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FADE IN/OUT - a feature of most audio editing software that allows the user to apply a gradual amplitude increase or decrease over some segment of the sound. Gradually increment (fade in), or decrement (fade out) the level of a signal.
FADER - also known as a slider or attenuator, this control allows the user to perform a gradual change to the amplitude of a signal. Commonly found as a feature of MIDI software programs. Sliding potentiometer which may increase or attenuate (the fade bit!) the gain of a signal. Usually associated with a mixing desk.
Fairlight: - Very early computer based music/ sampling workstation, developed in Australia through the mid/ late seventies by Peter Vogel and Kim Ryrie. It was relased in 1979 as the "Fairlight Computer Musical Instrument", it's most notable early users being Peter Gabriel and Stevie Wonder. Along with the American Synclavier, it went on to have a very significant impact on the music of the 1980's. Much more info here.
Fast Fourier Transform: A computer algorithm which derives the fourier spectrum from a sound file.
Fc: See Cutoff Frequency
Feed: - In signal routing terms, this is where an output(s) from one device that is sent into the input of another.
Feedback: - When the sound being produced by the output signal (from a loudspeaker) is picked up by the input (in a kind of circular loop). When feedback reaches a certain level it causes an exponential rise in the level of certain frequencies, such as the screaming howl familar to guitarists and microphone users, or in the case of lower frequencies, a kind of ever increasing rumble.
FERRIC: Type of magnetic tape coating that uses iron oxide.
FET: - Acronym of Field Effect Transistor.
Figure of Eight (bi directional): - Polar Pattern which has the appearence of the figure eight, ie will be very sensitive to sounds at the front and rear of the microphone, but not at the sides. Describes the polar response of a microphone that is equally sensitive both front and rear, yet rejects sounds coming from the sides.
File Format - the structure that defines how data is organized in a software file used to store information about a sample, musical score, etc. A standardized file format makes it possible for different software programs to share the same information. See the Music and Audio File Formats Guide for more details, including information about specific file formats.
File Types: There are two MIDI file types and although they sound the same upon playback, they are visually different. Type 0 has all of the information on a single track even though the MIDI file may have been a multiple-channel file; typically these are used in a stand alone MIDI file player. A MIDI File Type 1 contains one or more simultaneous tracks which are better for editing.
FILE: A meaningful list of data stored in digital form. A Standard MIDI File is a specific type of file designed to allow sequence information to be interchanged between different types of sequencer.
FILTER - a circuit which permits certain frequencies to pass easily while inhibiting or preventing others. Typical filters include low pass, high pass, band pass, and band reject. A function that cuts off a specific frequency band to change a sounds brightness, thickness and other qualities. A few common filter types are Low-pass, High-pass and Bandpass. A device used to remove unwanted frequencies from an audio signal thus altering its harmonic structure. Low Pass filters are the most common type of filter found on music synthesizers. They only allow frequencies below the cutoff frequency to pass (Low Pass). High Pass filters only allow the high frequencies to pass, and Band Pass filters only allow frequencies in a selected band to pass through. A Notch filter rejects frequencies that fall within its notch.
Final Mix: - When a multitrack recording is mixed down into a two channel stereo recording (master).
FireWire: FireWire is a cross-platform implementation of the high-speed serial data bus -- defined by IEEE Standard 1394-1995 -- that can move large amounts of data between computers and peripheral devices. It features simplified cabling, hot swapping, and transfer speeds of up to 400 megabits per second. For more information go here.
FLANGE - an effect applied to a sound wherein a delayed version of the sound is mixed with the original. An effect created by layering two identical sounds with a slight delay (1- 20 mS) and slightly modulating the delay of one or both of the sounds. The term comes from the early days of tape recording when delay effects were created by grabbing the flanges of the tape reels to change the tape speed.
Flat (frequency) Response: - When an amplifier / microphone / loudspeaker displays an even frequency response (an even efficiency of frequencies within its bandwidth). This is usually defined as being within 2 dB's .
FLOPPY DISK: Computer disk that uses a flexible magnetic medium encased in a protective plastic sleeve. The maximum capacity of a standard High Density disk is 1.44Mbytes. Earlier Double Density disks hold only around half the amount of data.
FLUTTER ECHO: Resonant echo that occurs when sound reflects back and forth between two parallel, reflective surfaces.
FM Synthesizers: These produce sounds by generating a pure sine wave (carrier) and then mixing it with a second waveform (modulator). When the two waveforms are close in frequency, a complex waveform is produced. By controlling both the carrier and the modulator it is possible to create different timbres, or instruments. FM synthesis is hardly used today being replaced by more realistic forms of synthesis, such as wave table synthesis.
FOLDBACK: System for feeding one or more separate mixes to the performers for use while recording and overdubbing. Also known as a Cue mix.
FORMANT: Frequency component or resonance of an instrument or voice sound that doesn't change with the pitch of the note being played or sung. For example, the body resonance of an acoustic guitar remains constant, regardless of the note being played.
FORMAT: Procedure required to ready a computer disk for use. Formatting organises the disk's surface into a series of electronic pigeon holes into which data can be stored. Different computers often use different formatting systems.
Fourier Spectrum: The description of a sound that is in terms of its distribution of energy versus frequency rather than its amplitude versus time (waveform).
FRAGMENTATION: The process by which the available space on a disk drive gets split up into small sections due to the storing and erasing of files. See Defragmentation.
Framers: Any person, partnership, corporation or entity to whom the RIAA has granted a license and authorization to manufacture certified award plaques.
FREQUENCY - the rate per second at which an oscillating body vibrates. Usually measured in Hertz (Hz), humans can hear sounds whose frequencies are in the range 20 Hz to 20kHz. In audio, the number of repeating cycles of change in air pressure or oscillations in voltage, that occur in one unit of time usually a second. Complex sounds are made up of many pure tones of different frequencies. Measured in units originally called cycles per second (CPS), now called Hertz (Hz). For convenience, the human frequency range is divided into three rough areas or bands. High frequencies (between about 5 kHz and 20 kHz), mid frequencies (between about 200 Hz and 5 kHz) and low frequencies (between about 20 Hz and 200 Hz).
Frequency Modulation: The encoding of a carrier wave by variation of its frequency in accordance with an input signal.
Frequency Response A graph which shows how a system or piece of equipment or even an environment such as a room responds to different frequencies. Ideally, for audio work the graph should plot a flat line from below 20 Hz to above 20 kHz. In practise this is often not achieved, and the line will fluctuate up and down between these points, indicating that the equipment or environment makes some frequencies louder or quieter than others. Humans have a well documented "non-flat" response and this is the response used to specify the dB(A) scale for determining loudness. The term should not be confused with bandwidth which concerns itself only with the attenuation above an upper limit frequency and below a lower limit frequency and does not concern itself with the range between them. A measurement of the frequency range that can be handled by a specific piece of electrical equipment or loudspeaker.
Frequency Spectrum There are some synthetic types of noise which are useful in sound synthesis and technical equipment alignment etc. These are called white noise, pink noise and (the author has heard) blue noise. White noise contains all frequencies in equal amplitude distribution (and the metaphor is from white light which has a similar attribute). Pink noise is filtered white noise (some frequencies removed) and other colours of the noise rainbow represent other filterings.
Frequency: – The amount of times that a wave repeats per second, measured in Hertz (which are cycles per second) after Heinrich R. Hertz the man who devised this form of measurement. Or to put it another way, if a soundwave vibrates the air x amount of times a second, this could be said to be it's frequency in Hertz. A young human who hasn't abused their ears (unlike most of the visitors to this site!) will be able to detect frequencies roughly in the range of 20 - 20,000 Hertz. However, as we get older and/or abuse our hearing listenting to loud music etc, this may gradually roll off so that an older person / Death-Metal fan may only be able sounds up to the frequency of say, 16,000 Hz. Our ears become progressively less sensitive to sounds below 500 Hertz, and they are at their most sensitive to sounds which have a frequency of @ 3-5kHz. Indication of how many cycles of a repetitive waveform occur in 1 second. A waveform which has a repetition cycle of once per second has a frequency of 1Hz (pronounced Hertz).
FSK: Frequency Shift Keying. A method of recording a sync clock signal onto tape by representing it as two alternating tones. An audio tone (frequency) modulated by a square wave, which is used both for data transfer and also for sequencer and drum machine synchronization.
Full-Duplex - the ability to send and receive data simultaneously which, in digital audio terms, translates to being able to play and record audio at the same time. Many sequencing and multi-track recording programs use a sound card's full-duplex capabilities to allow recording to a new track while playing back previously recorded tracks for reference. Most modern sound cards are full-duplex, but many of the older ones are only able to record or play audio at different times. They are said to be "half-duplex".
FUNDAMENTAL FREQUENCY - the predominant frequency in a complex waveform. Typically provides the sound with its strongest pitch reference. Nearly all sounds are made up of a Fundamental Frequency, which is the lowest frequency, and a collection of Harmonics, which are higher frequencies at stepped increments. It is the fundamental which gives us the the main frequency / pitch of the sound, and the interaction of the harmonics further up the frequency scale which gives us the essential "character" or "Tone Colour" of the sound. The lowest frequency partial which is present in a (normally) musical sound. See also Harmonic, Inharmonic.
FX: Short for Effects.