Audio editing terminologies:

Backup — A safety copy of software or other digital data. A popular saying is that unless data exists in three physically separate locations at the same time, it hasn’t been backed up properly!

Chord — Three or more different musical notes played at the same time.

Chromatic — A scale of pitches rising or falling in semitone steps.

Clipboard: The clipboard is where sample data is saved when you cut or copy it from a data window. You can then paste, mix, or cross fade the sample data stored on the clipboard with another data window. This sample data can also be used by other Windows applications that support Sound data on the clipboard, such as Sound Recorder.

Clipping — When an audio signal is allowed to overload the system conveying it, clipping is said to have occurred and severe distortion results. The ‘clipping point’ is reached when the audio system can no longer accommodate the signal amplitude –either because an analogue signal voltage nears or exceeds the circuitry’s power supply voltage, or because a digital sample amplitude exceeds the quantiser’s number range. In both cases, the result is that the signal peaks are ‘clipped’ because the system can’t support the peak excursions — a sine wave source signal becomes more like a square wave. In an analogue system clipping produces strong harmonic distortion artifacts at frequencies above the fundamental. In a digital system those high frequency harmonics cause aliasing which results in an harmonic distortion where the distortion artifacts reproduce at frequencies below the source fundamental. This is why digital clipping sounds so unlike analogue clipping, and is far more unpleasant and less musical.

Click Track — An audible metronome pulse which assists musicians in playing in time.

Clone — An exact duplicate. Often refers to digital copies of digital tapes.

Comping — Short for ‘compilation.’ The process of recording the same performance (e.g. a lead vocal) several times on multiple tracks to allow the subsequent selection of the best sections and assembling them to create a ‘compilation’ performance which would be constructed on a final track.

Cross fade: Mixing two pieces of audio by fading one out as the other fades in:


Cross fade Loop: Sometimes a sample loop cannot be easily created from the given source material. In these instances, a cross fade can be applied to the beginning and end of the loop to aid in the smooth transition between the two. The Cross fade Loop function provides a method of creating sampling loops in material that is otherwise difficult to loop.

Cut and Paste Editing — The ability to copy or move sections of a recording to new locations.

DC Offset: DC offset occurs when hardware, such as a sound card, adds DC current to a recorded audio signal. This current results in a recorded waveform that is not centered around the baseline (-infinity). Glitches and other unexpected results can occur when sound effects are applied to files that contain DC offsets. Sound Forge software can compensate for this DC offset by adding a constant value to the samples in the sound file.

In the following example, the red line represents the baseline.



Destructive Editing: Destructive editing is the type of editing whereby all cuts, deletes, mixes and other processes are actually processed to the sound file. Any time you delete a section of a sound file in Sound Forge software, the sound file on disk is actually rewritten without the deleted section.

Drag and Drop: A quick way to perform certain operations using the mouse. To drag and drop, you click and hold a highlighted selection, drag it (hold the left mouse button down and move the mouse) and drop it (let go of the mouse button) at another position on the screen.

Dubbing — The practice of transferring material from one medium to another, or of adding further material to an existing recording (cf. Over-Dub).

Erase — To remove recorded material from an analogue tape, or to remove digital data from any form of storage media.

File — A container for stored digital data that usually has a meaningful name. For example, a Standard MIDI File is a specific type of file designed to allow sequence information to be interchanged between different types of sequencer.

Frame Rate: Audio uses frame rates only for the purposes of synchronizing to video or other audio. To synchronize with audio, a rate of 30 non-drop is typically used. To synchronize with video, 30 drop is usually used.

Frequency Modulation (FM): Frequency Modulation (FM) is a process by which the frequency (pitch) of a sound is varied over time. Sub audio frequency modulation results in pitch-bending effects (vibrato). Frequency modulation within audio band frequencies (20 Hz - 20,000 Hz) creates many different side-band frequencies that drastically alter the timbre of the sound.

Frequency Spectrum: The frequency spectrum of a signal refers to its range of frequencies. In audio, the audible frequency range is between 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz. The frequency spectrum sometimes refers to the distribution of these frequencies. For example, bass-heavy sounds have a large frequency content in the low end (20 Hz - 200 Hz) of the spectrum.

Invert Data: Inverting sound data reverses the polarity of a waveform around its baseline. Inverting a waveform does not change the sound of a file; however, when you mix different sound files, phase cancellation can occur, producing a "hollow" sound. Inverting one of the files can prevent phase cancellation.

Loop — The process of defining a portion of audio within a DAW, and configuring the system to replay that portion repeatedly. Also, a circuit condition where the output is connected back to the input.

Marker: A marker is an anchored, accessible reference point in a file. Markers can be used for quick navigation.

Nondestructive Editing: This type of editing involves a pointer-based system of keeping track of edits. When you delete a section of audio in a nondestructive system, the audio on disk is not actually deleted. Instead, a set of pointers is established to tell the program to skip the deleted section during playback.

Normalize: Refers to raising the volume so that the highest level sample in the file reaches a user-defined level. Use normalization to make sure you are using all of the dynamic range available to you.

One-Shot: One-shots are RAM-based audio clips that are not designed to loop. Things such as cymbal crashes and sound bites could be considered one-shots. Longer files can be treated as one-shots if your computer has sufficient memory.

Zero-Crossing: A zero-crossing is the point where a fluctuating signal crosses the baseline. By making edits at zero-crossings with the same slope, the chance of creating glitches is minimized.

Zipper Noise: Zipper noise occurs when you apply a changing gain to a signal, such as when fading out. If the gain does not change in small enough increments, zipper noise can become very noticeable. Fades are accomplished using 64-bit arithmetic, thereby creating no audible zipper noise.