EDM PRODUCTION VOCAB
Ableton / Ableton Live: A Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software used to record, edit and create audio.
Acoustics: The properties or qualities of a room or building that determine how sound is transmitted in it.
Acoustic Treatment: The act of reducing audio reflections in an area for a more accurate sound. Mostly done with foam panels and bass traps.
Additive Synthesis: An audio synthesis technique that creates timbre by adding sine waves together.
ADSR: Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release – the four characteristics of sound a wave envelope. Many synthesizers and samplers have controls for ADSR.
Aftertouch: An effect that is produced by the player holding and depressing a key further after pressing it. Commonly done on electronic music keyboards.
AIFF: Audio Interchange File Format – audio file format used for storing sound data on computers and other electronic audio devices. Mostly used on Apple Macintosh devices.
Amplitude: Describes the volume of a sound based on it’s wave.
Arpeggio: Musical notes played one after the other, up or down in pitch.
Arrangement: The revised version of a musical composition for other instruments. Typically involves Intro, Verse, Bridge, Chorus, Middle-8, and/or Outro.
AU: Audio Units – plug-in format provided by Core Audio in Mac OS X.
Audio Interface: Device that can send sounds to a computer from the outside world and back out again.
Automation: A triggered sequence of commands that change selected parameters in a DAW.
Bar: A bar is a unit of time in music. A bar often has 4 “beats”.
Bass: Low end sounds from an audio frequency spectrum. 60 – 250 Hz rating is best for bass.
Bassline: The lowest sounding note or sequence of notes in a song.
Beat: The main pulse of a track.
Beat-match: Adjusting the tempos of multiple songs so the beats match up.
Bitrate: The number of bits per second that can be transmitted along digital networks.
Bitwig / Bitwig Studio: DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) available for Windows, Linux and MacOS.
Bootleg: An recording of audio or video that is not released by the original creator.
Bounce: Exporting a song, or part of a song, from the DAW to a digital format.
BPM: Beats Per Minute – measures the music tempo.
Break: A part of a song with less musical elements. 2) Short for “breakbeat”: A sampled, looped drum beat, used particularly in drum ‘n’ bass, trip-hop and, indeed, Breakbeat.
Breakbeat: Looping drum beat sample.
Build-up: Where the energy of a song increases. Usually between the breakdown and the drop.
Chorus: A sequence of musical notes and/or lyrics that is repeated throughout a song.
Chorus (Effect): Combination of two sounds that play at the same time to be heard as one sound.
Clipping: A form of audio distortion that occurs when an amplifier is overdriven. Happens when the volume on the mixer is too high or when a recording is too close to a microphone.
Comp / Comping: Combining multiple bits of the same take to make one perfect bit.
Compression: The action of reducing the dynamic range of an audio signal. The dynamic range is the difference between the highs and lows of a sound.
Condenser Mic: Used for recording vocals or detailed, delicate sounds.
Controller: An input device for creating sounds in DAWs.
Control Signal: A function that alters the original parameters of a sound.
Cross-fader: A control that fades in and fades out multiple sounds at the same time.
Cubase: A Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software used to record, edit and create audio.
Cue: The act of setting a piece of audio to play and determining the play back point.
Cutoff Frequency: Processor that can remove or reduce parts of a signals frequency spectrum.
DAW (Digital Audio Workstation): Software used to record, edit and create audio.
Decibel (dB): Unit for measuring the intensity of a sound.
Delay: The playback of a sound after the initial hearing point.
Detune: To raise or lower the pitch of a sound.
Distortion: The altering of an audio signal to be different from the original sound.
Drop: The point of a song where the rhythm and pace change to boost energy.
Drum Machine: A programmable electronic device or software function able to imitate the sounds of a drum kit.
Dry: Raw and unprocessed sounds that come directly from a recording or DAW.
Dynamic Range: The difference between the quietest and loudest sound.
Effects / FX: A change added to the audio signal or an individual sound.
Envelope: Describes how a sound changes over time. The ADSR (attack, decay, sustain and release) are elements used to control the envelope.
Equalization (EQ): Audio processing of adjusting the volume level of a frequency.
Fader: The tool that adjusts the volume or other effects on a controller.
Filter: An effect that removes certain frequencies from a sound.
Flanger: An effect that combines the delayed sound with the original.
FL Studio: Windows-only Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software used to record, edit and create audio.
FM Synthesis: Frequency Modulation (FM) sound synthesis is where the frequency of a waveform is changed by modulating its frequency with a modulator.
Frequency: The rate at which vibration occurs in a sound wave. Measured in Hertz (Hz) or Kilohertz (kHz).
Fundamental: The pitch of a note.
Gate: A volume parameter that triggers when a sound can be heard.
Gain: A control that increases and decreases the amount of audio signal going into a device.
Harmonic: A multiple of the frequency of the fundamental tone.
Headroom: The maximum amount of audio signal that can pass through a device before being distorted.
Hertz (Hz): Unit of measurement for frequency.
High-pass Filter: An effect that passes signals with a frequency higher than a certain cutoff frequency and attenuates signals with frequencies lower than the cutoff frequency
Hook: Appealing part of a song that catches the ear of the listener.
Input Gain: Used to match the audio signal level to the input of a console or DAW.
Instrument: A device or software tool that creates musical sounds.
Intro: The first section of a song.
Jack: A connector for plugging in audio devices.
Kbps: Unit of measurement for bitrate.
Key: A group of pitches, or notes, that form the foundation of a piece of music.
Lead: An instrument or vocals assigned to play an important part of a song.
Level: The volume of sound measured in decibels (dB).
LFO: Low-frequency oscillation (LFO) is an electronic signal which is usually below 20 Hz and creates a rhythmic pulse or sweep.
Limiter: Device or circuit used to limit the amplitude of a sound. A limiter is a type of dynamic range compression.
Loop: A repeating sound.
Loudness: subjective perception of sound pressure. How “loud” something is for a person.
Loudspeaker: A device that converts electrical audio signals into sound.
Mash-up: Music made by combining two or more different songs.
Master Channel: The audio channel that all other tracks feed into. Used to control the audio of all tracks.
Mastering: The last process of preparing an audio track for distribution. Typically involves adding effects and combining the stems.
Mastering Chain: A series of effects applied to an audio signal in a specified order.
Melody: A sequence of single notes that is musically satisfying.
Midrange: Middle part of the range of audible frequencies.
Middle-8: A section of a song that typically happens in the middle of the song, and is typically eight bars in length.
MIDI: “Musical Instrument Digital Interface”. Devices with MIDI are digital interfaces that connect electronic music instruments to computers and DAWs for recording, editing and making music.
Mini-jack: A 3.5 mm or ⅛ connector for plugging in audio devices that is standard on headphones, phones, etc.
Mix / Mixdown: The combination of all the audio tracks in a song.
Mixer: A console or DAW feature that takes multiple audio track inputs and combines them into one output.
Mixing: The process of combining multiple audio tracks into one.
Modulate: To tune to a key or pitch.
Mod Wheel: A knob on a controller that can be assigned different parameters. Typically spins like a wheel.
Monitor: A speaker typically used in audio production because they produce a more pure sound as opposed to a loudspeaker made to boost sound.
Mono: Using one channel to convert an audio signal to a sound.
Muddy: When a track lacks clarity. Often from clashing frequencies.
Multi-Track: A recording created by mixing several tracks into one. Made with a console or a DAW.
MP3: A compressed audio file format.
Native: Instruments, effects and samples a part of a DAW or sound software.
Near-Field Monitoring: Reducing sound reflections in a room by placing the sound system close to the listeners.
Normalisation: Increasing the volume of a recording at a constant gain.
Octave: A series of eight musical notes occupying the interval between (and including) two notes, one having twice or half the frequency of vibration of the other.
Oscillator: An electronic circuit, or synthesizer, that creates sounds by generating voltages.
Outro: The ending of a song.
Overdub: Recording additional sounds over an existing recording.
Overtone: Frequencies higher than the fundamental frequency.
Pad: Soft, pleasing sound produced from a synth patch that resembles stringed instruments.
Panning: Adjusting the audio between left and right.
Pan Pot: The name for the panning control on a mixer or DAW.
Parallel Compression: Duplicating a sound and then mixing the duplication with the original. Also know as “New York Compression”.
Parametric EQ: Equalizer that can control frequency, bandwidth (Q) and gain / cut /boost.
Patch: A synthesiser sound that can be reutilized or the term used to describe connecting the signal from a software to a device or controller.
Peak: The highest point of amplitude of an audio signal.
Phase: The Vibration of air, a sound wave, measured in degrees.
Phaser: An effect that uses all pass filters to create a delay effect.
Phono Connector: Also known as a RCA Connector, an electrical connector used to carry audio signals.
Piano Roll: Part of the DAW software where you can edit MIDI notes. The Y-axis represents the notes of a keyboard, and the X-axis the time.
Pitch: The lowness of highness of a sound.
Pitch-wheel: A control that is used to vary the pitch.
Plug-in: A module or code that is added to a software to enable the software to do something else.
Polyphony: Simultaneous combination of two notes or melodies at the same time.
Post Production: The stage of production that takes place after the recording.
Preset: A saved setting on a DAW or device that can be applied when needed.
Q: A setting that refers to adjusting the bandwidth and how wide to cut or boost the frequency.
Quantise: Aligning musical notes in a DAW or MIDI sequencer with the grid.
Radio Edit: A version of the song that is appropriate for airing on the radio.
Release: The length of time for a sound to end after the key producing the sound is released. Part of “ADSR”.
Remix: A different version of a song that includes some features of the original song.
Resonance: A sound created when more than one sound vibrates simultaneously.
Reverb: An effect that imitates sounds reflecting off surfaces. Similar to an Echo sound.
Riff: Short, repeated pattern of musical notes in a song.
Riser: A sound that gradually rises in pitch before the drop.
RMS (Route Mean Squared): A measurement that refers to the amount of continuous power a speaker or amplifier can output.
Roll-off Slope: The action of a filter that is designed to remove frequencies at a specified cut off point.
Sample: A recorded sound that can be replayed.
Sampler: An instrument that can replay and manipulate samples.
Sample Rate: A measurement of the number of samples taken from a continuous signal to create a digital signal.
Saw Wave (or Sawtooth Wave): A waveform that synth oscillators generate and often create a buzzy sound.
Scrub: Moving through and relistening to an audio sample when editing audio.
Sequencer: A software or device that can record, edit and play back sounds.
Sidechain Compression: Compression where the effect applied to one sound or instrument is controlled by the pitch of another sound or instrument.
Signal: Electrical current that passes audio information between devices.
Sine Wave: A smooth, curved waveform that synth oscillators generate.
Song: A musical composition that combines melodies, words and and/or harmonics.
Sound Pressure Level (SPL): Measured in decibels and indicates the strength of an acoustic wave.
Sound-Proofing: To stop (or reduce) sound waves from entering or leaving a room.
Sound System: Amplifiers, speakers, outboard units and crossovers that produce the audio for the audience. Studio monitors and amps are for the performers.
Sound Waves: The pattern caused by the movement of energy traveling away from the source of the sound.
Spectrum: The amount of frequencies in a sound.
Square Wave: A waveform that synth oscillators generate. The waveform switches between a fixed minimum and maximum value.
Stems: Exported collection sounds that make up a full song. The collections may be grouped by snares, drums, vocals etc.
Stereo: Recording and replaying sounds that appear to come from two directions.
Sub Bass: Deep, low pitched sounds that are often felt.
Subtractive Synthesis: A method of synthesis in which parts of an audio signal (often one rich in harmonics) are attenuated by a filter to alter the timbre of the sound.
Sustain: The steady state of a sound at maximum intensity. Part of “ADSR”.
Soft-Synth: A software version of a synthesiser in a DAW.
Sub-Woofer: Speakers that produce sub bass sounds.
Synthesizer: Electronic musical instrument that generates and converts electrical signals into sounds. Also known as a synth.
Take: Recorded audio acquired in one “go”.
Tempo: The speed the music is played. Measured in Beats Per Minute (BPM).
Timbre: The character of sound or musical note that makes it distinct from others.
Top-line: The main lead vocal or melody.
Track: A single stem or part of a song.
Tracking: Recording of individual tracks used in a song.
Transient: A high amplitude sound that happens quickly. Drum sounds are often transients.
Tremolo: a steady, rapid increase and decrease in volume.
Trim: Another word for “gain”.
Tune: Changing the pitch of a sound to match the key.
Tweeter: Part of a loudspeaker or monitor that produces higher frequencies.
Unison: Two or more sounds played with similar pitches at the same time.
USB: Connector that connects most MIDI controllers and audio interfaces to a computer.
Velocity: The speed used to trigger a button or key on a MIDI controller.
Vibrato: Regular, pulsating change of a sound’s pitch.
Volume: Measured in decibels and usually refers to the loudness of a sound.
VST: Virtual Studio Technology is a plugin that integrates synths and effects into a DAW.
VU Meter: Volume Unit Meter that displays a visual representation of the audio level.
Waveform: A visual representation of a sound vibration.
WAV: File format used to store digital audio data.
Wet: Sounds that have modifications, been processed and/or distorted.
White Noise: A fizzy or static like sound that contains many frequencies.
XLR: A three-pin audio connector designed for passing large electrical, audio signals.
303: Three O Three – Refers to the Roland TB-303 Bass Line synthesiser. Popular for creating electronic dance music.
4/4: Four Four – Commonly used time signature of EDM. 4 quarter beats in each measure.
808: Eight O Eight – Referring to the Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer.
909: Nine O Nine – Referring to the Roland TR-909 Rhythm Composer.