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DAW Buyers Guide Contents
Abbreviations & glossary
AAF - advanced authoring format.
absolute time - normal time in terms of hours, minutes, seconds, and milliseconds.
ADAT - an 8-channel digital audio interface developed by Alesis.
ADL - audio decision list - a sample-accurate edit decision list generated by a DAW rather than a video editing system.
ADR - automated dialogue replacement.
AES31 - (AES31-3) an AES standard for simple project interchange.
AES/EBU - a standard twin-channel digital audio interface.
ASIO - audio streaming input and output - developed by Steinberg to speed up the problem of latency.
ATM - asynchronous transfer mode.
big/little-endian - if a word is presented most significant bit first, it is big-endian. If presented least significant bit first, it is little endian.
BITC - burnt-in timecode - a visual overlay of the timecode on the video picture.
BWF - Broadcast WAVE file.
CDDI - copper data distributed interface.
channel - various definitions exist, however for the purposes of this Guide, a channel is equivalent to a real track of audio, internal to a system. If a system can play 24 continuous and independent tracks of audio simultaneously live off disk, then it is described as 24-channel, even if those 24 channels are routed through only 2 outputs. If those 24 tracks each contain a rendered crossfade at the same time, then the system is 24-channel and uses 24 streams. If all of those crossfades are real time instead, then the system is 24-channel and uses 48 streams.
data compression - a technique which reduces the amount of storage or bandwidth required, by relying on a natural phenomenon called psychoacoustic masking in order to reduce the amount of data by as much as a factor of 12.
DDE - dynamic data exchange - a Microsoft standard method of data exchange between Windows-based applications.
DDP - disc data protocol (for CD mastering).
DMA - direct memory access.
DSD - direct stream digital, used for Super Audio CD (SACD). DSD uses 1-bit sampling at 2.88MHz and requires 353kB of storage per mono second (i.e. 4 times more than 16-bit audio at 44.1kHz).
DTRS - digital tape recording system. A Tascam-orginated 8-channel digital tape format that uses Hi-8 tape. ducking - lowering the overall level of a segment so that another simultaneous segment or live event has more prominence.
ducking - lowering the overall level of a segment so that another simultaneous segment or live event has more prominence.
EDL - edit decision list. A term more commonly used in video editing. An EDL is a list of all the 'in' and 'out' points of the segments used in a session, usually referenced to timecode, so that segments can be reconstituted from the original source. For audio systems, the term EDL is often used in place of 'events list'.
event - the time when a segment or item is sequenced to play. A sequenced segment must have an event time, but if the segment is removed, the event may remain, and have a different segment attached to it.
event-based - attached to an event time, and independent of the track or segment.
events list - the sequential list of events, which tells the system which segments are used, and when they are scheduled to play. In musical terms this is a sequence, and may also be called a playlist. A session must have an internal events list, and some systems allow this to be displayed and edited.
FDDI - fibre data distributed interface (fibre optic).
FFT - fast Fourier transform.
GB - gigabyte (1024 megabytes).
GUI - graphical user interface.
HD - hard disk.
HFS - hierarchical file system - the standard Macintosh file system.
Hi-Z - a type of analogue input that allows direct connection of electric guitars.
HMSF - hours:minutes:seconds:frames, also called SMPTE time.
IEEE-1394 - also known as FireWire, a universal digital interface used for transferring any type of digital information.
I/O - inputs/outputs.
Jaz - a make of removable hard disk.
JBOD - just a bunch of disks. latency - the time lag between audio entering a computer, and being routed through software and hardware, before finally appearing at the output. linear - non-compressed.
LTC - longitudinal timecode (often called SMPTE).
LVD - low voltage differential. macro - a time-saving feature which allows a sequence of commands to be stored under one or two key presses.
MADI - (AES10) multichannel digital audio interface that supports 56 channels.
MB - megabyte (1,048,576 bytes, or 1024 kilobytes).
MC - MIDI clock.
MIDI - musical instrument digital interface, a serial contol interface for musical instruments and associated equipment.
MMC - MIDI machine control.
MME - multimedia extension.
MO - magneto optical (disk).
MTC - MIDI timecode.
MTM - MIDI tempo map.
non-real time - faster or slower than real time. If referring to DSP processes (including crossfades), 'non-real time' means that the system will perform a one-off calculation in order to create (render) a file containing the processed region. Whenever the sequence containing the process is played, the system will seamlessly jump to this file at the appropriate moment. Such a system does not require as much DSP power as one which performs the process live (i.e. in real time), but the drawback is that the processed file uses up disk space and the initial calculation takes time.
normalising - digitally maximising the dynamic range.
nowline - the position of 'play' (the 'play head').
OEM - original equipment manufacturer.
OLE - object linking and embedding, a Microsoft standard method of data exchange between Windows-based applications.
OpenTL - a file-compatibility initiative of TimeLine.
OS - operating system.
PC - IBM/compatible.
pitch shift - the process of raising or lowering the pitch of a sound without changing its duration.
PLL - phase-locked loop.
PQ code - subcode required for CD mastering.
PSTN - public switched telephone network.
RAID - redundant array of industry standard (or inexpensive, or independent) drives.
RBF - random block file - a Microsoft OS9 standard file system. real time - any process which happens 'live' is called a real time process, or any process which takes 'real time' to perform, will take what is considered to be 'normal' time.
region - usually more than a segment, this is an area between two marks any distance apart that may apply to a single track, or across all tracks, or across selected tracks.
render - see 'non-real time'.
SACD - Super Audio CD. Developed to provide superior audio quality than standard 16-bit, 44.1kHz audio CD. See also DSD.
SAN - storage area network.
segment - a piece of audio which has an 'in' point and an 'out' point (also called cue, event, clip, cut, take, item).
segment-based - similar to 'event-based', but attached to the segment, and independent of the event time.
SPDIF - a twin-channel digital audio interface originally implemented by Sony and Philips.
SPP - (MIDI) song position pointer.
SRC - sample rate converter.
stream - a continuous and independent digital audio signal. Systems with real time crossfades of unlimited length may support more streams than channels.
submixing - the ability of a system to perform an internal mixdown which is stored on disk as a new file. This may take real time to perform, or may be slower or faster than real time. Although it releases channels, the new file will use up disk space and will reduce the eventual dynamic range of mixed elements.
SysEx - (MIDI) system exclusive messages.
TB - terabyte (1024 gigabytes).
TBA - to be announced.
TC - timecode.
TDIF - Tascam digital interface, an 8-channel digital audio interface.
timestretch - time compression/expansion - the process of changing the duration of a sound without changing its pitch.
track - often taken to mean the same as channel. However, this is not always the case. An 8-channel system with 100 virtual tracks will allow the user to arrange segments across 100 tracks on the screen, but only a maximum of 8 segments can play simultaneously at any instant. If more segments are required to play simultaneously, the system may support automatic or manual submixing of two or more segments into a single file requiring only one channel.
varispeed - the process of raising or lowering the pitch of a sound while shortening or lengthening its duration respectively.
VITC - vertical interval timecode (allows a device to read the timecode while the video is in freeze frame).
virtual track - see 'track'.
Y2 - Yamaha stereo digital interface.
Zip - a make of removable hard disk drive.
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