAW systems, Part 2
08/21/2000 SCSI versus IDE/DMA in DAW systems, Part 1
08/17/2000 Sample rate and bit depth conversions for CD
08/11/2000 How to utilize QuickTime Musical Instruments
07/20/2000 Appending CD's
07/05/2000 Can you build a DAW that works in the real world?
07/03/2000 More info about how computers save your data
06/30/2000 Upgrade problems and issues
06/27/2000 Connecting your gear directly to a serial port in your "host" computer
06/20/2000 More tips on data backup and archiving
06/16/2000 How often should you back up your hard drive?
06/15/2000 Backing up large files to DVD
06/12/2000 Why do CDR discs hold 74 minutes of audio, but only 650 MB of data?
06/05/2000 Networking DAW's together
05/31/2000 What a hard reset doesn't reset
05/26/2000 Recovering music from broken DAT tapes
05/24/2000 Why a separate SCSI drive for audio files?
05/23/2000 More on getting audio out of your CD ROM drive
05/22/2000 Why Bake tapes, and why not
05/18/2000 Upgrades; a double edged sword
05/17/2000 Drivers fighting for COM Ports in your PC
05/15/2000 Getting EMU sounds into your Kurzweil
05/12/2000 Getting your CD player in your PC to play through your sound card
05/10/2000 Getting parallel MIDI interfaces to work with PC Sound Cards
05/03/2000 More on S/PDIF cables and Jitter
05/02/2000 Tracks, channels, and parts in MIDI squencing
05/01/2000 Burning CD's direct from DAT or other audio source
04/24/2000 CDR reliability for archiving data
04/10/2000 USB to Serial port solutions for MIDI
04/07/2000 OMS or Free MIDI with Pro Tools
04/03/2000 Initializing your software on a Digi 001 system
03/30/2000 Synchronizing a hardware sequencer with an ADAT
03/24/2000 More detail on the venerable 2-pop
03/09/2000 AMD verus Intel, what does it mean?
03/08/2000 Moving samples from one machine to another
02/17/2000 Creating track ID's when transferring audio to a CD recorder
02/02/2000 Are e-commerce sites secure?
01/25/2000 Mixing virtual tracks into a MOTU 2408
01/20/2000 More on hard drive head crashes
12/30/1999 Connecting Line Level Gear to a Mic Input.
12/22/1999 Connecting your sound card to your stereo (speakers)
12/14/1999 Mixing inside your computer
12/02/1999 Noise bleeding into computer audio cards
11/23/1999 Making CD ROMs from EMU files (format issues)
11/22/1999 Vibrating monitor image problem
11/19/1999 CD ROM drive compatibility
11/16/1999 Sharing hard (SCSI) drives
10/15/1999 Making an ADAT the master when syncing with a computer sequencer
10/14/1999 A way to get control room functions for your DAW
10/08/1999 Kurzweil file format
09/15/1999 Two Cubase Tech Tips
09/07/1999 Synchronizing Cakewalk 8 to an ADAT
08/27/1999 Getting rid of that pesky computer noise
07/13/1999 Two monitors on a Mac with a DAW
06/17/1999 Typical latency in host
06/16/1999 Corrupted Samples in RAM
06/11/1999 Syncing digital audio to analog tape decks
06/10/1999 Matched Pairs of Microphones
06/08/1999 SCSI versus parallel Zip drives
06/04/1999 More on SMF translation
05/27/1999 Orientation of microphones for recording vocals
05/24/1999 Ultra2 Wide cards with the 2408
05/20/1999 Recording to your system drive versus a separate drive.
05/18/1999 More on SCSI noise
05/17/1999 More on SMPTE through audio connections
05/14/1999 Combining Ultra Wide and narrow SCSI buses
05/13/1999 Alternate I/O for time code
05/11/1999 Parallel port issues with dongles on PC's
05/03/1999 SCSI Noise Bleeding
04/23/1999 Sampling your Mixdown
04/09/1999 More on CD Audio Extraction
04/06/1999 SCSI ID Issues with Kurzweil and Akai
03/31/1999 SCSI Mania
02/26/1999 Is there an S760 MKII?
02/25/1999 Blue G3 Mac Compatibility
01/20/1999 Digital Transfers and Sample Rates
01/14/1999 Who is "I"?
12/18/1998 More On Envelopes
12/16/1998 PC Motherboards and Digital Audio Recording
12/14/1998 SMF Transfers
12/10/1998 Aark20/20 With Logic Audio
12/07/1998 More On UPS Devices
12/04/1998 CD Burner Compatibility
11/19/1998 More On Static Discharge
11/05/1998 ASIO-MME Test Routines
10/23/1998 Using A UPS With Computer Systems
10/06/1998 Dust On Components
09/14/1998 Serial Cable Problems
09/02/1998 More On EMI Issues
08/28/1998 EMI Interference From Computer Monitors
08/26/1998 More On Shielding Cables
08/25/1998 More On IDE drives In Macs
08/21/1998 More On Y2K Issues
08/13/1998 Y2K Issues With Keyboards
08/11/1998 Defragmenting Hard Drives
08/06/1998 CD Recorders Versus CD Burners
07/23/1998 Waves and MAS Compatibility
07/20/1998 Using CD Recorders for Archiving
06/17/1998 Data Archiving
06/02/1998 Transferring MIDI Files Between Computers and Keyboards
05/26/1998 More On Asynchronous Transfers
05/14/1998 New Security X-RAY Systems
05/05/1998 DAT Tape Speeds
04/29/1998 Shielding Studio Reference Monitors
02/27/1998 CD-ROM SCSI Drivers For Samplers
02/26/1998 High Speed Hard Drives and Keeping Them Cool
02/19/1998 More Information On 1212 I/O's and Re-Initializing After Crashes
02/13/1998 Crashing Computers and 1212I/O Cards Disappearing
01/16/1998 Still More On Using Audio DAT For Computer Backup
01/15/1998 More On Backing Up Data With A Digital Audio Card
01/09/1998 More On Backing Up Computer Data With Audio DAT Recorders
01/02/1998 Using Audio DAT Recorders To Backup Data
12/18/1997 SCSI Through A Serial Port?
12/10/1997 Synching A Digital Multitrack From Your Computer
11/28/1997 Advantages Of The New Apple PowerPC G3 Chip
11/07/1997 More On Multi-Session Audio CDs
11/06/1997 More On Event's Digital Audio Cards
10/30/1997 Questions (and Answers) On Event's New Digital Audio Cards
10/27/1997 Compatibilities with Digidesign Pro Tools III and PT|24
10/17/1997 Windows 95 Com Port Compatibility With Opcode 64x
10/06/1997 MultiSession Audio CD's??
09/24/1997 Apple Performa 6400 Compatibilities With Digidesign and MOTU
09/16/1997 Compatibility Issues With Opcode's Studio 64X
09/12/1997 "What Is Normaling?"
09/11/1997 SCSI What?? What Are The Differences?
09/09/1997 Routing Cables To Decrease Hum In Your Studio
09/08/1997 Speaker Interferences and Computer Screens
08/27/1997 Apple Updates For OS7.6.1
08/14/1997 "Should I Update My Audio/Music Macs To OS8?"
08/07/1997 Macintosh Dual SCSI Busses - Which One To Use?
08/01/1997 More On Resetting PC CMOS
07/22/1997 "Can Computer Data Cables Induce Noise On Audio Gear?"
07/17/1997 Installing Audiomedia III and Windows 95
07/09/1997 Windows 95 and Quick Restarting
07/08/1997 Opcode - OMS MIDI Time Piece Driver
06/26/1997 How To Avoid Working While Using Your Macintosh (Fun Tips!)
06/24/1997 Selective Compression Thresholds?
06/13/1997 More On SCSI Polling and ELCO Connectors
06/06/1997 More On Dusting In The Studio
05/22/1997 Can I Route Red Book CD Audio To Digidesign Hardware?
05/16/1997 Disable Extensions (Except CD-ROM)
05/14/1997 Maximum Cable Lengths with MOTU's MTP
05/09/1997 Erratic MIDI Problems and New Cables
05/08/1997 Burning Successful CD-R Discs
05/05/1997 Placing Computer Monitors and Nearfield Monitors
05/01/1997 Installing SIMM Chips
04/07/1997 Not All MIDI Cables Are Created Equal!
04/01/1997 Screen Resolutions and Digital Audio Recording
03/26/1997 Connecting A SCSI Sampler To A Power Mac
03/24/1997 Apple's Extension Manager
03/14/1997 Physical Studio Setup Concerns
03/04/1997 Defragmenting Your Hard Disk
03/03/1997 Fixing Audio Click and Pops In Windows 95
02/20/1997 More RAM Allocation

Lexicon Of Computer Audio & Video Music Recording Terminology

24P A video term that is an abbreviation of "24 frames per second, progressive scan." 24P is a more recent development in digital video technology that's quite popular due in part to its similarity with the way in which motion picture film works. Not only does it take on some of the visual characteristics of film, but it also makes the transition of film to video (necessary for television broadcast, VCR tapes, etc.) much easier. It makes the introduction of digital video (particularly high-definition video and special effects) in motion pictures smoother and more natural looking. Here's the history: Most motion pictures (since the advent of sound film) are shot (or at least shown) at a constant rate of 24 frames per second; each second, 24 separate and distinct pictures, or "frames," pass by the lens of the camera and the projector. Each frame is its own unique and complete image; that's called "progressive." Video tape standards are different: original black and white video ran at a straight 30 frames per second, while color video runs at approximately 29.97 frames per second — only they aren't true "frames" in the film sense. Due to video's nonstop scanning of magnetic tape, a frame is spread across the tape as precisely oriented magnetic particles. Furthermore, video tape "draws" an image on the cathode ray tube in two alternating sets of scan lines: one composed of the even-numbered lines and the other making up the odd-numbered lines. This is why video signals are called "interlaced." When motion pictures (or any material shot on film) are processed for video playback they undergo a re-scanning process (often through a telecine machine) that converts the frame rate, in part by doubling some film frames in the video. The change from progressive to interlaced scanning, in many viewers' opinions, visibly changes the quality of the original image. Likewise, visual effects created using existing video frame rates sometimes do not translate well to film. Digital video created at 24P, however, requires no frame-rate conversion and can freely translate film into video. Progressive scan combines all the horizontal lines in the screen into a single field that lights up at the selected frame rate. It is proving to be particularly effective in high-definition video projects and has blurred the line between film and video shoots. "Star Wars Episode II: The Attack of the Clones" was the first feature-length motion picture shot using 24P high definition digital video cameras; cameras used for Episode III are second-generation versions of the equipment. This means that the live action shots and computer-generated special effects have the same resolution, same brightness, and same overall quality without the need for additional conversion. Finally, in one of those technological puzzles that are so common, there are actually two versions of 24P: one is more of a "true" 24P as it applies to film and other specialty equipment, while the other is a slightly slowed down rate (.1% slower) used by NTSC video equipment. That rate is about 23.976 frames per second and is sometimes referred to simply as 23.8. The 23.976 rate applies to progressive scan DVD and other NTSC video applications.

802.11 A family of specifications developed by the IEEE for wireless LAN use. The standards specify wireless interfacing protocols between two or more wireless networking systems such as a series of wireless computers and some type of base station, or even just between two computers. There are several unique types of 802.11 in widespread use. These have different transmission methods and/or data rates. As of this writing the most common of these are: 802.11, 802.11a, 802.11b, and 802.11g. 802.11g systems can work with 802.11b (also known as Wi-Fi) systems by simply falling back to a slower data transfer rate.

ACPI Abbreviation for Advanced Configuration and Power Interface. A power management specification for Windows computers developed by Intel, Microsoft, and Toshiba. ACPI gives the operating system the ability to control the amount of power given to each peripheral device, and to turn off devices when not in use. It also has future implications, such as enabling PC's to power up simply by touching any key on the keyboard.

ADB An abbreviation for Apple Desktop Bus. The bus used for connecting peripheral data entry devices to Macintosh computers. This is how things like the keyboard, mouse, track ball, joystick, and some tablets connect to a Macintosh. Since a bus architecture is used they can usually be connected through each other so that only one actually has to plug into the computer itself. The connector looks like a very small MIDI connector with only four pins. In fact, it looks exactly like an S-Video connector (in a pinch an ADB cable can be used for S-Video and vice versa). The Apple Desktop Bus has been part of every Macintosh computer to date but may begin to be phased out in favor of the faster and more robust USB (Universal Serial Bus).

AGP Abbreviation for Accelerated Graphics Port, which is a dedicated video card port found on some PC and Macintosh computers. It conforms to a bus specification from Intel that greatly speeds up graphics display and texture rendering, especially virtual reality and 3D rendering and display. Rather than using the PCI bus for graphics data, AGP introduces a dedicated point-to-point channel so that the graphics controller can directly access main memory. The AGP channel is 32 bits wide and runs at 66 MHz. This translates into a total bandwidth of 266 MBps, as opposed to the PCI bandwidth of 133 MBps. AGP provides a coherent memory management design which allows scattered data in system memory to be read in rapid bursts, thereby reducing the overall cost of creating high-end graphics subsystems by using existing system memory.

AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format) A common digital audio file specification, AIFF allows a variety of applications running on different platforms to easily share audio files. Electronic Arts published the AIFF spec in 1985. Since then, it has been widely used on Mac, PC, and Atari computers, as well as in a variety of digitally based music instruments. Most digital audio editing software will import and export AIFF files, making the format well suited for situations where more than one program or platform must access audio data. Kurzweil's K2000 and K2500 will also recognize AIFF files, making them ideal for exporting samples to and from computer-based sample editing software.

Algorithm A step-by-step problem-solving procedure, especially an established, recursive computational procedure for solving a problem in a finite number of steps. Algorithm's can be thought of as similar to computer programs. They are often run as subroutines to normal operations of computing devices. Algorithms are used in all sorts of DSP devices to carry out specific aspects of their functionality.

Alias In the world of computing an alias is an alternative, usually easier to understand, or more significant name for a particular data object. In the Macintosh OS aliases are in the form of icons that look like files or programs that can be launched, but instead only direct the computer to the original. These are handy for making convenient references to certain files or programs without having to move the originals from their proper and logical location on your hard drive.


Alias is also a false signal that can be created when working with digital audio data (see WFTD Aliasing for more info).

AMS Abbreviation for Audio MIDI Setup. Apple Computer's audio and MIDI operating system, which is a component of Mac OS X. AMS consists of two parts. The first allows you to configure the drivers for audio devices connected to the computer, including defining the sample rate and bit depth. The second section provides configuration information for any MIDI devices (internal or external) used. AMS replaces Opcode Systems' OMS (Open Music System) and MOTU's FreeMIDI, which were earlier Mac-based MIDI configuration utilities.

Apple Talk A network communication protocol originally developed by Apple for the Macintosh computer and related peripherals. Apple Talk has been built in to most Macs sold since the late 1980's, though the hardware connections have changed a few times along the way. While Apple Talk is extremely easy to set up and use, it has been known to occasionally interfere with serial communication or timing with things like MIDI interfaces and synchronizers. On modern Macs (which don't even have serial ports anymore) this is almost never an issue, but a few veteran Mac users still like to turn Apple Talk off when doing critical work.

Application (Program) A complete, self-contained program that performs a specific function directly for the user. This is in contrast to system software such as the operating system kernel, server processes and libraries that exists to support application programs. Many computer gurus believe that the term may also be used to distinguish programs that communicate via a graphical user interface from those which are executed from the command line.

Archive 1. An "archive" is a collection of historical documents or records that is being preserved. In the computer-based music and audio world, "archiving" is the process of collecting, preparing, and storing data for long-term or permanent storage. In many cases, this means gathering all of the MIDI and audio data that have been recorded or created for a particular project and storing it on media that will be stable and readable for long periods of time. But gathering the data is just one step. The second step for a true archive is ensuring that the project can be accurately restored or re-created at a later date even if the software and hardware tools used to create it are no longer available. Making this possible may require recording MIDI tracks as audio files, bouncing any audio tracks with the plug-ins and hardware processing that were used during mixdown, consolidating tracks that don't contain contiguous audio regions into one full-length track, and so on. The Producers & Engineers Wing of the Recording Academy (NARAS) has created a document, Recommendation for Delivery of Recorded Music Projects, that specifies how archived data should be prepared and stored for maximum protection from damage, obsolescence, and loss. 2. A compressed version of a file, used to reduce bandwidth or storage requirements.

ASCII Acronym (pronounced "askee") for American Standard Code for Information Interchange. ASCII was developed by ANSI (neat: acronyms that rhyme, I feel a song coming on) to provide a standard way for computer systems to deal with the text characters we use. When we type ASCII characters from the keyboard (which looks like words to us), the computer interprets them as binary so they can be read, manipulated, stored and retrieved. Each character in the ASCII set is represented by a number from 0 to 127, which can be represented in 7 bits of binary information. For example, and upper case "A" is ASCII character #65, which in binary (or to a computer) would look like 1000001. ASCII files are commonly known as text files and since it is standardized most computers can read them, which is one big reason why it is so easy to share text files between different operating systems on radically different computers. There is also an extended ASCII set where an 8th bit is added. It supports additional characters (using numbers 128-255), which is where a lot of the special (non-English) characters and symbols are represented. Historically one of the ways complex computer data was (and sometimes still is) sent over the Internet is by converting it into an ASCII format and sending it as text. That way the receiving computer could receive it and convert it into code that could be read locally even though the two computers (or their operating systems) might "speak" different languages and normally not be able to communicate with each other.

ASIO An abbreviation for Audio Stream Input/Output architecture. Developed at Steinberg, it is the software engine that is the fundamental access method to the audio hardware for Cubase VST and is being employed in a growing number of hardware and software systems for doing audio on computers.


The computer manufacturers and operating system vendors target the "Multimedia" market and have implemented audio playback and recording capabilities specifically for it. This market however is based on stereo playback and recording, it did not require synchronization between other Media in the beginning, and multi channel operation wasn't necessary. So far the only professional solutions have been proprietary expensive hardware based systems.

ASIO addresses all areas for pro-audio recording including flexibility with sample rates and bit depths as well as synchronization between different media like audio, MIDI and video. As a result the user gets a low latency, high performance, easy to set-up and control recording solution. The audio hardware can be either one or more sound cards with multiple audio input and output ports that conform to the ASIO specifications. ASIO exists for PC (Windows) and Macintosh systems currently.

ATA-2 Abbreviation for Enhanced (some say Expanded) IDE, or Enhanced Integrated Drive Electronics. Like it sounds, EIDE is an enhanced version of the old IDE peripheral connection standard commonly used for hard drives and other storage media with computers. It provides faster access to the hard drive, support for DMA, larger capacities, and includes the functionality of ATAPI. Sometimes EIDE is referred to as ATA-2.

ATAPI Abbreviation for Advanced Technology Attachment Packet Interface. ATAPI is a lot like IDE, but provides additional commands to enable a computer to control optical or tape drives.

Audio Suite The obvious definition is a room or space for working with audio production. However Audio Suite is also the name Digidesign coined for host based plug-ins in their systems. A TDM Digidesign system has proprietary DSP devoted to plug-in processing, but Digidesign also makes a number of systems where the host computer provides all of the processing (whether it's in real time or not). Plug-ins designed to work on that type of hardware from Digidesign are known as Audio Suite plug-ins. This is analogous to VST or Direct X plug-ins, just specific to Digidesign hardware.

Audiowire The name given for the special protocol used by Mark of the Unicorn to deliver digital audio between some of their audio interfaces and their computer sound cards. The connector is a conventional looking Firewire connector, but the data is a proprietary format developed by MOTU. Some MOTU products do use actual Firewire, which can be plugged directly into any conventional Firewire equipped computer. The Audiowire products all plug into a special card that must be installed in the PCI slot of a computer.

Author When used as a verb, the term author means to create or publish a script, program, or document. In our business this may pertain to a computer program, operating system (OS), musical score, or any of dozens of other types of produced works. For example, quite often the word gets used in the slightly unusual context of making some media such as an audio or video CD/DVD. The process of authoring a DVD is not too dissimilar from writing computer software.

Authorization 1. The process of setting up a copy-protected piece of software so that it may be legally used. 2. Permission to use a piece of copy-protected software. An authorization is typically a single instance of a copy-protection code; a piece of software may allow for two or even more authorizations, so that the user can, for example, install and use it on a desktop computer and a laptop.

Automation In audio production automation refers to having things programmed to happen in real time during a mixdown. In the 1970's, when big multitrack tape machines were becoming common, and overdubbing parts became a standard way of working, the process of getting a good mix became exponentially more difficult. No longer was the whole recording of a live performance where the musicians pretty much balanced their own levels. Many components were put in later and eventually it became trendy to do mixes at other studios optimized for that purpose, thereby causing the mix to have to be created from scratch. Anyone who has ever had the occasion to be one of the three or four people huddled over the mixer making adjustments during a manual mixdown can appreciate the benefits of being able to automate most of the process. Early automation systems were basic level controls. They were synchronized to the tape machine by some form of Time Code (not necessarily SMPTE) and would remember any moves the engineer made and then play the data back causing the level change to occur at the proper time (assuming the automation stayed in sync with the tape - not a given). They worked by either having motorized faders, where the motors could be controlled by the automation, or by using VCA's (Voltage Controlled Amp), which was a much less expensive and cantankerous option. VCA's, however, didn't sound as pure as the passive fader with a motor attached so most successful systems were "moving fader" based. Later the quality of the VCA based systems rose (while the cost declined) and they became popular among smaller studios, but moving fader systems are still considered the best choice for analog. Not only because they sound better, but because the tactile feedback of physically moving faders is something many engineers prefer. During the 1980's many other aspects of mixing began to be automated. Things like aux sends, panning, and eventually even EQ and compression could be put under computer control. Nowadays there are many analog mixing boards that are totally under digital control and virtually every parameter can be automated. Further, with the advent of the DAW, complete recall and automation of every aspect of a mix has become a standard.

Backward Compatible Refers to a hardware or software system that can successfully use interfaces and data from earlier versions of the system or with other systems. For example, a new version of sequencing software designed so it can properly read files from older versions is backward compatible. Nowadays this type of compatibility is taken for granted with software, but it wasn't always so easy. The downside of too much backward compatibility is that software can tend to get bloated and inefficient by having to deal with too many prior formats. With hardware it is much more expensive to maintain a high degree of backward compatibility. Think how much a computer would cost if it had to have SCSI, ADB, serial ports, parallel ports, IDE, NuBus, ISA, PCI, USB, and FireWire compatibility. Backward compatibility is more easily accomplished if the previous versions have been designed to be forward compatible.

Binary Literally means consisting of two parts. A binary numbering system is made up entirely of only two values, usually zero (0) and one (1). This type of numbering system has been widely used in digital computers and other types of digital computing equipment over the years. The binary numbering system is easy to deploy electronically because the system only needs to differentiate two values — the 1 or the 0, which in the analog world can be represented by a ‘high’ voltage and a ‘low’ voltage. In a binary numbering system it can take many digits to represent our normal base 10 numbers. There are generally a fixed number of bits (8, 16, 24, etc.), which determine the size of the numbers that can be represented. The way it works is that each binary number as you move to the left represents a value double the number just to the right of it. A four bit binary number works as follows:

Bit 4      Bit 3       Bit 2     Bit 1

8x         4x          2x        1x

So, the 4 bit binary number 0001 = 1; 0010 = 2; 0011 = 3; 0100 = 4; 0101 = 5; 0110 = 6; 0111 = 7; 1000 = 8; 1001 = 9, and so on.

BIOS An acronym for Basic Input/Output System. Mostly germane to PC compatible computers, this is usually an EPROM with computer program instructions in it. A computer motherboard BIOS controls how the hardware is defined and the basic functions of the computer (such as controlling the keyboard, monitor, etc.). With a SCSI host adapter, its BIOS is used to control SCSI hard disk drives and perform the boot function. If a host adapter does not have a BIOS, then hard disk drives controlled by that host adapter cannot be used to boot from (booting must be done from another source, such as floppy, IDE, or another SCSI host adapter with a BIOS). Hard drives can have their own BIOS as well, which defines their operation. The BIOS can also contain useful software utilities, and in some cases, can be reprogrammed or updated via software to accommodate new hardware. Older PC computers often have to have their BIOS updated in order to properly work with new hardware.

Blind Transfer A type of data transfer mode often used in SCSI devices. In Blind Data Transfer mode, the CPU allows the SCSI chip to oversee transfers, freeing the CPU for other tasks. The CPU checks in only once before a block of data is transferred, requiring constant timing of the computer, rather than a polling method where the CPU would have to check for a Request/Acknowledge handshake with every byte transferred. The polling method requires more CPU time, so blind transfers complete much faster. However they do not work well in some situations with certain types of hardware.

Block In audio and computing the term block merely refers to a segment of data. It is significant because digitized data is often stored in blocks of a predetermined size (often 512 or 1024 bytes). For example, a disk might be formatted to hold data in blocks that are 512 bytes in size. That means if you have a packet of data to be written that is 1,047 bytes long it will require 3 blocks to store it, even though the third block is technically almost empty. This empty space can not be used by any other data. This block method of data storage and retrieval is key to making it easy for computers to be able to quickly locate specific data on disks and other storage media.

Blu-ray An optical disc format jointly developed by the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA), a group of consumer electronics, personal computer, and media manufacturers (including Apple, Dell, Hitachi, HP, JVC, LG, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Pioneer, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, TDK and Thomson). The Blu-ray format was developed to enable recording, rewriting and playback of high-definition video as well as store large amounts of data. A single-layer Blu-ray disc can hold 25GB, which can be used to record over 2 hours of HDTV or more than 13 hours of standard-definition TV. There are also dual-layer versions of the discs that can hold 50GB. Optical disc technologies such as DVD, DVD+/-R, DVD+/-RW, and DVD-RAM use a red laser to read and write data. The Blu-ray format uses a blue-violet laser instead. Despite the different type of lasers used, Blu-ray hardware is designed be made backwards compatible through the use of a BD/DVD/CD-compatible optical pickup that allows playback of standard CDs and DVDs. The benefit of using a blue-violet laser (405nm) is that it has a shorter wavelength than a red laser (650nm), which makes it possible to focus the laser spot with greater precision. This allows data to be packed more tightly and stored in less space, so it's possible to fit more data on the disc. Blu-ray was designed with HDTV in mind and supports direct recording of the MPEG-2 TS (Transport Stream) used by digital broadcasts, which makes it compatible with global standards for digital TV. This means that HDTV broadcasts can be recorded directly to the disc without any quality loss or extra processing. To handle the increased amount of data required for HD, Blu-ray employs a 36Mbps data transfer rate. Blu-ray's backers expect it to replace VCRs and DVD recorders with the transition to HDTV over the coming years. The format also has potential to become a standard for PC data storage and HD movies in the future.

Bluetooth A short-range wireless technology that communicates via a frequency-hopping transceiver over the 2.4-gigahertz radio frequency, a space known as the Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) band. Bluetooth was originally conceived as a low cost, low power, short-range technology that would replace cables on such devices as mobile phone headsets, handsets and portable computers. However, its promoters soon envisioned the creation of "personal area networks" in which computers could be wirelessly connected to printers, audio could be transmitted over short distances (for example, to the rear speakers in surround setups), and remote control of PDAs or other appliances could be easily implemented. Some people have referred to it as a sort of wireless USB, which is a pretty apt description in many respects. First conceived in 1994 by Ericsson Mobile Communications (now a part of Sony), by 1998 the Bluetooth Special Interest Group included industry giants Intel, IBM, Toshiba and Nokia. Today more than 2000 companies produce or are developing Bluetooth enabled products. Apple Computers incorporate Bluetooth compatibility that allows keyboards, mice and other peripherals to wirelessly connect to the main unit. While Bluetooth originally had a transmission range of only 10 meters, today, three power classes exist for Bluetooth devices, the most powerful allowing transmissions up to 100 meters. Bluetooth is a different protocol from Wi-Fi, but both occupy a section of the 2.4 GHz ISM band that is 83 MHz wide. Bluetooth uses a technology called Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) that allows it to hop between 79 different 1 MHz-wide channels in this band whenever it encounters interference from other transmissions.

Boot Besides being an article of footwear, boot refers to the process of starting up a computer system, or any device with a CPU. It is spoken as to "boot up," or "booting up." Basically this is a colloquialism that comes from the idea of pulling itself up by its own bootstraps. A computer booting up generally goes through a series of self-tests and loading operational system instructions.

Buffer A temporary storage area for data being transferred from one place in a system to another, or to another system. Buffers are often used in the context of computers reading from and writing to various disk drives, but can come in to play on most any type of data transfer. Buffers are needed because it often occurs that one or both of the devices cannot maintain an exact and synchronized data transfer rate. Buffers provide a place for data to sit while one of the devices catches up to the other. Cache (see WFTD archive Cache RAM) is a type of buffer.

Buffer Under-Run Buffers are often used in real time data operations to help allow for timing inconsistencies between the device supplying the data and the device requesting the data. However, there are limits to how much a buffer can... well... buffer. Its size and the data rate determine the limit. If the supply of data stops or slows down the buffer can only feed the destination device until it is empty. When it runs out of data a fault in the data will occur, the consequences of which depend upon the equipment in question. This fault is known as buffer under-run, which simply means the buffer was not able to supply data to the destination because it ran out of its supply. In the early days of CD burning this was a very common problem due to a combination of small (or no) buffers in the burners and slow disk access times, not to mention slower computers. Nowadays, CD burning technology has advanced to the point where buffer under-runs are fairly easily avoided; though they are not gone completely.

Bug Jargon often used in the computing world to refer to a fault in software (and sometimes hardware) that causes a malfunction. Bugs may range from minor annoyances that are easily worked around to crippling problems. Sometimes a software program can have so many problems it gets characterized as "buggy." According to folklore, the first computer bug was an actual bug. Discovered in 1945 at Harvard, a moth trapped between two electrical relays of the Mark II Aiken Relay Calculator caused the whole machine to shut down. It turns out that the person who told the story was already aware of the usage of the term as it dates all the way back to the early telegraph days. Some claim the usage is actually older than that. These days you will see the term applied to any system (computer or otherwise) that runs with any type of program or set of instructions. This could be a keyboard, a hard disk recorder, or even a calculator.

Cache RAM Most of the RAM (Random Access Memory) that computers use is inexpensive dynamic RAM. In modern computers, dynamic RAM is actually too slow to keep up with the bus speeds. To compensate for this, computers incorporate a small amount of expensive Cache (or Static) RAM, which is fast enough to keep up with system speeds (this is also called a Level 2 or L2 cache). All modern CPUs have a small cache built into the chip itself (8-16k). External cache memory can also be added to improve performance. PowerPC's require at least 256k per CPU (or more). Pentium Pro chips have a built-in L2 (256 or 512k) cache that runs at a full 200 MHz, greatly speeding performance. How much cache RAM you should have depends on the amount of total RAM your computer has. Unless you are running serious graphics systems, 256 or 512k should be fine. Increasing to 1 Mb will only provide a minor performance improvement.

CardBus Cardbus is the trade name for an advanced PC Card specification, which is used primarily in notebook and portable computers. It fits into the slot like a conventional PC Card, but its performance is enhanced over conventional PC cards with support for direct memory access, use of a 32-bit path for data transfer, and an operating speed, which is several times greater. Cardbus allows PCMCIA cards to transfer data at rates exceeding 100MB/sec. &mdash Older 16-bit PCMCIA cards transfer data at a rate of 20MB/sec.

Carved-top Guitar The original carved-top electric guitar was the 1952 Gibson Les Paul "Goldtop." Because Gibson had the specialized tooling with which to create a contoured top that was similar to the arched top of a fine violin, Maurice Berlin of Chicago Musical Instruments (or CMI, Gibson's parent company) believed this would set the Gibson solidbody guitar far ahead of the competition (chiefly Fender at the time). Initially, the rough carving was done by a machine copying a 3-dimensional pattern made of steel. The cutter marks were then smoothed by a luthier using a stroke belt sander. The operator would hold a cushioned pad against the running belt pressed to the top of the instrument in order to create the desired contour. Today, much of this is accomplished using computer-controlled carvers, after which hand finishing adds the final touch.

Cassette Tape Any of several types of assemblies where audio tape is encased in a self contained mechanism that provides very simple insertion and/or removal from a tape recorder or playback machine. These self contained mechanisms (the cassette) usually provide all of the wheels and rollers necessary for tape to be able to be moved past a tape head. All that is required of the tape playing/recording machine is to have motors, capstan, pinch roller, gears, and mechanisms designed to provide the torque to get the tape moving through the cassette and past an opening where the machine's tape head comes into contact with the magnetic tape for recording and playback purposes. There have been many types of cassette tape used over the years in audio and video, including 8-track, Beta, VHS, 8mm, and DAT (a.ka. R-DAT, S-DAT, and 4mm), but one type has been so ubiquitous that it's "real" name has become less known. It is instead simply known as the generic "cassette tape." The given name for this format years ago was the compact audio cassette, and was sometimes known as the musicassette. This format, developed by Phillips in the early 1960's, works similar to an open reel tape machine, only the tape is much smaller (1/8 inch wide), speeds much slower (1 & 7/8 i.p.s), and the reels are housed in a cassette, which made it extremely convenient to use compared to the other options available at the time, hence its popularity. The compact audio cassette was largely developed with dictation machines in mind (where the "micro cassette" later became standard), but quickly became a popular distribution method for recorded music. The format has also been instrumental in the explosion of home recording equipment. In the early 1980's Teac/Tascam developed the "Portastudio," which was a 4-track recorder designed for home studio use. By doubling the tape speed to 3 & 3/4 i.p.s and employing dbx noise reduction some pretty decent (by the standard then) recordings could be made in a true multitrack fashion. Cassette tapes have also been widely used over the years as data storage for computer systems. Some of these have been in the form of standard (more or less) compact audio type cassettes, while others have been more proprietary formats. Today we still use several different formats of cassette tape (DAT, AIT, DLT, etc.) as a means to archive and backup important computer data.

Cat 5 Short for Category 5, a common type of twisted pair cable. Cat 5 cable is used in many networking environments for high speed data transfer. It is the current standard (replacing the former standard, Cat 3 cable) for Ethernet and fast Ethernet networks, where it is generally terminated with an RJ-45 type connector (similar to the connector many telephones use). The "category 5" standard states the twisted pairs must have at least 8 twists per foot. There are other category standards with different specifications, but Cat 5 is the most widely known and used at the consumer level right now. Most modern computers have RJ-45 type connectors built in to them for networking connections. Since this configuration has become such a common standard, component parts are widely available and inexpensive, which has caused even more widespread usage. As such we are beginning to see these connectors and cables used on more and more music equipment for certain types of communication.

CD Extra A CD format that combines audio and data on the same disc, usually to include extra content such as interactive multimedia, including video, graphics and/or other information designed to enhance an audio CD for consumers with computers. A CD Extra is a multisession disc, meaning that the audio and data are burned in separate passes and are contained in different areas of the disc.

CD+G An audio compact disc format that contains graphics data in addition to the audio data. A CD+G disc can be played on a regular audio CD player, but when played on a CD+G-compatible player, can output a graphics signal (typically, the CD+G player is hooked up to a television set or a computer monitor). After an earlier life supporting video games, CD+G is being used for CDs for karaoke systems, with the graphics used to display song lyrics. A compact disc contains two kinds of data: Content data, which is used to store audio, computer software, etc., and subchannel data (or metadata), which is normally used by the CD player to help control the disc. In each sector of a CD there are 2,352 bytes of content data and 96 bytes of subchannel data. Each of the 96 subchannel data bytes can be thought of as being divided into 8 bits. Each of these bits corresponds to a separate stream of information. These streams are called "channels," and are labeled starting with the letter P, so: Channel P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W carries bit 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0 Channels P and Q on a regular audio CD are used to assist the CD player in tracking the current location on the disc, and to provide the timing information for the time display on the CD player. The CD+G format utilizes channels R through W to store 16-color (4-bit) graphics for a display that is 300x216 pixels in size. The videogame consoles Sega CD, Sega Saturn, Commodore Amiga CD32, and the Atari Jaguar CD (which was an attachment to the Atari Jaguar) also played CD+G format CDs.

CD-ROM Short for, compact disc, read-only memory. A CD-ROM is a compact optical media disc used to store and play back computer data instead of digital audio. CD-ROMs have become a favorite medium for installing programs and distributing medium sized chunks of data, since they cost only slightly more to manufacture than floppy disks, and most major software applications would require several floppies to distribute. Today, there is CD-ROM media that can hold up to 650 megabytes of data (74 min. is the maximum designed capacity). The specifications for CD-ROM were first defined in the Yellow Book standard.

CD24 A CD24 is a special kind of Compact Disc that can be made and played by the Alesis MasterLink. It allows you to store audio at higher sample rates (up to 96kHz) and word lengths (up to 24-bits) than is allowed by the standard consumer \"Red Book\" CD format (16-bit/44.1kHz). A CD24 can also be played in a computer\'s CD-ROM drive because it follows the common PC and Mac-compatible CD-ROM standard ISO 9660. Also, the audio files on the disc follow AIFF format, which is readable by almost any audio software available today.

Centronics A standard computer interface for connecting printers, CD-ROM drives and other devices. Although Centronics Corporation designed the original standard, the Centronics interface used by modern computers was designed by Epson Corporation. For PCs, almost all parallel ports conform to the Centronics standard. Two new parallel port standards that are backward compatible with Centronics, but offer faster transmission rates, are ECP (Extend Capabilities Port) and EPP (Enhanced Parallel Port). On the Macintosh side of the fence, Centronic connections are of the SCSI flavor only (See WFTD: Centronics 50).

Challenge/Response A common technique used for software copy protection. It's comprised of an exchange of passwords that contain hidden information that permits software to run and to be stored on a computer's hard disk. Usually, when an application is first run, the user is presented with a unique challenge password. This password is submitted to the manufacturer (or a service company they employ) who then provides a response password that can be used to "unlock" the software so it will run on that machine. In some cases the same response can be used to unlock the software on other machines, but in many cases the challenge (and consequently the response) are unique to a given machine, or even to a particular instance of installation (in other words, if you wipe the software from the machine and install it again you may be presented with a different challenge). This system has some advantages over key disk/CD or dongle copy protection methods: you never need to deal with anything physical and the entire authorization process can be performed by e-mail or phone. However, there is one disadvantage, which is that your authorization is not easily transportable from one machine to another. Challenge/Response, while still in use, seems to losing popularity among software developers.

Chipset In a personal computer, the integrated circuit (IC) chips that define the functions of a CPU. The chipset is in charge of controlling the flow of instructions to the CPU as well as defining the available buses. Chipsets are normally integrated - soldered onto the motherboard. On early personal computers these functions required as many as 30 individual chips. Current PCs have consolidated all these circuits into only two or three chips. Intel (Pentium) and AMD-based computers have two distinctive chips. The northbridge typically handles communications between the CPU, RAM, and AGP or PCI Extended graphics cards. Some northbridge chips also contain integrated video controllers. The southbridge chip normally defines and controls the operation of other buses and devices, including the PCI bus, the PS/2 interface for keyboard and mouse, the serial port, the parallel port, and the floppy drive controller. The chipset used by a given manufacturer of motherboards can have a significant impact on the way in which that board (and the resulting computer that uses it) will interact with various peripheral devices. Some hardware, particularly more exotic audio recording hardware, can be pretty picky about chipsets and their associated data protocols.

CISC Acronym for Complex Instruction Set Computer. This is an instruction set architecture (ISA) in which each instruction to a CPU can indicate several low-level operations, such as a load from memory, an arithmetic operation, and a memory store, all in a single instruction. The original theory was to have the processor receive fewer instructions, which would allow it to handle "high-level" programming languages more easily. This is in contrast to Reduced Instruction Set Computer (RISC) design, which executes a rapid sequence of simple instructions. Before the first RISC processors were designed, many computer architects were trying to design instruction sets to support high-level languages by providing "high-level" instructions such as procedure call and return, loop instructions such as "decrement and branch if non-zero" and complex addressing modes to allow data structure and array accesses to be compiled into single instructions. While these designs achieved their aim of allowing high-level language constructs to be expressed in fewer instructions, they did not always result in improved performance. For example, on one processor it was discovered that it was possible to improve the performance by NOT using the procedure call instruction but using a sequence of simpler instructions instead. Furthermore, the more complex the instruction set, the greater the overhead needed to decode an instruction, both in execution time and silicon area. The term, like its antonym RISC, has become less meaningful with the continued evolution of both CISC and RISC designs and implementations. Modern "CISC" CPUs, such as the Pentium 4, while they usually support every instruction that their predecessors did, are designed to work most efficiently with a subset of instructions more resembling a typical "RISC" instruction set. Indeed, many CISC CPUs (such as modern x86 processors from both Intel and AMD) "break" many x86 instructions into a series of smaller internal "micro-operations" that are then executed internally by the processor.

Classic In Macintosh computers running the OS X operating system, Classic is the name for a type of shell program that runs the older OS 9.2 operating system within OS X. Being able to run the older OS on top of OS X allows Mac users to continue to use older software that that doesn\'t work under OS X.

Click and Hold The action of clicking your computer's mouse on an object, but not releasing it - holding the mouse button down. Depending on what you click upon, this may bring up an additional menu or list of selections you can make by pulling the mouse down and releasing the button.

Click Track A metronomic "pulse" heard in monitor headsets by the musicians (or conductor in film scoring) during the performance of music. The purpose of a click track is the same as any metronome: to guide the musicians temporally for the sake of timing consistency or some other timing concern. In film scoring this would be to have hits and other cues occur at the proper time in the film. Traditionally click tracks have been recorded to tape (hence the usage of the word "track" in the name), but in modern production this is increasingly rare. Click tracks are quite often generated by computer software (such as MIDI sequencers) and played back in real time through some MIDI sound source. However, in many instances for the sake of convenience, and as a fail-safe method they may also be recorded to the multi-track being used.

Clipboard In Macintosh and PC computers, and some other systems, the clipboard is a virtual memory holding area where data can be temporarily stored for certain tasks. The most common use of the clipboard is for copy (or cut) and paste operations. When you Copy a line of text, a graphic image, audio sample, etc. it is stored on the clipboard where it remains until you replace it with something else. In the Mac the contents of the clipboard can be viewed under the edit menu when the Finder is the active application. In Windows systems you can view it by looking under the Start Menu/Accessories/System Tools/Clipboard Viewer. Some Windows programs allow you a choice to append data to the clipboard or overwrite it each time something new is copied.

Cluster On hard drives and other types of data storage systems, tracks and sectors are broken into clusters. The cluster is the smallest unit of storage that is addressable (can be written to or read) on the device. The size of clusters may vary. Often you'll see sizes of 256 or 512 bytes, but this can vary widely from system to system. Each piece of data stored on a disk requires at least one cluster. So if you have a word processing document that's only 50 bytes in size it will require an entire cluster to store it, even if the clusters are much greater in size. You can't put two 50 byte files in the same cluster because the computer (or storing device) would have no way to address them separately. Larger file's clusters can be scattered among different locations on the hard disk. The clusters associated with a file are kept track of in the hard disk's file allocation table (FAT). When you save or read a file, the entire file is handled for you and you aren't aware of the clusters it is stored in. The total number of clusters available on a disk depends on how it was formatted and the addressing system used, or more specifically on the size of the FAT table entry. For example, the FAT-32 system commonly used is a 32 bit addressing system, which allows enough cluster addresses to support up to two terabytes (2000 gigabytes) of data, assuming you have a large enough disk.

CMOS Acronym for Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (pronounced 'see-moss'). A special type of semiconductor with very low power consumption among other things. They are constructed very differently from a typical 'transistor' or 'integrated circuit,' but perform many of the same functions. CMOS chips are widely used in computing products. One specific area concerns the BIOS or preferences for some of the basic functionality of a computer. These are sometimes stored in CMOS-based memory chips, which are kept under power by a small battery somewhere in the computer.

CNC Acronym for "Computer Numerically Controlled." This is a computer-assisted routing machine that can shape the wood parts of a production guitar with astonishing accuracy. As more manufacturers add CNC capabilities, quality continues to climb higher, as these machines produce better, more consistent parts, especially solid guitar bodies.

Code A set of symbols that represent assigned meanings (usually used for secrecy). Also the act of putting a communication into coded form. The word code has come to be used by computer programmers to describe their work. Specifically it has been used to distinguish computer instructions from data, but is now often applied more generically to any and all instructions used by a computing device, as well as the act of writing those instructions.

COM Port Short for Communications Port. This is a generic term used to identify I/O ports, usually on PC Computers, that may be used for things like modems, MIDI interfaces, and other peripheral devices. PC COM ports are generally used in conjunction with a number, as in as in COM1, COM2, COM3, or COM4. These are serial ports and analogous to Macintosh serial ports.

Compile To have a computer translate source code written in a computer language into an executable form, which is generally some type of \"machine language\" a specific computer processor uses. This is usually done by a translator program called a compiler and represents the most common way computer programs have been developed for the past few decades.

Component Video A video signal where some or all of the individual components that make the signal are sent down separate wires (as opposed to composite video), either in the form of a multi-pin D-Sub type cable or a five way cable terminating to five BNC connectors (there are other types, but these two cover the majority of it). For example, in a computer monitor you may find that the three primary video colors (Red, Green, and Blue) are each sent separately, and luminance (brightness) information and video sync are separate from that, hence the five wires (it can even be separate further into horizontal and vertical video sync). In some applications "component" signals are still composite signals of another kind. Formats such as the 4-pin S-Video, the 2-RCA luma/chroma standard, or the 3-BNC YUV standard will have some combining of information, such as the sync signal(s).

Regardless of the kind of cable used, modern analog computer displays have separate signal and ground wires for at least the red, green, blue, HSync and VSync signals. This separation allows the cables to carry much higher frequencies than would be possible if they were entirely or partially composited with each other. These higher frequencies allow for the high resolutions that computer displays must support. For comparison, a computer outputting a 640 x 480 resolution image with a 60 Hz interlaced refresh rate (similar to broadcast TV) has a "dot-clock" frequency of approximately 12 MHz. (Dot-clock represents the timing between adjacent screen pixels and is the highest frequency component of any computer's display-generation circuitry.) At 800 x 600 resolution (also 60 Hz interlaced), that dot-clock frequency increases to approximately 35 MHz. A modern workstation's display using 1600 x 1200 resolution at 85 Hz non-interlaced requires a dot-clock frequency of at least 220MHz.

(Special thanks to inSync reader David Charlap for some of the computer specific information presented here.)

Control Panel Basically, this is just what it sounds like: a panel to control something. The usage of the term gets confusing to people in how it is applied to computers, but it's pretty simple. In computing devices, a control panel is a software program designed to give the user control over some specific part of the operation of the machine. This could be a basic function like monitor resolution, or more involved functions relating to standard and optional hardware or software that may be installed on a particular system.

Control Surface In the music and production world a (hardware) controller is something we use as a human interface to other elements in a system. For example, a keyboard controller is used to play keyboard parts, where the performance data is transmitted to a device that produces the sound, whether it's a rack mounted module, a software synth, or another keyboard. A control surface is conceptually a more generic form of controller. They come in many shapes and sizes with (in some cases) radically different capabilities, but the thing they have in common is that they are used to control the functions of some other device, often a computer software program. In our business the words "control surface" usually conjure up images of something looking like a mixing board. These aren't actually mixing boards, but instead devices used to control other devices, which perform the functions of a mixing board (mixing, aux sends, panning, EQ, etc.). Now that so much production is done inside of computer software, it has become increasingly important to provide tools that enable musicians and engineers easy access to a familiar set of controls in order for them to most effectively be able to do their work. As such, control surfaces in many ways mimic the look and feel of a mixing board, even though in many cases they may provide more or different capabilities. Some control surfaces are designed specifically for a specific computer or software system, while others are more generic and may work with a variety of different systems. Nowadays many stand alone mixers are really nothing more than software based mixing boards under the control of a dedicated control surface, even though the outward appearance is that of a mixer. In some cases these mixers can also be used to control other software mixers.

Copy In computer applications, Copy is a common convention used by many applications that allows the end user to copy a defined selection to the computer's Clipboard while leaving the defined selection in place and unchanged. The defined selection is now available for use elsewhere via the "Paste" function.

Corrupt/Corruption Political humor aside, when we use these terms in the context of making music, we are generally speaking of data files or media that for one reason or another have become unusable. The usage comes from the standard definition, which is (among other things) to spoil, taint, or alter from the original. Computers and programs running on them expect data, whether in RAM or on disk, to be organized in a specific way. If something happens to the information to alter this organization it is said to have become corrupt, which usually results in it no longer being usable, or at least requiring efforts to repair it. Often times when media fails it is because the formatting data on it has become corrupt.

CPU Abbreviation for Central Processing Unit. The chip on a computer's motherboard which ultimately controls all the activity of the computer. Standard Macs have a 680x0 chip (x = 0, 2, 3, or 4) manufactured by Motorola. PowerPC Macintoshes use a new RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computing) chip designed by a conglomerate of computer hardware manufactures, including Apple, IBM, and Motorola. Most IBM compatible computes use a chip based on Intel's X86 architecture. These days most electronic instruments (keyboards, drum machines, etc.) and digital tape machines have a CPU which controls all of the functions of the machine.

CPUCycle In layman's terms this is a fancy way of talking about events that your computer's CPU performs. Each event, which can be triggered by a pulse from the clock, can be considered a cycle. Or, as if often the case, the CPU has a series of little routines it is constantly running. Things like: check each I/O port for incoming data (keyboard, mouse, modem, etc.), update the screen, move data from here to there, etc. Basically a series of events that are required to keep the computer operating. The computer keeps repeating them over and over. A cycle can be considered to be one pass through all of these events.

Crash In the computer world, a crash is generally a condition in which a specific application or a part of the computer's operating system stops performing its specific functions and will not respond to keyboard commands. A crash may manifest itself in any of several ways, up to and including a complete freeze, where the cursor is locked into a specific place on the screen. When an operating system kernel is involved, this is often called a system crash. Depending upon the severity of the crash, a restart may be all that is required, but large scale crashes usually require restarting (rebooting) from a system disc or specific software that is designed to go in and and find the problem. Today crashes are less destructive than in the early days of personal computers, when a fresh reinstallation of the entire contents of the internal hard drive was often required.

Cross Platform Refers to hardware or software that is capable of working on, or is compatible with, multiple platforms. Generally the term is used in the computer world and means that a device or software package is compatible with two or more fundamentally different systems, such as PC and Macintosh. Programs that work on both Windows NT and Windows XP, for example, would not be considered \"cross platform\" as it is understood that those two platforms are very similar. Sometimes the term is applied to more audio specific products such as soundware for synthesizers and samplers, where it signifies that a given package works on more than one brand of instrument. For example, a sample library might be compatible with both Roland and Kurzweil samplers. It is more common, however, to see the specific brands and type of instruments listed since there are so many potential distinctions to be aware of.

Crossover Cable A type of cable designed to connect two devices directly together that would normally have a hub between. This comes up often with Ethernet cables. Ethernet RJ-45 connectors are normally wired for the paradigm where everything runs through a hub. When two devices are connected directly together the wiring is backwards and does not match up. So there are crossover cables where the middle four of the eight wires are reversed from one end to the other. This is the type of cable required to connect two computers with Ethernet directly together without the need for a hub or switch. Crossover cables are also found in other domains, such as parallel cables for computers. Here they are commonly known as Null Modem cables.

CRT Abbreviation for Cathode-Ray Tube, the technology used in most televisions and computer display screens. A CRT works by moving an electron beam back and forth across the inside front of the screen. Each time a beam makes a pass across the screen, it lights up phosphor dots on the inside, illuminating the active portions of the screen. The beam is controlled by electromagnetism, which causes it to scan in an orderly fashion that is related in time to the data (image) that causes the energy from the gun to vary, thereby producing (painting) the images you see. By quickly drawing (scanning) many such lines from the top to the bottom of the screen, it creates an entire screen full of images. In order for the beam to return to the top of the screen after it has reached the bottom a "blanking pulse" is timed into the data to turn the beam off so it doesn't paint a diagonal line from the lower right to the upper left hand corner. This blanking pulse is known as black burst and is the source of timing used in many synchronization systems.

Cut In computer applications, Cut is a common convention used by many applications that allows the end user to remove a defined selection (text, images, sound clips, video clips, etc.) from an active document while automatically placing it into the computer's Clipboard for use elsewhere via the "Paste" function.

D-Sub D-Sub and DB are prefixes used to describe a type of multi-pin connectors that happen to be commonly used in audio equipment. The original manufacturer, ITT Cannon, adopted the "D" designation as the lead character in their part numbers signifying the connector type. The shell size, or capacity, is next in the part number: A=15 pin, B=25 pin, C=37 pin, D=50 pin and E=9 pin (not originally produced). This type connector can also be specified with many different styles and quantities (up to its capacity) of pin: high power, coax and combinations. The most common connector, early on, was the 25-pin size, which was used on RS232 ports (a common computer port). Hence DB25M means "D" type, "B" shell, 25 pins, Male pin. Note that a 15-pin female would be DA15F. D-Sub is short for the current industrial tag, D-Subminiature, used by almost all of the manufacturers.

DAE Abbreviation for Digidesign Audio Engine. DAE is the underlying code that Digidesign has been using to make their audio systems work and communicate with computer hardware and software. When you launch Pro Tools (or any application that uses DAE to communicate with Digidesign hardware) DAE also launches in the background. The main application (such as Pro Tools) is really just acting as the user interface while DAE is actually taking care of the underlying mechanics of moving the audio data in, out, and through the system. DAE is required for software programs to be able to access Digidesign hardware.

Daisy Chain A wiring scheme in which, for example, device A is wired to device B, device B is wired to device C, etc. All devices may receive identical signals or, in some instances, each device in the chain may modify one or more signals before passing them on. Common Daisy Chain examples would be MIDI devices connected together utilizing their THRU connections; SCSI connections with the last device terminated; certain computer network schemes; reference clock for digital studio devices; etc.

DAW Pronounced "Dee - A - Double-U", the abbreviation (not acronym) for Digital Audio Workstation. DAW's are common in almost any studio these days. They are typically defined as having some ability to record, manipulate, and play back audio recordings or samples. In their early days DAW's were primarily considered editing stations. Material was taken from the primary recording media (usually tape) and dumped into one of these systems for editing, and then returned to the original media for the remainder of the project. Nowadays DAW's can act as an entire recording studio with all mixing, processing, and mastering on one computer.

DB-25 A type of D-Sub connector. DB-25's are commonly found on computing equipment where they are employed to connect peripherals. They are common to parallel ports or RS-232 ports on PC computers, but also often used in a variety of ways in the audio community. For example, TASCAM commonly uses the DB-25 connector for analog and/or digital I/O on their products, as do some other brands.

DDS An abbreviation for Digital Data Storage. DDS is a data storage format which was developed from DAT (Digital Audio Tape) by Hewlett-Packard and Sony, especially for reliably storing computer data. DDS is defined by international standards and is supported by many manufacturers, but more importantly, it is subject to thorough collaborative testing programs which ensure that tapes written by one maker's drives can be read by those of other manufacturers.


DDS drives are rigorously tested for format compliance and data interchange according to a scheme that Hewlett-Packard administers. DDS media is put through a comprehensive set of tests designed to ensure that only data cartridges capable of meeting the exacting environmental and durability requirements of the DDS standards bear the DDS trademark. This scheme is administered by Sony.

Delay Compensation A process of manipulating the timing of digital audio tracks so that any latency resulting from the application of plug-in effects or instruments is accounted for, resulting in the accurate synchronization of those tracks with other tracks which are not affected by latency-causing processing. Even with the fastest possible computer CPUs and hardware-accelerated DSP cards, routing an audio track through digital effects plug-in creates latency in the output of the effected audio. This latency can be almost imperceptible, such as a few samples, or it could be greater, up to a few milliseconds. As a result, that track's audio reaches the output stage slightly later than tracks that aren't passed through a plug-in. Multiply the effect of one track's latency by a potential of several tracks undergoing processing (each with a slightly different amount of latency) and you eventually end up with a "smeared" audio output - one in which the tracks aren't in perfect synchronization with each other, with audible differences in attacks, phase and releases. Musically speaking, this may not necessarily be a bad thing (although hardly anyone could argue it's a good thing), but if you're layering unison parts, for example, the combined latencies of several processed tracks can be distracting. It's also very destructive to building a proper soundstage in a mix.

Desktop In computers using a GUI the desktop is the whole screen area underneath any open windows or icons. It is the top level in the hierarchy of the system: hard drives and other files reside on and can be accessed from the desktop.

DFD Direct From Disk (DFD) is Native Instruments' term for the technology that allows a virtual instrument to play samples directly from hard drive instead of loading them into RAM. This allows for playing longer samples than will fit in the computer's memory, among other things. A small amount of RAM is still required to "preload" a bit of the sound before it starts playing, to compensate for the time it takes for the computer to find the sample on the disk and begin playing it - this is known as the "preload buffer."

Dial-up The earliest (and exceptionally slow) method of connecting to the Internet was to use existing telephone lines and a modem that, together, connected a computer to an internet service provider (ISP). In its earliest days, the Internet could hardly live up to the hype as the "information super highway," as the only way to get connected was via a 2,400bps modem and a phone line.

Differential In the computer world, a "balanced" signal is known as "differential". The same technique is used - the signal is sent with the inverse signal running parallel to it. Sometimes, the two signals' wires are twisted around each other (known as "twisted pair" wire). Differential signals are used in 10Base-T and 100Base-T Ethernet and some varieties of SCSI.


(Special thanks to inSync reader, David C. for this one.)

Digi System Init Abbreviation for Digi System Init. Init is a fancy word for Extension on the Macintosh - historically the extensions that load upon boot up were called inits, which is short for initialize. These days we just call them extensions, but DSI is an old abbreviation. The DSI is, therefore, an extension that must be loaded by the computer in order for it to be able to "see" any Digidesign hardware that may be installed in it. It works in conjunction with DAE to enable recording with Digidesign systems.

Digital In a general sense digital refers to information or data that is stored or communicated as a sequence of discrete values, rather than some scale across a continual set of values (analog). A digital system may use any (or several) of many different numbering schemes, including decimal (base 10), octal (base 8), and hexadecimal (base 16), but for the most part we associate the binary (base 2) numbering system with digital as it is the most commonly used numbering system in digital hardware such as computers and other logic based systems. For our purposes, digital refers to the representation of a varying physical property such as sound or light waves (as in digital audio or video), by means of a series of numerical values (in binary, ones and zeroes). These digits are grouped together in "words" to represent parts (intervals) of the complex character of the audio or video material.

Digital Synthesizer A synthesizer that uses digital signal processing (DSP) techniques to make sounds. The very earliest digital synthesis experiments were made with general-purpose computers, as part of academic research into sound generation. Perhaps the best way to begin to understand digital synthesis is to compare it to analog synthesizers. Modular analog synthesis uses voltage to perform its three primary functions. A voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO) produces a tone, which is shaped by a voltage-controlled filter (VCF). The amplitude of the resulting sound is processed by a voltage-controlled amplifier (VCA). (These basic building blocks can be rearranged in a variety of ways, but they still perform similar duties.) Digital synthesis replaces voltage with numeric representations of values; so at its most basic, a digital synthesizer uses a digitally controlled oscillator (DCO), filter (DCF) and amplifier (DCA). However, the broader range of processing power available with DSP has allowed many variations of synthesis techniques to emerge that simply weren't possible with analog technologies. Early commercial digital synthesizers used simple hard-wired digital circuitry to implement techniques such as additive synthesis and FM synthesis. Other techniques, such as wavetable synthesis, physicalmodelingsynthesis and granular, became possible with the advent of high-speed microprocessor and digital signal processing technology. Some digital synthesizers now exist in the form of "soft synth" software that utilizes conventional computer hardware for processing. Virtual analog synthesizers, whether in hardware or software form, are in fact digital synthesizers that emulate the behavior of analog circuitry.

DIMM Acronym for Dual Inline Memory Module. A DIMM is essentially a double SIMM. Like SIMM\'s they are small circuit boards with several memory chips installed. The boards can be installed in computers and other devices to increase their RAM capacity. A lot of modern day computing hardware uses SDRAM type memory, which requires a 64-bit data path, as opposed to the 32-bit path required by SIMM\'s. Initially this was achieved by installing SIMM\'s in exact pairs, one for each 32-bit path. Now this is accomplished with a single DIMM board.

Direct I/O The trademarked name for Digidesign's software drivers that allow programs such as audio sequencers from various companies to directly access Digidesign audio hardware installed in a computer. Without Direct I/O drivers most audio programs can only interface with the Apple's built in audio, which can then often be interfaced with the hardware-recording card. The disadvantage is that this only allows for two channel input and output because that is all the computer supports. Direct I/O gives the software the ability to directly interface with multi-channel hardware, such as Digidesign's Pro Tools and Project systems, thereby allowing multiple inputs and/or outputs to be used simultaneously. Direct I/O drivers have to be specifically written for each hardware type. Most of the popular audio sequencer manufacturers (MOTU, Opcode, EMAGIC Steinberg, etc) have written their own Direct I/O drivers that work with Digidesign hardware and hardware from other companies.

Display In the computer world, a synonym for video monitor; used for both LCD and CRT monitors. In the audio world, "display" is used to refer to the various types of LED and LCD visual "readouts" found on keyboards, processors, and other gear.

DMA Abbreviation for Direct Memory Access (or addressing). DMA is a method of transferring data from one memory area to another without having to go through the CPU. In many computer systems DMA is allocated in "channels." Computers with DMA channels can transfer data to and from devices much more quickly than those in which the data path goes through the computer's main processor. DMA channels are limited in number, and you can't allocate one channel to more than one device. There are also newer enhanced (faster) versions of DMA known as UDMA, or Ultra DMA.

Dolby Virtual Speaker An algorithm created by Dolby that attempts to reproduce the dynamics and surround-sound effects of a precisely placed 5.1-channel speaker system from a consumer electronics device or personal computer equipped with as few as two speakers. The algorithm at the heart of Dolby Virtual Speaker technology is based on psychoacoustic parameters that include an understanding of sound from both a technical and an experiential perspective. Dolby Virtual Speaker technology uses biological, psychological, and physical understanding to create the "impression" of additional speakers positioned exactly at the recommended locations for a Dolby Digital sound system with five actual speakers. In other words, audio channels are processed through filters that simulate the sonic signature of a speaker located within an acoustic space. Dolby Virtual Speaker technology was launched in fall 2002 to the PC industry, and is currently available on select software DVD players from CyberLink, InterVideo, and Nvidia, as well as models from leading PC OEMs (including Sharp, NEC, Sony, Fujitsu, and Hitachi).

Dongle An electronic device that attaches to a computer to control access to a particular application. Dongles provide an effective means of copy protection. Typically, the dongle attaches to a PC's parallel port or, on a Mac, to an ADB port. Ideally a dongle passes through all data coming through the port so it does not prevent the port from being used for other purposes. In fact, it's possible to attach several dongles to the same port. Programs that use a dongle query the port at startup and at programmed intervals thereafter, and terminate if it does not respond with the dongle's programmed validation code.

DOS An acronym for Disk Operating System. Literally, the term refers that portion of an operating system that controls writing, storage, and retrieval of data from storage media, usually spinning disks of various types. In common usage, the term refers to MS DOS, the complete operating system developed by Microsoft for IBM-compatible personal computers in text (non-Windows) modes.

Double Precision A computer numbering format in which a number occupies two storage locations in computer memory (called "address" and "address+1"). A double precision number, sometimes called a double, may be an integer, fixed point, or floating point. The term double precision is not truly accurate because the "precision" is not really double. The word "double" simply means that a double-precision number uses twice as many bits as a regular floating-point number. For example, if a single-precision number requires 32 bits to define, its double-precision counterpart will be 64 bits long. Computers with 32-bit data stores (single precision) provide 64-bit double precision, in a series of 8-byte words. Most applications conform to an IEEE standard (754) that defines the encoding of floating-point numbers using 8 bytes.

Drive Drive is a rhythm pattern from the big band era in which the kick drum and the snare are hit simultaneously on all four beats of a measure. Drive may also refer to gain for an amplifier or effects unit, and pushing an amp's preamp to distort can cause overdrive. Overdrive is generally considered to be another word for distortion or clipping. When you overdrive something with too much level, it distorts. For guitarists, however, there is a distinction between overdrive and distortion. In the domain of guitar sounds distortion generally means extreme distortion and is associated with a buzzing or "fuzz" type of sound. To guitarists overdrive represents the guitar equivalent of the general or mechanical definition above. It is a state of (for lack of a better term) semi-distortion. A heightened concentration of harmonic energy and presence, but not the same as all-out distortion. Drive is also a shortened term referring to hard drives and CD readers/writers in computers.

Driver In the world of computers, a virtual road map exists that tells data for each piece of equipment or program which path to take to its chosen destination. Just like in the real world, you need directions on how to get from A to B. In the world of computers, we call those devices "drivers". Drivers are bits of software code used to enable various pieces of hardware and software so they can be recognized by other programs in a computer and have the appropriate data routed to them in a format they can understand. For example, Windows uses drivers to communicate with a MIDI interface. If you do not have the proper driver installed your computer may not recognize or work properly with a given piece of hardware or software.

DSL Abbreviation for Digital Subscriber Line. DSL is a high-speed method of sending computer data over standard copper telephone wires using sophisticated modulation techniques. There are several types of DSL connections, but they all require a special DSL modem between your computer and the phone line. DSL's are sometimes referred to as "last mile" technologies because they are used only for connections from a telephone switching station to a home or office, not between switching stations. This also means you have to be within an acceptable range of a telephone switching station in order for it to work well enough to be useful. DSL has become popular the last few years as a really fast and reasonably affordable way of connecting home or office computers to the Internet.

DSP Abbreviation for Digital Signal Processing. This term gets thrown around all over the place these days without much regard for what it actually means. Without getting into a lot of detail it basically just refers to a specific type of digital processing that is optimized for dealing with signals. In our case these are often audio signals, but they don't always have to be. DSP can be thought of as sort of a subset to the old math coprocessor concept. Math coprocessors were chips that were included in computers to help the CPU do massive calculations more efficiently. DSP chips are designed and optimized to be able to do various (mathematical) calculations for processing audio or image data. For example, many of today's effects processors use a special DSP chip made by Motorola that has been optimized for working with audio data. A surprising number of different processors use this exact same chip, but with different software instructions as written by the companies to have it do what they need for their product.

DTV Short for Digital Television. DTV is the transmission of television signals using digital rather than conventional analog methods. Analog transmission is in the form of a constantly variable wave; digital transmission consists of an electrical pulse that has two possibilities: on and off (or positive and negative),which are represented by a one and a zero (this is binary data, the same type of information that a computer understands), that is then modulated into an analog transmission. A digital signal can be more precise than analog due to the fact that the electronics at the receiving end will either be able to retrieve enough of the digital information to reconstruct a pretty good signal, or it will be incapable of reconstructing anything resembling a good signal. It's pretty much all or nothing, with very little area in between. Although both signals are transmitted in the same basic way and supposedly have the same range, they behave differently at the limits of their ranges. An analog signal gradually degrades over distance (mostly in amplitude, though there can be other distortions introduced) and may be barely detectable at the farther reaches of the broadcast area - this is why the signal from a distant radio station fades in and out. As the signal reaches the farther limits of its range, the signal-to-noise ratio decreases and the quality of the broadcast suffers, although the range remains the same. In comparison, when the signal-to-noise decreases in a digital signal, the quality of the broadcast does not visibly degrade very much (until it drops out all together) depending upon the error correction capabilities of the system or generally how effective it is at reconstructing a usable signal from partial information, but the range shrinks.

Dual Core Processor The installation of two computer CPU execution cores on a single physical processor. A dual-core CPU combines two independent processors along with their respective caches and cache controllers onto a single chip. The advantages of this approach are many: reduced power consumption (than equivalent multi-processor systems), less space consumed on the PCB, reduced heat, and — most importantly — the "threaded parallelism" — the capability of the CPU to carry out two independent instructions per cycle rather than one. In fact, when technology such as Intel's Hyperthreading is applied, a dual-core CPU can actually load four instructions into its registers. A side benefit for manufacturers is the death of the "gigahertz mania" that CPU chips have followed for several years. The emphasis is on multithreading capacity rather than clock speed. Dual-core CPUs require support from both the operating system and the individual application to provide any visible benefits. At this writing, both AMD and Intel have commercially available dual-core processors.

DualDisc A double-sided optical disc introduced in the United States in 2004. A DualDisc features an audio layer similar to a CD (but not following the Red Book CD specifications) on one side and a standard DVD layer on the other. This allows artists to distribute audio-only versions of their work in both 16-bit/44.1kHz CD and high-resolution (24-bit/96 or 192kHz) DVD-A stereo file formats, as well as include surround versions and video content. Technically speaking, DualDisc is not a "format" in the sense of Red Book CDs or DVD-Audio. The media is an attempt by several industry giants (EMI Music, Universal Music Group, Sony/BMG Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, and 5.1 Entertainment Group) to deliver albums that can be played on any optical disc player, whether CD or DVD, in a single package. One side is the "standard" full-length CD audio album. The other side offers DVD content. This may include enhanced album audio, 5.1 surround sound, music videos, artist interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, documentary films, photo galleries, lyrics, computer-ready digital song files, and Web links - whatever the artist chooses to include. Although the recording industry is enthusiastic about this delivery system, the future of DualDisc is far from clear. As of 2005 it's still sitting under a cloud of patent-infringement lawsuits from the European company DVD Plus, which claims to have originally developed the technology. In addition, forthcoming optical technology such as Blu-Ray and HD-DVD, with massive file storage capacity, might replace both CD and current DVD technology.

DV Abbreviation for Digital Video. Digital Video is a format for digitizing and storage of video images. DV is also commonly referred to as DVC, which stands for Digital Video Cassette. The format uses 4:1:1 sampling, 5:1 compression, and a 25 Mega-bit (3.1 Mega-byte) data rate, and records to 1/4\" cassette tapes. What do those figures mean? The sampling figure (4:1:1) refers to the sampling rates of various components of the video signal (we\'ll cover more about this in future inSync issues). The compression ratio is a generic figure for how much the data is compressed (as in lossy compression). Other digital video formats - ones that are not referred to as DV - use different sample rates (4:2:2, 4:4:4, etc.) and data compression ratios. A subset of the DV format known as MiniDV, which uses smaller cassettes, but is basically the same format, has become extremely popular in the consumer marketplace due to its combination of reasonably high quality (especially compared to inexpensive analog systems), low cost, and convenience. Once video is captured on a DV camera it is very easy to transfer it to a computer editing system via Firewire - no \"video capture\" card (and the accompanying process) is needed.

DVD Latest info says "DVD" no longer stands for anything! It used to mean "digital versatile disc" - and before that it meant "digital video disc." A new type of 12-centimeter (4.72") compact disc (same size as audio CDs and CD-ROMs) that holds 10 times the information. Capable of holding full-length movies and a video game based on the movie, or a movie and its soundtrack, or two versions of the same movie - all in sophisticated discrete digital audio surround sound. The DVD standard specifies a laminated single-sided, single-layer disc holding 4.7 gigabytes, and 133 minutes of MPEG-2 compressed video and audio. It is backwards compatible, and expandable to two-layers holding 8.5 gigabytes. Ultimately two discs could be bounded together yielding two-sides, each with two-layers, for a total of 17 gigabytes. There are three versions: DVD-Video (movies), DVD-Audio (music-only) and DVD-ROM (games and computer use). The DVD-Audio standard is still being defined. Meanwhile a fourth member has joined the family: DVD-RAM defines specs for a rewritable system, opening the door for recording.

Dynamically Linked Library A DLL is a computer program file consisting of a collection of resources or routines that are available to other programs, as opposed to a static library where the contents are copied into one program when it\'s compiled. A program that wants to use these routines is linked with the DLL at the time it is actually started, or later. The term DLL relates mostly to Windows products. On the UNIX platform (including Mac OS X), the term \"Shared Library\" is more commonly used.

ECP Abbreviation for Enhanced Capabilities Port. The ECP specification was developed by Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard to increase the throughput of the parallel port in PC computers. It is similar to the EPP, but even more efficient due to the use of DMA and buffering.

EIDE Abbreviation for Enhanced (some say Expanded) IDE, or Enhanced Integrated Drive Electronics. Like it sounds, EIDE is an enhanced version of the old IDE peripheral connection standard commonly used for hard drives and other storage media with computers. It provides faster access to the hard drive, support for DMA, larger capacities, and includes the functionality of ATAPI. Sometimes EIDE is referred to as ATA-2.

Electroacoustic Music Electroacoustic music is a type of music that originated in the late 1940s, and early 1950s. Originally, there were two groups of composers who were at strict odds with each other. In Paris, Musique Concrete, pioneered by Pierre Schaeffer, was based on the juxtaposition of natural sounds recorded to tape or disc. In Cologne, Elektronische Musik, pioneered by Herbert Eimert, was based around the construction of tones using only sine waves, which Eimert considered to be an electronic extension of serialism. The common link between the two schools is that the music is recorded and performed through loudspeakers, without a human performer. Currently, the majority of electroacoustic pieces use techniques from both earlier styles. Since around the early 1980s, many electroacoustic pieces have included live performers, either as a performer playing along with a tape, or, more recently, with live electronic processing of the performer's sound. The term "acousmatic music" is often used to refer to pieces that consist solely of prerecorded sound. Electroacoustic music is a diverse, widely popular field. Important centers of research and composition can be found around the world, and there are numerous conferences which present electroacoustic music, notably the International Computer Music Conference as well as the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States (SEAMUS).

EMI EMI (Electro Magnetic Interference) refers to interference in audio equipment produced by the equipment or cabling picking up stray electromagnetic fields. This interference usually manifests itself as some type of hum, static, or buzz. Such electromagnetic fields are produced by fluorescent lights, power lines, computers, automobile ignition systems, television monitors, solid state lighting dimmers, AM and FM radio transmitters, and TV transmitters. Methods for controlling EMI include shielding of audio wiring and devices, grounding, elimination of ground loops, balancing of audio circuits, twisting of wires in balanced transmission lines, and isolation transformers among others. Completely eliminating EMI in a system ranges from easy to nearly impossible depending upon the equipment and the environment in question.

EPROM Pronounced EE-prom (almost rhymes with eon), this is an acronym for Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory. Various types of ROM (Read Only Memory) chips are used in many computers and synthesizers to hold instructions or other data (such as sound data) that the machine uses. ROM chips must be permanently programmed at the time of manufacture. While being relatively inexpensive, this can be a problem because all decisions about the data must be permanently decided at a relatively early stage in the design of the product. PROM or Programmable Read Only Memory has the ability to be programmed at any time. The only caveat being that once programmed, the data is permanent. EPROM chips can be erased by subjecting them to ultra violet light radiation. This means they can be reprogrammed and reused as needed, hence the name EPROM.

ESB Abbreviation for Emagic System Bridge. The ESB is a software driver that serves as a link between Emagic's native software and Digidesign's TDM hardware. As such it allows users to be able to bring native processes (plug-ins and software synths) running on Logic Audio into the TDM mixer environment. It consists of two components: Direct TDM and EXS24 TDM.

ESB TDM allows the insertion of up to 32 instances of Emagic's Xtreme Sampler 24 Bit within the Aux channels of Logic Audio's TDM mixer. The output signals of inserted EXS24 instances can be further treated, utilizing all of the possibilities of the TDM DSP environment. Each EXS24 instance is handled by the computer's CPU, and the ESB TDM routes their output signals into the TDM DSP's. EXS24 MIDI performances are recorded on TDM Auxiliary tracks and are controlled directly in Logic Audio. This eliminates the need for OMS, making playback of the EXS24 TDM sample-accurate.

Direct TDM provides an additional audio engine running in parallel with DAE/TDM. It works like most native processing engines and offers up to 64 audio tracks, plug-ins, the use of VST effects and integration of Emagic or third party VST 2.0-compatible Audio Instruments. ESB provides up to eight outputs from this native audio engine, which can be streamed into Logic Audio's TDM mixer - all within the computer.

Ethernet A popular type of networking technology for local area networks developed by Xerox back in the 1970's. It allows computers, printers, and other devices to be connected together forming a network where they have access to one another. It works by breaking data into small "packets" and sends them through cables as radio frequency signals. Over the years there have been many developments and advances in Ethernet technology, the most noticeable of which have provided increased speeds. Terms like "Fast Ethernet" and "Gigabit Ethernet" among others are sometimes used to describe speed capabilities with varying degrees of precision. There is also a commonly used protocol to describe Ethernet wiring. Ethernet cables are classified in an XbaseY form, where the X denotes the data rate; "base" means baseband. (Baseband, as opposed to broadband, means there is only one data channel, and the entire bandwidth of the cable is devoted to that single channel. Everything on that cable [transmitted or received] must use that one channel, which is very fast. All attached devices [printers, computers, and databases] share by taking turns using the same cable). The Y denotes the category of cabling. The letter T means twisted pair, whereas an F means fiber optic. So, for example, when you see a term like 10base-T, that means 10 megabits per second, baseband twisted pair cable. 100base-T means 100 megabits per second, baseband, twisted pair, and 1000base-F means gigabit, baseband, fiber optic cable.

Export In the world of data (computers, MIDI, digital audio, etc.) exporting means to format data in a form where it can be read by another application or device. Sometimes an exported file (or series of files) can be read directly by the desired application; other times the file must be \"imported,\" which usually means further translation is required to get it into the desired environment.

ExpressCard The ExpressCard, not to be confused with the card of the "don't leave home without it" variety, is actually the successor of the PC Card, or PCMCIA card, as it was known. PCMCIA actually stands for the organization that developed the standards, which is the "Personal Computer Memory Card International Association," and not "People Can't Memorize Computer Industry Acronyms" as it has come to be known. The ExpressCard standard, which replaces the older CardBus, was developed to bring the high speed, flexibility, and lower cost of the PCI Express (PCIe) and USB 2.0 interfaces to laptop computers. Theoretically, ExpressCard will have a maximum throughput of 250MBps (megabytes per second) for data transfer (500MBps total: 250MBps to the computer in one direction and 250MBps to the card in the other). This is in comparison to the 132-MBps PC Card standard. ExpressCard's throughput is ideal for video transfers and uncompressed files. To compare it with other throughputs: Gigabit Ethernet has a throughput of 125MBps, FireWire 800 (seen only in new Apple notebooks so far) runs at 100MBps, and USB 2.0 can reach 60MBps. The ExpressCard comes in two sizes, one 34mm wide and the other 54mm wide in an "L" shape. Another advantage of the ExpressCard, aside from lower system and card complexity, is their ability to be hot plugged.

Expression One of the continuous controller commands available in MIDI. It is one of the original definitions in the MIDI specification that allows for the modulation of synthesizer sounds over time. It is often used to define the action of things like foot pedals, modulation wheels, and sliders on keyboards. As defined by the MIDI specification this controller (number 11) has a range of values from 0 (all the way off) to 127 (all the way on). Most of the time expression is defined as a subset of Volume (Continuous Controller 7), especially as it relates to natural crescendos and decrescendos by sustained-tone instruments, such as strings, wind, or synth pads. This allows you to set an overall track level using volume and then adjust single notes or groups of notes by increasing or decreasing the expression level. This can be achieved live by using a knob or slider on your synth. In MIDI sequencing there are many ways to insert expression messages into a track. Sophisticated synths and samplers often incorporate many more elements than volume into expression parameters, to offer maximum sonic control. These can include LFO modulation, increased/decreased sample crossfades (such as the "breathiness" in flute samples) and filter values and resonance. A little-known MIDI fact is that there are TWO controllers reserved for expression: #11 (coarse) and #43 (fine). In the standard MIDI environment, controller 11 offers 128 divisions of volume or any other parameters assigned to expression. Employing the "fine" adjustment would increase this resolution to 16,384 available steps! Virtually no instrument employs this, although more powerful computers and increased sample resolutions and rates might make this level of control practical.

Extension In music and computers an extension can very loosely be thought of as the Macintosh equivalent to a driver in the PC world. Extensions are little bits of software that are loaded into the RAM of your Mac when it boots. They provide added functionality to your basic Mac OS. Many peripherals that connect to a Mac require a special extension to operate. This would include digital cameras, MIDI interfaces, modems, fax software, your Palm Pilot, enhanced track balls, digital audio software and hardware, graphics tablets, and the list goes on and on. Extensions create a conduit for the special communication that must take place between the CPU and these devices. Current versions of the Mac OS include an Extensions Manager Control Panel that allows the user to manage which extensions are active and get loaded upon boot up. There are other third party programs that allow even more flexibility, and include the ability to change the order in which they load. These tools exist because extension conflicts - incompatibilities between different extensions - are a common problem with Macintosh computers. Extension conflicts can cause crashes and all kinds of undesirable behavior in your Mac so it's important to keep an eye on what is installed and loaded into your machine. The Extensions Manager helps with this, but the Mac will also display the icon for most of the active extensions and control panels along the bottom of the screen when it is booting. This is handy for just keeping an eye on what is happening. Any time you install new software on your Mac there is the potential to have new extensions and control panels installed. A good clue that this has happened is when the installation is complete you get a dialog box indicating you need to restart the computer in order to use the new software.

Extension Manager A control panel found on Macintosh computers that allows the user to easily review and enable or disable specific extensions and control panels. This is important because not all extensions and control panels are compatible with one another, which can cause erratic computer operation or crashes. Additionally too many active extensions can eat up computer resources such as RAM and CPU Cycles (which effects the overall speed of the system), not to mention causing it to take longer for the computer to load them all on boot-up. Extension Manager makes it easy to create different "sets" of extensions for different tasks. One may have a set for when the computer is used as a DAW, a different set for playing games, and another set for office work.

Fairlight CMI Also known as the "Computer Musical Instrument," this was the very first keyboard-based, 8-bit digital sampler, with software sequencing and additive synthesis capabilities. Making its debut in 1980 with eight voices (split either polyphonically or multitimbrally), the CMI could store a total of 1Mb of sample data per double-sided, double-density 8-inch floppy disk, or roughly 40 wavesamples. In all, only about 300 Fairlight CMIs (along with the Series II and Series IIx) were manufactured from 1980 to 1984 at prices that ranged from $25,000 to $36,000. Most were sold to the top artists of the day who could actually afford them, including Peter Gabriel, Stevie Wonder, Jan Hammer, and Thomas Dolby.

FAT Abbreviation for File Allocation Table. The FAT is a special file located on a disk containing information about the sizes of files stored on the disk and which clusters contain which files. It can also keep track of bad spots on a disk so they are not used. Think of it as a sort of roadmap to the files on a disk. Drives must first read the roadmap before they can find any of the information stored, or before they can know where to store any new information. There are a number of different types (formats) of FATs used that have different capabilities in terms of how (and how much) data can be stored on a drive partition.

While you don't hear the term much these days the word "fat" has also been used to describe Mac programs that are capable of running in the older, non Power PC environments (68000 series processors) as well as newer PPC computers (600 and G series processors). They were called "fat" programs because they were bloated by virtue of having two sets of code, one for each environment.

Fat-32 A specific type of FAT (File Allocation Table) format designed to expand the capacities and capabilities of hard drives used in a Windows operating environment. It has all but replaced the old FAT-16 format used before. FAT-32 was created as a quick-fix to the problem of computers shipping with hard drives over 2 GB. Prior to FAT-32, computer manufacturers had to messily split hard drives into multiple partitions under 2 GB in size apiece. FAT-32 allows for much larger partitions and has a number of other advantages.

FDDI Abbreviation for Fiber Distributed Data Interface. FDDI is a networking architecture and protocol that has been standardized by ANSI and ISO and become increasingly popular in high-end installations the past few years. FDDI uses fiber optic cabling and a closed loop style of topography to network up to thousands of computers together at very high speeds over great distances (miles).

Fibre Channel A serial data transfer architecture developed by a consortium of computer and mass storage device manufacturers and now being standardized by ANSI. Fibre Channel can be used to create a network using special hardware interfaces to provide very high speed connections between storage devices (hard drives, RAIDs, etc.) and computers. The connections are usually done with optical cables, but coaxial cable and regular telephone twisted pair can be used under some circumstances. It can be used along with or instead of SCSI or other mass storage media and is proving to be a very effective technology for large audio and/or video production environments because it allows many users to access the same physical storage media at speeds high enough to do meaningful work without having to copy individual files to a local hard drive. Many operators can literally be working on the same project (and in some cases the same file) at the same time.

FIFO An acronym for First In, First Out. This expression describes the principle of a queue: what comes in first is handled first, what comes in next waits until the first is finished, etc. It is analogous to the behavior of persons "standing in a line" where the persons leave the line in the order they arrive. The expression FIFO can be used in different contexts: In computers this term refers to the way data stored in a queue is processed. Each item in the queue is stored in a queue data structure. The first data to be added to the queue will be the first data to be removed, then processing proceeds sequentially in the same order. This is typical behavior for the information that is sent to a CPU. You have encountered FIFO structure if you have ever set or altered your audio software's buffer settings. The buffer is a software-defined queue; whether it's defined in samples or milliseconds, you're increasing or decreasing the size of the queue. In electronics a FIFO is a semiconductor memory in which the first data to be written is always the first data to be read. A common application of this is computer or sampler RAM. The function includes address counters and control logic. A FIFO with a clock input is called "synchronous" as in SDRAM; otherwise it is asynchronous.

File As used by a computer, a collection of related data or program records stored as a unit with a single name. Almost all information stored in a computer must be in a file. There are many different types of files: data files, text files, program files, directory files, and so on. Different types of files store different types of information. For example, program files store programs, or "executable" code, whereas text files store text, or code that's in the form of common ASCII characters recognizable as text. Files are always in a particular format. For example, if you created a Microsoft Word document, the file is saved so that Microsoft Word can read it and open it. Often files cannot be opened to read using conventional programs, they are simply data files the computer understands. Files are usually represented by the filename and an extension, which often specifies what type of file it is.

FireWire 800 Also known as 1394b, FireWire 800 is an emerging new standard for high-speed data transfer. FireWire 800 is essentially the same as FireWire (400), but twice as fast. Audio and video devices are already cropping up to take advantage of the bandwidth and ease of use. The good news for audio and video professionals is that FireWire 800 is not all that different from FireWire 400 except when it comes to speed. FireWire 400 compatible devices, such as MOTU\'s 828 or most Firewire hard drives can still be used in FireWire 800 ports with the addition of an adapter. FireWire 800 shares the same well-known features of FireWire 400 such as plug and play connectivity, large capacity on-bus power (up to 45W) and large quantity single-bus connection (up to 63 computers and other devices). Due to a highly efficient architecture, FireWire 800 also allows for longer cable runs than FireWire 400 (up to 100 meters). Another difference is that FireWire 800 is a 9-pin protocol where FireWire 400 is 4- and/or 6-pin. Apple has simply improved on an already useful technology. FireWire 800 allows for more through-put at greater distances and is backward compatible.

USB and FireWire Bandwidth Comparison:

USB 1.1: 12 Mb per sec
USB 2: 480 Mb per sec
FireWire 400: 400 Mb per sec
FireWire 800: 800 Mb per sec

Firmware You can think of it as a combination of hardware and software. Firmware is computer programming instructions stored on a fixed hardware device such as a ROM chip. It is basically software that cannot be changed, except by changing the hardware. Firmware is often responsible for the behavior of a system when it is first switched on. A typical example would be a ROM program in a microcomputer that loads the full OS from disk or from a network and then passes control to it. In many electronic instruments we use the entire operating system is in firmware. This means that any updates require swapping out chips.

Fixed Point In computing, a representation of a number that has a fixed number of digits after the decimal (or binary or hexadecimal) point. For example, a fixed-point number with four digits after the decimal point could be used to store numbers such as 1.3467, 281243.3234 and 0.1000, but would round 1.0301789 to 1.0302 and 0.0000654 to 0.0001. Fixed-point differs from floating point in that it can exactly represent decimal fractions while still employing the base 2 arithmetic that is efficient in most computers. When floating-point representations in computers use base 2 values, they can't exactly represent most fractions that are easily represented in base 10. For example, one-tenth (.1) and one-hundredth (.01) can be represented only approximately by base-2 floating-point representations, while they can be defined exactly in fixed-point representations by simply storing the data values multiplied by the appropriate power of 10. Very few computer languages include support for fixed-point values, because for most applications floating-point representations are fast enough and accurate enough. Floating-point representations are more flexible because they can handle a wider range of numbers. Floating point is also slightly easier to use, because it doesn't require programmers to specify a number of digits after the decimal point.

Flash Drive These are ultra-compact flash memory data storage devices that have an integral USB interface. They are very small (typically 100mm or about four inches long), ultra lightweight, removable, and rewritable. They are also popularly called "thumb drives" or "jump drives" because of their size. They are capable of holding a lot of data, yet are very reliable due to their lack moving parts. The USB interface is now universal, so flash drives may be supported natively by operating systems as diverse as Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and Unix. There is a small printed circuit board inside these drives, protected by a plastic or metal casing, making them sturdy enough to be attached (depending upon the design) to a keychain or lanyard. The protruding USB connector is protected by a removable cap or by retracting into the body of the device. Flash drives are active only when plugged into a host device (typically a laptop computer or USB hub) which provides the necessary power for the drive to become active.

Floating Point A data encoding technique often used in computers and DSP chips to more easily deal with the complex math required to process large chunks of data. Floating Point data consists of three parts: the sign (makes it a positive or negative value), a mantissa representing a fractional value with magnitude less than one, and an exponent providing the position of the decimal point. Floating point arithmetic allows the representation of very large or very small numbers with fewer bits. For example, the number 186,000 can be represented as 1.86 * 10 to the power of 5. It may not look easier here, but in computer terms the latter expression is much easier to handle. By shifting the point so that the number of significant digits in any quantity does not exceed machine capacity, widely varying quantities can be handled with fewer actual computations. The scale factor may be fixed for each problem, or indicated along with the digits and sign for each quantity. Many computers have a special FPU (Floating Point Unit) or floating point processor in them designed specifically to carry out complex math most efficiently. This type of mathematical efficiency doesn't really help a computer much for word processing or surfing the Internet, but when complex graphics, or audio, or video manipulation are required, the addition of an FPU can greatly speed up the computation time.

Floppy Disk A data storage medium that has been widely used in personal computer systems. \"Floppy\'s\" get their name because the disk itself is not generally rigid, which at the time of their development was a distinction from other storage mediums commonly used (even disk based ones). Often times the disk, which is made of Mylar, is encased in a plastic envelope or case for protection, but with a way to allow access to a drive\'s read/write heads when in use. This case may often be rigid, but so long as the disk inside isn\'t it qualifies as a floppy disk. While convenient and inexpensive, floppies have a limited storage capacity and are slow to read and write data. In recent years they have begun to be phased out in favor of inexpensive hard drives or other media formats such as USB-based flash RAM, etc.

Folder In graphical user interfaces (GUI), such as Windows or Mac OS X, a computer folder is just like a physical folder that sits on your desk. This one, however, sits on your computer's virtual desktop and is used to organize information. It may contain additional folders (which are sometimes called nested folders), documents, or files or a combination of all three. Folders are generally at the top level once you start your computer and access the internal hard drive. Folders may also contain applications or utilities. In DOS and UNIX, folders are called directories.

Format The organization of information according to preset specifications. In digital audio and computer applications it pertains to the dividing of media into marked segments and determining how data will be arranged on it. The process known as formatting prepares a storage medium, usually a disk, to record data. In this process, the drive writes special information onto the recording surface(s) in order to divide it into areas (called blocks) that are ready to accept user data. When you format a disk, the operating system erases all bookkeeping information on the disk, tests the disk to make sure all sectors are reliable, marks any bad sectors, and creates internal address tables that it later uses to locate information. On many systems it is possible to perform either a high level or low level format. A high-level format generally only erases the address tables of a disk, which makes it appear to be blank even though the data hasn't been erased. Hard disks also have a low-level format, which sets certain properties of the disk such as the interleave factor. The low-level format also determines things like what type of disk controller can access the disk and, last but not least, does zero all data.

Formatted Capacity The capacity of a drive after it is formatted for a particular type of computer or computer system. Most hard disks have their capacities rated in absolute terms. In other words, they are rated at the total raw amount of storage space available. However, when a drive is formatted, various types of data are stored on the drive that are required by the formatting device to be able to read and write data to it. Not only does this data take up some space, but space is also lost due to how blocks of available space are allocated, which is different for each type of system. The amount of available space that shows up after being formatted on a specific type of system is the formatted capacity.

FPU Abbreviation for Floating Point Unit. Sometimes called the floating point processor, the FPU is a special chip or a special part of a larger CPU chip that is optimized to do intense number crunching calculations. FPU's are commonly found in computer systems, especially those optimized for heavy graphic or scientific work that requires a lot of intense calculations.

Fragmentation When a computer write or re-writes a file to a hard disk, it doesn't necessarily write the file as one contiguous block of information. For a variety of reasons, it may put different pieces of the file in different places on the drive. More and more files become fragmented as time passes. This results in more wear and tear on the drive mechanism as it jumps around to read the files, and also in a significant slowdown in access times. The solution to this problem is to defragment your drive. Defragmenting (also known as "defragging" or "optimizing") means to re-order the files so that they are each stored as one contiguous chunk of data. A variety of disk utilities will perform this function for you, one of the more popular packages being Norton Utilities. One of the things that fragments a drive fastest is hard disk recording. It is wise to be aware of how fragmented your drive is when recording, as this can seriously affect system performance. Some manufacturers recommend optimizing if your drive has as little as 5% fragmentation...

Freeware This is basically full-featured computer software available for download at no cost to the end user. There are literally thousands of freeware programs and plug-ins that run the gamut from no-frills basic to ultra-sophisticated. Freeware falls into a sort of middle of the road category between commercial software and open source software. Freeware authors tend to provide what they have programmed for the benefit of the computer community as a whole, while at the same time retaining control over the source code and thus preserving what might at some point become a viable retail product. The only true criterion for being considered freeware is that software must be fully functional for an unlimited amount of time at no cost to the user. However, most freeware authors include some way for users to make a monetary donation to keep the software current.

Freeze A function of some DAWs that enables a particular track (or group of tracks in some cases) to be rendered. In fact, in most ways freeze (which does go by other names in some software) is just another term for render, but applies to the unique characteristics of an audio production system. The idea is to be able to reduce the strain on the host computer by changing real-time processes in audio files written to disk. For example, let's say you have a soft synth track being processed by a series of plug-ins. You could freeze the track, which would basically record the whole setup, including the results of the various plug-ins to disk. Now each time you play the part back, your computer is able to easily read a single audio file from disk rather than having to do all the synthesis and processing in real-time. If you change some parameter or make an edit, the track becomes "un-frozen" or unrendered again so it's back to being a live track - and you must freeze it again to rewrite an updated audio file.

Fret Dress A fret dress is a basic one-piece number with a plunging neckline, equally at home for fine dining or a casual night out on the town! Joking aside, a fret dress is a process of leveling frets with some type of flat, straight abrasive surface in order to eliminate string buzzing. When frets become worn, they actually tend to splay outward rather than wear away, which means that they tend to look worse than they actually are. In most cases a fret dress can solve buzz problems without re-fretting the guitar. To describe the process, first, make sure the neck is straight as possible, then a file or woodworkers' level with sandpaper attached to it may used to sand down the tops of the frets, taking only the minimum amount needed to make all fret tops the same height. The frets are re-crowned using a fret crowning file and then polished to a mirror-smooth surface. New guitars can benefit from a fret dress, as some may have uneven frets. Gibson used Plek, a computer-based fret-dressing system invented by a company of the same name. A fret dress can also be used to correct minor defects in a guitar neck that might otherwise be prohibitively expensive to repair.

FSB FSB is an abbreviation for Front Side Bus; it is the internal data channel connecting a computer's processor (CPU), chipset, RAM (all flavors), motherboard busses and AGP socket. FSB is described in terms of its width in bits and it's speed in Mhz. In everyday terms, it is the doorway for the CPU to talk to the system bus, and how fast the bus can talk to other computer components. In architectures where the processor interacts directly with main memory, the definition of a singular front side bus is less clear. In such a case you would generally specify two FSB speeds, one for the connection to main memory and one for the connection to the processor chipset.

FSF (Free Software Foundation) The Free Software Foundation (FSF), established in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' rights to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. In this case, the concept of free software is a matter of liberty not price. Think of "free" as in "free speech." The FSF promotes the development and use of free software, particularly the GNU operating system, used widely in its GNU/Linux variant. The commencement of the GNU project in 1984, with its goal to give users freedom, required the establishment of new distribution terms that would prevent the project being turned into proprietary software. The method used was Copyleft and the resulting license was called the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL). Today the GNU GPL is the most widely used Free Software license, and as its author, the FSF works to help the wider community use and comprehend it.

FTP Short for File Transfer Protocol, FTP is the protocol used on the Internet for exchanging files. FTP is a client-server protocol that allows a user on one computer to transfer files to and from another computer over a TCP/IP network. FTP is most commonly used, however, to allow potentially large numbers of users to download a file or files from a server using the Internet or to upload a file to a server (e.g., uploading a Web page file to a server).

Full Duplex Full Duplex is a term that comes to us from the telecommunication industry. It is the ability of a line or channel to simultaneously transmit in both directions. In the music industry, we most commonly see this term applied to computer sound cards. A "Full Duplex" audio card is able to both record and playback at the same time - a handy feature if you are performing overdubs!

Gear Acquisition Syndrome Do we really have to give you the definition of this one? Try using it in a sentence: "Oh my, it appears that (fill in your name here) has come down with a bad case of Gear Acquisition Syndrome!" Often referred to by its acronym, GAS (more properly G.A.S.), it describes what typically happens to many musicians once they commit to a life of music. It often starts with the purchase of one item, such as an electric guitar. That, of course, leads to the purchase of a guitar amplifier, a wah pedal, a series of stompboxes, and then down the road perhaps a multitrack recorder, a mixing console, microphones, headphones, a computer, and all manner of software and plug-ins. Each musician is hit to various degrees by this very real condition. One may see a fabulous Les Paul BFG in the Sweetwater Guitar Gallery and not be able to sleep, eat, or think properly until he or she calls to make sure that instrument is still available. Typically, the musician will then purchase the instrument and begin a long road that truly has no end, as advances in music technology almost guarantee that eventually, no matter how much gear a musician has, he or she will eventually discover there is something more that is required - an acoustic guitar, for example, for playing a glossy background rhythm part on a recording. At present, although research continues at a rather slow pace, there is no known cure for GAS. If there were, NAMM would only take place every three or four years. It's worth noting that Sweetwater employees are not immune to this somewhat contagious condition. In fact, it's often the reason they interview for a job here before discovering it's the best place on the planet to work, particularly if you have a bad case of gear acquisition syndrome.

Genlock Technically, the process of sync generator locking. The term is commonly used in the video discipline to the synchronization of video signals from one device with those of another video source. This is required when mixing signals together, as in overlaying multiple images or computer graphics on an image from a camera, VCR or videodisc player to prevent screen flicker or rolling. Genlock is usually performed by introducing a composite video signal from a synchronizer - a master source (see WFTD Black Burst) - to the subject, or slave, sync generator. Then the slave is set to lock up to, or follow, the master so that both sync generators are running at the same frequency and phase.

GHz, Gigahertz The gigahertz, abbreviated GHz, is a unit of alternating current (AC) or electromagnetic (EM) wave frequency equal to one thousand million hertz (1,000,000,000 Hz). The gigahertz is used as an indicator of the frequency of ultra-high-frequency (UHF) and microwave EM signals and also, in some computers, to express microprocessor clock speed. An EM signal having a frequency of 1 GHz has a wavelength of 300 millimeters, or a little less than a foot. An EM signal of 100 GHz has a wavelength of 3 millimeters, which is roughly 1/8 of an inch. Some radio transmissions are made at frequencies up to hundreds of gigahertz. Personal computer clock speeds are increasing month by month as the technology advances, and reached the 1 GHz point in March of 2000, with a processor from AMD closely followed by a 1 GHz Pentium 3 from Intel. Other commonly used units of frequency are the kHz, equal to 1,000 Hz or 0.000001 GHz, and the MHz, equal to 1,000,000 Hz or 0.001 GHz.

Gig Short for gigabyte, which is one billion bytes as determined by the prefix 'gig,' meaning one billion, in front of 'byte.' To be more thorough, the quantifier 'gig' can specify different exact values depending upon context. For example, when working with things that typically come in standard units of 10 like money or distances it is accepted as meaning 1000 to the power of 3 (one billion). However, when working in things that tend to come in multiples of 2 like computer bytes it is thought of as 2 to the power of 30 (or 1024 to the power of 3), which is precisely 1,073,741,824 - a little over a billion, but who's counting?

Gig also refers to a performance by a musician or group of musicians, especially in modern or pop music.

Gigabit Gigabit Ethernet, primarily used in computer networks, supports a maximum data rate of 1000 Mbps. At one time, it was believed that these speeds required fiber optic, but Gigabit Ethernet has now successfully been implemented on CAT5 cable (& CAT 6 cable). Currently available on various computers including the Apple Macintosh, Gigabit is also backward compatible for use on slower networks as well (such as 100-Base T or 10-Base T). While Gigabit has yet to take a market hold as the front running network delivery protocol, it works wonders on high bandwidth information such as digital audio and video.

Gigaflop Not a new word, but one that many people are just now beginning to hear for the first time due to recent advances in computer technology. The gigaflop is a measure of speed used in computers. One gigaflop equals one billion floating-point operations per second. The word comes from giga (often pronounced jiga), which is a prefix meaning billion; and flop, which is a clever abbreviation for FLOating Point.

GigaFLOPS When dealing with computers, FLOPS stands for Floating point Operations Per Second, a standard used to measure a computer's performance. A gigaFLOPS essentially means that a computer is capable of performing 10,000,000,000 (ten billion) operations per second.

Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) The microprocessor of a graphics card (or graphics accelerator) for a computer or game console. Computer graphics involve complex algorithms that must be translated at very high speeds, and GPUs are very efficient at manipulating and displaying these graphics. Their highly parallel structure makes them more effective than typical CPUs for this purpose. A modern GPU implements a number of graphics "primitive" operations — such as simple character instructions - in a way that makes running them much faster than drawing directly to the screen with the host CPU. Common operations for early 2D computer graphics included drawing rectangles, triangles, circles and arcs. Modern GPUs also have support for 3D computer graphics, and typically include digital video-related functions as well.

GUI Acronym for Graphic (or Graphical) User Interface. This term loosely applies to any system in which control, navigation, or commands are issued through a series of icons, pictures, or other graphic elements that represent specific parts or functions of that system. The purpose is to provide a user interface that is simple and intuitive to use. The most well known example is the Macintosh computer, which was the first commercially available home computing system with a true GUI OS built right in. Nowadays many systems have GUI's, including some synthesizers and effects processors.

Hamming Code A type of error-correction scheme named for its inventor, Richard Hamming, who worked at Bell Labs in the 1940s on the Model V relay-based computer. He developed his error-correction ideas in 1949 and first published them in 1950. Hamming codes are commonly used in telecommunications and in computer RAM. They are binary-linear codes that use seven bits to represent four bits of data; the additional three bits are for parity checking. Hamming codes can detect two errors, but can only fix a single error.

Hard Drive As used with a computer, a hard drive is the mechanism that controls the positioning, reading, and writing of the hard disk, which provides the largest amount of data storage for the computer. Although the hard drive (sometimes referred to as the "hard disk drive") and the hard disk are not the same thing, they are packaged as a unit, and so either term is sometimes used to refer to the whole unit. While there are several interface standards for passing data between a hard disk and a computer, the most common are IDE and SCSI.

Harmonic Distortion Since no electronic device is perfectly linear (meaning the output exactly equals the input) harmonic distortion is a fact of life in all audio components. Most audio signals have harmonics associated with them (a perfect sine wave is one notable exception), and that is what gives them their characteristic sound. An oboe sounds different from a violin mostly because of the harmonic series produced as part of their distinct sounds. The corresponding difference in the shape of their respective waveforms is easily distinguished when viewed on an oscilloscope or a computer audio editing program. Harmonic distortion is the result of a device subtly, or not so subtly, changing the shape of the waveform which alters the relative levels of various harmonics associated with that sound. The more harmonic distortion there is the more the sound will begin to take on the quality we all know and love that we call "distorted".


In spec land you will often see the specification for THD which stands for Total Harmonic Distortion. This is a rating given to most gear for the overall percentage of harmonic distortion added to the signal passing through the device while operating at (presumably) nominal levels. There are dozens of ways to measure this spec that can skew the results so keep that in mind when comparing product literature.

HD DVD Abbreviation for High Density Digital Versatile Disc. A digital optical media format that is being developed as a standard for high-definition DVD. HD DVD is similar to the competing Blu-ray Disc, which also uses the same CD-sized optical media and 405nm-wavelength blue laser. HD DVD is promoted by Toshiba, NEC, Sanyo, Microsoft, and Intel, and is backed by New Line Cinema, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios, and Warner Bros. HD DVD has a single-layer capacity of 15GB and a dual-layer capacity of 30GB. Toshiba has announced a triple-layer disc is in development, which would offer 45GB of storage. This is smaller than the competing Blu-ray disc, which supports 25GB for one layer and 50GB for two, but HD DVD proponents point out that multi-layer Blu-ray discs are still in development. The surface layer of an HD DVD disc is 0.6 mm thick, the same as DVD but thicker than the Blu-ray Disc's 0.1 mm layer. HD DVD media promises to cost less to manufacture than Blu-ray, as HD DVD only requires modification of existing DVD disc production lines. Both formats will be backward compatible with DVDs and both employ MPEG-2 as their primary video compression techniques. One advantage HD DVD has is its support by the DVD Forum, a group of hardware and media manufacturers that sets specifications and standards for DVD-based content. Blu-ray was developed outside of the DVD Forum, and was never submitted to the forum for consideration. In April 2005, Apple Computer, a member of the DVD Forum, updated DVD Studio Pro to support authoring HD content. DVD Studio Pro allows for the burning of HD DVD content to DVDs, and HD DVD media will be supported as burners become available.

Header In computers and digital audio a header is a unit of information that precedes a data object. In file management, for example, a header is a region at the beginning of each file where bookkeeping information is kept. The header may contain the date the file was created, the date it was last updated, the file's size, the sample rate, bit depth, whether it's stereo or mono, or any other information that may be important to the system. The header can generally only be accessed by the operating system or by specialized programs and usually their format and content conforms to some standard. For example, one of the major differences between S/PDIF and AES/EBU digital audio signals is the information contained in their headers.

Hexadecimal Hexadecimal, or Hex for short, is a numbering system based on counts of 16 - as opposed to decimal (the system most of us are most familiar with), which is based on counts of 10, or binary, which is based on counts of 2 (ones and zeros). The Hex characters range from 0 through F in the following order: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 8, A, B, C, D, E, F, where A represents our decimal "10," B "11," and so on.

The hexadecimal numbering system is commonly used as a handy way to describe computer data because it can represent every byte as a simple two digit value. For example, the binary numbers (or byte) 01101001 can be quickly seen in hex as 5D (in decimal this value would be 105). "Quickly" in the above context is a relative term; it does take a little practice to be able to "see" it. In order to be able to recognize when hex numbers are written they are usually accompanied by the dollar sign ($) or the letter "H" (or small "h") immediately before or after. So the hex number above might be written $5D. MIDI is a data protocol that relies heavily on hex values for user input. Though these days most of the nuts and bolts of MIDI are well hidden from users, you will still see some hex values in many MIDI implementation charts that accompany most MIDI gear, and in some of the deeper MIDI sequencing programs.

HFS (& HFS+) Abbreviation for Hierarchical File System as is used by the Macintosh computer system for hard disk data organization. HFS has been used by the Macintosh since about 1986 and is still in widespread use today. Recently Apple has introduced an updated architecture they are calling HFS+. HFS+ addresses a variety of shortcomings in the old HFS, including the ability to handle files over 2 gig in size, allowing names up to 255 characters long, using more of the available hard disk space and packing the data more tightly on the drive, thus conserving space.

High Sierra An early standard for CD ROM data based on the Yellow Book disc format. High Sierra was defined by a group of 12 manufacturers dubbed the High Sierra Group back in 1985. The group included Apple, Microsoft, Sony, Phillips, etc. The idea was to provide a single CD ROM format that could be read by Macintosh, DOS, Unix, and VMS computers. The ISO 9660 format often used today is based on a modified version of the High Sierra format.

Host There are a number of different meanings for this term. Even when narrowed down to computers and technology there are still a few different meanings that are subtly different depending upon the context. Generally it refers to a device or program that provides services to other devices or programs. In some computing environments a host is a (presumably large and powerful) mainframe computer or server that has clients or terminals attached to it, and provides for their computing needs accordingly. A computer configured to serve web pages or other information to users (clients) is known as a host. Services that provide web serving capabilities are known as hosting services. A computer connected to a network with full two-way access to the Internet can be known as a host. Such a computer is given a "host" number that, together with the network number, forms its unique IP address.

Host Based Refers to DAW systems that rely mostly upon the host processor (CPU) of the machine they reside in to provide their processing power. In the years before computers were able to do much more than provide a graphics platform for digital audio work a lot of proprietary hardware was required. Early systems would stand on their own and just use the computer as the user interface. As computing power rose over the 1990's, manufacturers began to design systems to take advantage of the additional capabilities to the point where now it is common to have an entire virtual studio inside of a typical desktop PC, complete with mixing, plug-in processors and synthesizers, and many tracks of recording just by running software. These systems are known as "host based," which means they rely on the host CPU (and its related components) to do all the dirty work as dictated by the software. The only hardware involved is usually some kind of computer card and/or external box providing analog and digital connectivity to the outside world. Host based systems do still have to compromise in some areas of performance, but as computer technology continues to advance the differences between them and their dedicated hardware counterparts continues to blur.

Hub In computing a hub is a device where several devices are connected together, a place of convergence where data arrives from one or more directions and is forwarded out in one or more other directions. This may be many computers on a network, or many devices to one computer. A passive hub serves simply as a conduit for the data, enabling it to go from one device (or segment) to another. So-called intelligent hubs include additional features that enable an administrator to monitor the traffic passing through the hub and to configure each port in the hub. Intelligent hubs are also called manageable hubs. A third type of hub, called a switching hub, actually reads the destination address of each packet and then forwards the packet to the correct port.

HyperText A user interface system for displaying documents which, according to an early definition, "branch or perform on request." The most frequently discussed form of hypertext document contains automated cross-references to other documents called "hyperlinks." Selecting a hyperlink causes a computer to display the linked document. This is one of the foundations of the World Wide Web. The point of hypertext is to deal with the problem of information overload. In print reference works (dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc.), cross references consisting of setting a term in small capital letters, were employed as an indication that an entry or article existed for that term within the same reference work. However, that system made for a slow research process with frequent interruptions to locate the reference. Computer-based hyperlinks created the opportunity to display such cross references quickly with minimal interruptions. A hyperlink can lead to additional text, an image, chart, or graph, or an entirely different website. Ted Nelson coined the word "hypertext" in 1965 and helped develop the Hypertext Editing System in 1968 at Brown University.

I/O Abbreviation for Input/Output. Strictly speaking any device that does anything has input and output. A seesaw, for example, utilizes the energy from children's legs (the input) to rock back and forth (the output) on a fulcrum. But the term is mostly used in electronics, especially as it pertains to computers or any kind of logic functions, but also with audio and video equipment. Computers have all sorts of I/O, from serial ports, to SCSI, to monitor and keyboard ports. Audio and video equipment is obviously all designed with the ability to get signals in and out as well. These inputs and outputs, when spoken about collectively, are sometimes called I/O for short.

IAC Abbreviation for Inter Application Communication or Channel, depending upon whom you talk to. Either way the purpose is the same. IAC is a Mac driver that was developed years ago and included as part of OMS to provide a way to link timing and other information between two different programs running on the same computer. It has most commonly been used to link a MIDI sequencing program and an audio recording program together to so they run in sync on one computer. It does this by providing a selectable software conduit for MTC, MIDI Clock, or other timing and location information to pass between the two pieces of software. Once enabled timing and location information can be sent from one program to another causing them to locate, start, and play in sync.

Icon In the computer world, icons are graphic symbols that appear on the virtual desktop. Each one represents a specific program, disk, file, or document. In general, the icons representing programs (applications) have the most sophisticated designs.

iLok A type of hardware dongle developed by the PACE copy protection people and currently used by several software manufacturers to ensure only authorized (paying) users are able to run their software. The iLok plugs into the USB port of a computer just as many dongles do. The unique feature of iLok is that the key is purchased separately and can be programmed to work with many different products. This means the user doesn't have to end up hanging several different dongles off of a computer, which often results in conflicts and other erratic behavior of the system.

Image File An image file is used to store an exact replica of a specific set of data on some type of disk drive or in computer RAM. For example: One might keep an "image" of a particular floppy disk stored on a hard drive so it can be retrieved at a later date. The procedure for retrieval usually involves running some software that recreates the image of the original floppy disk on a new disk. Image files are also frequently used with CD writers to prepare data to be written to a CD. In this case all of the desired files are copied into an "image" of the CD that is on a hard drive. Once ready, this image can quickly be written to the recordable CD. Sometimes this procedure is required in order to be able to write a suitable CD, but this will vary upon the software and hardware being used.

iMIDI iMIDI is a freeware application from Granted Software (currently at beta version 0.2b) that runs in the background on OS 10.2 or higher, and allows for virtual connection between two computers on an Ethernet network. (iMIDI uses TCP/IP to transmit MIDI information between networked computers.) Using a "local loopback" feature, iMIDI also supports running a MIDI program such as Finale or Sibelius connected to a slave program such as Reason as a source for sounds and samples, all on one computer. In that regard, it's like IAC, and somewhat similar to ReWire, though it carries MIDI information only, not audio.

In The Box A term used to refer to music or audio production that takes place entirely - or as entirely as possible - within a computer-based DAW. "In the box" generally refers to mixing the audio in the DAW, using plug-ins for processing rather than going outside the computer to external analog or digital hardware processors.

In The Box Term used to describe a track or project that has been processed and mixed a project entirely within a computer using a DAW and plug-in, without using external hardware processing or summing/mixing gear.

Installer Most applications and plug-in bundles today come on a disc, often in a compressed form. Most come with a specialized software utility called an installer, which does exactly what the name suggests: It helps walk the user through the installation process and often the process of registration and authorization, as well. All the relevant data is uncompressed (if required) and then placed exactly where it needs to be in order for the program or plug-in to operate properly. Often, after installation and registration, the computer must be restarted in order for the operating system to read and recognize the new software.

Instantiate Comes from the word "instance." An instance is a particular realization of some abstraction or template such as a class of objects or a computer process. To instantiate is to create such an instance by, for example, defining one particular variation of object within a class, giving it a name, and locating it in some physical place. In DAW parlance, instantiate has become the $3 word for enabling plug-ins within a session. For example, when you bring up a reverb in your session it is common to say you have instantiated your reverb plug-in.

Inter-Application MIDI Many modern MIDI based software applications have the ability to communicate MIDI data with each other inside the computer. Generally this takes the form of some type of synchronization information such as MIDI clock, MTC, or actual MIDI performance data. The idea is to allow two programs that may or may not be independent applications to directly communicate necessary MIDI data with each other without having to route that data out of the computer's MIDI interface and then right back in on another port. Inter-Application MIDI has sort of taken over where the IAC left off a few years ago, but it is essentially the same technology.

Interface This term is used in a number of different contexts in the world of computers, audio and video production. In general, an interface is a boundary across which two systems communicate. It might be a hardware connector used to link two or more other devices, or it might be a software convention used to allow communication between two systems. The MIDI Interface is an example that uses both of these components. Remember that MIDI is an acronym for "Musical Instrument Digital Interface." The MIDI specification defines both the hardware connections - the now-familiar 5-pin DIN connector, plus the circuitry inside a MIDI device, and the software code that provides a common language all MIDI devices understand. With the arrival of computer-based audio recording, interfaces were developed to transmit audio (after it had undergone an A/D conversion) to the computer hardware and software. Essentially these interfaces serve to encode digital audio data into a communication protocol (for example, SCSI, USB, FireWire or proprietary formats) for transmission to a computer and translate it at that end. A similar approach is involved when using external storage devices such as FireWire hard drives. Technically speaking, there is no such thing as a "FireWire drive." FireWire is simply the data transmission protocol; most drives used in this context are ATA or SATA devices. They require a two-way interface that translates incoming data from the FireWire cable into a format the ATA drive can handle when writing to disk, and re-translates data read from the drive to be transmitted back over the FireWire cable. Last but not least, the term interface is used to define the connection that allows interaction between hardware or software and a human user. The GUI, or graphic user interface, is a visual representation of the hardware or software operating system that makes operation easier (at least in most cases!). Even the small LCD or LED displays on synth modules or effects processors are examples of user interfaces.

Internet The Internet (most often written using a capital "i" because it is a proper noun) is a publicly accessible series of interconnected computer networks that are capable of transmitting digital data via packet switching, based on the Internet Protocal standard or IP. Quite often people make the mistake of using the terms World Wide Web and Internet interchangeably, but they are not synonymous. What's the difference? As stated, the Internet is a series of interconnected computer networks that are physically linked by either copper wire, fiber-optic cable, or more recently, wireless connection. Meanwhile the Web (also capitalized) is more accurately a series of interconnected documents and other resources that are linked together by URLs or hyperlinks. Ergo, the World Wide Web is accessible as a service of the Internet, as well as e-mail, file sharing, streaming media, and even online gaming. How the Internet came into existence is a long, convoluted story, but its commercialization and the emergence of privately owned Internet Service Providers (ISPs) beginning in the late 1980s has had a huge impact on both human culture and commerce and from all indications the changes it has brought will only continue.

Interrupt/Interrupt Request (IRQ) A temporary suspension of a process. In PC computers interrupts are used to suspend one activity in order to give priority to another more important activity. Interrupt signals, also known as Interrupt Requests (IRQ) are identifiable by a unique number and can have varying levels of priority, but in general they all cause the OS to stop what it is doing and decide what to do next. They can come from software or hardware devices. Many things you do on a regular basis, such as pressing a key on your keyboard or clicking your mouse generate an interrupt that causes the computer to take some action based on how it is programmed to handle that particular interrupt. MIDI and other music related hardware connected to PC computers generally need to have unique IRQ identities in order for communication between the computer and the hardware to take place properly. To that end there are methods for choosing the ID on most hardware that is to be connected to a PC. A similar analogy would be SCSI devices, where each one has to have a unique ID number. PC computers have routines known as Interrupt Handlers and Interrupt Schedulers that enable them to manage the regular flow of I/O for the system and keep everything running smoothly and on time.

ISA Abbreviation for Industry Standard Architecture. A PC computer expansion bus used for modems, video displays, speakers, and other peripherals. PCs with ISA architecture may have some 8-bit and some16-bit expansion slots, but the bus itself is capable of 16-bit data.

ISO 9660 A standard file naming system for CD-ROM media, published by the International Organization for Standardization. It provides cross-platform support for many different computer operating systems such as Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, and systems that follow the Unix specification, so that data may be exchanged. Almost all computers - and most hardware synths and samplers - with CD-ROM drives can read files from an ISO 9660-compliant CD-ROM. The ISO 9660 specification has been around for many years. It was originally issued in 1988, developed by an industry group named High Sierra. There are different levels to the standard. Level 1 restricts file names to eight characters with a 3-character extension (the "XXXXXXXX.XXX" format commonly used since the days of DOS). Level 1 also specifies the use of upper-case letters, numbers, and underscore as the only accepted characters. Level 2 allows file names to be up to 31 characters long. Level 3 files can be fragmented (mainly to allow packet writing, or track-at-once CD recording). The restrictions on file name length have been seen by many as a serious limitation of the ISO 9660 system. Many CD authoring applications attempt to work around this by truncating filenames automatically, but risk "breaking" applications that rely on a specific file structure.

Java To many audio engineers Java means coffee, a drink to get you started in the morning. But to computer savvy people Java is a computer language. Specifically a platform-neutral language that allows developers to write programs (often called "applets") that can run on practically any computer connected to the Internet. In fact, as you've surfed the Web, you've almost certainly been running Java applets. They're incorporated into many of the pages you visit on your virtual journeys, and the software to run those applets is not only part of the Mac OS but is designed to work seamlessly with browsers that support it. Right now, there are thousands of Java applets in use around the world. To see how industries from aerospace to entertainment to real estate to utilities have been employing Java, you can visit the Java Web site.

Journaling Journaling is a process designed to protect the file system against power outages or hardware failures, reducing the need for disk repairs. Journaling is supposed to protect the integrity of the disk, keeping it from falling into an inconsistent state by logging actions as they occur. This allows the computer to replay the information in its log and complete the action when system power is restored. Journaling is especially helpful for servers, maximizing the uptime and speeding up repairs during a system restart. A journaled disk has a continuous record of changes made to the files, providing a known safe-spot when the server reboots. Journaling dramatically speeds up the process of getting a server and file system back online since the OS can just replay the most recent actions and have the system up to date in a matter of seconds, resuming actions that were interrupted by the hardware or power failure. However, with high-bandwidth applications like audio and video production, journaling may slow down access to the data, resulting in system errors, and it may be advisable to disable journaling on audio or video drives.

Joystick For anyone who plays video or computer games a joystick is a common household word. In audio and music production it is a controlling device that can move along two different axes simultaneously. Similar in concept and purpose to a modulation wheel (or other continuous controller) and a fader or pan pot, a joystick divides one input signal among four output channels. Some keyboards have had joysticks instead of separate modulation and pitch bend wheels (or sliders) to allow the user access to both controllers simultaneously via one mechanical interface. In modern audio production the joystick is starting to become a replacement for the pan pot. This is because the proper positioning of sounds in a 5.1 mix (for example) requires more than just left to right pan positioning. It requires, at minimum, a combination of left/right and front/rear positioning, which is most easily done with a joystick. Most software dealing with surround sound will offer some type of graphical interface based on the two axes provided by a typical joystick. This usually takes the form of a virtual grid where each sound can be positioned anywhere along either axis.

Jump Drive/Thumb Drive The name given to small easily transported devices (approximately the size of your thumb, hence the nickname) that utilize flash memory for data storage. Jump drives benefit from being plug-and-play, as the computer recognizes the drive nearly instantly and can access the drive without configuring or installing. Thumb drives are currently available in sizes ranging from 8MB to 2GB.

Kernel Modern computer operating systems are typically built in layers, with each layer adding new capabilities, such as disk access techniques or a graphical user interface (GUI). But the essential layer, the foundation on which the rest of the operating system rests, is typically called a kernel. In general, the kernel provides low-level services, such as memory management, basic hardware interaction and security.

Key Command A key, or combination of keys, that can be pressed on a computer's QWERTY keyboard, that takes the place of making a selection or selecting a menu item with a mouse. An example would be pressing Command-S on a Mac's keyboard instead of selecting "Save" from a program's menu.

Keyboard It's hard to believe we haven't covered this one before. Essentially, the term refers to the group of black and white keys on an acoustic or electric piano, harpsichord or organ, or synthesizer or other electronic instrument. with the white notes typically representing "natural" tones, while the black keys represent sharps and flats, although some historical instruments occasionally reversed this, with black keys for the natural tones. Historically, keyboards were often referred to as manuals, from the German word manualiter, which roughly translates to "playing with the hands." Today a keyboard may also refer to the part of a computer where data is entered alphanumerically. (See also "Keybed.")

kilo (lower-case) versus Kilo (upper-case)
  • kilo - A standard prefix (abbreviated "k") representing 1000. For example, a 4 kiloHertz (kHz) sine wave has a frequency of 4,000 Hertz.
  • Kilo - A standard prefix generally used in reference to computer equipment. Abbreviated "K", it was developed to represent the binary value of 2 to the 10th power (1024). Thus, 8 Kilobytes (Kb) of memory is 8 times 1024, or 8,192 bytes. Tecnically the upper case K represents the prefix Kibi (not Kilo), which is a more specific term that relates to these computer oriented values (2 to the 10th power, etc.), though it isn't commonly used.

LAN Abbreviation for Local Area Network. A LAN is a group of computers and associated devices that share a common communication line with each other. A LAN may be as small as one or two computers networked together in a home, or as large as thousands in a large organization. Typical LAN\'s, as they are deployed in commercial installations, involve a server that provides access to resources for various clients or terminals around the facility. LAN\'s are sometimes connected to a WAN (Wide Area Network, which is usually, but not necessarily the Internet) through a switch or some hardware that regulates the flow of data in and out of a facility.

Launch To "start" or "open" a computer application; to make the application active so you can use it.

Librarian In music production a librarian is software whose function is to organize and store program information for MIDI instruments and processors. Librarians can store thousands of different sets of patch data for each device in a given system. In other words, they store and organize the actual computer data the device uses to set itself up to make the various sounds it can make - the parameter data if you will. They sometimes employ databases so patches may be searched on key words or attributes of the sound. They can upload or download the data to and from instruments connected via MIDI by using strings of system exclusive commands. This makes it very easy to change the entire contents of program memory of a given device for each session or job needing to be done.

Linux A trademark for an open-source version of the UNIX OS. Originally written from scratch with no proprietary code by Finnish programmer Linus Torvalds and a worldwide assortment of computer geeks, Linux is now probably the most famous example of free software and of open-source development. The name Linux strictly refers only to the Linux kernel, but it is commonly used to describe entire operating systems that are based on the Linux kernel combined with additional libraries and development tools. Linux distributions typically bundle large quantities of software with the core system. The kernel was originally developed for Intel 386 microprocessors but now supports a variety of computer architectures. There is a great deal of commercial support for and use of Linux, both by hardware giants such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Apple and numerous smaller network and integration specialists. Linux is overtaking many proprietary versions of UNIX. It is deployed in applications ranging from personal computers to supercomputers and embedded systems such as mobile phones and personal video recorders. Proponents attribute this success to its vendor independence, low cost of implementation, security, and reliability.

Log / Logging In video (and audio to an extent) applications logging is a process of sifting through raw footage with the intent to capture part of it to be edited and used in production. When logging is done with computer DAW type systems the user generally selects specified regions of tape - usually referred to by time code values - which are accumulated in a capture log. Later the process is capturing or sampling the video/audio material is semi-automated. The computer will operate the tape machine (or whatever type of machine is being used to play the raw recordings), causing it to locate the desired locations on tape (disc, etc.), and then have it play while the material is captured. Often systems will allow various types of notes and annotations to accompany the log, which is then linked to the captured material.

Lossless Audio Compression A data compression procedure that reduces the size of (encodes) digital audio files without sacrificing any audio data, or fidelity, when the files are expanded (decoded) for playback. The goal of all data compression is to reduce file size. Originally the value of this was conservation of hard drive space. If you've used WinZip or Stuffit you've already compressed and uncompressed files. But in recent years music distribution over the Internet has made data compression very important: small files can be transferred much more quickly and easily than large files. Word processor documents and spreadsheets are relatively easy to compress; some codecs use simple substitution of a single character or symbol to represent a common word or phrase (for example, the word "The" might encoded as "^" which is a 2/3reduction in size). Typical audio files such as AIFF or WAV, though, are much more difficult to encode and decode. First of all, each bit of audio data represents some element of the original sound's timbre, frequency or amplitude. It can't easily be reduced using a simple replacement scheme. Second, audio files must be decoded and played in real time - something that's not required of a compressed document, so the codec must be able to act quickly on the data as it streams through. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Internet users and consumers satisfied themselves with a number of so-called "lossy" codecs such as MP3 and AAC, which use sophisticated algorithms to discard selected bits contained in the original audio that have a minimal impact on the overall sound. Some audio professionals have been confused and frustrated by the widespread acceptance of these formats because they do deliver lower-quality frequency response and dynamic range than the typical CD. The goal has been to produce algorithms to mathematically reduce audio data in a way that doesn't lose any of the information. Now several such ("lossless") audio codecs do exist. They have achieved compression rates of up to 50% and can perform well on a number of hardware devices and computer software. Lossless audio compression uses a combination of mathematical strategies to accomplish its goal. Many begin by using "prediction," a somewhat challenging concept: if the values of future audio samples can be predicted, then it is only necessary to transmit the rules of prediction along with the difference between the estimated and actual signals. In other words, the codec analyzes the incoming data, guesses what the following data might be, then stores only the portions in which the "real" signal differs from the "predicted" signal. Lossless codecs also use a combination of finite impulse response (FIR) and infinite impulse response (IIR) filters to compensate for the wide dynamic range of musical material (MP3 and other "lossy" codecs use FIR filters, which, in common implementations, don't capture dynamic shifts at high frequencies, which is one element of their "squashed" sound). Finally, lossless codecs transmit signal at a variable transfer rate, thus making sure that full-bandwidth signal passes while low-bandwidth material doesn't clog the stream with a bunch of zeros. Extensive buffering (up to 75ms) helps pass this data to the playback device. In addition, most codecs employ a means of collecting audio data that is similar on multiple tracks - room ambience or cymbal overtones, for example - and compacting them into one data stream. This is called "Entropy coding," a term you don't really need to remember. Among several lossless audio codecs are: Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC), which is a popular open source code that groups like Phish and Metallica use to post audio files on their websites; Monkey's Audio, also popular but Windows-exclusive and dependent upon CPU speed to deliver fast decoding; Meridian Lossless Packing, the officially supported codec for DVD-Audio by the DVD Study Group; WavPack, which uniquely can generate a "lossy" file (like an MP3) plus a "correction" file that restores the lost data. In spring 2004, Apple entered the scene with Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC), which is supported by iTunes version 4.5 and offers iPod users the ability to listen to tracks that have the fidelity of uncompressed audio but require a little more than half the storage space.

LPT Abbreviation for Line Print Terminal. On a personal computer this is the usual designation for a parallel port connection to a printer or other device such as a scanner or camera. LPT connections are numbered LPT1, LPT2, LPT3, etc.; most computers have at least one. More parallel ports can be added by installing parallel port adapter cards. Parallel computer connections traditionally have used the Centronics parallel interface for printer communication. A newer standard called EPP/ECP supports the older interface while providing faster communication for a range of devices, including scanners and video cameras.

Machine Room A room dedicated for the housing of mechanical devices, normally for the purpose of isolating them from areas where humans work. This may be due to noise or heat, or other environmental considerations. As it applies to audio studios, this is the room where you might place tape machines, computers, decks and other devices that produce audible machine noise. By placing these devices in a space other than your recording and mixing environment, you are freeing your creative space from the noise that accompanies them — thus allowing focused recordings and mixing. You can also provide separate, and more suitable, ventilation for them without disturbing the main environment. Machine Rooms are found in forms such as expensively finished rooms in professional studios, bedroom closets in home studios and everything in between.

Macro In computer programming, a new command created by combining a number of existing ones. For example, a word processing macro might create a letterhead or fax cover sheet, and insert words, fonts, and logos with a single keystroke or mouse click. Macros are also useful to automate computer communications - for example, users can write a macro to ask their computer to dial an Internet Service Provider (ISP), retrieve e-mail and USENET articles, and then disconnect. In digital audio, MIDI and video applications the options are equally open ended and far reaching. A macro key on the keyboard combines the effects of pressing several individual keys.

Mapping In music terms, mapping refers to the process of placing individual samples across a keyboard, matched to their original pitches. In the early days of sampling, because of memory restrictions, one sample had to cover two or three notes via transposition. As an example, a sample of middle C might have to transpose up and down by a semitone or two (and sometimes even more). Today, computer-based samples are almost always limited to a specific pitch, so that now middle C would have its own dedicated sample, as would neighboring notes. Sound designers from the 1980s and '90s will tell you how time-consuming it was to map specific samples in intervals that would transpose well and thus produce an acceptable representation of a particular acoustic or electric instrument.

Marker Depending on context, a marker takes on different meanings. When it comes to editing in DAW software, having markers can be lifesaving. Quite simple, a marker is, as the name implies, an icon used to visually identify a memory location in a sequence. When creating markers, a dialog box opens allowing them to be named as well. (e.g., Verse 1, Verse 2 Chorus 3, and etc.) Along with providing visual reference, markers serve another very useful function. DAW software such as Pro Tools, Digital Performer, and Logic Pro use markers to navigate between locations in a composition. For example, in a song, you would place markers at the beginning of verse, chorus, and bridge. By clicking on the marker icon (either displayed in a separate window, or on the sequence's time line), the wiper will move instantaneously to the marker's location. This is extremely useful, if for example, you wish to insert an event that occurs in each of the choruses. You can use the markers to jump to each location as needed. Since computer monitor screens only have so much real estate, markers come in particularly handy with longer forms such as orchestral compositions. They can be used to mark rehearsal numbers in the score as well as provide a means of navigating through the various movements that would otherwise require in inordinate amount of scrolling.

MAS (Motu Audio System) A plug-in engine developed by MOTU for use with their DAW software (Digital Performer), offering real time audio effects use and manipulation in a manner similar to the use of auxiliary sends on an outboard mixer. However, instead of using external processing, the DSP is done by the host computer and never leaves the digital domain. Supporting Macs only, MAS isn't interchangeable with any of the other plug-in engines and will only work with MAS-enabled software. MOTU also has a third-party developer program for MAS, which as a plug-in platform has developed a niche for Mac/MOTU users.

Max/MSP A visually oriented programming environment for audio and multimedia production. Max was conceived in 1986 as a project for producing interactive music at IRCAM in Paris. The original author was Miller Puckette. Max was offered commercially from Opcode Systems in 1991, and in 2000 Cycling ’74 became the publisher. Since that time, Max has expanded to include audio data (with the introduction of MSP, a collection of audio objects) and image/matrix data (with the introduction of Jitter). Max allows you to create your own software using a visual toolkit of objects, and connect them together with virtual patch cords. The basic environment that includes MIDI, control, user interface, and timing objects is called “Max.” The audio processing tools comprise the companion software, MSP. Max is based on the C programming language, but is easy to use for those familiar with almost any other programming language, or even for those who have never programmed before. Max was named in honor of synthesis pioneer Max Mathews, who first demonstrated music synthesis on a digital computer in 1957.

Media Transfer Protocol (MTP) The Media Transfer Protocol is a set of extensions to the Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP) and FotoNation's PTP/IP (extensions for wireless PTP) devised by Microsoft, to allow the protocol to be used for devices other than digital cameras, for example digital audio players and MP3 players. It supports synchronization of a device to a host computer using mechanisms similar to Apple's iSync. The MTP is closely related to Windows Media Player. One of the more important Microsoft's allies in popularizing this protocol is Creative Technology who implemented it first in their Creative Mediacenter Zen portable video player and later in their Creative Zen audio-only devices, also through firmware upgrades to older devices. The Microsoft certification mark PlaysForSure is commonly used to distinguish MTP compliant devices. However this certification is also given to other devices utilizing the USB mass storage device class.

Megabyte The word Megabyte is a combination of the Mega and Byte. As a measure of computer processor storage and real and virtual memory, a megabyte (abbreviated MB) is 2 to the 20th power bytes, or 1,048,576 bytes in decimal notation.
  • According to the IBM Dictionary of Computing, when used to describe disk storage capacity and transmission rates, a megabyte is 1,000,000 bytes in decimal notation.
  • According to the Microsoft Press Computer Dictionary, a megabyte means either 1,000,000 bytes or 1,048,576 bytes.
  • According to Eric S. Raymond in The New Hacker's Dictionary, a megabyte is always 1,048,576 bytes on the argument that bytes should naturally be computed in powers of two.

Menu A menu is a set of options presented to the user of a computer application to help the user find information or execute a specific program function. Menus are common in graphical user interfaces (GUIs) such as Windows or Mac OS X. Menus are also employed in some speech recognition programs. In a graphical drop-down menu, clicking on an item (text word, button or icon) causes a list of new items to appear below. An example would be clicking on one of the text words such as "File" or "Edit" in the horizontal list at the top of the screen in a Mac or Windows application. Clicking on an item in the menu executes the indicated function, opens a dialog box, or generates another menu.

MHz, Megahertz Megaherz is a unit of frequency equal to one million cycles per second. Hertz measure cycles per second, and Mega means one million. Thus five-megahertz is five million cycles per second. When used in the context of radio, MHz refers to the number of oscillations of electromagnetic radiation per second. Several parts of the radio spectrum fall into the MHz range: LF (Low Frequency) 0.03 - 0.3 MHz MF (Medium Frequency) 0.3-3 MHz HF (High Frequency) 3-30 MHz VHF (Very High Frequency) 30 - 300 MHz UHF (Ultra High Frequency) 300 - 3000 MHz The HF, VHF, UHF references are something of a misnomer: most radio communications today occur at higher frequencies due to congestion in the lower frequency bands. Experts in the field of radio communications classify these other categories of spectrum by bands. The names of these bands are idiosyncratic, but are used often in radio communications. Megahertz in computing: When referring to a computer a computer processor, MHz is short for Mega Hertz and is one million Hertz. Most CPUs made between 1974 and 2000 were labeled in terms of megahertz (though modern computers have processor speeds in the gigahertz (GHz). The number of megahertz refers to the frequency of the CPU's master clock signal ("clock speed"). For example, a microprocessor that runs at 200 MHz executes 200 million cycles per second. Each computer instruction requires a fixed number of cycles, so the clock speed determines how many instructions per second the microprocessor can execute. To a large degree, this controls how powerful the microprocessor is. Another chief factor in determining a microprocessor's power is its data width (that is, how many bits it can manipulate at one time). In addition to microprocessors, the speeds of buses and interfaces are also measured in MHz.

MID The common abbreviation and file type suffix for Standard MIDI File. A computer file with the .mid suffix should contain standard MIDI file data and thus be able to be read by any DAW, sequencer, or workstation as a MIDI file. When saving standard MIDI files, it can be important to make sure they have the .mid suffix, otherwise some equipment will not be able to recognize them properly.

MIDI Interface A device that allows MIDI equipment to be connected to and work with a computer. Over the years MIDI interfaces have come in many different sizes, shapes, capabilities, and price ranges. The simplest interface has just one MIDI input and one MIDI output, providing the most basic way to get a MIDI instrument connected to a computer. More modern and sophisticated designs may have many discrete inputs and outputs as well as ports for synchronization of MDM's and other technologies. Some have the ability to resolve MIDI data to word clock, LTC, or video sync, and some even have Superclock capabilities. A few have been able to provide MIDI routing and patch bay features as well as MIDI processing functions (like changing one type of continuous controller data to another), but most newer models have forgone these features since modern software is so sophisticated with these kinds of tasks. Early models had to be built specifically for each type of computer (PC, Mac, Atari, Amiga, etc.), but recently, with the emergence of standards like USB and the decline of other computing platforms, most MIDI interfaces are cross platform and work equally well on Mac or PC.

MIDI Log Jam When too much MIDI data is present in a single MIDI cable or between a MIDI Interface and the host computer timing anomalies can occur. This phenomenon, often called "MIDI log jam", is the result of the MIDI processor having too many time sensitive events to manage into a serialized communication. Eventually the data gets dense enough that some bytes must wait in a buffer to be sent. If the wait is long enough you can notice timing problems. It is usually a good idea to "thin out" your MIDI data some by removing any extraneous continuous controller data, or any other types of information that can generate lots of data if you notice these problems.

MIDI Manager Software developed by Apple for the Macintosh computer to allow MIDI applications to communicate with each other through virtual MIDI connections inside the computer. Basically it works like a virtual patch bay, allowing the user to manually route MIDI data and sync information between components installed in the system. Due in part to the widespread success and usefulness of OMS and FreeMIDI, development stopped on MIDI Manager in 1995. By today's standards it is relatively slow and cumbersome to use, but there is still the occasional circumstance that requires it.

Mini DisplayPort A tiny 20-pin monitor/display connection used on Mac Pro, Macbook Pro, Mac Mini, iMac, and other Apple computers, as well as on the Apple LED Cinema Display. The Mini DisplayPort can drive up to 30" displays with resolution to 2560 x 1600. In late 2008, Apple opened the license for the Mini DisplayPort up for use by other manufacturers free of charge, and VESA added the Mini DisplayPort to the DisplayPort 1.2 spec. Adapters are available to convert Mini DisplayPort to VGA or DVI.

Mix to Disk A special command in many DAW systems that allows an entire session to be mixed directly to a hard drive in the same way a mixdown would occur with a traditional studio setup. It can also be used to bounce individual tracks of a dense session to one or two composite tracks in order to free up resources. The function is sometimes called "bounce to disk" for this reason. Mix to disk can be advantageous when the next few steps of the project (like mastering, for example) are going to take place on the computer as well. The alternative is to bring the mix out to some external device such as a DAT machine or CD recorder and then re-record it back into the computer. While most DAW's have a mix to disk function (it may be called other things depending upon the system) they do vary in capability. Some systems only allow internal hard disk tracks to be bounced to disk and do not include any live or virtual tracks being brought into the system. Some may bounce in real time while others can do an accelerated bounce. Some allow automation to be captured in the bounce, while others do not. Some systems allow many different options for bouncing.

Mixed-Mode Disc Mixed-mode refers to a CD-Digital Audio disc with computer data included. Often, the data (programs, movies, indexes, etc.) are contained in track #1, which conforms to the Mode 1 (ISO 9660) standard. Audio begins in track #2, and can be up to 98 standard CD tracks. Early CD players did recognize the first data track, and would 'play' it, which resulted in loud noise at the output of the player. Modern CD players do not have this problem. There have been several implementations of the mixed-mode disc using different structures. Some put the data at the end, while others have a separate session of a multisession CD for the data.

Mixer This term broadly refers to any device that is capable of taking two or more audio signals and mixing them down to a single monophonic or stereo signal. While huge mixing consoles are the rule in all the top studios, there are ultra-compact, amazingly affordable, compact mixers with features such as FireWire and USB connectivity, allowing them to interface with computers for even more sophisticated capabilities. Advances in circuit design, miniaturization, and DSP technology have given compact mixers unexpectedly high quality over the last two decades. Now, many project studios are capable of mixing 16 or more tracks of audio, with surprisingly professional results, using surprisingly affordable hardware. The term may also be used to cover certain software that duplicates the functionality of hardware, particularly in digital audio workstation (DAW) software, such as Pro Tools, Digital Performer, Logic Pro, and many others.

mLAN A digital network designed for music. Proposed by Yamaha, mLAN uses a IEEE1394 (FireWire) compatible cable to connect multiple(127 theoretically; about 60 or so, realistically) electronic musical instruments and computers. Like SCSI, connections can be made as a daisy-chain, in a "branch" - virtually any way except a loop. Devices can be enabled/disabled from a computer (or other controlling device) without physically unplugging the cable, and devices can be safely plugged/unplugged from a network while it's in operation. A single cable can transfer both MIDI and audio data in digital form.

Mnemonics Also known as memoria technica, mnemonics are mental devices that help us to remember more complex concepts or verbal sequences. The principle of mnemonics is to use familiar ideas to incorporate a series of unfamiliar ideas. Those familiar ideas can take the form of anything from word schemes to acronyms. In music, in order to remember which notes the lines of the treble clef represent (from bottom to top; EGBDF) some mnemonics would be; Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge; Every Good Burger Deserves Fries, or Elvis' Guitar Broke Down Friday. For the Circle of Fifths (FCGDFA), another example would be; Freddy Can Get Drunk At Every Bar (which brings a whole new meaning the term Circle of Fifths). In computer language, mnemonic systems are used to encode information. The most helpful mnemonics are ones that grab you emotionally. If you found that the Elvis mnemonic was amusing, it will most likely stay with you, hence, its function as an aid to memory. The word "mnemonic" was derived from the name Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory in Greek mythology (and not Johnny Mnemonic). As to the mysterious appearance of the silent "M" &mdash the first letter of Mnemosyne &mdash one can only conjecture that perhaps it was felt that a goddess should have a more ineffable and majestic-looking name and therefore, in order not to anger her, more letters with arcane pronunciations were required. Another theory is that Mnemosyne herself thought the whole extra "M" thing was rather stupid and hoped we would all forget about it...

MOD (Module): a file type that contains a mixture of MIDI sequencing and audio sample playback data. A .MOD file has the MIDI sequencing information for the MIDI instruments, and audio information in the form of short 'samples' of audio. These samples can be looked upon as short digital audio files of short passages (loops) or notes of an instrument. It is up to the MOD composer to determine what samples are included in the .MOD file. Therefore .MOD files can sound the same on any computer and won't be limited to the instruments and effects that are built into the sound card. On the other hand, the number of samples you can put in a .MOD file is limited and changes are less easy to make. The size of MOD files is larger than regular MIDI files, because audio samples are included and good samples require more data. However, .MOD files tend to be significantly smaller in size than .WAVs or AIFFs.

Modeling The technical definition is: Use of mathematical equations to simulate and predict real events and processes. Modeling has become a huge buzzword in modern electronic musical equipment. It is already a widely deployed technology for synthesizers and many different types of signal processors. Modeling allows programmers to create sophisticated computer algorithms that behave in very specific and detailed ways depending upon a variety of input data. Until the last 10 or 15 years modeling required so much computational horsepower that it wasn't practical to use in commercially available production equipment. Today you can get a modeling processor that can accurately emulate the sounds of dozens of different devices for a fraction of what a digital delay cost 10 years ago. That said, most modeling systems in use today are relatively crude compared to what is theoretically possible. As processing power becomes better and less expensive we will continue to see more amazing things done with modeling technology.

Modifier Keys On a computer keyboard, modifier keys are keys that when used in conjunction with other keys or a mouse click provide an advanced function. On a Windows keyboard, the modifier keys are Shift, Alt, Control, and the Windows key. On a Mac keyboard, the modifier keys are Shift, Control, Option, and Command (often called the Apple key).

Monitor This term has several meanings as applied to audio and video technology. As a verb, to "monitor' means to listen to a sound source such as a recorded track or a mix. In a recording environment, monitors are the loudspeakers used to play back the live signals and recorded tracks of a project. Monitor also refers to a special mix (monitor mix) that is provided to the talent, usually through headphones, to give them a reference to the music they are performing. This is sometimes called a cue mix. In sound reinforcement, monitors refer to the system of loudspeakers and/or in-ear systems that transmit an often-custom mix of the audio program back to the performers. In computer usage, a monitor is the CRT or flat-panel LCD display screen that provides visual images of your programs and activities.

Motherboard The main circuit board in a computer or electronic device. The motherboard often (but not always) contains the CPU and is usually the board into which all of the other sub assemblies or boards connect. For example, in a keyboard the motherboard may house the CPU, RAM, ROM, and all of the processing "stuff," while the board containing the A/D and D/A conversion (the audio board) connects to it. There may also be a display or front panel board, and a number of other assemblies (digital I/O board, keyboard, expansion cards, etc.). The exact architecture will vary from device to device, but in general the motherboard is the main board and sort of acts as the "traffic cop" for the rest of the system by controlling everything and routing signals and data to their proper destinations. The motherboard is generally the largest physical board in a device, if for no other reason than to accommodate the connectors for everything that must plug into it, though they usually have the most electronic components as well. Some electronic equipment does not have an obvious motherboard. These are usually older devices where resources were divided among several equal but separate assemblies. In modern manufacturing it is usually more cost effective to put most everything on one main board.

Mount In computers and other technology where various storage media are used the term mount refers to making a particular storage device available for use. For example, when you insert a CD-ROM into a Mac, it will read the file structure of the disc, and if it can make sense of it the disc will be mounted. You will see a graphic representation (icon) of it on the desktop signifying it is available for use. Sometimes media must be mounted manually (using special commands or software) even after you insert a disc. This just depends on the format of the media and the configuration of the system.

Moving Fader Automation A type of mixing automation system that employs motorized faders in addition to or instead of VCA (Voltage Controlled Amplifier) circuits. Moving fader systems have historically been considered preferable to VCA systems due to their better sonic characteristics and ergonomics. When first used, moving fader automation systems sounded better because the alternative method of automating levels requires the use of additional gain stages that usually utilized some type of VCA, which resulted in some signal degradation. Nowadays VCA's are of high enough quality that they can be effectively used in even the most demanding situations, though there are some engineers who still prefer not to pass their signals through this extra stage. The ergonomic advantages of a moving fader system center around the fact that it's very easy to know what the automation is doing because it only requires the engineer take a glance at the fader positions, whereas in fixed fader systems one must utilize some combination of computer screens and LED indicators to know the status of individual channels.

MP3 Surround MP3 Surround files are essentially ordinary MP3s with an additional layer of information that tells compatible players where to place sounds. New devices designed to support the format deliver accurate surround sound, whether through a 5.1-channel system or simulated through a pair of stereo headphones. The format adds minimal overhead, consuming just 15 additional bits per second. And it is backward-compatible, so MP3 Surround files will play on any device that supports your plain vanilla MP3, only sans surround. In order for you to hear MP3 Surround today, you'll need a computer with the playback software installed (available at all4mp3.com).

MPU-401 A MIDI interface developed by Roland in the early 1980's for PC compatible computers. This very early MIDI interface became the de facto standard for all PC interfaces. Other interfaces that came out in years to follow began to be "MPU-401 compatible." Before long the only accepted interfaces had to be MPU-401 compatible and the core elements of the standard lives on (though unspoken now) to this day.

MTS (MIDI Time Stamping) An abbreviation that stands for many different things, but the one that concerns us is the newly coined term from Mark of the Unicorn. MTS is their technology known as MIDI Time Stamping, which allows MIDI tracks to be recorded and played back with an extremely high degree of timing accuracy. MIDI Time Stamping has been a part of all MOTU USB MIDI interfaces and is officially being deployed (activated) with the release of Digital Performer version 2.61. It is a method of coding MIDI data that passes through a MOTU MIDI interface with specific timing information. Once each piece of MIDI data is time stamped the software can control it with an extremely high degree of accuracy, and (this is the important part) play it back with that degree of accuracy. The key to MTS is that MIDI playback is no longer computer clock dependent. For playback, the time stamped event is pre-transmitted to the USB interface from DP, and the MOTU USB interface handles the transmission of those events to the playback MIDI modules. MOTU boasts sub-millisecond accuracy with MTS, and has changed the PPQ resolution of DP to accept values up to 10,000! Now that's a lot of pulses per quarter note.

Multi-threading The ability of a computer operating system to execute different tasks of a program, called threads, simultaneously. A "thread" is a set of tasks defined by an application. Sharing a single CPU between multiple, similar tasks minimizes the time required to switch threads. This is accomplished by sharing as much as possible of the program execution environment between the different threads so that very little information needs to be saved or restored when changing threads. Note that this only works with software that has been written to take advantage of multi-threading. On a computer with a single CPU, physically speaking only one task can be addressed during each CPU cycle. Multi-threading creates a "virtual" second CPU by taking over management of individual threads and "scheduling" when they pass through the CPU. It's sort of a halfway house between a single processor and two independent processors. An example of multi-threading might be its ability to hide latency by keeping the processor busy with one thread that issues a long-latency instruction on which subsequent instructions in that thread depend. Multi-threaded programs become even more powerful on computers with multiple CPUs. For example, an audio program might exercise the option of routing plug-in effects handling to processor "B" while processor "A" handles other recording and playback chores. Further, the application can manage multiple threads on each processor simultaneously. Multi-threading differs from multitasking in that threads share more of their environment with each other than do separate tasks under multitasking. Threads may share a single address space and set of global variables and be distinguished only by the value of their program counters and pointers. There is thus very little protection of one thread from another, in contrast to multitasking. Both Windows XP and Mac OS X operating systems support multi-threaded applications and are capable of handling multiple CPUs. Intel has developed its own advanced version of multi-threading, called Hyper-Threading, which enhances performance on both single and multiple processor machines. Different audio programs offer varying levels of multi-threading support ranging from "None" to "Lots" but with the coming avalanche of multiple-CPU hardware and increasing processing demands it's likely most applications will incorporate this feature within the next rounds of upgrades.

Multiplex In music creation and technology this term applies to sending two or more signals over one channel or wire. To do this a device most commonly known as a multiplexer takes multiple individual signals and encodes them in such a way that they can be transmitted as a single more complex signal. At the receiving end there is generally some type of demultiplexer that decodes the information. This is a very simplified and generalized explanation, but contains the gist of the concept. A few types of multiplexing are: FDM - Frequency Division Multiplexing, where each signal is assigned a different "carrier" frequency; TDM - Time Division Multiplexing, where each signal is assigned a fixed time slot in a fixed rotation; STDM - Statistical Time Division Multiplexing, where time slots are assigned to signals dynamically to make better use of bandwidth; WDM - Wavelength Division Multiplexing, where each signal is assigned a particular wavelength (this is frequently used in fiber optic transmissions). Multiplexing is becoming more frequently used in musical equipment all the time (even though in many instances it is not apparent to the user) and is a key to making the Internet or any computer network operate.

Multitasking The concurrent operation by one central processing unit of two or more processes. In computers, a technique used in an operating system for sharing a single processor between several independent jobs. There are many different types of multitasking, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. The first multitasking operating systems were designed in the early 1960s.

Musique Concrete Electronic music can be divided into three categories: Musique concrete, synthesizer music, and computer music. Musique concrete was the first type to be created. It involves using sounds found in nature (found sound), distorted in various ways, to create music. Live, it becomes an exercise in mixing together unexpected sounds into some sort of form while studio musique concrete uses complex tape manipulations to create the effect. Forgive us while we follow a bit of a tangent here, but this is interesting stuff: Born in Nancy, France in 1910, (a real Nancy-boy) Pierre Schaeffer is credited with being the inventor of music concrete. Like many of the pioneers of electronic music, Schaeffer was not a musician. He received his diploma from L'Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, and did an apprenticeship at the Radiodiffusion- Television Francaises (RTF), which led to a full time job as an engineer and broadcaster. At RTF, Schaeffer spent months experimenting with the technology available to him. He discovered that he could lock-groove records. In other words, instead of spiraling toward the center of the record, the needle could be made to stay in one groove creating a loop. In 1948, he studied the effect of striking percussive instruments different ways. He observed that a single sound event could be characterized not only by timbre, but by attack and decay as well. On April 21 of that year, he recorded bell tones to disc using a volume control between the mic and cutter to eliminate the attack. On the 23rd, he speculated that an instrument could be created that would provide the sounds of an orchestral instrument by means of a bank of prerecorded events. (The Mellotron eventually fulfilled this prophecy.) His first official composition, Etude aux chemans de fer ("Concert for Locomotives"), was a montage of sounds recorded at the train depot in Paris. Sounds included six steam locomotives whistling, trains accelerating, and wagons passing over the joints in the tracks. Although the composition is considered to be more of an experimental essay rather than a serious composition, it was significant in four ways.
  1. An act of musical composition was accomplished by a technological process.
  2. The work could be replayed multiple times.
  3. Replaying was not dependent on human performers.
  4. Elements were "concrete."

Schaeffer then began to play records at different speeds. This affected not only pitch and duration, but also the amplitude envelopes of the sounds. In 1951, Schaeffer began working with a tape recorder. This was an important event as the phonograph had been his tool for composition up to that point. One of the recorders had 5-track capability. One, known as the Morphophone, had 12 playback heads, which allowed for tape echo and a pseudo reverb effect. Two other decks known as Phonogenes, were designed to play prerecorded loops at different speeds (one came with a 12-note keyboard!). At this time, while stereo was still in development, Schaeffer had the means of playing up to five separate tracks with five separate speakers. (MPEG-2 technology allows for five distinct outputs as used in DVD production, here we see the idea in affect almost 50 years ago). This allowed for spatial experimentation of sounds. Four speakers were used for playback. Two speakers were located in front of the stage on the left and right, one was placed directly in the back in the middle, and one was suspended from the ceiling. The ceiling speaker allowed for experimenting with vertical sound placement as well as the usual horizontal placement. The fifth track contained an additional channel spread between the four speakers that represented a performer using a handheld coil which could be positioned near one of four wire receiving loops that sent the info to each speaker. Schaeffer died in 1995 from Alzheimer disease. He was remembered as the 'Musician of Sounds.' "Unfortunately it took me forty years to conclude that nothing is possible outside Do-Re-Mi� I think of myself as an explorer struggling to find a way through in the far north, but I wasn't finding a way through� There is no way through. The way through is behind us." &mdash Pierre Schaeffer

Native A word that is thrown around quite a bit in our business and as such has some subtly different meanings depending upon the context. It is often used to express that some software will run on a computer system without the need for any special hardware or software. In practice, however, the software qualifier has been ignored more often than not. As a result the 'native' often works out to mean something very similar to the concept defined by the term 'host-based,' which basically means the software uses the processor in the computer, as opposed to dedicated DSP, to manipulate the data. Where users often get confused with this is when they see software and plug-ins being made for MAS, RTAS, VST, or other host environments that are popular for DAW platforms. These are all considered native formats, even though they each have an extra layer of software between the computer (and its OS) and the plug-in.

Non-Linear Editing Any editing done on a system that has the ability to randomly access data can probably be characterized as non-linear editing. The term has historically been used to differentiate between editing with tape (whether splicing an audio tape or an A/B roll video editor) and the more modern conventions based on some type of computer system. But use of a computer does not in and of itself necessarily define editing as non-linear, nor does use of a tape machine have to mean that a system is not non-linear. For example, there have been systems that allow the user to enter time code values for edits, which are then carried out automatically by controlling tape machines (usually two playback machines and one record machine). Whether or not such a system is "non-linear" could be debated. In most cases, however, the line is pretty clear. A system where the user can define a region and move it forward or backward in relation to a sequence of other regions is clearly non-linear.

Non-Volatile Memory Generally refers to computer memory that does not lose its stored data when power is removed. The exact criteria that makes memory non-volatile is somewhat ambiguous. Many manufacturers place standard (volatile) memory chips on a board with a battery and call it non-volatile. This is pretty widely accepted since the important thing is for the memory to hold its data while the device it is working in doesn't have power. There are other types of memory that truly do not require power to hold their data. These include EPROMS, Flash, and obviously Read Only Memory (ROM). There are many other types.

  1. Corresponding to the usual state, not out of the ordinary.


  2. Something the inSync team is NOT accused of being (Can't figure that out; we don't think being nocturnal, doing strange things to guitars, lusting ferociously after electronic gear, and living in caves lit only by the blue phosphorescent glow of computer monitors is so strange. Besides, the resident sloths, bats and owls like it...)


  3. In patchbays, a normal is an internal connection from the top row of jacks, to the bottom row. Normalling allows connections that are normally in effect to exist without the need for inserting a patch cable in the front of the bay. For example, the stereo outs of a mixer are generally connected to the inputs on a stereo mixdown deck. By connecting the mixer's outputs to the top back row of a normalled patchbay's jacks, and the mixdown deck to the bottom back row, a connection is made internally in the bay, and does not require extra patch cables.

Notation Software A unique combination of a sequencer, graphic design and word processor that produces printed music. Notation software programs vary in complexity from simple versions for creating "lead sheets" for pop songs to full-featured programs that are capable of visually representing the extreme notation needs of contemporary orchestral and choral scores. It's important to understand the difference between the "staff view" and printing options offered by many sequencers and the output of notation software. Think of a sequencer this way: it is optimized to make your music sound exactly the way you want it to sound. This includes note durations that are exactly what you want them to be, instrument pitches that play in "concert" key, rather than the actual transposition of, say, a saxophone, and intricate rhythms. The staff or score view of most sequencers attempts to notate all of these in the most literal fashion; i.e. that quick brass stab might appear as a 32nd note followed by a string of 32nd rests. Or bass guitar notes appear in the octave in which they sound, rather than transposed up an octave as they normally appear on paper. Further, few sequencer print functions adequately handle special musical instructions such as crescendos, accelerandos, or other performance instructions. Notation programs, on the other hand, are optimized to make your music look the way it should to make sense to musicians reading the parts. It allows you to insert articulations, grace notes, dynamics changes such as "hairpins" that indicate crescendos and decrescendos, and much more. It thinks the way musicians who read music think. The brass stab example above would likely be notated as a quarter note with a dot above its head to tell the players that the note is short. Most notation software also has enhanced lyric-entry capability that allows positioning lyrics under the correct notes, plus special fonts that help distinguish musical instructions about tempo, volume and other matters. Prior to the development of computers and printers with sophisticated graphics capability almost all printed music was hand-copied or engraved. Now notation software is so common that little printed music, other than archival copies of classical music and some jazz and popular "fake books," exist in engraved form. In fact, Warner-Chappell, the world's largest publisher of print music, employs thousands of freelance music copyists with the stipulation that they all use Finale, a common notation program.

Nudge Perfect example of jargon made popular by the explosion of DAW's. Nudging is a technique for making small adjustments to the placement of audio (or MIDI) segments (a.k.a. "Regions", "Chunks", "Objects", or "Blocks"). Typically the user selects a region of audio, then uses the left/right arrows on the computer keyboard or some other user interface keys to move it one timing increment forward or back in time by some according to the time value increments selected.

OEM Abbreviation for Original Equipment Manufacturer. An OEM is a company that uses product components from one or more other companies to build a product that it sells under its own company name and brand. It is also commonly used to refer to companies who build products and sub assemblies for use in other products. For example, most PC computer manufacturers are OEMs in that they use hard drives, RAM, motherboards, CPU\'s and other components made by other manufacturers, who are considered OEM suppliers.

OMS Originally an abbreviation for Opcode MIDI System, but was later changed to Open MIDI System, and is now Open Music System. OMS, which was developed by Opcode, is very similar in function and purpose to FMS, or FreeMIDI, and actually predates it as the original standard and widely used method of providing an environment for MIDI on Macintosh computers. The idea is that once OMS learns the configuration of your MIDI system any and all programs that are compatible with it (and virtually all MIDI programs on the Mac are) can get access to and take advantage of that information. That information could include patch names, attributes, and locations of your instruments as well as synchronization sources. Like FreeMIDI it handles all the data throughput between the various hardware and software components of a MIDI system and can even coexist in a system with FreeMIDI.

One-off Computer and audio industry jargon for making one copy of something. In audio this generally refers to burning a CDR, as opposed to mass CD production. If you burn 10 CD's of something from your computer each one of those is still considered a one-off since they are made one at a time.

Op Amp Short for Operational Amp, a circuit component used in all sorts of equipment. Though they are technically considered amplifiers they are quite often used in circuits that do not obviously "amplify" signals. Examples would be equalizers, crossovers, compressors, mixers, microphones, keyboards, effects and many, many, many more (the list is endless). Op amps acquired their name from early uses in analog computers (computers perform operations, get it?). They can exhibit very high gain and are extremely easy to build into audio circuits. Nowadays they are available in integrated circuit chips, each of which may have many op amps inside. In some cases they are literally a dime a dozen.

Opcode Most people who have been involved in MIDI sequencing for the last decade are familiar with the name Opcode, as the company (acquired by Gibson in 1998) that made Vision, OMS, and Galaxy software as well as the Studio 5 MIDI interface. However, in computer science, an opcode is the portion of a machine language instruction that specifies the operation to be performed, or to put it simply, the opcode tells the computer what to do. The term is an abbreviation of Operation Code. In terms of language, it helps to think of the opcode as the verb, and the operands as nouns. For example, in the expression 5 + x, 5 and x are the operands, and + (addition) is the operator. The operands upon which opcodes operate may, depending on CPU architecture, consist of registers, values in memory, values stored on the stack, I/O ports, the bus, and etc. The operations an opcode may specify can include arithmetic, data copying, logical operations, and program control.

Operating System Often abbreviated by the letters OS. An operating system is the basic set of instructions that defines the behavior of hardware or software. Windows, DOS, OS2, Linux, and Mac OS X are examples of operating systems that define the operation of computers. All home computers use one or more operating systems. Other programs for specific tasks may be loaded in the foreground, but the OS is always the underlying mechanism that makes everything work. Operating systems are also part of most sophisticated electronic equipment. That includes synthesizers, calculators, automobiles, CD players, Palm Pilots, and any number of other household items, all with underlying operating systems that define their operation.

OS Abbreviation for Operating System. An operating system is the basic set of instructions that defines the behavior of something. Windows, DOS, OS2, Linux, and Mac OS are examples of operating systems that define the operation of computers. All home computers use one or more operating systems. Other programs for specific tasks may be loaded in the foreground, but the OS is always the underlying mechanism that makes everything work. Operating Systems are also part of most sophisticated electronic equipment. Synthesizers, calculators, automobiles, CD players, Palm Pilots, and any number of other household items all have underlying operating systems that define their operation.

OSC Abbreviation for OpenSound Control. OSC is a protocol for communication among computers, sound synthesizers, and other multimedia devices that is said to be optimized for modern networking technology. Open SoundControl is a machine and operating system neutral protocol and readily implementable on constrained, embedded systems. It was developed by the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT Research) at UC Berkley starting in 1996. CNMAT Research believes that OSC offers optimized integration of computers, controllers and sound synthesizers which will lead to lower costs, increased reliability, greater user convenience, and more reactive musical control. Why? The prevailing technologies to interconnect these elements are bus (motherboard or PCI), operating system interface (software synthesis), or serial LAN (Firewire, USB, Ethernet, fast Ethernet, etc.), whereas CNMAT Research believes they have designed a new protocol optimized for modern transport technologies. OSC is currently supported by Csound, Native Instruments' Reaktor and a few others. Only time will tell whether this new protocol will be accepted and embraced by other manufacturers.

Out Of The Box
  1. Unusual, innovative, unique, fresh.
  2. An item that has been removed from its original packaging.
  3. A term that refers to a recording project that was partially or completely produced using hardware equipment outside of the computer.

P-Ram - (a.k.a. PRAM) Short for Parameter RAM. Parameter RAM is memory devoted to the storage of settings (as opposed to other raw data) for a particular device. In a Mac computer PRAM stores network settings, screen configurations, and many other aspects of the overall setup of the computer. In musical keyboards PRAM is where program and general setup data are stored. For example, an instrument may use PCM or other types of sampled sounds as its raw waveform data, but the programs themselves (filter settings, tuning, etc) are often stored in PRAM. PRAM is like most RAM in that it will lose its data if power is removed so most PRAM chips have a constant voltage supplied by a battery in the device.

PAL An acronym that stands for many things. The most relevant to us is the Phase Alternate Line (or Phase Alternation Line). The standard for color television broadcast throughout much of Europe. The United States uses the NTSC standard, which is used in all of North America and many other parts of the world. PAL has good color transmission and sends an analog signal at 625 lines of resolution, 25 interlaced frames per second, whereas NTSC delivers 525 lines of resolution at approximately 30 interlaced frames per second. The two formats are incompatible with one another, but there are video adapters that enable computer monitors to be used as television screens to support both NTSC and PAL signals.

Parity Generally parity can be defined as a functional equality. In mathematics it refers to the even or odd quality of a number. If a pair of numbers are both odd or even then they are said to have parity. In computers and data transfer parity refers to a technique of checking whether data has been lost or altered when it's moved from one place in storage to another. Basically a process is applied to data elements that produces another data element known as a parity element - sometimes referred to as a parity bit. A simple form of parity, for example, counts the number of data bits in a group of data. If the number is even then a parity bit is set on, if it's an odd number the parity bit stays off. This can be used to quickly tell a system whether data has arrived in tact. The system counts the bits, and if the count agrees with the status of the parity bit it can be assumed the data is in tact. There are much more complex forms of parity that can give much more detailed information about the integrity of data. Many forms of parity are actually structured in such a way as to allow limited amounts of data to be reconstructed if it is lost or corrupted.

Partition To divide something into parts (verb). One of the divided parts (noun). With hard disk drives it is possible to partition them so different parts of the drive's capacity can be used for different kinds of data, or possibly for different hardware platforms. Drive partitions look like individual drives to any operating system that can "see" (recognize) them. This is often desirable with large drives because it allows data to be categorized into smaller spaces that are faster for the computer to search. In a case where a drive is partitioned to work with more than one device each device may only see its partition, and not the whole drive (unless its software allows it to see other types of data formats). RAM memory can also be partitioned.

Pascal The International System unit of pressure equal to one Newton (the unit of force required to accelerate 1kg 1m per second per second) per square meter. International standards have established 1 Pascal (Pa) as 94dB SPL. This reference point is now accepted for measuring the sensitivity and signal-to-noise ratio of microphones. A typical signal-to-noise rating might be 70dB, 1 Pa @ 1kHz. So, subtracting 70dB from 94dB (one Pa), you can assume the mic's self-noise to be 24dB. The term was named for Blaise Pascal, the 17th-century French philosopher and mathematician. Among his achievements were the invention of an adding machine and the development of the modern theory of probability. Pascal is also the name of a landmark computer programming language developed in 1970. Generations of computer students learned programming using Pascal, and variants of the language are still widely used today. Much of the original Macintosh operating system was written in Pascal.

Password Just as you must know the alphanumeric code you chose when you got your ATM card, a password protects you and allows you to log into various secure web sites (eBay, for instance) or in the case of Mac OS X, to simply boot up your computer. In some cases, you may get assigned a password by a specific web site, but in most cases, you can change it to something that's easier to remember than, say "SUNOK7XC44."

Paste Inserts the contents of the computer's Clipboard at a defined insertion point, and replaces any defined selection. This command is available only if you have Cut or Copied a defined selection (text, images, sound clips, video clips, etc.). To "Cut & Paste" is the computer equivalent of using scissors to clip something and glue to paste the clipping somewhere else.

Patch List Simply a list of patch/program names. Patch lists are created and used to enable computer programs to more effectively interact with MIDI hardware such as keyboards and effect processors. This way the user can recall specific programs from the software by name instead of having to memorize the memory location (and the requisite bank change commands) where they are stored in a given device. Many software programs for MIDI work enable the user to input the names of the patches for each device in a system. Further, shell MIDI operating systems such as OMS and FreeMIDI allow patch names that they can then publish to any compatible application, which enables the user to have one master patch list for a studio setup that each program uses. In most cases patch lists are a separate text file that can be edited with most text editors or word processing programs.

Path Literally, the route from one location to another. In signal flow terms, we have "signal path," which describes how audio or other signal is routed from its source to its final destination - what processors it goes through, and so on. In computer terms, "path" describes the location of a file within a nested series of directories and folders, with the steps in the path separated by slashes. So, Macintosh HD/Documentation/Tutorial.pdf describes the location of a PDF file titled "Tutorial.pdf," which is found on the hard drive named "Macintosh HD," inside the "Documentation" folder. (This is a very simple example; file paths can become quite long if many folders are nested inside one another.)

PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) A high-performance (by current standards) computer expansion slot designed by Intel. PCI allows for 32- or 64-bit bus specification. PCI is described as high-bandwidth and processor-independent data path between the CPU and high-speed peripherals. The PCI spec allows for the capability to transfer up to 132 megabytes per second at a bus clock speed of 33 MHz (although the current rates being claimed by manufacturers are more commonly in the 30 Mb/sec range). This speed makes it especially suitable for high data rate applications like digital audio and video. PCI slots are found in the current generations of both PC and Macintosh personal computers.

PCI Express (PCIe) A version of the PCI computer bus that uses existing PCI programming concepts, but bases it on a completely different and much faster serial physical-layer communications protocol. PCI Express was developed to overcome the limitations of the original PCI bus. As developed over a decade ago, the original PCI bus operated at 33MHz and 32 bits with a peak theoretical bandwidth of 132MB per second. It used a shared bus topology, with bus bandwidth shared among multiple devices, to enable communication among the different devices on the bus. As devices evolved, new bandwidth-hungry devices began starving other devices on the same shared bus. Gigabit Ethernet cards, for example, can monopolize up to 95% of available PCI bus bandwidth. The PCI Express bus is no longer a single parallel data bus through which all data is routed at a set rate. Rather, an assembly of serial, point-to-point wired, individually clocked "lanes," each consisting of two pairs of data lines, carry data upstream and downstream. Since it's based on the existing PCI system, cards and systems can be converted to PCI Express by changing the physical layer only — existing systems could be adapted to PCI Express without any change in software. The higher speeds on PCI Express (ranging from 250Mbps to 4,000Mbps) allow it to replace almost all existing internal buses, including AGP and PCI. The biggest impact that PCI Express has made to date is with the PCIe x16 graphics slot. Found in the latest Intel and AMD-based chipsets, this implementation of PCI Express is now preferred over AGP 8x as a platform for graphics card manufacturers

PCI-X Abbreviation for Peripheral Component Interconnect Extended. PCI-X is an extension and improvement upon the PCI bus technology that's been common in Mac and PC computers for years. It increases the speed that data can move on a bus within a computer from a maximum of around 66 MHz to 133 MHz. With standard PCI design, one 64-bit bus runs at 66 MHz and additional buses move 32 bits at 66 MHz or 64 bits at 33 MHz. The maximum amount of data exchanged between the processor and peripherals using standard PCI design is 532 MB per second. With PCI-X, one 64-bit bus runs at 133 MHz with the rest running at 66 MHz, allowing for a data exchange of 1.06 GB per second. PCI-X is backwards compatible, meaning that you can, for example, install a PCI-X card in a standard PCI slot, but expect a decrease in speed to 33 MHz. You can also use both PCI and PCI-X cards on the same bus, but the bus speed will run at the speed of the slowest card. PCI-X is also designed to be more fault tolerant than PCI. For example, PCI-X is able to reinitialize a faulty card or take it offline before computer failure occurs.

PCMCIA Isn't it great when you can take two relatively known abbreviations and put them together to get a third totally new one that has nothing to do with the other two? Well, anyway PCMCIA has nothing to do with PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) or the government agency. It stands for Personal Computer Memory Card International Association, which is an international standards body and trade association founded in 1989 to establish standards for Integrated Circuit cards and to promote interchangeability among mobile computers where ruggedness, low power, and small size were critical. They have defined a standard for what we've come to call the PCMCIA card, which is often simply referred to as a "PC Card." Originally the PC Card was developed as a memory device that could be hot swapped in and out of any computer with a compatible slot. Like RAM, capacities and cost vary. Later, other applications such as modems, networking, audio & video recording and playback were applied to the technology. There are now many more different applications for the technology being used. PCMCIA cards come in several varieties of size now. All have the same rectangular size (85.6 by 54 millimeters), but different widths: Type I cards can be up to 3.3 mm thick, and are used primarily for adding additional ROM or RAM to a computer. Type II cards can be up to 5.5 mm thick. These cards are often used for modem and fax modem cards. Type III cards can be up to 10.5 mm thick, which is sufficiently large for portable disk drives. As with the cards, PCMCIA slots also come in three sizes: A Type I slot can hold one Type I card. A Type II slot can hold one Type II card or two Type I cards. A Type III slot can hold one Type III card or a Type I and Type II card.

Peer-to-Peer A type of network in which each workstation has equivalent capabilities and responsibilities. This differs from client/server architectures, in which some computers are dedicated to serving the others. Peer-to-peer networks are generally simpler and less expensive, but they usually do not offer the same performance under heavy loads partly because processing power becomes divided between serving files and the task being performed locally.

petaFLOPS When dealing with computers, FLOPS stands for FLoating point Operations Per Second, which is used to measure a computer's performance. A petaFLOPS means that a computer is capable of performing 10,000,000,000,000,000 operations per second.

Physical Modeling Synthesis A type of sound synthesis performed by computer models of instruments. These models are sets of complex equations that describe the physical properties of an instrument (such as the shape of the bell and the density of the material) and the way a musician interacts with it (blow, pluck, or hit, for example).

Pixel Short for Picture Element. The pixel is the smallest element that is used to build an image, whether it is displayed on a video screen, computer monitor, printed photo, or newspaper. A complete monitor image is made up of thousands of pixels. The pixel is often used as a unit of measurement for image size and resolution. The number of pixels (width and height) in an image defines its size, and the number of pixels in an inch (or other quantifiable measurement) defines the resolution of the image. The more pixels in an image the better its resolution.

Playhead When editing audio or video in a contemporary computer NLE or DAW, the Playhead is a graphic line in the timeline that represents the position, or frame, of the material that is currently being accessed. The term harkens back to the days when hardware video/film playback machines used mechanical heads as part of their mechanism. When a specific audio, video or film frame ran across the hardware playhead, it literally "played" at that very instant.

Plenum In building construction, a plenum (pronounced PLEH-nuhm, from Latin meaning full) is a separate space provided for air circulation in the form of heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (sometimes referred to as HVAC) and typically provided in the space between the structural ceiling and a drop-down ceiling. A plenum may also be under a raised floor. In buildings with computer and/or audio/video installations, the plenum space is often used to house connecting cables, as opposed to special conduit, which is designed to isolate cables from environmental factors to some degree. Because the jacket and insulators used ordinary cable can introduce a toxic hazard in the event of fire, building codes normally call for special plenum cabling in plenum areas. Plenum cable is more resistant to flames and when it does burn produces less smoke than standard cable. And, of course, it costs more.

Plug and Play Plug and Play (PnP) simply means that a computer will recognize a peripheral device without the need for manual configuration or the installation of drivers. With PnP, the device works immediately upon connection to the computer. Windows 95 was the first OS to offer support for Plug and Play.

Plug-in Software that is designed to be integrated within another software environment. Plug-ins are a common method programmers use to provide additional tools for users of a given product. This is advantageous for everyone because it means that the user doesn't have to switch to an entirely different application to perform one specific task that's its specialty. For an early example, PhotoShop - software designed to manipulate digital images in a computer - has a plug-in environment where users can purchase any number of add-on technologies to enhance the capability of the program. These may be things like special lighting effects rendering, painting and motion effects, or anything anyone can think of to add (fans of PhotoShop know there are now hundreds of available plug-ins). Digidesign's Sound Designer II audio recording/editing software was one of the first music oriented programs to adopt the plug-in architecture. Digidesign or other third-party developers wrote software plug-ins for additional functions such as compression, equalization, and eventually many other things that enhanced the capabilities already included in the program. Nowadays many sophisticated applications (for music and otherwise) have the ability to utilize plug-in technology for enhancements.

Podcast A method for delivering audio and video over the Internet. A standard podcast consists of an MP3 file uploaded to the web for listeners to download and listen to on a computer or portable MP3 player. The name comes from the Apple iPod, arguably the most popular portable audio player. The difference between an ordinary MP3 and a podcast is that the podcast is set up to be accessed via an RSS feed, whether from your site, the iTunes site, or some other RSS host/directory server. A podcast differs from streaming audio in which a file plays back from a server. With podcasting, the listener downloads the MP3 or MOV file onto their computer. The listener can then play it whenever convenient on his or her computer, or choose to transfer it to their audio player to listen while on the go.

Polyphony In general, polyphony describes music with two or more parts playing at the same time. More specifically, the term refers to the number of actual notes an electronic instrument may play at one time. For instance, the original MiniMoog synthesizer was monophonic (it could only play one note at a time), while the ARP Odyssey could play two, making it duophonic. Most early samplers were capable of playing only eight notes at any time (or four notes if the sample being played is in stereo, as that requires two notes of polyphony). When instruments can play multiple notes at one time, they are considered to be polyphonic. Today, most synthesizers and samplers can play far more notes, in some cases up to 128 (and even more if a personal computer is being used as the sound source).

Post Production The general term for the last stages of film or music production, conducted after all the "raw content" (scenes or recorded songs) has been completed. Post production for film is in fact many different processes grouped under one name. These typically include: - Editing the picture (according to the wishes of the director). - Adding visual special effects (mainly computer generated imagery and digital compositing) - Editing the dialog (including ADR recording) - Adding audio sound effects (like Foley and custom sound design) - Composing and recording the soundtrack music - Mixing the combined audio tracks (dialog, sound effects and music) For an audio project post production follows the same basic path: - Editing the songs - Adding audio effects (such as processing vocals through a reverb) - Mixdown of the tracks - Mastering the finished tracks Typically, the post production phase takes longer than the actual recording or film shoot, and can take several months to complete.

Preference File In computer systems a preference file is a document that stores certain user selectable settings for a particular application. These settings may range from very simple parameters (such as a default font in a word processor) to every major aspect of the program's operation. This allows the user to be able to customize a working environment and always have the program boot up in a known (and preferred) state rather than having to be configured every time.

Print Most computer users (or people who have used a pencil and a piece of paper) know what this means, but it has a specific meaning for audio production as well. Printing something in audio and video refers to recording it, as in "printing to tape." The context in which this comes up is centered around sources and signals that may not normally get recorded to the multitrack tape in a project. An example of this could be sequenced MIDI parts that are often synchronized and flown in to a project as virtual tracks. Another example is effects that are normally returned to an auxiliary channel on the mixer and mixed in with the recorded tracks. Sometimes it is useful to actually record these things to the multitrack tape (or disk in the DAW world). Let's say you are moving a project to another studio for some overdubs, but don't want to carry the entire keyboard rig there and mess with getting all the instrument levels set in another room. You could just print a rough mix of all the keyboard parts to tape and use that as a reference for the overdubs.

Program 1. Software instructions; a computer application. 2. A preset or stored setting in a device. 3. The act of creating software. 4. The act of creating presets or patches for a synthesizer, sampler, or effects device. 5. Audio or video material or content (e.g., program material). 6. A paper handout given to the audience at a concert or performance describing the event, the performers, and the pieces to be performed. 7. A radio or television broadcast.

Progressive Scan A video term that describes a method of displaying images in which every horizontal line is drawn on the screen in a single pass to create a complete frame or single full-screen video image. This is different from interlaced video, in which each video frame is created by drawing two fields, one of which is made up of the odd numbered lines and the other the even numbered lines. Traditional television video uses interlaced scanning. With the advent of digital video and high definition video, progressive scan technology has become much more common. Computer monitors have used progressive scan (calling it "non-interlaced") for quite some time.

Proprietary This is a word that is (unfortunately) used fairly frequently in the computer and audio worlds. In the broader sense, proprietary means that a concept or product is unique to, and the property of a manufacturer or company. More commonly, proprietary refers to a manufacturer designing a product to only work with other products from that same manufacturer. For example, a manufacturer might make a synthesizer that can only save patch information to specific, specially designed RAM cards, rather than to more universal PCMCIA cards, floppy disks, or whatever. In order to save that synth's information you would be required to use the proprietary cards available only from that manufacturer. While the word "proprietary" is often given a negative connotation, keep in mind that building gear around proprietary designs and options allows a manufacturer to implement features that might not be possible if everything were standardized and generic.

PS/2 PS/2 is a wiring standard for computer peripheral devices developed by IBM, for IBM compatible computers and at one time years ago was the name of a series of IBM brand computers that first used these ports. The PS/2 style port uses a mini DIN plug containing just 6 pins. Most PCs have a PS/2 port so that the serial port can be used by another device, such as a modem. The PS/2 port is often called the mouse port, though there are mouse/serial ports in use on PC's that use different (non PS/2 style) connectors.

Pulldown Menu In the computer world, there are two ways to access settings or choose specific actions, and that's via Pulldown or Popup Menus. The main place you'll be accessing Pulldowns is when using the Menu Bar, which typically runs all the way across the top of your monitor's virtual desktop. Every operating system saves space by concealing its most important (and most frequently used) commands in Pulldown Menus. But Pulldowns are not limited to just operating systems. When you open an application, you get another menu bar across the top with which you will communicate with the specific program via Pulldown Menus. However, the most frequently used commands can be performed by keyboard shortcuts, some of which are universal and others which are program-specific.

Quick Time Musical Instruments A special component of Apple's QuickTime software that emulates a MIDI synthesizer. It's set up to conform to the general MIDI standard, and generates sounds based on received MIDI performance data, which may come from an external controller or internal software running on the computer.

QuickTime Developed by Apple Computer, QuickTime is a method of storing sound, graphics, and movie files. It has been in use on the Macintosh for a number of years as the principal video playback technology. Although QuickTime was originally developed for the Macintosh, player software is now available for Windows and other platforms.

QWERTY Keyboard The alphanumeric keyboard used with a computer is sometimes referred to as a "QWERTY" keyboard based on the arrangement of the first six keys appearing at the left of the top row of the letter characters (immediately below the row of numeric keys).

RAID 2 A RAID level that uses a technique similar to striping, but on the bit level. (Data is split at the bit level and distributed across the disks in the RAID for storage.) An error correction code, called a "Hamming code," is calculated and written to a dedicated disk at the same time the data is stored. When the data is read back into the computer, the Hamming code is also read to ensure that no errors occurred. Due to its complexity, substandard performance due to bit-level operation, the cost of extra disks, and the need for a specialized hardware controller, RAID 2 never really caught on for popular usage.

RAM Okay, back to the basics today. RAM - An acronym for Random Access Memory. A generic for chips that are used in computing devices to store sets of instructions, which can be computer programs and data or, in the case of some musical equipment, audio data. When you run an application like Microsoft Word, the program is called up from its permanent storage area (like the hard drive, floppy disk, or Cd_ROM) and moved into the RAM, where the CPU has much faster access to it. Data can be manipulated and calculations performed very quickly and then saved back to the storage medium. Sometimes RAM is just used as a buffer between subsystems or as a cache. There are many different types of RAM (DRAM, SRAM, EDO RAM, etc.) and each has its unique properties and price/performance characteristics. RAM is usually purchased by consumers as a small circuit board (often inaccurately called RAM chips) that are made of actual RAM chips and other components. These boards can be installed in computers and other devices to expand their available memory. Because of the widespread use of RAM in all sorts of devices the prices have dropped significantly in the past decade while the quantity of manufacturers and distributors has risen. RAM circuit boards can vary widely in quality and cost. There are many subtle and not so subtle factors that go into making very high quality RAM boards so it is a good idea to be careful when purchasing RAM.

RAM Disk A simulated disk drive created by allocating a portion of RAM in a computer system. A RAM disk will generally behave just like a regular hard disk drive, only it is usually much, much faster, which makes them handy for operations where the drive needs to be accessed a lot. There are software programs for most computing platforms that allow the user to configure RAM disks. Unlike a hard drive, however, a RAM disk is not a place for permanent storage. When the power is removed the contents of the RAM disk will be lost.

Real Time This meaning may seem obvious to most, but this word is jargon to many. The phrase comes from the computer industry where it was used to specify computer computation time. Basically it was defined as the time required for a computer to solve a problem, measured from the time data are fed in to the time a solution is received. Seems obvious to us now, but there are and were obviously many other ways to specify computer speed. Nowadays Real Time is used to describe any process that happens "on-line" or "live" without having to stop some other key process (such as a performance or mix) to carry it out. As processing power increases in computers and other related technologies more and more functions can occur in real time.

Reboot To "boot" is to start up a computer system, so to reboot is to restart the system. Typically, this doesn't involve actually turning off the power to the computer, but rather closing down and restarting the operating system, which clears out all the RAM, caches, and other storage spaces, and returns the computer and operating system to their default state. Rebooting will also quit any programs that might be running, so any data contained in them will be lost if it isn't saved to hard drive or other storage medium.

Register In computers, a register is a high-speed memory location in a computer's CPU. A register functions much like RAM, as it serves as a temporary storage location for small pieces of information. Registers are usually used to hold information being worked on, or about to be worked on, by the CPU. In musical terms, a register is the specific pitch range of an instrument.

Regulator (Voltage Regulator) A device designed to govern the supply voltage in an electronic circuit. Such a circuit could be in a computer, digital reverb, or automobile. Or it could be part of a power distribution system employed in your studio or stage rack. In all cases the idea is the same: to work with an input voltage that may vary and output a voltage that stays within a predefined range. Regulators come in many sizes, configurations, and price ranges. They do not all work the same way. Some may simply switch between different taps on a transformer (usually not a good idea for digital equipment because the switching can produce spikes on the line) while others may deploy sophisticated monitoring systems that control very complex circuits keeping output voltage at an exact fixed point as well as providing all sorts of EMI, RFI and surge suppression. Most fall somewhere in between. Voltage regulators cannot create power so if voltage falls at the input, the device must begin to draw more current from the source to be able to maintain its output voltage. You should keep this in mind when using any device that regulates voltage.

Render To render (a verb, pronounced REHN-dir, from the medieval French rendre meaning "to give back or yield") has a number of usages along the lines of forming something out of something else originally given. In modern digital video production (for example) rendering refers to the process of building a series of video images based on instructions and algorithms of a computer program. For example, you may want to add a title to a section of video. The computer will rebuild or render the title as part of the video. Or it could be as simple as making a video out of a group of selected clips one after the other. In digital audio the concept is similar. When you apply a non realtime or file based (destructive) process to a sound file a new sound file is rendered with the attributes you defined in the software. In essence, rendering is the "non realtime processing and subsequent writing of a new file" function in computer programs.

Resolution There are many definitions, but the relevant one for our purposes is that resolution is a measurement of the fineness of detail captured in a representation of something. This could pertain to the level of detail captured in a photograph or displayed on a computer monitor. It could even relate to video frames and time code: 30 frames per second is more resolution than 24 frames per second. We most commonly speak about resolution in terms of digital audio and how much resolution a digital audio system has. In digital audio resolution is affected by the sampling rate and the bit depth of the recording: 24-bit audio is higher resolution that 16-bit audio, and a 48 kHz sample rate is more resolution that a 44.1 kHz sample rate.

Restart To cause a computer system to "boot" or start up again. This generally involves shutting down and re-launching the operating system, which clears out all RAM, caches, and registers; shuts down any programs or background utilities that might be running; and returns the computer and the operating system to their default state. Any data in RAM that has not been saved to a hard drive or other storage media will be lost. Restarting may be necessary when a program crashes or hangs or the contents of RAM become corrupted.

Reverb The remainder of sound that exists in a room after the source of the sound has stopped is called reverberation, sometimes mistakenly called echo (which is an entirely different sounding phenomenon). We've all heard it when doing something like clapping our hands (or bouncing a basketball) in a large enclosed space (like a gym). All rooms have some reverberation, even though we may not always notice it as such. The characteristics of the reverberation are a big part of the subjective quality of the sound of any room in which we are located.


Our brains learn to derive a great deal of information about our surroundings from the sound of a room and it's reverberation. Consequently it is necessary to have the proper type and amount of reverberation on recordings in order for them to be aesthetically pleasing or to sound natural to us. This can be accomplished with careful microphone placement, but it is often necessary to employ artificially created reverb.

To create reverb, a device known as a reverb unit is employed. Reverb units have historically come in many shapes and sizes, and have used many different techniques to create the reverberation. These days most of the reverb units employed throughout the world are digital, where the sound of the reverb is generated by a computer algorithm and mixed with the original signal. We will be discussing other types of reverb units in the future.

Reverse Engineering The science of learning the way a device functions without the aid of documentation, usually by trial and error. In some cases reverse engineering is used to copy the technical function of something without copying the legally protected manner in which that function is accomplished. Probably the most famous (and profitable) instance of this was Compaq Computer's cloning of the original IBM PC. Would-be PC clone makers had to come up with a chip that would replace IBM's ROM-BIOS but do so without copying any IBM code. The way this is done is by looking at IBM's ROM-BIOS as a black box -- a mystery machine that does funny things to inputs and outputs. By knowing what data goes into the black box - the ROM -- and what data comes out, programmers can make intelligent guesses about what happens to the data when it's inside the ROM. Reverse engineering is a matter of putting many of these guesses together and testing them until the cloned ROM-BIOS acts exactly like the target ROM-BIOS. It's a tedious and expensive process. Reverse engineering the IBM PC's ROM-BIOS took the efforts of 15 senior programmers over several months and cost Compaq an estimated $1 million. In other cases, reverse engineering may take place simply because a company wants to build a product that is compatible with something else on the market, which is common in the audio industry. This is not the same as getting an "idea" for a feature from someone else. Reverse engineering is copying the specific function. For example, if someone wanted to build a product that worked with ADAT optical ports they would either have to get the information about how it works from Alesis or reverse engineer their optical spec. There are more products on the market as a result of reverse engineering than most people would ever expect.

RGB An abbreviation for "Red, Green, Blue." The RGB color model is an additive method of creating colors by utilizing red, green, and blue light combined in various ratios. The very idea for the model itself and the abbreviation "RGB" come from the three primary colors. Primary colors are based on the physiological response of the human eye to light. The human eye contains photoreceptor cells called cones, which normally respond best to yellowish-green, green, and blue light. The color yellow, for example, is perceived when the yellow-green receptor is stimulated slightly more than the green receptor, and the color red is perceived when the red receptor is stimulated significantly more than the green receptor. Although the peak responsiveness of the cones does not occur exactly at the red, green and blue wavelengths, those three colors are described as primary because they can be used relatively independently to stimulate the three kinds of cones. One common application of the RGB color model is the display of colors on a cathode ray tube or liquid crystal display such as a television picture tube or a computer monitor. Each pixel on the screen can be represented in the computer's memory as independent values for red, green and blue. These values are converted into intensities and sent to the CRT or LCD display. By using the appropriate combination of red, green and blue light intensities, the screen can reproduce many colors between its black level and white point. Typical display hardware used for computer monitors uses a total of 24 bits of information for each pixel. This corresponds to 8 bits each for red, green, and blue, giving a range of 256 possible values, or intensities, for each color. With this system, approximately 16.7 million discrete colors can be reproduced.

RISC Acronym for Reduced Instruction Set Computer. A CPU whose design is based on the rapid execution of a sequence of simple instructions rather than on the provision of a large variety of complex instructions (as in a Complex Instruction Set Computer). Features that are generally found in RISC designs are uniform instruction encoding, in which the operating code always occupies the same bit positions in each instruction, which is always one word long. This allows faster decoding. RISC also provides for a homogenous register set, allowing any register to be used in any context and simplifying compiler design. Simple addressing modes replace complex modes with sequences of simple arithmetic instructions. RISC processing was developed by IBM in the early 1970s. The most common examples of computers with RISC-based CPUs are the Apple Power Mac series. And if you can stand to learn one more acronym, the "Power" in that name is IBM's acronym for "Performance Optimization With Enhanced RISC."

RPM Abbreviation for Revolutions Per Minute. Anything that spins or revolves about some axis does so at a rate that can be related to time. Revolutions per minute is a specification for how many times in one minute a device spins through one complete rotation about its axis. In music production we most commonly encounter this spec when comparing different hard drives. A faster rotational speed in a hard drive normally means data can be found faster. This is simple physics: the drive head doesn\'t have to wait as long to get access to the various sectors of the drive because they pass by more frequently on faster mechanisms. Drive spindle speed, as it is sometimes known, has a direct impact on specs such as seek time, and can have an effect on the overall throughput of the drive. In short, higher numbers faster. In music and/or video production fast hard drives are a requirement so we tend to look at these specs much more closely than someone who uses a computer in a more conventional way. A \"faster\" drive, however, is not always necessary. It depends on the application. A hard drive for audio or video, for example, must be fast, but only needs to be \"fast enough\" to enable the system to do what is required. Sometimes there is a point of diminishing returns beyond which the added expense of a faster drive may not offer any additional benefit for a given system.

RS-232 A standard serial interface (EIA/TIA-232-E) configuration. The format is widely supported for bi-directional data transfer at low to moderate rates. It has been used on many personal computers over the years to connect personal computers with peripheral hardware and instruments (such as MIDI interfaces). Use is restricted to one peripheral at a time and short distances. The standard originally called for DB-25 connectors, but now allows the smaller DB-9 version (see WFTD D-Sub).

RS-422 A connection standard adopted in 1978 by the Electronics Industry Association as EIA-422-A for serial transmissions. Its significant feature is the use of balanced line twisted-pair wires for long distance (~1000 m, or ~3300 ft) computer interconnections, daisy-chain style.

RTAS Commonly pronounced ARE-TAZ it is an acronym for Real Time Audio Suite. Basically it is a newer variation on Digidedign's Audio Suite plug-in architecture that has been in use in their host based and TDM based systems for some time. RTAS has taken it to the next logical step and used the extensive processing power of today's computers to make these plug-ins usable in real time, which in many ways makes them almost TDM-like in operation. The distinction between RTAS and TDM plug-ins is that RTAS uses the host computer for processing whereas TDM uses proprietary dedicated DSP on hardware cards. Each method has its own price/performance/quality pros and cons.

S.M.A.R.T An acronym for Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology, S.M.A.R.T. was developed by a number of major Hard Disk Drive Manufacturers in a concerted effort to increase the reliability of drives. It is a technology that enables the computers to predict the future failure of hard disk drives. Through the S.M.A.R.T. system, hard disk drives incorporate a suite of advanced diagnostics that monitor the internal operations of a drive and provide an early warning for many types of potential problems. When a potential problem is detected, the drive can be repaired or replaced before data is lost. S.M.A.R.T. monitors the disk\'s performance, bad sectors, calibration, CRC errors, disk spin-up time, distance between the head and the disk, temperature, features of medium, heads, motor or servo mechanism. Armed with a failure prediction, the user or system manager can back up key data, replace a suspect device prior to data loss, or avoid undesired downtime. Glyph\'s current line of hard drives feature S.M.A.R.T.

SACD (Super Audio Compact Disc) SACD is one of several emerging new standards for high-resolution audio on compact discs. It was developed by Sony and is based on a licensed technology called Direct Stream Digital, which was developed by Sony and Phillips and is theoretically capable of sample rates up to 2.8 MHz. The SACD format allows for playback of multi-channel audio and a bandwidth of 100 kHz at over 120 dB dynamic range while retaining compatibility with existing compact disc technology. There are several subformats in the works (single layer, dual layer, etc.) that are optimized for different tasks, but Sony claims that all SACD discs have fully uncompromised audio quality. That is, no data compression, and no computer generated surround mixes from stereo data or vice versa. The potential success of this format in the mainstream is currently under scrutiny amidst other developments such as DVD Audio, but there are a significant number of titles available on the Sony label with promised support from other record labels.

Sample Dump Standard (SDS) The MIDI Sample Dump Standard is a method of sending digital audio sample data from one machine to another via MIDI connections. Due to the bandwidth limitations of MIDI, SDS transfers can be quite slow, but are an effective way to share sample data between samplers, or between samplers and computer-based sample editing software.

Sandbox While the term "sandbox" has been assigned number of meanings with usages spanning military, videogames, railroad, and even rock bands from Canada and England, our interest in the word sandbox is as it pertains to computer security. Metaphorically, a sandbox is a safe place for children to play in, and it is in this context that it translates to computer security; a safe place to run programs and scripts to avoid possible damage to a critical system &mdash particularly one that is difficult to restore. Such scripts and programs are either third-party programs or software under development. A sandbox for security purposes can be a partitioned drive space with tightly controlled resources and a portion of memory to run commands. For electronic musicians, a sandbox can be very useful for operating system (OS) upgrades (see tech tip), particularly when one has software from numerous manufacturers.

Screen Saver Long before the first LCD screen was plugged into a computer, owners had to depend upon cathode ray tube monitors or CRTs. Although capable of much greater resolution, CRTs were essentially just sophisticated TVs, and thus at risk for phosphor burn-in, which would occur if a specific image were to be left on the screen too long. To prevent this, a software program was designed to fill the screen with images or moving patterns. These were quickly dubbed "screen savers," since a monitor with a burned-in image would become problematic. The earliest examples were in black and white, but as color CRTs became the norm, screen savers grew in sophistication. Some were free, others shareware, and still others inexpensive software that would not only prevent burn-in, but also provide interesting images and motion graphics that were pleasant to watch. Today, although LCD and other flat-screen monitors are not susceptible to burn-in (because the images are not produced by phosphors), screen savers are still a pleasant diversion while Mac and PC users are waiting, for instance, for a huge file to download.

Screen Shot Also known as a screen capture, this is a digital image that is taken by a computer (Mac or PC) that records the elements that are visible on its monitor. Most often, the image is captured by the host computer's operating system, although third-party software and shareware is available that can perform the same function. The main purposes of a screen shot would likely be to demonstrate a specific feature available within a particular program for marketing or tutorial purposes, or to illustrate a particular problem a user may be having with the computer (i.e., capturing an error message). Typically, screen shots are saved in common image formats such as JPEG, PNG, or BMP. These files are usually small enough to send as an attachment to an e-mail message.

Scribble Strip A portion of the front panel or user interface of some device allocated for handwritten notes. A great example pertinent to the audio industry is the area on audio mixing boards designed to accommodate notes about what is on a given channel. This space is usually a strip (hence the term "scribble strip") that runs the width of the mixer just above or below the faders. This is the space sound engineers use to name the channels (bass, kick, snare, GTR, etc.) for quick identification. On more modern mixers and control surfaces scribble strips have become electronic displays. The names of the channels are saved with setups and can be recalled accordingly. The virtual equivalent of scribble strips are also part of computer based DAW systems.

SCSI Pronounced "scuzzy," this acronym stands for Small Computer Systems Interface. SCSI is a hardware interface incorporated into computers, disk-based digital recorders, samplers, and other microprocessor-based equipment. It allows for the easy connection of a variety of peripherals such as hard drives, removable media drives, CD-ROM drives, scanners, and more. One SCSI controller can support up to 7 peripherals, each having their own unique "id" or address. The first and last items in a SCSI chain must be terminated for proper operation. The "theoretical" maximum length of a SCSI chain is 19 feet, but in practice, the chain should be as short as possible!

SDRAM Stands for Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory. SDRAM is a faster version of DRAM, which is the type of memory chips that have been used in most computing equipment for the past several years. SDRAM began to appear in 1997 and can synchronize itself to the bus speed of the computer, which is what makes it so much faster than standard Dynamic RAM. There are a number of other subtypes of RAM with different names and different properties. More are being developed all the time.

Sector A section of a computer disk, such as a hard drive disk or optical media such as CD ROM. These media are segmented into tracks, sectors and clusters, where a unique ID or address allows the drive system to store and later be able to retrieve data. This file address information is generally stored in sector number 0 on the disk in a file known as the FAT (File Allocation Table). The sectors as well as the rest of the organization of the diskette or disk are set up as a result of the process known as formatting.

Serial Refers to things being arranged in a series, or one item after another. In computers and data, serial is a sequential transmission of each piece of information. Literally this means each bit, of a byte, one at a time over one wire. Parallel transmission uses many wires to simultaneously transmit large packets of data. Many types of computer data are transmitted serially. This is how modems and fax machines communicate, for example. In music MIDI data is transmitted serially both in the MIDI cables themselves and into and out of the computer via a MIDI interface. In order to transmit more data per second in a serial system one must speed up the rate of transfer. Since all MIDI is standardized to a set speed there is a very finite amount of MIDI data that can be transmitted on one cable. It is possible, however, for a MIDI Interface to be connected to a host computer at a high enough transfer rate to be able to handle many individual MIDI streams "simultaneously" (though we don't mean that literally, it is still serial).

Serial Time Code Editing devices which can be controlled by computers, have a connection called a "serial control port" or RS422 port. These devices communicate with the computer and are controlled via commands in a serial data protocol. Serial Time Code is a means of transmitting time code over the same data stream that carries this control information for the purposes of synchronization. Some of these devices have no SMPTE Time Code port, but send and receive time code via these control ports. Other devices send and receive only transport commands over their serial ports, but require a conventional time code connection in order to read time code.

Server In general, a server is a computer program that provides services to other computer programs in the same or other computers. The computer that a server program runs on is generally called a server, and quite often acts to serve some number of client computers that have some type of client software that accesses the server and its software. This specific paradigm has been practically expanded to refer to any computer that's making files or services available to other computers. For example, a Web server would store all files related to a Web site and perform all work necessary for hosting the Web site. Some situations require that one server "serve" more than one role, such as both a network server and a file server. This means that, in it's network server role, the computer is responsible for holding the files and managing the processes that enable everyone in the office to access and use the network. In it's file server role, it holds the central computer files and various databases. While the role of a server used to be seen as a luxury due to expense, many businesses and homes now have servers in everyday use.

Shared Library A DLL is a computer program file consisting of a collection of resources or routines that are available to other programs, as opposed to a static library where the contents are copied into one program when it\'s compiled. A program that wants to use these routines is linked with the DLL at the time it is actually started, or later. The term DLL relates mostly to Windows products. On the UNIX platform (including Mac OS X), the term \"Shared Library\" is more commonly used.

Shareware This is software that's created most often by an individual, fully copyrighted, but which may be downloaded by computer owners or freely copied and distributed so that the end user can try it out before committing to purchase a license for it. This is an offshoot of freeware, which is also copywrited, but for which the programmer expects to receive no payment. Shareware got its name because the cost of its development is ultimately shared by those who choose to use it. It typically has a tryout period during which users can run it without making any payment. Then, after a certain amount of time, or a certain number of launches, the program may no longer function without the user purchasing a license for it. In general, shareware is less expensive than retail software, typically because the author has little or no overhead, and does not actively market it by purchasing ads in various industry journals. Often shareware is distributed on CDs or DVDs that ship with commercially distributed magazines or it may be found on Web sites that specialize in the distribution of both shareware and freeware. In some cases, shareware authors may not require payment, but rather depend upon the 'honor system,' whereby they put their faith in the end user to send payment if he or she finds the product to be useful.

Shell As contrasted with kernel, the shell is the outermost programming layer of an operating system. In computers it's the part that generally interacts with user commands and feedback to the user.

Shortcut A shortcut is to PC computers with the Windows operating system what an alias is to Mac OS computers: an icon or file that references another file or program. Shortcuts are handy for keeping a relevant group of files together and stashed away in their folders while you can reference the ones you need from a more convenient location.

Shuttle A term used mostly in the video tape world to mean the fast forwarding or rewinding (though much slower than an actual fast forward or rewind) of tape while being able to see the picture (usually with no sound). The shuttle control of a video tape machine generally works in concert with a jog or scrub control. The shuttle control, which is usually implemented as a dial or wheel type interface, lets the engineer rapidly locate a section of the tape while viewing the picture. Then the jog or scrub control (also a wheel type interface) lets him slowly find the exact location desired while seeing video and hearing audio. Though this use of the term has its roots in video tape editing it has also been used in the audio world from time to time due to the wheel or dial type user interface. When audio recorders implement a similar wheel or dial for locating audio material they often refer to it as a shuttle control. Similarly non-linear video systems have software emulation of the same functions in order to help video engineers feel more at home on computer based systems.

SIMM Acronym for Single In-line Memory Module. A SIMM is basically a group of memory chips soldered to a small circuit board designed for easy installation into computer equipment. These were created to provide some standardization and ease of user installation for upgradable computers in recent years. The technology was adopted by musical equipment manufacturers in the 1990's and now almost all samplers use some kind of standardized memory upgrades (quite often SIMMs). This provides a more economical means of upgrading memory. SIMMs are available in different configurations: There are 30 pin and 72 pin versions, each available in a wide range of memory capacities ranging from 128K all the way up to 128 MB. There are other more subtle differences between SIMMs too. Composite versus non-composite arrangements, parity, and many other minor circuit configuration issues can cause SIMMs to fail to work properly in some equipment. To say that SIMMs are "standardized" is a very loose use of the word. Nevertheless, this technology and its scale of economy has helped to bring the price of memory down by several hundred percent in just a few years.

Simplex Circuit Put simply, a simplex circuit provides transmission in one direction only. Some of the very first serial connections between computers were simplex connections. For example, mainframes sent data to a printer and never checked to see if the printer was available or if the document printed properly since that was a human job. Simplex links are built so that the transmitter (the one talking) sends a signal and it's up to the receiving device (the listener) to figure out what was sent and to correctly do what it was told. No traffic is possible in the other direction across the same connection. Simplex communication works well in broadcast media, such as radio, television and public announcement systems.

Slave Our common sense understanding of the word slave pretty much clues us in to how it is used in audio/video production. The specific literal definition we are concerned with is; a machine or component controlled by another machine or component. When two devices are synchronized to one another it is necessary to have one be the master and the other the slave. The slave unit responds to commands or information from the master and is thus controlled by it. This is the basic principle behind all synchronization in audio and video. For example, if a computer system is following an analog tape machine (or video deck) it can be said to be "slaved" to it.

Sleep A type of 'stand-by' mode employed in certain types of equipment. Sleep specifically has been associated with the Macintosh computer over the years. In that case it turns off the video output of the machine, spins down or turns off the hard drive, and disables aspects of a number of other functions (networking, etc.), but leaves power to RAM so any running applications don't have to be restarted when the computer is revived. The overall purpose is so it can be returned to the state it was prior to being put to sleep much faster than rebooting and relaunching all of the programs. The specific characteristics of sleep mode will differ with other equipment, but in general you can always think of it as a stand-by mode.

SMDI A very interesting word because it is actually an acronym within an acronym. SMDI, pronounced "smiddy" stands for SCSI Musical Data Interchange. SMDI allows samples to be transferred from some sampling keyboards to a computer equipped with SCSI. The benefit of SMDI over the MIDI sample dump standard is speed. It can take hours for large samples to transfer to a computer over MIDI. With SMDI this happens in minutes. In order to do SMDI data dumps you must have an appropriate software application on the computer, a SCSI port on both the computer and sampler, and a sampler that is compatible with the software program. Of course, then there are the other gyrations you must go through getting the two devices to cooperate with each other on the SCSI bus.

Soft Synth Short for Software Synthesizer. A software synthesizer is a software application designed to emulate some type of hardware synthesizer. Some software programs focus their attention on emulating one specific synthesizer - often a well-known vintage model, while others have a wide range of capabilities. Some operate as stand alone applications while others function as plug-ins within some other environment. Quality varies significantly, however, as computer processing power has increases soft synths are becoming better in quality and thus more widely used, not to mention less expensive.

Software Specialized written coded commands that specifically tell a computer what tasks to perform. These may be operating instructions for specific task-based applications. The computer then processes and carries out these instructions, performing a wide range of tasks that include image editing, word processing, managing databases, creating music, and so forth. These are generally called "programs." Additional procedures, rules, and complex instructions that govern the overall performance and user interface of a computer (or any other hardware) are called operating systems (or OS).

Software Update This is a convenient feature of the Mac OS X operating systems. Software Update is found under the blue Apple logo in the far left of the top menu bar. Choose this with your mouse and your Mac will automatically scan Apple's Web site for newer versions or updates of Apple's software. Note that Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard can automatically run Software Update checks in the background and let you know when an update is available for your computer. (Many experts recommend not letting your computer do this, as there can be compatibility issues between new OS software and third-party applications.)

Sound Card An expansion board that enables a computer to manipulate and output sounds. Sound cards have become commonplace on modern personal computers and are typically associated with the consumer market. Sound cards enable the computer to output sound through speakers connected to the board, to record sound input from a microphone connected to the computer, and manipulate sound stored on a disk. Some sound cards also support MIDI, surround sound and more. In addition, most PC sound cards are Sound Blaster- compatible, which means that they can process commands written for a Sound Blaster card, a standard in consumer PC sound.

Sound font The Sound font standard, developed by Emu Systems and their parent company, Creative Labs, is a data format that contains the detailed information necessary to create musical notes or sound effects using wavetable synthesis technology. A "Sound font bank" is a collection of sounds in the Sound font standard format. Such a bank contains both the digital audio samples captured from a sound source, and the instructions to the wavetable synthesizer on how to articulate this sound based on the musical or sonic context as expressed by MIDI. For example, a trumpet could be a particular sound in a Sound font bank that might contain both recordings of trumpets being played at several different pitches, as well as information which would tell the synthesizer to filter or mute the sounds when notes were played softly, loop information about the sample which would allow a short recording to be stretched into a sustained note, and instructions on how to apply vibrato or to bend the pitch of the note based on MIDI commands from the musician. Sound fonts get their name because the concept and their behavior is much like fonts we use in computers. Special Sound font compatible hardware is required to play Sound fonts and the quality of playback will vary somewhat depending upon the capabilities of the playback device, just like fonts we use in our computers can look different depending upon the output characteristics of our screens and printers. The main advantage to Sound fonts is they provide a tremendous amount of real time control to sound playback while still benefiting from the realism and computational simplicity of samples. As of this writing their use is mostly limited to computer sound cards (Emu does have some instruments that can use Sound fonts), but there are more ambitious hardware plans in the future.

Sound Manager The Sound Manager is a collection of routines that native or third-party applications use to create sound without a knowledge of or dependence on the actual sound-producing hardware available on any particular Macintosh computer, prior to OS X. More generally, the Sound Manager is responsible for managing all sound production on Macintosh computers. Other parts of the Macintosh system software that need to create or modify sounds use the Sound Manager to do so. Sound Manager was first introduced in the Macintosh system software version 6.0 and was significantly enhanced since that time through Mac OS 9.x. Prior to Mac OS 6.0, applications could create sounds using the Sound Driver (how's that for some Mac trivia?).

Soundbite Soundbite is generally used in certain DAW recording software programs such as Digital Performer, to define a very small section of recorded audio. The term derives from two sources: First, in computer-speak, a byte is a unit of data that is eight bits (binary digits) long. In broadcasting, a soundbite is a small segment of audio or film footage that either encapsulates or is considered to be the most important part of a much longer speech or interview. By combining the two concepts with a little misspelling thrown in for good measure, a soundbite in DAW-speak becomes a small section of digital audio data.

SourceCode The basic set of written step-by-step instructions for a computer program. It is referred to as source code because this is usually not the instructions a given computer or processor actually runs. Source code is generally run through a \"compiler,\" which translates it into the specific language a certain processor can deal with. A compiled instruction set generally cannot be deciphered by a human so it\'s necessary to return to the original \"source code\" to make most changes and enhancements.

Speaker Depending on context, the word "speaker" can refer to many things. 1. An orator or someone who is talking at a given time. (e.g., "The main speaker stood before the audience and gave a lecture.") 2. The actual loudspeaker transducer within a system. (e.g., "My guitar amplifier features a custom-designed 12" speaker.") 3. A particular loudspeaker system, including a speaker cabinet; a loudspeaker; and any and all wiring, circuitry, and controls. (e.g., "I need a more powerful speaker for my portable PA system.") 4. Studio monitors, generally when they are used for basic music playback or for gaming (e.g., "I hooked up my laptop to my new computer speakers.")

Standalone or Stand Alone A term that describes a hardware device or software program that is capable of operating by itself, with nothing else required. Standalone can have many contexts, but in music and video production it is generally applied to components that can function both with and without a computer connection or host software. An example of software is a virtual instrument that can run on its own without being used as a plug-in in an audio/MIDI sequencer. Such an instrument only requires the computer's OS and support for the transfer protocols of the audio and MIDI interfaces, for example ASIO, CoreAudio or CoreMIDI. Most virtual instruments also support one or more plug-in formats such as VST, AU or DXi. A common standalone hardware device is a MIDI interface, which can be used by itself to route data to a number of synths and sound modules in a live music setting. The interface can be programmed using its front panel controls. Again, most MIDI interfaces are also able to connect to a computer to respond to commands from a sequencing program. Other hardware examples include a portable MP3 player, which can play back audio it has downloaded from a computer, and a RAID server that connects directly to a network without requiring a computer to run it.

Standard MIDI File (SMF) A standardized file format for saving MIDI sequences independent of the platform they were created on. Standard MIDI Files allow musicians with completely different types of computers or sequencers to exchange MIDI sequences. There are two types, Type 0 (single track), and Type 1 (multitrack). Each type contains the same information, but on a Type 0 all MIDI channels are combined into one track (MIDI channel assignments and other information are not lost) while on a Type 1 each track is kept separate.

Standby UPS The Standby UPS is the most common UPS type used for Personal Computers. The transfer switch is set to choose the filtered AC input as the primary power source and switches to the battery / inverter as the backup source in case of a failure of the primary source (AC). In the case of power failure, the transfer switch must operate to switch over to the battery / inverter backup power source. The inverter only starts when the power fails, hence the name "Standby." Benefits of this model include high efficiency, small size, and low cost.

Standby-Ferro UPS The Standby-Ferro UPS was once the dominant form of UPS in the 3-15kVA (Volt-Ampere) range. This design depends on a special transformer that has three windings (power connections). The primary power path is from AC input, through a transfer switch, through the transformer, and to the output. In the case of a power failure, the transfer switch is opened, and the inverter picks up the output load. In the Standby-Ferro design, the inverter is in the standby mode, and is energized when the input power fails and the transfer switch is opened. The transformer has a special "Ferro-resonant" capability, which provides limited regulation and output waveform "shaping". The isolation from AC power transients provided by the ferro transformer is as good or better than any filter available, but the ferro transformer itself creates severe output voltage distortion and transients which can be worse than a poor AC connection. Even though it is inherently a standby UPS, the Standby-Ferro generates a great deal of heat because the ferro-resonant transformer is inherently inefficient. Standby-Ferro UPS systems are frequently represented as On-Line units, even though they have a transfer switch, the inverter operates in the standby mode, and they exhibit a transfer characteristic during an AC power failure. High reliability and excellent line filtering are the strengths of the Standby-Ferro design. However, the design has very low efficiency combined with instability when used with some generators and newer power-factor corrected computers, which has caused the popularity of this design to decrease significantly.

Startup Disk Many modern personal computers can have as many as four separate internal hard drives installed. The disk with the operating system is designated as the startup disk, meaning the computer boots up from the drive that has the OS installed. In Mac OS X, the startup disk can be selected by accessing the system preferences, then choosing the appropriate drive to boot from. Starting with OS X 10.5, Macs can boot from either Windows (by using "Boot Camp") or the standard Mac OS.

Steganography Steganography simply takes one piece of information and hides it within another. Computer files (images, sounds recordings, even disks) contain unused or insignificant areas of data. Steganography takes advantage of these areas, replacing them with information, such as a hidden "trademark" in images, music, and software, a technique referred to as watermarking.

Stochastic Music The dictionary defines stochastic as (from the Greek stochastikos - skillful in aiming, from stochazesthai - to aim at, guess at, from stochos - target, aim, guess.) as a process that involving chance or probability. In music stochastic elements are randomly generated elements created by strict mathematical processes. Stochastic processes can be used in music either to compose a fixed piece, or produced in performance. Iannis Xenakis, an architect and composer who used probability, game theory, group theory, set theory, Boolean algebra, and frequently computers, to produce his scores, pioneered stochastic music. Earlier, John Cage and others had composed aleatoric music, which is created by chance processes but does not have the strict mathematical basis (Cage's Music of Changes, for example, uses a system of charts based on the I-Ching). Xenakis is particularly remembered for his pioneering electronic and computer music, and for the use of stochastic mathematical techniques in his compositions, including probability (Maxwell-Boltzmann kinetic theory of gases in Pithoprakta, aleatory distribution of points on a plane in Diamorphoses, minimal constraints in Achorripsis, Gaussian distribution in ST/10 and Atr�es, Markovian chains in Analogiques), game theory (in Duel and Strat�gie), group theory (Nomos Alpha), and Boolean algebra (in Herma and Eonta). In keeping with his use of probabilistic theories, many of Xenakis' pieces are, in his own words, "a form of composition which is not the object in itself, but an idea in itself, that is to say, the beginnings of a family of compositions". The heavy reliance of Xenakis' music upon mathematics, and probability theory in particular, led to criticism and a lack of appreciation by both the music community and the general public. In 1962 he published Musique Formelles-later revised, expanded and translated into Formalized Music: Thought and Mathematics in Composition in 1971-a collection of essays on his musical ideas and composition techniques, regarded as one of the most important theoretical works of 20th century music.

Streaming Audio A catch-all phrase signifying all digitized computer audio files that are compressed to smaller file sizes for simultaneous playback and transferal over the internet. Non-streaming audio has to be downloaded in entirety from its originating host site before it can be played back by the local computer.

Streaming Media Streaming media enables real-time or on-demand access to audio, video or any other multimedia content via the Internet. It is transmitted via a specialized media server application, and then played back by the end user via a player application such as QuickTime. In the past, such material had to be fully downloaded and saved to disk before it could be accessed, but with the advent of faster computers and the proliferation of broadband Internet connections, it is now possible to view or hear video or audio files as they are being delivered. However, streaming media generally leaves behind no copy of the content on the receiving device unless the user chooses to save the data to disk.

Synchronization In keeping with the release of the Digital Time Piece, our word for today is "synchronization." In audio terms, synchronizing, or synching, is the process of making two devices operate together as one. One device will be the "master", and tell the second "slave" device when to start, when to stop, and how fast to play. Originally, synching devices primarily meant locking two multitrack tape recorders together to allow for more tracks, or locking audio and video decks together when adding sound to picture. Today, synchronization also encompasses locking recorders to computers, various digital devices' clocks to each other, MIDI to SMPTE, and a variety of other possibilities. Synchronizing wildly different technologies together can be a complex process; having a central master sync device like the DTP around can definitely make life much easier!

Syncrosoft Key Syncrosoft is the name of a German company that developed a patented copy-protection solution for software applications, using a USB key. This small key, which looks somewhat like a USB flash drive or "thumb drive," plugs into any USB port on a computer or auxiliary hub. A part of the code an application requires to start up is actually encrypted on the Synchrosoft Key. Thus, in order to run the program, this key must be plugged into your computer.

Syquest Syquest is a company most noted for making affordable volume removable storage media and related drives for computer systems. They were so popular in the early 1990's that their name became synonymous with the removable hard drive cartridge to the extent that it is sometimes used as a generic name for them (which also elevates its stature to being worthy of an inSync Word for the Day). Early Syquest drives and media were 44 Megabytes. Later they updated to 88 MB drives, and then on to 105 and larger sizes. SyQuest filed a Chapter 11 petition with the United States Bankruptcy Court in Oakland, California on November 17, 1998. Trading in SyQuest stock was suspended on November 2, 1998. Their assets are currently being sold to Iomega, another company known for its removable media.

System Bus Sometimes referred to as the Frontside Bus, in computers this is the bus that connects the CPU to main memory (RAM) on the motherboard. I/O buses, which connect the CPU with the systems other components, branch off of the system bus.

System Exclusive One of the categories of MIDI messages, System Exclusive (Sys Ex) is data intended for, and understood by, only one particular piece of gear. Normally, this data is used to communicate with and control parameters specific to that item. For example, all of the proprietary data in a Roland D-110 synthesizer representing RAM patches might be sent as a "sys ex dump" to a computer librarian. When the computer sends this data back out over MIDI, the only device recognizing and responding to it will be a D-110, all other synths and MIDI devices will ignore it. Other uses for sys ex? MIDI control of parameters not supported by continuous controllers, remote patch editing, patch bank select, and more - uses depend on, and can be tailored for, each specific piece of MIDI gear - that's the beauty of sys ex!

TCP Abbreviation for Transmission Control Protocol. TCP is a set of rules that defines how data is shared among computers. It is often used along with the Internet Protocol (IP) to send data in the form of message units between computers over the Internet. While IP takes care of handling the actual delivery of the data, TCP takes care of keeping track of the individual units of data (called packets) that a message is divided into for efficient routing through the Internet. Together these two protocols are known as TCP/IP (spoken "Tee - See - Pee over Eye Pee," or just the letters TCPIP for short).


When data is sent to you from some server (say, a web server, for example) the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) program in that server divides the file into one or more packets, numbers the packets, and then forwards them individually to the IP program. Although each packet has the same destination IP address, it may get routed differently through the network. At the other end (the client program in your computer), TCP reassembles the individual packets and waits until they have arrived to forward them to you as a single file.

TCP is known as a connection-oriented protocol, which means that a connection is first established, confirmed, and then maintained until such time as the message or messages to be exchanged by the application programs at each end have been exchanged. TCP is responsible for ensuring that a message is divided into the packets that IP manages and for reassembling the packets back into the complete message at the other end.

Template Generally something that establishes or serves as a pattern or gauge, such as a thin metal plate with a cut pattern that is used as a guide in making something accurately in woodworking. In our discourse this normally refers to a computer document or file having a preset format that is used as a starting point for a particular application so that the format does not have to be recreated each time it is used. This could be a loan amortization template for a spreadsheet program; a memorandum template for a word processing program, a mixer configuration for Pro Tools, a MIDI setup for sequencing software, a basic two zone layer for a keyboard controller, or any of dozens of other applications. Anytime one is working with a device that is programmable and has many different parameters templates can save a lot of time configuring new sessions, mixes, setups, and so on.


An overlay that fits over all or part of a keyboard or other type of hardware control panel and has labels describing the functions of each key within a particular application is also known as a template.

Terabyte A unit of computer memory or storage capacity equal to one trillion bytes. It is commonly abbreviated TB. Because of irregularities in the definition and usage of the term "kilobyte," the exact number of bytes identified as a terabyte may be either of the following: � 1,000,000,000,000 bytes - 1000 to the 4th power or 10 to the 12th power � 1,099,511,627,776 bytes - 1024 to the 4th power or 2 to the 40th power Let's put this figure into context. The average video store contains about 8 terabytes of video. The books in the United States Library of Congress contain about 20 terabytes of text in total. Personal computers with 64-bit CPUs and operating systems are theoretically capable of accessing one terabyte of memory. 1TB hard drives are available, although their 2005 cost keeps them out of reach of most individual users.

TeraFLOPS When dealing with computers, FLOPS stands for Foating point Operations Per Second, a standard used to measure a computer's performance. A teraFLOPS essentially means that a computer is capable of performing 10,000,000,000,000 (ten trillion) operations per second.

Terminal In hardware terms, a terminal is a device that allows a computer to send or receive data. The type of hardware found on a terminal varies depending on the type of information the terminal handles. Early terminals consisted merely of a keyboard and a computer screen, and handled only alphanumeric data. Most personal computers have terminal software that emulates a physical terminal and allows the user to manually enter commands into a computer.

TFT Abbreviation for Thin-Film Transistor. This is the technology used to build active-matrix LCD screens found on laptop computers, flat-panel monitors, synthesizer workstations, cell phones, and other display devices. Flat-panel displays are lightweight, portable, and relatively rugged. They require less power than a CRT and offer high resolution. Active-matrix TFT displays are composed of a grid (or matrix) of picture elements (pixels). Thousands or millions of these pixels together create an image on the display. Thin-film transistors act as switches to individually turn each pixel "on" (light) or "off" (dark). The TFTs are the active elements, arranged in a matrix, on the display.

Third Party Refers to an entity outside of the buyer and seller arrangement. The buyer is considered the first party (similar to "I" being a first person pronoun), the seller the second party, and anyone supplying things from outside that sphere of influence is considered third party. It is a commonly used term in the high tech world we live in today because many working systems involve third party add-on items. For example, if you add RAM to a computer that comes from some other vendor it is considered third party. Sounds you add to your keyboard that come from some other maker are considered third party sounds. A ProCo cable added to a studio setup consisting of many different kinds of equipment is not normally considered third party. An Apogee A/D converter card installed into your Yamaha recorder is considered third party. A Yamaha converter card would not be third party...unless the card is made by someone other than Yamaha (a third party), which is a fine distinction. As often occurs with jargon, the phrase isn't used with a great deal of precision in terms of exactly what it means.

Thread In computers, a series of instructions. A process, or single task, on a CPU may be broken up into multiple threads (multi-threading), which are subsets of the overall process that work together to increase efficiency. Think of it as "division of labor" for computer programs: each thread focuses on its particular assigned small part of the process resulting in faster execution than a single string of instructions. Threads inside a process can share resources, such as memory.

Throughput Refers to the amount of data transferred from one place to another or processed in a specified amount of time. Data transfer rates for disk drives, networks, and many other types of data transmission are measured in terms of throughput. Throughput is also sometimes used to describe the computational power/speed of a computer system.

Time Machine Unfortunately this is not actually a machine that can take you back through time (let's say back to 1959, where you could buy a dozen Sunburst Les Paul Standards at mere $280 each). This is actually the name of a feature in Apple's Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" operating system that backs up your system files, applications, accounts, preferences, music, photos, movies and other documents. What makes Time Machine different from other backup software is that it not only keeps a spare copy of every file, it also remembers how your system looked on a given day, so you can revisit your Mac as it appeared in the past. It makes hourly backups for the past 24 hours, daily backups for the past month, and weekly backups for everything older than a month. For the initial backup, Time Machine copies the entire contents of the computer to your backup hard drive, skipping caches and other files that aren't required to restore your Mac to its original state. Every hour, every day, an incremental backup of your Mac is made automatically as long as your backup drive is attached to your Mac.

Timeline A schedule of events presented in a linear fashion such that a viewer can see the order and timing of them. In audio and video production we often work in a timeline based environment, particularly where computers or devices that represent projects graphically are involved. In many cases audio and/or video is represented by graphical "blocks" or regions that can be moved about to change their relative timing. There is also usually some form of cursor to represent one's current location within the timeline.

Transfer Rate The amount of data which can be transferred between two points in a given period of time. You will usually see this term used in conjunction with storage media like hard drives, CD-ROMs, DAT backups, etc. Transfer rates become important when trying to determine if a drive can support the demands placed on it by applications like recording and playing digital audio, video, or multimedia files.


Two things to keep in mind with transfer rates:


  1. A drive's transfer rate may be different for reading and writing data.
  2. Transfer rates are CPU dependent. Regardless of how fast your drive is, your computer can only accept data as fast as the CPU can handle it.

Turnkey Turnkey refers to a system or software package that has been built, installed or supplied by the manufacturer complete and ready to operate. In the computer industry, the term is used to promote a system that can be easily set up and operated "right out of the box." If you think of it in terms of an engine, a turnkey engine comes with all the parts and can be tossed into a car and work immediately. An engine that isn't Turnkey will need additional parts and integration before it will run. In essence, Turnkey is a term that requires qualification. For example, a Sweetwater PC that is optimized for audio in and of itself is a Turnkey system. However, a system that includes a Sweetwater PC, Pro Tools software, and an Mbox that enables you to set up easily and begin recording immediately can also be considered a Turnkey system.

UART An acronym standing for Universal asynchronous receiver/transmitter. A UART is an integrated circuit (chip) found in most modern computers that interfaces a microprocessor to a serial I/O port.

UDMA Abbreviation for Ultra Direct Memory Access. UDMA is a protocol developed as an improvement to recent ATA devices that effectively doubles the available transfer rate by allowing the device direct access to the computer memory, bypassing the CPU. This also takes a lot of load off of the CPU. UDMA standards are generally UDMA/33 or UDMA/66, which provides for the current 66MB/s data transfer rate available in modern ATA devices. (See also DMA)

Undo A function in most computer programs with some type of editing feature that allows the user to reverse, or undo a change that has just been made, thereby reverting the open document to the state it was in prior to the change. Most programs that have an undo capability also have a redo function, which simply reinstitutes the change. Nowadays many programs have expanded on this function and allow many levels of undo so a user can step back through a long history of modifications and revert them back to how they were before the changes.

Unformatted Capacity The opposite of formatted capacity (see WFTD archive Formatted Capacity). It is the capacity of a disk drive (in number of bytes of data that can be stored on the disk) before it is formatted for a particular kind of computer. Unformatted capacity is a physical property of the drive, relating to the number of platters and the density of data on the platters.

Universal Binary As Apple Computers make the transition from PowerPC processors to x86 (Intel) processors, software needs to be made compatible with either processor type, and this software is known as "universal binary." Universal binary is an executable file that can run natively on either processor type. When a universal binary software disc is placed in a drive on a computer, the OS detects the universal binary in the disc's header, and boots the appropriate software version depending on the processor in use. This allows software to run at full speed on either processor type with no impact on performance. No additional memory is needed for universal binary software, since only the appropriate copy of the software is loaded. One of the biggest differences between the PowerPC and Intel processors is how multi-byte data is stored. PowerPC chips store the most significant byte first and x86 chips store the least significant byte first. This is called "byte ordering," or "endian" format. PowerPCs use "big endian," while Intels (x86) use "little endian."

UNIX A computer operating system developed by Bell Labs in 1969, that is now being developed by many other corporations. UNIX is mainly used as a multi-user server environment, which is ironic since its name is a play on the name Multics, a time-sharing operating system jointly developed by Bell Labs, M.I.T. and General Electric. UNIX was billed as a simpler OS than Multics, while still supporting multitasking in a multi-user environment. UNIX is often used to run computer systems at universities and large corporations. UNIX market share was starting to dwindle before the Internet explosion, when the need for fast, reliable Web servers sparked its revival. Most of the first web servers were developed in UNIX environments. There is a free, open source version of UNIX called FreeBSD. UNIX was initially a command line-only operating system, but now supports many graphical user environments. Most recently, UNIX/FreeBSD code has been adapted to create Apple's OS X for the Macintosh. Trivia: One of the former Multics developers from Bell Labs was Ken Thompson, who became a primary developer of UNIX. For this and other reasons, aspects of the Multics design that may have been "stolen" in UNIX remain a topic of occasional debate among hackers.

UPS Abbreviation for Uninteruptable Power Supply. A device that is designed to provide electrical power to critical equipment in the event of brown outs or black outs of the normal electrical service. They exist in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and capabilities, but are all based on the same principles. They employ a battery that stays charged while the electrical service is in operation. In the event of a power event such as a brown out or black out the battery takes over and supplies the required power to keep equipment online. In the modern day era of critical computer (and other) systems it is common to find these devices in most businesses and a growing number of homes. Because of their cost, however, their use is usually limited to critical systems that need to run constantly. Obviously a battery has a limited time it will operate, but the idea is to cover short-term power events and/or at least provide some time to properly shut down volatile systems.

USB An abbreviation for Universal Serial Bus. USB is an emerging standard for interconnecting PCs with peripheral devices. The USB standard was developed by Compaq, DEC, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, NEC, and Northern Telecom to provide an intelligent serial bus for low to mid-speed peripherals. The USB standard allows new peripherals to be configured automatically upon attachment without the need to reboot or run setups. USB will also allow up to 127 devices to run simultaneously on a computer with the capability to perform isochronous data transfers, which can be assigned to meet specific bandwidth targets to support audio and/or phone and data conversations. There is not enough bandwidth, however, to do video as FireWire does. USB is a real boon to the Windows based PC community because it all but eliminates frustrating set up issues historically encountered when new peripherals must be connected. Further, as a standard it reduces the overall cost and confusion of getting devices connected to any computer.

Not only is USB a new standard for interfacing computer hardware, but it also stands for Upper Side Band. This is the name given to the by-product of the new signal created when modulating a signal with another signal, as happens in broadcast and FM synthesis. The Upper Side Band is the result of summing the two signals together.

Utility In the computer world, a "utility" is a specialized software tool that's specifically designed to carry out what might best be called housekeeping functions. There are utility programs for monitoring, tuning, tweaking, and troubleshooting. Apple realized by OS X 10.3 that users were using these programs more than ever and added a Menu command that takes you directly to the Utilities Folder: In the Finder, choose Go > Utilities. (The shift-command-U keystroke will also take you directly there.)

VAST An acronym for Variable Architecture Synthesis Technology. VAST was developed by Kurzweil's Research & Development Institute prior to the release of the original K2000 (1991). Back when most synthesizers utilized one main configuration of oscillators, envelope generators, and filters to produce all their sounds (which is still largely true of many synths today) the idea was to make a synthesizer in which its individual building blocks could be changed and/or connected in different configurations (which they call Algorithms). This, of course, was not a new concept. Modular synthesizers have always had this flexibility. But the problem with modular synths is you have to patch each component manually, which not only takes time, but also requires a great deal of knowledge (experience) in predicting the outcomes. Kurzweil simplified the process by putting 31 useful algorithms under computer control and building the functionality to easily utilize them into their OS. VAST basically is all of those architecture choices as well as the ability to modulate their parameters from a wide list of control sources.

That's the strict definition of VAST. As time went on, however, the concept of VAST began to encompass the many other unique aspects of the Kurzweil OS. Things such as Functions (FUNs), multiple LFOs, ADSRs, and Envelopes can all really be thought of as part of the VAST architecture since they provide unique and very powerful capabilities that are generally not found in most other synths on the market. Many soundware designers who've delved into the depths of VAST claim it is the most powerful overall synthesis engine on the market.

Kurzweil now has a new and improved VAST in the works. Soon the K2600's VAST architecture will include over 100 unique synthesizer configurations. Given the astounding things that have already been done with the current version of VAST (anyone who's heard Daniel Fisher's Dark Side patch knows what we mean by astounding) there's absolutely no telling what will be possible with these new tools.

Virtual Dolby Digital Dolby has specifically developed three types of "virtual" surround processing for computers, computer games, and video games. In "virtual" implementations, "phantom" speakers are created, as processing provides perceived sound sources in addition to the actual speaker complement. Virtual Dolby Digital is a computer format implementation of Dolby Digital. For this method, first a Dolby Digital decoder decodes the digital bit stream and 5.1 channel signals are produced. Then, a "phantom" channel is created providing a perceived center channel where none exists, and the two surround channels are processed through an additional DSP circuit and changed to "virtual" surrounds. All channels of information are provided through only two speakers. This system works best for a single listener who is centered between the left and right speakers. In the Virtual Dolby Digital implementation, some computers will decode the digital bit stream via a Dolby Digital decoder with the ability to "downmix" the 5.1 channels into a Dolby Surround encoded stereo signal. These two channels will then go through a two-channel sound card and be processed through an outboard or inboard Dolby Surround Pro Logic decoder to provide four channels of sound -- Left, Center, Right and Surround. The center channel can be switched to "phantom" mode if desired, but four speakers are needed for the left and right front and the two surround speakers at the sides or rear of the listening position.

Virtual Instrument A computer program that emulates the performance of an analog or digital synthesizer, a sampler or an acoustic instrument. Virtual instruments earn this name because they operate entirely as software with no physical "box." However, this is not actually correct, as virtual instruments simply utilize the host computer's CPU and internal or external audio hardware to generate sounds in place of the dedicated, proprietary hardware of most of the keyboards and synthesizers we've been used to over the years. Virtual instruments can be of relatively simple design, such as a collection of samples with a playback engine, or they can use complex modeling algorithms to emulate analog synths of the past (called "virtual analog" synths). Most of these instruments will respond to MIDI continuous controller messages in the same manner as a hardware synthesizer. Virtual instruments often can operate in two modes. First, they function as a plug-in in compatible host programs such as Pro Tools, Digital Performer, SONAR, or other audio/MIDI sequencers. To do so, the virtual instrument must be written to support the audio format used by the host program, such as VST, MAS, DirectX or Audio Units. In addition many virtual instruments can function in standalone mode, which means they can be played and programmed without requiring a host program to be open.

Virtual Network Computing VNC stands for Virtual Network Computing. It is remote control software, which allows you to view and interact with one computer (the "server") using a simple program (the "viewer") on another computer anywhere on the Internet. The two computers don't even have to be the same type, so for example you can use VNC to view an office Linux machine on your Mac or Windows PC at home. VNC is freely and publicly available and is in widespread active use by millions throughout industry, academia and privately. Remote control software such as VNC has a variety of uses. It allows a person at a remote computer to assume control of another computer across a network, as if they were sitting in front of the other computer. The possibilities for musical collaboration via computer becomes readily apparent, and for recording studios with mobile recording facilities, the ability to network with the remote and main control room computer can be extremely useful for troubleshooting and production as well. For the business user, VNC can be used to provide a flexible hot-desking and road-warrior environment by allowing employees to access their office desktop and server machines from any machine in the company's offices or from other remote sites, regardless of the type of computers involved at either end. An equally popular business application of VNC is in remote system administration, where VNC is used to allow administrators to take control of employee machines to diagnose and fix problems, or to access and administer server machines without making a trip to the console. VNC can also be used in educational contexts, for example to allow a distributed group of students simultaneously to view a computer screen being manipulated by an instructor, or to allow the instructor to take control of the students' computers to provide assistance. Of course, as these examples illustrate, the variety of uses of VNC is really as diverse as the number of VNC users, a number that is big and growing all the time!

Virtual Slave Reel A term sometimes used in computer based recording and editing systems to denote a space or location (in memory or on a drive) where additional tracks for a given session are located. It is conceptually similar to real slave reels as they are used in tape based multitrack recordings.

VirtualMemory A commonly used memory addressing scheme that allows a computer to use hard disk space as substitute for RAM. This technique is often used where a program or programs and the required data cannot be effectively fit into the physical RAM of the computer. A specified area of a hard drive is set aside to act as additional RAM addresses. When a program makes calls to addresses that are not in RAM (but on the drive instead) the computer does a swap whereby some of the data in RAM is written to the drive and then the pertinent data is brought from the drive into RAM. If all goes well the application never knows it is happening, though the user may observe a slight decrease in the speed of the program.

VOC An audio file type used in computer digital audio. The .VOC file is one of the more commonly found sample sound formats found on PC-compatible computers. It was developed by Creative Labs and supports a packed data format that some programs can unpack prior to importing a file. The .VOC format also supports information for silence, looping, and varying sample rates.

Volatile Memory This is a type of memory usually used in computers and hardware and software samplers whose contents vanish irretrievably if the unit is shut down or if it loses electrical power because of a neighborhood blackout or if the plug is accidentally removed from the power source. Many musicians use backup battery power in case of brief power loss to make certain their samples are not lost, particularly if the samples or programs have been edited. Most synths use internal battery-powered non-volatile memory so that the programs and presets will not be lost once the instrument is powered down.

Volume A word with several meanings. There are two that most pertain to us in music making. Volume is obviously the most common word used to specify the loudness of sounds. It also pertains to the control on many electronic devices that is used to control the loudness.


In computers and hard drives a volume is a fixed amount of storage on a disk or tape. It is often used as a synonym for the actual storage medium itself, but it is possible for a single disk to contain more than one volume, or for a volume to span more than one disk.

VST2 The German software publisher Steinberg developed VST in the mid 1990s to provide a way to incorporate DSP effects processing into their Cubase family of MIDI sequencing/audio recording software. Steinberg made the VST software code available to software developers worldwide. This generated lots of interest, enthusiasm for the format and, ultimately, a growing list of third party developers who began producing VST-compatible effects and virtual instruments. Emagic incorporated VST hosting into Logic Audio software, as did Opcode in Vision for the Macintosh. VST 1.0 had limitations; effects and instruments had to operate as separate applications running alongside the host software. This could cause system instability and computer crashes. Further, you had to redirect MIDI and audio between applications using additional applications - so-called virtual cables such as the Mac's IAC Bus or Hubi's Loopback on the PC. In 1999 Steinberg released the VST 2.0 plug-in specification. It addressed the previous version's shortcomings in a BIG way. First and perhaps most important, VST 2.0 plug-ins gained a MIDI port. With VST 2.0 you could send any MIDI data to a plug-in. Similarly, the plug-in could generate MIDI data itself and send it back to the host application. This helped truly "plug in" plug-ins. With the ability to coordinate audio processing with other musical tasks directly within the host software, there was no need for virtual instruments to run as separate, standalone applications. VST 2.0 also introduced support for 24-bit/96kHz sampling rates and sample-accurate editing. Second, VST 2.0 offered software developers a user interface library, making it easy to design graphic interfaces for plug-ins (previously plug-ins were generically handled by the host application, or they provided their own interface mechanism). With this easy entry into design, plug-in developers really took off. By 2004 there were an estimated 1000-plus VST effects and instruments on the market or available online. It's important to note that, although Steinberg calls VST 2.0 a "specification," it isn't a true specification in the sense that, for example, the AES/EBU audio spec is. Such a spec is approved by international scientific organizations that promote the standardization of technological properties. The VST 2.0 specification only requires plug-ins to operate with Cubase VST. Consequently, using VST instruments in other programs can sometimes be problematic. When you run VST plug-ins in hosts other than Cubase, especially using wrapper or shell software you might find that some features and functions are disabled.

Wave File The format for computer system audio files defined by Microsoft for use with Windows. Wave files are indicated by a .wav suffix in the file name and are often spelled wav (instead of wave) in writing. The .wav file format is an expandable format which supports multiple data formats and compression schemes. Wav files are pretty much the de facto standard for serious audio work on the PC Windows platform.

Waveform The waveform of a signal is a graph of its instantaneous voltages versus time. In audio, for example, we are always dealing with periodic waveforms that make up what we hear. These periodic waveforms can be plotted on a graph and will show up as some type of squiggly (how's that for a word?) line. From left to right is time (usually a very short slice of time) and from top to bottom is the amplitude of the sound (or relative voltage) at those instants in time. The familiar sine wave is an example of this.


Waveforms, or Waves (a Wave File, for example) are also the names sometimes given to samples or snippets of sound that are used in various electronic sound generating or playing instruments. The usage of the word comes from the definition above and has become commonplace in the modern day era of audio production where one is often looking at waveforms on a computer screen while editing sounds.

Waveshell A specific type of shell software developed by Waves to provide an interface between their plug-ins and a particular operating system. The Wavesheell acts as a sort of "pool" where all the corresponding Waves plug-ins are stored. If you have multiple host applications on the same computer, you will not need to copy or install these plug-ins into each application as the applications themselves will have their own Waveshell plug-in, which will direct the software to the appropriate plug-in elsewhere on the drive. This also allows Waves to better manage usage of plug-ins. On some systems the user is able to use different types of plug-ins on proprietary DSP circuitry and accompanying host software that is otherwise much more limited in flexibility. TDM systems running under DAE are an example of this. Normally a particular DSP chip would only be able to run one particular process. Instantiate an EQ plug-in, which takes a fraction of the power of one chip, and that chip would only be able to run more instantiations of the same plug. With the Waveshell, the chip and DAE would only see and be concerned with the Waveshell software. The Waveshell could then take care of the management of the various Waves plug-ins that ran in addition. So you could have EQ, compression, etc. all running on one DSP chip.

Wavetable Synthesis A method of sound synthesis in which waveforms are generated by loading their characteristics from a special set of parameters stored in a lookup table in computer memory. Advanced wavetable synthesizers are able to crossfade between different waveforms while notes are sounding, which can produce very complex sounds. The resulting complex waveforms are often further modified by other filtering techniques and envelope generators.

WIMP In human-computer interaction, WIMP stands for "Windows, Icons, Menus, and Pulldowns," denoting a style of interaction using these elements. It was often used as an approximate synonym of graphical user interfaces. WIMP interaction was developed at Xerox PARC in 1973 and popularized by the Macintosh in 1984. Nowadays, if you're calling your computer a wimp, it's probably due to a lack of RAM or processor power, however, prior to the use of the graphical user interface (GUI), the acronym WIMP was also used in a derogatory manner by those who preferred more traditional command-line interfaces.

Windows A family of PC (Personal Computer) operating systems developed by Microsoft. Before Windows, most PC's were limited to DOS, or a very DOS-like user interface. These old systems did not really have many (if any) graphics and usually required special commands and codes to be typed in order to carry out even simple functions. Not long after the Macintosh arrived on the scene with it's GUI (Graphic User Interface) Microsoft came out with Windows, aptly named because pertinent information is contained in layers of windows that can be opened on the screen (much like the Mac). Windows is by far the most dominant OS used on PC's today, and there are many different versions, including Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows CE, Windows NT, etc.

Windows NT A computer operating system. The NT stands for New Technology. Often called NT for short, Windows NT is part of the Windows family of operating systems, but is quite different than some earlier versions of Windows in that it is not based on DOS, but instead is a whole new OS written from the ground up as a 32-bit system, which provides many improvements. NT has been out for a number of years and has found its niche in higher end workstations, especially where networking and security are major concerns.

WMA Acronym for Windows Media Audio, a proprietary audio compression format developed by Microsoft. Although Microsoft originally developed the WMA codec to compete with the MP3 format (possibly to avoid paying licensing fees for MP3 usage), it never managed to overcome MP3's popularity. Apple's iTunes Music Store, dispensing Advanced Audio Coding format song files, has now become WMA's target. In addition to its position as the default media player on Windows computers, WMA file compatibility is found on thousands of consumer devices, ranging from portable hand-held music players and cell phones to home and portable DVD players. Windows Media Audio 10 Professional is a flexible codec that supports 24-bit/96kHz audio in stereo, in addition to 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound. It also provides efficient mobile capabilities at 24Kbps to 96Kbps for stereo, and 128Kbps to 256Kbps for 5.1 surround.

Workstation Generally any type of equipment and/or workspace set up for specific sets of tasks. The term often refers to a general-purpose computer designed to be used by one person at a time and which offers higher performance than normally found in a personal computer, especially with respect to graphics, processing power and the ability to carry out several tasks at the same time. In music workstations are sometimes built around keyboard type products as well. Generally the idea is to give a keyboard "all-in-one" capabilities for composition, recording, sound design and performance. This is distinct from a synthesizer, which might only contain a sound-generating engine with a keyboard controller attached, and an Arranger, which usually has limited sound design abilities but often has built-in musical sequences that "automatically" generate introductions, accompaniments, and fills. The general requirements for a keyboard workstation are that it include:
  • Controller(s) - the keyboard itself, plus additional knobs, faders, switches, ribbons, etc.
  • Synthesizer Engine - capable of creating, editing, playing back and storing sounds
  • Drum Sounds - whether part of the Synthesizer Engine or separately accessible
  • Sequencer - MIDI, and increasingly, audio
  • Effects Processing - which can range from simple global effects to complex channel-specific processing

Some well-known workstations include the Korg Triton, Kurzweil K2600, Roland Fantom, and Yamaha Motif, all available in different configurations. Some of these workstations go farther to include CD burners, computer interfaces and expansion cards to add new sounds or effects. Songwriters often like workstations because they can compose, arrange and mix without disturbing their creative flow - they never need to leave the keyboard to deal with computers, hard disk recorders or other equipment. All workstations allow multitimbral playback and MIDI sequencing on multiple channels. In live performance, keyboard players can create massive stacks of sounds (often called Combinations, Performances, Multis or Setups) to play across the entire keyboard, or they can divide the keyboard into zones, each of which will play different sounds. Players can also load and play sequenced material to enhance their live playing, use the workstation's controllers to modulate the sounds they are playing live and make effects changes on the fly without having to rely on an outboard processor or mixing board. With the advent of hard disk recording and computer-based audio systems, another definition of workstation has arisen: the Digital Audio Workstation. See the Word for the Day definition of DAW to learn more.

XMF Abbreviation for eXtensible Music File specification. XMF is a relatively new (1999) family of music file formats adopted by the MMA for gathering together into a single file the media assets (and/or links to external media assets) required to render a MIDI note-based piece (or suite of related pieces) in a computer-based player (or possibly an instrument) with consistent audio playback across many players and platforms. Type 0 and Type 1 XMF formats (approved by the MMA in 2001) employ both standard MIDI files (SMF) and custom DLS files with general MIDI instruments. More XMF information is available and the MMA website.

Y2K Abbreviation for Year 2000. The Y2K abbreviation is now the buzz word for referencing all of the potential problems that lie ahead for big computer systems when they begin to have to deal with dates after the year 2000. The problem stems from the fact that many older systems were designed to accommodate only two-digit year codes. So a date might look like 8/13/98 as opposed to 8/13/1998. After the year 2000 the date might look like 8/13/00 and it is unknown how the software on many computer systems will interpret this date. There is currently an explosion of new companies whose sole offer is to evaluate complex computer systems for vulnerability to this problem and correct where necessary.

Zero Latency Latency is the time a message takes to traverse a system. For music recorded via computer, latency is major concern. A human playing an instrument, for example, needs nearly instantaneous feedback from that instrument in order to play it correctly. While this is generally not a problem with non-digital instruments, audio routed through a computer always has some delay in the signal path. Latencies higher than 100 ms make working with real-time music programs or instruments impossible, and many musicians find much lower latencies objectionable. While virtually every digital process involves some latency (just converting a signal to digital and back to analog takes some small amount of time) there are some systems where it is much more of an issue than others. Historically host based computer recording systems (ones that don't rely on dedicated audio processing hardware, but use the computer's CPU for instead) have been the worst offenders. A TDM based Pro Tools DAW, for example, has virtually no latency because the computer is merely acting as a host while most of the audio processing is done on the DSP cards residing in the computer. Out of the need for low-latency interconnects, Steinberg created ASIO, a protocol designed for low-latency transmission (on the order of a few ms) of digital instrument and other music data. The term 'Zero Latency Monitoring' was introduced in 1998 by RME with the DIGI96 series of audio interfaces and refers to the technique of routing the input signal directly to the output on the audio card. This has become one of the most important features of modern, host based hard disk recording. Progress is continually being made in lowering the latency of these systems. With ASIO Direct Monitoring (ADM, since ASIO 2.0), Steinberg has not only introduced Zero Latency Monitoring to ASIO, but also extended it substantially. ADM also allows for monitoring the input signal via the hardware in real-time. Over and above that, ADM supports panorama, volume and routing, which requires a mixer (i.e. DSP functionality) in the hardware though. Thus it is possible to copy a routing through a software mixer into the hardware in real-time, so that the sound difference between playback and monitoring is very small. In total, ADM renders a substantial step towards 'mixer and tape recorder inside the computer'. There are similar advancements being achieved with other brands. On the whole zero latency monitoring is a reality now, but there are still some compromises to be made in terms of workflow to achieve it. The only easy way around this is still to go with more costly solutions until processing speeds allow the power and flexibility of dedicated systems to be truly replicated with host based systems.

Zip Zip - Nothing, nil, nada, zero, zilch. Zip is one of those words that actually has about a hundred different meanings and uses between being an acronym for a dozen different things and being an abbreviation for a dozen more. For our purposes, two definitions are most relevant.
  1. An open standard for computer file compression and decompression used widely for PC download archives. The file extension given to ZIP files is .zip.
  2. A popular storage media type developed by Iomega that began as a 100-MB hard disk data cartridge about the size of a 3.5-inch floppy disk. Originally conceived as a sort of "super floppy," Zip drives and media are now available in 100 and 250 MB sizes with ATAPI, parallel, USB, and SCSI configurations. There will probably be further enhancements in the future. While Zips look a lot like floppy disks, their speed performance is much closer to that of a hard drive.

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