Translation glossary: Acoustics, Sound, Audio Engineering Glossary

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DAW(Digital Audio Workstation): A term first used in the 1980s to describe early ‘tapeless’ recording/sampling machines like the Fairlight and Synclavier. Nowadays, DAW is more commonly used to describe Audio+MIDI ‘virtual studio’ software programs such as Cubase, Logic Pro, Digital Performer, Sonar and such-like. Essentially elaborate software running on a bespoke or generic computer platform which is designed to replicate the processes inv 
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dBThe deciBel is a method of expressing the ratio between two quantities in a logarithmic fashion. Used when describing audio signal amplitudes because the logarithmic nature matches the logarithmic character of the human sense of hearing. The dB is used when comparing one signal level against another (such as the input and output levels of an amplifier or filter). When the two signal amplitudes are the same, the decibel value is 0dB. If one signal 
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dBThe deciBel is a method of expressing the ratio between two quantities in a logarithmic fashion. Used when describing audio signal amplitudes because the logarithmic nature matches the logarithmic character of the human sense of hearing. The dB is used when comparing one signal level against another (such as the input and output levels of an amplifier or filter). When the two signal amplitudes are the same, the decibel value is 0dB. If one signal 
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dB/OctaveA means of measuring the slope or steepness of a filter. The gentlest audio filter is typically 6dB/Octave (also called a first-order slope). Higher values indicate sharper filter slopes. 24dB/octave (fourth order) is the steepest normally found in analogue audio applications. 
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DBXA manufacturer of audio processing equipment, most notably compressors and tape noise reduction systems. The DBX NR systems were commercial encode/decode analogue noise-reduction processors intended for consumer and semi-pro tape recording. Different models varied in complexity, but essentially DBX compressed the audio signals during recording and expanded them by an identical amount on playback. 
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DCDirect Current. The form of electrical current supplied by batteries and the power supplies inside electrical equipment. The current flows in one direction only. 
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DCADigitally Controlled Amplifier. The digital equivalent of a VCA often found in digital synthesisers and mixing consoles. 
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DCA GroupSee VCA Group 
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DCCA stationary-head digital recorder format developed by Philips, using a bespoke cassette medium similar in size and format to Compact Cassettes. It used an MPEG data reduction system to reduce the amount of data that needs to be stored. 
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DCODigitally Controlled Oscillator. Used in digitally-controlled synthesizers. 
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DDLAn abbreviation of Digital Delay Line, used to create simple delay-based audio effects. 
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DDPDisc Description Protocol. A data description format used for specifying the content of optical discs including CD, and used almost universally now for the delivery of disc masters to duplication houses. A DDP file contains four elements: the Audio image (.DAT); the DDP identifier (DDPID), the DDP Stream Descriptor (DDPMS); and a subcode descriptor (PQDESCR). Often an extra text file is also included with track titles and timing data. Many DAWs a 
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DDPDisc Description Protocol. A data description format used for specifying the content of optical discs including CD, and used almost universally now for the delivery of disc masters to duplication houses. A DDP file contains four elements: the Audio image (.DAT); the DDP identifier (DDPID), the DDP Stream Descriptor (DDPMS); and a subcode descriptor (PQDESCR). Often an extra text file is also included with track titles and timing data. Many DAWs a 
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De-emphasisA system which restores the spectral balance to correct for pre-emphasis. 
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De-esserA device for reducing the effect of sibilance in vocal signals. 
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De-Oxidising CompoundA substance formulated to remove oxides from electrical contacts. (cf. Contact Cleaner) 
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DecayThe progressive reduction in amplitude of a sound or electrical signal over time, eg. The reverb decay of a room. In the context of an ADSR envelope shaper, the Decay phase starts as soon as the Attack phase has reached its maximum level. 
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Decca TreeA form of ‘spaced microphone’ arrangement in which three microphone capsules (usually, but not always, with omnidirectional polar patterns) are placed in a large triangular array roughly two metres wide, with the central microphone one metre further forward. Sounds approaching from different directions arrive at each capsule at different times and with slightly different levels, and these timing and level differences are used to convey the di 
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Decca TreeA form of ‘spaced microphone’ arrangement in which three microphone capsules (usually, but not always, with omnidirectional polar patterns) are placed in a large triangular array roughly two metres wide, with the central microphone one metre further forward. Sounds approaching from different directions arrive at each capsule at different times and with slightly different levels, and these timing and level differences are used to convey the di 
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Decibelsee dB 
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Decoupler (also isolator)A device intended to prevent the transmission of physical vibration over a specific frequency range, such as a rubber or foam block. 
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DefragmentThe process of rearranging the files on a hard disk so that all the files are as contiguous as possible, and that the remaining free space is also contiguous. 
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DelayThe time between a sound or control signal being generated and it auditioned or taking effect, measured in seconds. Often referred to as latency in the context of computer audio interfaces. 
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DeskAn alternative term for mixer (See also console). 
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DetentOne or more physical click-stops which can be felt when a rotary control is moved. Typically used to identify the centre of a control such as a pan or EQ cut/boost knob, or to give the impression of preset positions on a gain control. 
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DIAn abbreviation for ‘Direct Instrument’ or ‘Direct Inject’ 
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DI BoxDirect Injection, or Direct Instrument Box. A device which accepts the signal input from a guitar, bass, or keyboard and conditions it to conform to the requirements of a microphone signal at the output. The output is a mic-level, balanced signal with a low source impedance, capable of driving long mic cables. There is usually a facility to break the ground continuity between mic cable and source to avoid unwanted ground loop noises. Both active 
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DI BoxDirect Injection, or Direct Instrument Box. A device which accepts the signal input from a guitar, bass, or keyboard and conditions it to conform to the requirements of a microphone signal at the output. The output is a mic-level, balanced signal with a low source impedance, capable of driving long mic cables. There is usually a facility to break the ground continuity between mic cable and source to avoid unwanted ground loop noises. Both active 
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Diaphragmthe movable membrane in a microphone capsule which responds mechanically to variations in the pressure or pressure gradient of sound waves. The mechanical diaphragm vibrations are converted into an electrical signal usually through electromagnetic or electrostatic techniques such as ribbon, moving coil, capacitor or electret devices. 
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Digital (cf. Analogue)A means of representing information (eg audio or video signals) in the form of binary codes comprising strings of 1s and 0s, or their electrical or physical equivalents. Digital audio circuitry uses discrete voltages or currents to represent the audio signal at specific moments in time (samples). A properly engineered digital system has infinite resolution, the same as an analogue system, but the audio bandwidth is restricted by the sample rate, 
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Digital (cf. Analogue)A means of representing information (eg audio or video signals) in the form of binary codes comprising strings of 1s and 0s, or their electrical or physical equivalents. Digital audio circuitry uses discrete voltages or currents to represent the audio signal at specific moments in time (samples). A properly engineered digital system has infinite resolution, the same as an analogue system, but the audio bandwidth is restricted by the sample rate, 
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Digital DelayA digital processor that generates delay and echo effects. 
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Digital ReverberatorA digital processor which simulates acoustic reverberation. 
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DIN ConnectorA consumer multi-pin connection format used for vintage microphones, some consumer audio equipment, and MIDI cabling. Various pin configurations are available. 
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Diode-Bridge CompressorA form of audio compressor which uses a diode-bridge (sometimes known as a diode-ring) arrangement as the variable gain-reducing element. The design was popular in the 1960s as it provided faster responses than typical opto-compressors, and less distortion than many FET designs. However, noise can be an issue as the audio signal has to be attenuated heavily before the diode-bridge, and considerable (~40dB) gain added subsequently. The diodes also 
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Diode-Bridge CompressorA form of audio compressor which uses a diode-bridge (sometimes known as a diode-ring) arrangement as the variable gain-reducing element. The design was popular in the 1960s as it provided faster responses than typical opto-compressors, and less distortion than many FET designs. However, noise can be an issue as the audio signal has to be attenuated heavily before the diode-bridge, and considerable (~40dB) gain added subsequently. The diodes also 
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Direct CouplingA means of connecting two electrical circuits so that both AC and DC signals may be passed between them. 
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DiscUsed to describe vinyl discs, CDs and MiniDiscs. 
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DiskAn abbreviation of Diskette, but now used to describe computer floppy, hard and removable data storage disks. 
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DitherA system whereby low-level noise equivalent to one quantising level is combined with a digitised audio signal in such a way as to perfectly linearise the digital system. Dither must be employed whenever the wordlength is reduced, otherwise quantising distortion errors will manifest. 
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DMADirect Memory Access. Part of a computer operating system that allows peripheral devices to communicate directly with the computer memory without going via the central processor or CPU. 
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Dolby HXInvented by B&O and licensed to Dolby. HX (often marketed as HX Pro) stands for \'Headroom eXtension\' and it is a record-processing system used on some analogue open-reel and cassette tape-recorders (there is no complementary replay processing). Dolby HX Pro varies the amount of recording bias depending on the strength of high-frequencies in the audio signal itself to avoid magnetic saturation and over-biasing. This makes it possible to record w 
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Dolby HXInvented by B&O and licensed to Dolby. HX (often marketed as HX Pro) stands for \'Headroom eXtension\' and it is a record-processing system used on some analogue open-reel and cassette tape-recorders (there is no complementary replay processing). Dolby HX Pro varies the amount of recording bias depending on the strength of high-frequencies in the audio signal itself to avoid magnetic saturation and over-biasing. This makes it possible to record w 
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Dolby Noise-ReductionA manufacturer of analogue and digital audio equipment in the fields of tape noise-reduction systems and cinema and domestic surround-sound equipment. Dolby’s noise-reduction systems included types B, C and S for domestic and semi-professional machines, and types A and SR for professional machines. Recordings made using one of these systems must also be replayed via the same system. These systems varied in complexity and effectiveness, but esse 
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Dolby Noise-ReductionA manufacturer of analogue and digital audio equipment in the fields of tape noise-reduction systems and cinema and domestic surround-sound equipment. Dolby’s noise-reduction systems included types B, C and S for domestic and semi-professional machines, and types A and SR for professional machines. Recordings made using one of these systems must also be replayed via the same system. These systems varied in complexity and effectiveness, but esse 
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Dolby Surround-SoundDolby’s surround sound systems started with an analogue 4:2:4 phase-matrix system with a very elaborate active-steering decoder called ProLogic, before moving into the digital realm with Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby True HD, and others. 
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DomeA specific shape of drive unit diaphragm intended to push and pull the air to create acoustic sound waves. Most tweeters use dome-shaped diaphragms which are driven around the circumference by the drive unit’s motor system. ‘Soft-domes’ are made of a fabric 
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DOSDisk Operating System. Part of the operating system of PC and PC compatible computers 
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Double-ended Noise ReductionA method for removing or attenuating the noise component of a recording or transmission system, in which the signal is pre-conditioned in a specific way which is reversed on playback. Most analogue noise-reduction systems are of the double-ended type, such as the Dolby and DBX systems. 
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Double-lapped ScreenAlso known as a Reussen screen. The signal-carrying wires in a microphone cable are protected from external electrostatic and RF interference by a ‘screen’ which is a surrounding conductor connected to earth or ground. The Reussen screen is a specific form of cable screen, comprising two overlapping and counter-wound layers which are unlikely to ‘open up’ if the cable is bent, yet remain highly flexible 
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