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Glossary of terms used on this site

There are 47 entries in this glossary.
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Term Definition

A multipurpose audio program that usually incorporates an audio player, a ripper, an encoder, and a file organizer.

line in

Any source with an input into your component. This is generally used for recording and refers to the line running from the source (for example, a microphone) to the recording device (for example, a MiniDisc player), but it can also mean a part of an amplifier or an equalizer.

line out

This output sends an audio signal to its intended destination. You might use a line out to send an audio signal from a portable device to a receiver or from a receiver to a recording device or from a portable device to a pair of powered speakers.


When you create a playlist in audio playback software such as Winamp, the playlist file contains the extension M3U. Clicking an M3U file will bring up all of the songs in the playlist in your default audio player.


MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is a protocol that allows electronic musical instruments to talk to each other and to computers. Because MIDI files contain only a series of commands (such as note on, note off), they are very small and efficient. On the other hand, they have no sound of their own, and must be used in conjunction with a wavetable, a synthesizer, or a drum machine.


One channel of audio. When you listen to something in mono, the exact same sound comes out of the left and right speakers or headphones. Since mono tracks contain half the information of an equivalent stereo file, they are half the size.


See a file with the .mov extension, and you'll know one thing: you need QuickTime multimedia technology to run it. MOV files can be movie clips, such as Video for Windows' AVI files, or still images, such as GIFs.


A sound file that has been compressed through MP3 encoding, making the files smaller and easier to send across the Internet.

MPEG (Moving Pictures Experts Group)

MPEG is a standard for compressing sound and movie files into an attractive format for downloading or even streaming across the Internet. The MPEG-1 standard streams video and sound data at 150 kilobytes per second the same rate as a single speed CD-ROM drive which it manages by taking key frames of video and filling only the areas that change between the frames.


A process that adjusts the volume of a sound recording so that it plays back at a consistent volume.


A sequential list of songs that can include CD audio, MP3s, WMAs, or any other kind of audio file. Playlists can be randomized to create a mix and saved to hard drives and CD-Rs.

pulse code modulation

Sound is analog, and computers are digital. So for a computer (and that includes CD and DAT players) to deal with sound, the sound needs to be digitized. The most common technique for doing so is pulse code modulation. It's the native format used by WAV and AIFF files for representing sound. It's not well compressed, so sounds are often encoded further using a codec


Even musicians with an amazing sense of rhythm don't always get the intervals between notes or beats exactly right. Quantizing MIDI music aligns the music exactly to the tempo and time signature that you specify.


Developed by Apple Computer, QuickTime is a method of storing sound, graphics, and movie files. If you see a MOV file on the Web or on a CD-ROM, you'll know it's a QuickTime file. Although QuickTime was originally developed for the Macintosh, player software is now available for Windows and other platforms. If you don't have a QuickTime player, you can always download versions for either Mac or PC from Apple's Web site.


Software that digitally yanks tunes from your CDs and turns them into files on your computer (WAV files in Windows, AIFF files on a Mac).

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