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Capacitor / "Cap" / Condenser: - Electronic component which lets lets Alternating Currents through, but stops Direct Currents. Along with the transistor and the resistor, it is one the most common components in electronics.

CAPACITOR MICROPHONE: Microphone that operates on the principle of measuring the change in electrical charge across a capacitor where one of the electrodes is a thin conductive membrane that flexes in response to sound pressure.

Capstan: - slim roller on tape machine which along with a pinch roller, helps to maintain the correct tension of the tape relative to the tape head.

Cardioid (unidirectional): - A microphone pickup pattern that is characterised by the shape of a "loveheart" emanating from the capsule of the microphone. It should display a high sensitivity to sounds which are produced in front of the capsule, and a very low sensitivity to sounds which are produced behind it. There are also Supercardioid and Hypercardioid pickup patterns which are similar, but have a narrower pattern at the front, and a little more sensitivity at the rear.

Catalog: Older releases of recorded product that are not readily available in current retail display or rotation unless otherwise noted or advertised.

.cda - not a file format but a way of displaying audio tracks, much like a menu

cd text - disc and track info embedded on an audio CD

CDDB - A huge online database of audio CD information including album, artist, song names and more. Information is added and retreived by users of CDDB enabled software, allowing the database to continually grow. Building on the original database, CDDB2 enables expanded album and track-by-track credits, genres, web-links, segments and more. You can learn more about CDDB and CDDB2 including programming information at

CD-R (compact disc-recordable): A blank disc that can be loaded with sound recordings by technology available for use on a personal computer. recordable type of Compact Disc that can only be recorded once - it cannot be erased and reused.

CD-R BURNER: A device capable of recording data onto blank CD-R discs.

cd-rw - short for "cd rewriteable". These discs can record and erase audio and data up to 1,000 times. However, most car and home stereos do not support this media type yet.

Cent: - A musical cent is one hundredth of a semitone.

Center Detent: A notch in the center of a modulation wheel or lever which allows the performer to find the home position.

Central processing unit (CPU): A microprocessor or computer which is used to perform complex task-related functions. Within an electronic musical instrument, it is a dedicated computer system for handling the many performance and control-related messages and commands that must be processed in real time.

Certification: Any sound recording or music video recording that the RIAA has certified as having achieved a specified sales level in accordance with the Gold & Platinum program rules and procedures.

Channel Messages: MIDI channel messages refer to data specific to one particular MIDI channel. Data such as note on/off, note number, velocity, program change, pitch bend, after touch, and controller messages are channel messages. #

Channel, MIDI: An information pathway through which MIDI information is sent. MIDI provides for 16 available channels, each of which can address one MIDI instrument.

Channel, Output: The circuitry through which an instrument outputs individual notes.

Channel: A channel is a path for passing data or digital audio. In sequencing, each channel is assigned to a single instrument in any particular instant of time and in General MIDI, channel 10 is reserved for a percussion voice. One MIDI port makes 16 MIDI channels available so one song could have 16 different channels/instruments assigned to one MIDI port. Also, audio channels on a soundboard. A single strip of controls in a mixing console relating to either a single input or a pair of main/monitor inputs. In the context of MIDI, Channel refers to one of 16 possible data channel over which MIDI data may be sent. The organisation of data by channels means that up to 16 different MIDI instruments or parts may be addressed using a single cable. In the context of mixing consoles, a channel is a single strip of controls relating to one input.

Channel-voice messages: These are used to transmit real-time performance data throughout a connected MIDI system. They are generated whenever the controller of a MIDI instrument is played, selected, or varied by the performer.

CHASE: Term describing the process whereby a slave device attempts to synchronise itself with a master device. In the context of a MIDI sequence, Chase may also involve chasing events - looking back to earlier positions in the song to see if there are any program change or other events that need to be acted upon.

Chip: - Another word for an Integrated Circuit / Microprocessor.

CHORD: Three or more different musical notes played at the same time.

Chorus: - Signal processing which creates an electronic simulation of a chorus by combining a signal with a delayed copy of itself. Often, the delay time and level of the copy is continuously varied in the interests of added "reality". This part of the process is known as flanging, often used as an effect in itself. A voice doubling effect created by layering two identical sounds with a slight delay (20-50 mS) and slightly modulating the frequency of one or both of the sounds .

CHORUSING - a doubling effect commonly found on a synthesizer or sampler that makes a single sound appear to sound like an entire ensemble. The initial signal is split and appears at a slightly altered pitch from the original, or at a slightly later point in time. This time and pitch level are often controllable by a low frequency oscillator (LFO).

Chromatic Scale: A scale where notes are incremented in semitones.

Circuit Board: - Convenient, flat layer on which the electronic components that make up a circuit may be placed, often containing metallic, conductive strips to connect the components together.

Circuit: - When electrical components (eg transistors, resistors, capacitors etc, are connected in a way that utilizes the central electrical / electronic concepts of current (see below), voltage, and resistance to perform some task, this is a circuit.

Click sync/click track: this refers to the metronomic audio clicks that are generated by electronic devices to communicate tempo.

Click Track: A highly accurate method of synchronizing music to picture. The tempo and length of the musical cue are predetermined so that the start, end and hit points of the score will coincide exactly with the visual. The musicians (or MIDI sequence) will follow the click track during the recording. Metronome pulse provided in software which assists musicians in keeping a consistent tempo.

Clipboard: A temporary holding place in RAM for what you last cut or copied.

Clipping: - When the amplitude of a signal exceeds the maximum possible level of a device, the part of the waveform which is excessive is "clipped" resulting in a distortion of the sound. If clipping is harsh and prolonged, this can result in damage to the device in question. See also "Headroom". Distortion occurs when an amplifier is driven to play louder than its power supply allows and the result is clipping. This state can cause loudspeaker damage. It is of particular importance with digital audio recording because the clipped waveform contains an excess of high-frequency energy and the sound becomes hard and edgy. With analog linear recording it is standard to record as hot as possible; with digital non-linear recording, recording too hot will result in disastrous clipping.

Clock: A steady pulse from a generator which is used for synchronizing sequencers, drum machines, etc. Common sequencer timing clock rates are 24, 48, or 96 pulses-per-quarter note. MIDI timing clocks run at a rate of 24 ppqn.

CLONE: Exact duplicate. Often refers to digital copies of digital tapes.


Close Miking: A microphone placement technique which involves placing a microphone close to the sound source in order to pick up mainly direct sound, and avoid picking up reverberant sound.

Codec - stands for coder/decoder. Codecs are often used by software to compress and decompress audio data. For example, most Windows computers have an ADPCM codec which many software applications use to read and write compressed audio data from ADPCM compressed WAV files. You can view the codecs installed in Windows by going to Control Panel > Multimedia > Devices Tab > Audio Compression Codecs.

Coincident Pair: - If a pair of microphones are mounted together, so that the capsules are at a 45 degree degree angle (which is is the optimum position for picking up a nice two channel stereo sound field), then the two microphones in question could be described as being a " co-incident pair".

COMMON MODE REJECTION: A measure of how well a balanced circuit rejects a signal that is common to both inputs.

Community Standards: Refers to the standard for determining the artistic value of a creative work in a particular locality, usually a state. When laws allow much smaller communities, such as towns or counties, to implement their own standards, a threat exists that creative works will be denied to everyone because the narrowest view of creativity will prevail. Such laws impede the marketplace and raise serious constitutional issues.

COMPANDER: Encode decode device that compresses a signal while encoding it, then expands it when decoding it.

Compilation: A collection of previously released songs sold as a one album unit, or a collection of new material, either by single or multiple performers, sold as a collaborative effort on one musical recording.

Complex Wave: - see Wave.

Compression": - ("squashing" the sound so that the difference between highest and lowest level of the sound is lessened. This usually means amplifying lower level signals, resulting in a sound that is perceived as louder and more "punchy"), the reverse of this is "expansion" see Dynamics Processing. Compression in audio recording means to reduce the dynamic range of a signal. A compressor provides a form of automatic level control. It attenuates high levels, thereby reducing the dynamic range, making it easier to control signals and set appropriate fader levels. By reducing the dynamic range, recording levels can be set higher to improve the signal-to-noise performance. Limiting is an extreme form of compression, where the output signal is sharply attenuated so that it cannot exceed a particular level. There are software compressors available such as are within Cakewalk’s AFX1, and hardware units also can have this effect, such as Edirol’s USB audio interface, the UA-700.

COMPRESSOR: Device designed to reduce the dynamic range of audio signals by reducing the level of high signals or by increasing the level of low signals.

Computer Interface Hardware which enables a computer to communicate with other devices. A common example is a MIDI interface, which allows a computer to communicate with a musical instrument.

Concert Pitch Established by the International Organization for Standardization in 1955, the agreed reference frequency of 440 Hz. for the note called middle A. Notated A=440.

Concert Ratings: Proposals that would permit local government officials to rate music concerts and label tickets accordingly, in advance of the performance. The goal would be to regulate the access of minors to concerts and in some cases even prevent certain concerts from being conducted.

Condenser Microphone: - Microphone which works on the principles of Capacitance and the Capacitor (see above). When the diaphragm of the capacitor vibrates in response to sound waves, the Capacitor's ability to hold charge varies. This measured change is the transduction of sound waves into electrical signal. As the plates of the Capacitor need to be fed with charge every time the mic is in use (an exception to this is the "electret condenser" see below), an external source of power is required, usually a supply of up to 48 volts DC, which is also known as "phantom" power, as the power is carried through the same cable as the audio signal.
Condenser Microphone: A microphone that generates an electrical signal when sound waves vary the spacing between two charged surfaces, specifically the diaphragm and the backplate. Condenser microphones offer the greatest fidelity in terms of traducing sound waves into an electrical signal, however, they do have the disadvantages mentioned above, as well as a great sensitivity to picking up hums/ ground loops etc, and a delicacy which renders many of them more suitable for studio, rather than stage use. Even then, many of them have to be used in conjunction with a special "cradle" which inhibits interference from external sources. However, there is no substitute for the fidelity and beauty of sound as rendered by a great "large - plate" condenser microphone.

Condenser: - Old term for a Capacitor

Conductor: - Any material which offers very low resistance to an electrical current passing through it. Opposite of insulator. Examples of good conductors include Gold, Silver, Copper and Aluminium. See also Ohm, Resistance Current etc. Also a musical term for someone who waves a stick at an orchestra.

CONSOLE: Alternative term for mixer.

Consonance Dissonance An aesthetic judgment of the relative attractiveness of combinations of notes sounded together. Consonance relates to a more pleasant experience for the listener while dissonance relates to a less pleasant experience. The judgment of whether any given interval falls into one category or the other has been arbitrarily applied throughout history, with a general tendency for the progressing acceptance of smaller intervals. The terms are also used in a stricter sense in theories of tonal harmony.

constant bit rate (CBR) - bit rate remains the same throughout the audio file. Compare with variable bit rate (VBR)

CONTACT ENHANCER: Compound designed to increase the electrical conductivity of electrical contacts such as plugs, sockets and edge connectors.

Continuous Controller: Refers to Midi information other than notes. For example, volume, pitch bending, modulation (vibrato). These parameters can change continuously over time and allow electronically generated music to sound more expressive.

Contour See Envelope Generator

Control Change Message: A group of MIDI channel messages that are used to alter a sound. Examples of control change messages include volume (#7), pan (#10), modulation wheel (#1), and sustain pedal (#64). Some are continuous controllers and utilize hardware such as sliders, wheels, and sweep foot pedals, while others are on-off switch types such as switches or sustain pedals.

Controller: A device which let's you enter or change events into a computer or other digital device. Examples include keyboards, pitch and modulation wheels and wind controllers.

CONTROLLERS - various sliders, levers, knobs, or wheels typically found on a MIDI controller. Used to send continuous (as opposed to discrete) data to control some aspect of a sound. Hardware devices that output MIDI and come in a variety of shapes. Although the typical controller is a keyboard, Contour Designs has cool ergonomic palm-fitting controllers: the Shuttle Pro and Space Shuttle.

converter - software program that transforms one file format to another

COPY PROTECTION: Method used by software manufacturers to prevent unauthorised copying.

Copy: To make a copy of something, either a sound or segment, by selecting it and choosing the copy function from the module menu. What is copied is placed on the clipboard.

CPU: - Acronym of Central Processing Unit aka microprocessor. See microprocessor for a full definition.

CRASH: Slang term relating to malfunction of computer program.

Crest Factor: - When the peak value of a signal is divided by its rms value, this is said to be its Crest Factor.

Crossfade: To gradually fade out one sound while fading in another so that a seamless transition is made between the two sounds.

Crossover (Electronic): An electronic device or circuit that, when inserted between a mixer and amplifier, divides the audio spectrum into individual frequency ranges (low, high, and/or mid) before sending them to specialized amplifier/speaker combinations. In many computer speakers, a crossover routes high-frequency sounds to satellite modules and low frequencies to the bass unit. An advantage of this type of crossover is that it increases efficiency. / Crossover network: - As most loudspeaker systems use two or more specialized drive units which individually only cover a part of the frequency spectrum ("woofer" for bass frequencies "tweeter" for treble etc), some kind of circuit is needed to separate the bands of frequencies which are appropriate for each of the drive units, this is a crossover. There are two primary ways of doing this.

Crossover Frequency: The frequency in which the audio signal is divided by a crossover.

Crossover(Passive): An electronic device that, when inserted after the amplifier, divides the audio spectrum into individual frequency ranges (low, high, and/or mid) before sending them to specialized speakers like tweeters and woofers.

Crosstalk: - When one electronic signal begins to interfere with another electronic signal, this interference is referred to as crosstalk.

Cue Sheets: Used to document the timing, duration and order of cues within a show or film. Music cue sheets are also used by performing rights societies, like ASCAP to allocate royalties to composers when their music is used in film or television

Current: - A flow of electrical charge through a electronically conductive material. Usually measured in Ampere's (Amps A). 1 amp repesents 6.24 x 1018 "charge carriers", which are mostly electrons or electron deficient atoms.

Cursor: A visual indicator showing the position of the next entry.

CUT AND PASTE EDITING: The ability to copy or move sections of a recording to new locations.

Cut: To remove something, either a sound or a segment, by selecting it and choosing the cut function from the module menu. What you cut is placed on the clipboard.

Cutoff Frequency: - The frequency where the output of a filter, speaker etc is 3 Decibels per Volt lower than its maximum level. A loudspeakers / amplifiers / microphones frequency response is usually designated by this form of measurement. The frequency above or below which attenuation begins in a filter circuit.

CV: Control voltage used in analogue synthesizers, to control oscillator or filter frequency. Control Voltage used to control the pitch of an oscillator or filter frequency in an analogue synthesizer. Most analogue synthesizers follow a one volt per octave convention, though there are exceptions. To use a pre-MIDI analogue synthesizer under MIDI control, a MIDI to CV converter is required.

CYCLE: One complete vibration of a sound source or its electrical equivalent. One cycle per second is expressed as 1Hertz (Hz).

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