Welcome to Phantom City Studio Recording Studios in Orlando, Florida
Definitions of Commonly Used Recording Studio Terms
Definitions in alphabetical order:
This is sound that is continuous, corresponding exactly to real sound. This is unlike digital sound, which is
broken down into a series of slices (samples) made up of ones and zeros. An analog signal is usually
recorded using magnetic media such as tape. Cassette tapes and vinyl LPs for example both use analog
sound. Analog recordings cannot be copied without some loss of sound quality, and are likely to contain
more unwanted noise than digital recordings.
Audio Stream Input-Output. This is an audio protocol originally developed by the Steinberg company and
used by REAPER, and other DAWs to communicate with audio hardware devices and interfaces (such as
PCI Soundcards, Firewire and USB devices).
Using ASIO as your sound driver will give you a much lower latency.
This allows for running software plugins realtime.
Bit Depth (Sample Size)
The bit depth is the level of detail at which a computer samples analog audio to create digital audio. When
recording wave files, most commonly, you use 16 or 24 bit sampling. 24 bit audio is generally preferred
because it gives a more accurate representation of the sound and makes it easier to avoid clipping, but it
does take up more disk space. Bit depth should not be confused with Sample Rate.
This measures the number of kilobits per second of data in MP3 and other audio files. The bit rate you
choose when creating an MP3 file determines the size and quality of the resulting MP3.
The highest commonly used bit rate is 320 kbps. A file created using this bit rate will have excellent quality,
but will be fairly large. A standard bit rate for encoding MP3s is 128 kbps. A file created using this bit rate
will have good quality, and take up about 1 Mb per 1 minute of sound
Beats Per Minute, the speed or tempo of a piece of music, a project in REAPER terms.
An audio buffer is a driver setting that helps determines the rate at which audio passes between your
computer’s processor and its sound card. Reducing the buffer size can help reduce the amount of Latency
while recording and monitoring audio. Increasing the buffer size can help prevent pops and clicks while
This is the process of writing data or files onto a recordable CD using a hardware device called a CD
Burner. Generally, you create either an audio or a data disc when you burn a CD (although hybrid formats
like CD Extra are also available). Audio discs can be played in any standard audio CD player. A data disc
contains computer files and can only be read on computers. REAPER supports the burning of audio discs.
An internal pathway that may form part of your audio routing system. Although REAPER makes no inherent
distinction between a track and a bus, a track can be considered to be functioning as a bus when more than
one other track has been routed to it. Channel A channel is a path through which an audio signal flows. One
important feature of REAPER is its ability to use up to 64 separate channels with any single track or tracks.
An effect that makes one voice or instrument sound like many. Chorus works with all types of audio, but is
particularly effective with the human voice.
This is the unpleasant distortion that you hear when output is too loud, causing the peaks of the audio
signal to rise above the capabilities of the amplifier circuit. To avoid distortion, reduce the volume or gain
before the stage in which the clipping occurs.
(or Codec) Codec stands for compression / decompression. A codec is a program used to enable Windows
to compress and/or decompress audio to and from different formats. For example, REAPER uses the LAME
codec for creating MP3 files.
A process of reducing the dynamic range of an audio stream. Often used to make the loud parts of a track
quieter and the quiet parts louder. MP3 is one example of a commonly used compressed audio format. Not
to be confused with data compression, which is an entirely separate and unrelated topic.
The process of packing digital data, such as computer files, more efficiently for the purpose of storage or
transmission. Not to be confused with audio compression, which is an entirely separate and unrelated topic.
A unit used for the measurement of sound, often abbreviated to dB. Commonly, Sound Pressure Levels
(SPL) are represented as numbers from 0dB (the softest sound that may be heard) to 120dB and beyond
(the level at which sound is perceived as pain).
An effect which creates a delayed sound Digital Audio Digital audio is audio that has been converted into a
series of ones and zeros that can be processed by a computer. When analog sound is converted in this
way, it is commonly saved and stored as a wave file. Digital sound is easier to reproduce and manipulate
without loss in quality than analog.
Digital audio uses digital signals for sound reproduction. This includes analog-to-digital conversion, digital-
to-analog conversion, storage, and transmission
Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
A term used to describe a computer, or a specialist piece of hardware, when it has been set up and
equipped with the necessary software and hardware to function as a recording studio.
A widely used plugin format, generally less popular than VST.
Docking is used in a number of applications but here it's used as a REAPER term. The REAPER Docker
provides a tabbed viewing area for several REAPER functions (mixer, FX browser, undo, routing matrix, etc.)
and is accessible through the View menu. The Docker can be detached from the main REAPER window and
moved, for example, to a secondary monitor.
Software that works with your computer's operating system to control and use a particular piece of hardware
such as your sound card. To enable it to function at its best you should check the web regularly for any
updated drivers for your soundcard.
A term used to describe an audio signal to which no effects have been added. The opposite is wet.
Encoding / Decoding
The process of converting audio to or from a compressed format like MP3 or FLAC. The encoding and
decoding processes requires the use of CODECs.
Envelopes allow to control how any of a number of a track’s attributes behaves during recording and
playback. For example, an envelope can be used to automatically fade a track’s volume up and down as
required for different parts of a song whenever it is played back.
Envelopes Equalization (EQ)
Sound is made up of many vibrations which take place at the same time at different frequencies. An audio
equalizer lets you separately adjust the volume of different ranges of frequencies, thus changing the make
up of the overall sound. Frequency is measured in hertz (Hz) which is the vibrations, or cycles, per second.
The higher the number, the higher the note.
A technique to bring sound into or out of a track gradually. Fade-in brings the sound in gradually, fade-out
does the opposite. Cross fade occurs when two media items overlap in such a way that one is faded in while
the other is faded out.
A device which enables you to control the level of an audio signal by sliding up or down. Examples of the
use of faders in REAPER are to control a track’s volume and panning.
This is an audio effect that distorts sound by applying both a short delay and variable modulation of the
The number of vibrations in a sound wave per unit of time. Frequency is usually measured in hertz, where
one hertz is one cycle per second. High-pitched sounds have higher frequencies and low-pitched sounds
have lower frequencies.
A folder is a special type of track that acts as a container or master for other tracks. It is a collection of
tracks, and serves as a simple and convenient means of controlling all of the tracks contained within it. For
example, changes can be made to the volume level of a folder to affect the combined volume of all of the
tracks contained within that folder. Changes made to the volume level of individual tracks within a folder will
affect the volume of that track, and the relative balance between all tracks in the folder, as if you'd moved all
of the track faders, in the group, at once.
Folders can also contain media items and envelopes. Folders are especially useful when working with
groups of similar instruments (such as drum kits).
Gluing items renders (without FX) the selected items on each track to a new single WAV file, which replaces
the original items in the project (the original files are left unaltered on disk).
High Pass Filter
A high pass filter removes all sound below a set frequency. It can be useful in removing certain kinds of
rumble and hum.
This is a general scientific term that's used in a variety of ways. In audio it refers to a memory or lagging
effect in which the order of previous events can influence the order of subsequent events; a noise gate, for
example, could implements hysteresis to prevent "chattering" when signals close to its threshold are applied.
The process of having the audio stream that is being recorded being also fed directly back to the musician
or singer through their headphones. If latency is too high, a delay or echo effect will be noticeable.
Items (aka "Media Items" or "Media Events") contain audio/MIDI information and reside in a Track. Items can
be empty, or have one or more "Takes", one of which is visible and "active". Items are often called 'Parts' in
other DAW software.
A measurement of the time taken for audio to travel from the sound card, through REAPER, and out again
to your headphones or speakers. Usually measured in milliseconds. For input monitoring, a latency of less
than 5 ms is usually preferred.
The amount of power that drives an audio signal. Common names given to varying levels of voltage (from
lowest to highest) are microphone level, instrument level and line level.
Low Pass Filter
A low pass filter removes all sound above a set frequency. It is useful in removing certain kinds of hiss.
Turn off the output of a track or item, differs from just bringing the volume down to zero as when a track is
muted it doesn't take up any CPU resources when playing or recording other tracks.
Markers, like Regions, are used to identify important sections of a song (i.e. Verse, Chorus, Intro, etc.)
Unlike Regions, Markers indicate only the beginning point of a section and are displayed in the Markers
band of the Timeline. Markers are useful for quickly locating and playing a section.
The section of REAPER’s mixer where the main mix is controlled.
An audio or MIDI recording. In many DAWs these are known as clips.
(Musical Instruments Digital Interface) A system that uses a synthesizer to enable your computer to play
back music under program control. MIDI instructions can include which notes to play and which instrument to
simulate. MIDI can also be used to enable a computer to control external MIDI compliant instruments such as
synthesizers, drum machines and sound modules. MIDI uses a standard connector.
REAPER’s Mixer View depicts a virtual representation of a traditional hardware mixing desk. This can be
used to combine all of the signals from your various audio and MIDI tracks into a Main Mix which usually
consists of one single stereo paired output.
MPEG audio layer 3. A compressed audio format widely used to transfer music over the internet. An MP3
file is much smaller than a wave file, but still sounds to most people’s ears virtually as good as the original.
A noise gate is a filter that detects sound levels in an audio stream and shuts out sound when the volume
falls below a determined level. It can be useful, for example, to cut out unwanted background noise that may
be present during an otherwise silent passage on a recording.
This effect permanently adjusts the amplitude (volume, essentially) of audio to a certain value. Normalization
is particularly useful when creating a CD using various different tracks. Normalization can be used to help
obtain a consistent level of volume for the different tracks.
This filter removes all audio in a specified frequency band in an audio signal.
A free, open-source audio compression format. Though less widely used than MP3, it can provide greater
A control that lets you determine the relative left-right balance of a mono signal within the stereo spectrum.
A Peaks File contains a picture of an audio signal, REAPER - and other DAWs - use Peaks Files to avoid
having to calculate that picture each time it is needed. Play all takes
In the music industry, a record producer (or music producer) has many roles, among them controlling the
recording sessions, coaching and guiding the musicians, organizing and scheduling production budget and
resources, and supervising the recording, mixing and mastering processes.
A project is how REAPER organises a song or recording. It's a collection of sound files, MIDI files and the
information needed to stitch them together into a coherent whole.
Project Sample Rate
The Sample Rate used for the project.
A small program used in conjunction with REAPER to enable you to manipulate the sound of recorded
tracks. Functions carried out by plug-ins include EQ, delay and chorus. Two widely plug-in formats are
DirectX and VST (Virtual Studio).
A way of recording useful when you want to record just a particular section of music. REAPER plays as
normal until it encounters that section; at that point REAPER starts to record, it continues playback but
stops recording when the section is finished.
A real time effect is an effect fast enough to work on "live" input, a singer or instrument, without a noticeable
Rapid Environment for Audio Prototyping and Efficient Recording. Available from www.reaper.fm
The method by which audio sent from one track is accepted by its destination track lkor bus.
Regions, like Markers, are used to identify sections of a song (i.e. Verse, Chorus, Intro, etc.) Unlike
Markers, Regions indicate both the begining and ending points of a section and are displayed in the
Regions band of the Timeline. Regions are useful for relocating/duplicating existing sections of a song.
An effect used to simulates natural reverberations (sound reflections) that occur in different rooms and
environments to create an ambience or sense of space.
An effect that takes one or both channels in a sound file and plays them backwards. Rip
To extract music directly from your CD in pure digital form and save it directly to your hard drive.
A term used to describe the path, or paths, taken by an audio stream which on playback takes it from the
track on which it has been recorded all the way to its position in the final mix.
REAPER’s overview of a project’s entire routing network. Changes to routing can also be made in the
a value or set of values at a point in time... [(signal processing)] For our purposes it's a slice of music, stitch
enough slices together you can't hear where they join, and then it sounds ok.
The number of samples (slices) per second, the more slices per second you have the higher the quality of
the recorded sound. 44,100 (usually written 44.1k) samples per second is generally considered sufficient
and is the sample rate used on music CDs. Professional audio equipment often uses 48k or even 96k.
Opinion is divided though as to whether sample rates of above 44.1k actually make any difference to what is
heard. Our ears can hear sounds with a frequency of up to 20k, so anything faster than that means you
can't hear the gaps between the slices. 44.1k recordings are way ahead of the very best home hi-fi systems
in terms of what can be heard. Have a look at Sampling and Reconstruction, if you're feeling clever.
A hardware device or software application that uses samples to generate audio output. Samplers often use
a number of samples together to create realistic sounding reproductions of "real" sounds and musical
Changing where REAPER is playing back from, during Playback, by clicking somehere on the timeline.
The method by which audio is routed from one track to another track or bus, where it is accepted via a
This is a large topic - but briefly it's a technicque which involves sending a control signal (audio, using a
REAPER Send) and controlling some effect with that signal. This is a lot more useful than that desription
makes it sound. For instance you might decide that the bass guitar is overpowering the kick drum. First of
all you try lowering the volume of the bass guitar using the fader - this stops it overpowering the kick drum
but now you can't hear the bass guitar much at all. Ok - so what you really want is to automatically lower the
volume of the bass guitar but only when the kick drum is played. You can do this using sidechaining to
"duck" the volume of the bass guitar when the kick drum is played. This is done by having a compressor on
the bass guitar track that only kicks in (sorry) when the kick drum is played. There's a good description of
how to do this in the User Guide - search for "ducking" in the Guide. Sidechaining isn't just for controlling a
compressor but it's a very common use of the technique.
The Sony & Philips Digital Interface. This is a standard digital audio data format. S/P-Dif can use either an
optical or a coaxial interface, depending on the type of device.
Stems allow you to render selected tracks to disk at the same time (or in lieu of) the main mix. You can use
stems to "freeze" fx on tracks, or to render each track in a mix (a "stem" as it is called) so that a mastering
engineer (or whoever) can later on adjust the mix.
A hardware or software device that artificially (using oscillators and filters) generates signals to simulate the
sounds of other instruments or to create other, new, sounds.
A take is a part of an item which contains a media source (audio, MIDI, or other type). An item can have
multiple takes, which may refer to different recorded versions (where it gets its name), or if you wish to open
a copy in an external editor, or apply fx to the item, etc, it can create the output as a new take (enabling you
to go back to other takes at a later date). When you adjust an item (splitting, adjusting its start/end times,
stretching, etc), the action is performed on all takes, so that if you need to switch to a different take, the
overall timing is correct.
Track Control Panel
The Track Control Panel, or TCP, is the left-most pane in the main REAPER window. The TCP displays
track headers which provide access to the mute, solo, effects, routing, and envelope functions of each track.
A REAPER term. Tracks can contain multiple media items and envelopes. Tracks appear as horizontal bars
on the Timeline and as verticle bars on the Mixer. REAPER offers 3 types of tracks:
Standard Tracks: Standard tracks hold items and envelopes
Folders: Folders hold items, envelopes, and standard tracks
Stems: Stems include selected standard tracksfolders
"Virtual Studio Technology" Software audio effects, also called plug-ins, written using Steinberg's VST
technology. The effects can be reverb, compression, chorus, phase, flange - anything. They can either be
used in real time, if they're fast enough, or on pre-recorded material. In REAPER you can apply the same
"effect" (VST plug-in) to many different tracks by grouping them together under a Folder Track, and
plugging the effect into the Folder Track.
"Virtual Studio Technology Instrument" A musical instrument rather than an effect, drum machines,
synthesisers, pianos, guitars etc. Used in a similar way to a VST, plugged into a track, but controlled by the
MIDI data recorded on that track. Again, there's more at Wikipedia Virtual Studio Technology. Have a look at
VST & VSTi in Reaper if you're looking for how to use VST in REAPER.
WAV Bit Depth
The amount of data, in bits, in each sample.
Wave (.wav) Files
A wave file is an uncompressed audio file on your PC. This lack of compression means that a .wav is as
close a copy to the original analog data as possible; it also means that .wav files are generally large.
Thank you for choosing Phantom City Studio Recording Studios in Orlando, Florida
This is done on
Individual tracks are
combined and blended.
Effects are added.
Stereo Mix is created.
Stereo Mix is processed
with EQ, Compression,
and other effects.
Master Copy is ready.