Glossary of Technical Terms
32 / 44.1 / 48 / 88.2 / 96 / 176.4 / 192 / 352.8 / 384kHz – Refers to the sample rate of a digital recording (samples per second).
16 bit / 24 bit / 32 bit – Refers to the bit width (sometimes called bit depth), or precision of a PCM digital signal (or recording).
AIFF – Audio Interchange File Format. A computer file type which contains digital audio data. Notably, the AIFF format does not support time stamping.
AIT – Advanced Intelligent Tape. Helical-Scan Magnetic Tape Storage Format developed by Sony.
ATA – Advanced Device Attachment. Often used in the same context as IDE or
EIDE. Short for Advanced Technology Attachment, a disk drive implementation that integrates the controller on the disk drive itself. There are several versions of ATA, all developed by the Small Form Factor (SFF) Committee:
* ATA: Known also as IDE, supports one or two hard drives, a 16-bit interface and PIO modes 0, 1 and 2.
* ATA-2: Supports faster PIO modes (3 and 4) and multiword DMA modes (1 and 2). Also supports logical block addressing (LBA) and block transfers. ATA-2 is marketed as Fast ATA and Enhanced IDE (EIDE).
* ATA-3: Minor revision to ATA-2.
* Ultra-ATA: Also called Ultra-DMA, ATA-33, and DMA-33, supports multiword DMA mode 3 running at 33 MBps.
* ATA/66: A version of ATA proposed by Quantum Corporation, and supported by Intel, that doubles ATA's throughput to 66 MBps.
* ATA/100: An updated version of ATA/66 that increases data transfer rates to 100 MBps.
Blu-Ray – A new, as-of-yet-unreleased optical disk technology that utilizes a short-wavelength (hence, “blue”) laser to write and read, allowing far greater amounts of data to be reliably stored.
Broadcast Wave File – A computer file type which contains, among other items, digital audio data. The Broadcast Wave File format is an EBU (European
Broadcast Union) standard whose data format is based on the Microsoft RIFF wave format; there is room for additional information in the file (as specified in the “header”) which allows for storage of metadata.
BWF – Broadcast Wave Format. Same above.
B-Wave – Broadcast Wave Format. Same as above.
CD – Compact Disc. 5.25 inch Optical storage medium that allows storage of either 74 min./650 MB or 80 min./700 MB of information.
CD-R – Compact Disc, recordable one time. The CD-R is 5.25-inch optical media with same storage capability as CD.
CD – RW – Compact Disc Recordable/Writable. 5.25-inch Compact Disc format that may be written to, erased, and re-written many times.
Channel – one indivisible “stream” of audio. “One” channel would refer to a mono source, “two” channels might refer to a stereo source, 6 channels (and perhaps more) could refer to a “Surround” source.
Consolidate (as it refers to audio files) – The process of taking the constituent
audio files with edits & etc for a single track (“vocal”, “guitar” & etc) and combining them into one continuous file.
DAW – Digital Audio Workstation. ProTools, Nuendo, Fairlight, Digital Performer, Emagic Logic, Sonic Solutions, SADiE & etc.
Deliverables – Materials turned into the Record Label upon completion of a project. Refers to all media and documentation. NARAS Master Delivery Specifications set a Minimum and Recommended set of delivery requirements.
DLT – Digital Linear Tape. Magnetic tape backup format owned by Quantum.
DSD – Direct Stream Digital. Refers to the process used for encoding audio in a high sample rate (2.8224 MHz) / one-bit depth format. Certain recorders from Genex, Tascam, and DAW’s from SaDIE & Merging Technologies (see below) support this format type. DSD is the technology at the foundation of Sony’s
SACD release format.
DVD – Digital Versatile Disc - 5.25 inch Optical storage format that allows for storage of 4.7 GB for single sided media and 9.4 GB for double-sided media.
There are many types of consumer DVD’s (e.g., the well-known DVD-Video, and more recently DVD-A, which provides multiple formats including 5.1, or surround,
audio) and personal computer formats (DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, DVDRAM), some of which are not compatible with certain players.
Ecrix (was Exabyte) 820/8505 – 8mm proprietary magnetic tape storage format. Used in many RADAR II and RADAR 24 digital recorders as backup device. No longer manufactured.
Ecrix (was Exabyte) VXA – 8mm proprietary magnetic tape storage format.
Currently holds a maximum of 66GB of compressed data per tape (33GB uncompressed). Can be considered as a replacement to Exabyte 8505/ 820
EIDE - See ATA above.
Enterprise-Class Storage Media – Media types that are in use by large
corporations (Fortune 500, etc.). These storage types include LTO, SDLT, and AIT.
Exabyte – see Ecrix
FAT32 – Logical disk format method used by PC compatible machines.
Firewire Drive – Hard disk utilizing a Firewire physical interface and typically composed of a Firewire to IDE bridge chip and, inside the box, most often an IDE/EIDE drive.
Flatten (Audio Files) – Refers to the process of taking audio files used on a
Digital Audio Workstation and converting them into one continuous file for each track. Also referred to as “Consolidation” (see above).
HDD – Hard Disk Drive.
IDE – Integrated Device Electronics. See ATA above.
HFS, HFS Plus (also called “Extended”) – Logical (as contrasted to Physical) disk format method developed by Apple. HFS Plus increases the number of allocation blocks, especially useful for high capacity hard disk drives.
Linux / Unix <tar> – Logical format originally developed for archival of files on Unix Machines. tar is an acronym for “Tape Archive Retrieval”. tar format is accepted as a universal and open-source logical storage format. It is most often used with streaming tape physical media.
LTO – Linear Tape Open. Magnetic Tape Format co-developed by Hewlett- Packard, Seagate and IBM. Multiple vendors for both drives and media.
Master – A “Master” is defined as a collection of the various original components of the recording process for a given production, each in their originally recorded formats, and collected in a form that is ready for transition to the next phase of the process. (For example, the ‘Master’ from the tracking process is collected in a form that is ready for transition to the overdubbing process. The ‘Master’ from the overdubbing process is then prepared for the mixing process. The mixed ‘Master’ is in a form that is ready for transition to the mastering process. And so
"Masters" include (but are not limited to) all analog and digital master tapes, hard
disks, optical media, and all backups in turn made of these during the recording process. The Masters include all of the various original components of the recording process for a given production in each of their originally recorded formats. These ‘Masters’ should have no deletions of useful material (out-takes, artist talking, incomplete or unreleased recordings, etc.). The constitution of “useful material” is determined by agreement between Record Company and Producer prior to the commencement of the recording project.
Metadata - Metadata is data (or “information”) about data or other information.
MO – Magneto-Optical. Storage method which uses an optical laser and a magnetic field to record data on an optical disk.
Optical Storage Media – Understood as recordable media which consists of several materials, one of which is heated with a laser to allow absorption (instead of reflection) to expose the ‘pits’ in the material which, when read by a laser, can be interpreted as data. CD-R, CD-RW DVD-R, DVD-RW & etc.
PCM – Pulse Code Modulation that refers to an encoding process used whenconverting analog audio to a binary digital file that may be written in a variety of formats.
PDF – Portable Document Format. An Adobe product standard that generalizes document format; it allows the same document format to be created on, and transferred between many different types of computers.
PHDD – Proprietary Hard Disk Drive.
Positional Reference – Timing reference used during the recording/ overdub/ mixing process used to synchronize devices and mix automation.
SACD – Super Audio Compact Disc. 5.25 inch optical format utilizing Direct Stream Digital (DSD) technology to record and play music with a “single-bit” running at a high sampling frequency (2.8224 MHz).
SCSI – Small Computer Systems Interface. An interface often used on computers for connecting devices (usually hard drives) to a computer. SCSI is currently the fastest large format random access technology available, making it desirable for Pro Audio use.
SDII – Sound Designer II. Used to refer to a type of audio data file developed by Digidesign. Limited to a maximum sample rate of 48kHz.
SDLT – Super DLT. Magneto-Optical tape format owned by Quantum. Next generation of the DLT format.
Time Code – The most common type of Positional Reference, usually refers to SMPTE time code (developed by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers). The number (30, 29.97, 29.97drop-frame, 25, 24) specifies the timecode reference in number in frames per second.
Track – “Track”, for the purpose of audio storage, is a place where elements of
program (music & etc) material are put. Meanings abound, however…
Track (n.): Originally, in analog tape recording, a term synonymous with one channel of content. An Ampex 301 3-track recorder had the capability of 3 separate channels of audio.
Track (n.): (proposed modern definition for audio recording) A unique, irreducible element in the context of a “production”. A modern “track” may contain one or more channels of program material (e.g., the “lead vocal track” would most often be a single-channel track, whereas the “live room track” recorded on a DAW in surround, may have 4 or more “channels” of audio). Tracks might also include, or even be limited to, MIDI or sequencing data.
The word “Track” has various additional meanings in and around music and production.
Track (n.): One individual selection on a CD or an “LP” or etc.
Track (v.): The process of recording. (example, “to track a session”)
Track (v).: Logistically, to locate. (example, “can you track down a drummer who can play in tempo?”)
Glossary of Recording Technologies
Alesis ADAT & XT – 8-Track 16-bit Modular Digital Recorder that uses VHS videotape.
Alesis HD-24 – 24-Track Hard Disk Recorder
Alesis XT-20 / Alesis M-20 – 8-Track 20-bit Modular Digital Recorder that uses VHS videotape.
Cubase VST – Host Based Digital Audio Workstation software.
Digital Performer - Host Based Digital Audio Workstation software.
Emagic Logic - Host Based Digital Audio Workstation software. Recently purchased by Apple (July 2002).
Euphonix R-1 – Multitrack Digital Hard Disk Recorder. Configurable up to 96 tracks & supports 24-bit/ 96-kHz recording.
Fairlight MFX / MFX Plus – Digital Audio Workstation utilizing a proprietary Hard Disk Drive format for audio storage.
Fairlight Merlin – 24 or 48-Track 24-bit Digital Hard Disk Recorder
Genex GX8500 & GX9048 – 8-channel High-Density 24-bit/ 96-kHz PCM (8500) & PCM/DSD (9048) Magneto Optical Disk Recorders.
Mackie HDR / MDR 2496 – 24-Track Hard Disk Recorder manufactured by Mackie. HDR/ MDR recorders utilize removable IDE drives in a proprietary format.
Merging Technologies (Pyramix) – Host Based Digital Audio Workstation software.
Nuendo – Host-based (meaning running on a Macintosh or a PC) Digital Audio Workstation manufactured by Steinberg. Supports up to 32-bit / 96-kHz Recording.
Paris – Multitrack Digital Audio Workstation manufactured by Ensoniq.
PCM 3348 / PCM 3348-HR – Open reel digital 48-track recorder. PCM3348-HR machines support 24-bit resolution. PCM 3348 machines support only 16-bit resolution.
PCM 3324 – Open reel digital 16-bit 24-track recorder manufactured by Sony.
ProTools 24, Mix, Mix+ – Digital Audio Workstation manufactured by Digidesign. Limited to a maximum resolution of 48kHz, 24 bit. A “host-based” system, it runs on either a Macintosh or a PC.
ProTools HD – Newest revision of a host-based (meaning running on a Macintosh or a PC) Digital Audio Workstation released by Digidesign. Supports sample rates & resolutions up to 192-kHz/ 24-bit.
RADAR II / RADAR 24 – 24-Track Hard Disk Recorder currently manufactured
by iZ Technologies. RADAR utilizes a proprietary hard disk drive format and generates proprietary backups on DVD or Exabyte 820 / 8505 8mm Media
Tascam DA-88 / Sony PCM 900 – 8-Track 16-bit Modular Digital Recorder which uses Hi-8 format tapes.
Tascam DA-78 / Tascam DA-78HR – 8-Track 16-bit Modular Digital recorder which uses Hi-8 format tapes. The DA-78HR refers to the High-Resolution version that supports 24-bit width recording.
Tascam DA-98 / Tascam DA-98HR – 8-Track Modular Digital Recorders with basic editing and routing functions which use Hi-8 format tapes. The DA-98HR refers to the High-Resolution version that supports a 24-bit width recording, the DA-98 is a 16 bit machine.
Tascam DS-D98 – Modular Digital Recorder which may be configured as a 2- track tape- based DSD (SACD format) recorder or up to 8-Track digital recorder. Supports sample rates up to and including 192 kHz.
Tascam MMR – 8 or 16 - track (16 is play only) Hard disk recorder with removable media (SCSI hard disk in either FAT32 or MacOS format). Unusual in that it reads Digidesign-format project files.
Tascam MX 2424 – 24-Track Hard Disk Recorder that uses both internal and removable SCSI Hard Drives formatted in either Fat-32 or HFS formats.