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Glossary of terms used on this site

There are 47 entries in this glossary.
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Term Definition
sampling rate

The precision with which a digital file describes the analog sound it represents. Basically, a lower rate produces files that sound worse and take up less drive space than those with a higher rate. CDs have a sampling rate of 44.1 kHz, and DAT machines have a sampling rate of 48 kHz. MiniDisc player/recorders with a built-in sampling rate converter can handle both rates.

secure audio file

A downloadable music file that must be paid for in order to be heard and/or cannot be duplicated without some loss of audio quality.

signal-to-noise ratio

A measure of the strength of the audio signal in comparison to that of the background noise. Essentially, a low signal-to-noise ratio means that the device or file has lots of hiss and static, while a high rating means clear-sounding audio.


You can change all kinds of graphical elements of skin-enabled programs such as Winamp or AIMP by creating skins.


A cable or adapter with one input or output on one end and two on the other.

standard bit rate (SBR)

The standard type of compression wherein an entire audio file is encoded at the same bit rate, as opposed to variable bit rate encoding.


Two channels of audio. When you listen to something in stereo, different sounds come out of the left and right speakers or headphones. Since stereo tracks contain twice the information of an equivalent mono file, they are twice the size.


The transmission of audio across the Internet from a server to an audio player client.


To encode music from one codec into another codec for example, from RealAudio to MP3.


When it comes to sound compression, the DSP Group's TrueSpeech codec is about as small as it gets. This codec reduces the signal to 8,000 Hz, in mono, with a bit depth of 1. This means that the sound goes through at a rate of 1K per second--an eighth the size and rate of the smallest PCM audio files (like WAV and AIFF files) and a quarter the size of the smallest ADPCM files. Of course, they make everything sound like a so-so quality pay-phone call, but they're certainly small.

variable bit rate (VBR)

A type of compression wherein certain audio sections are encoded at different bit rates so that complex sounds are encoded at a higher rate while simple sounds are encoded at a lower rate, as opposed to standard bit rate encoding. This means you get the best sound possible for a certain amount of disk space, but certain players occasionally have problems decoding VBR audio files.

Video for Windows (VFW)

Video for Windows, or VFW, is the multimedia technology that ships as part of Windows 95. It can be added to earlier versions of Windows when you install a CD-ROM title or other program that uses VFW. Its playback files have the extension .avi and can be played using Windows' Media Player. Since the files are large, they are often compressed using a codec. Video for Windows is one of three video technologies used on personal computers. (The others are MPEG and QuickTime.)


A feature or plug-in in a software audio player that renders shapes and colors in sync with the music.


VOC is an audio file format developed by Creative Labs for use with the earliest Sound Blaster cards under DOS. With the continued preeminence of Windows, the VOC file format has lost much ground to the Windows-native WAV file format.


An uncompressed Windows audio file. WAV files occupy an incredible amount of disk space, thus the need for compressed formats, such as MP3.

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