Electronic Music Production Glossary: The Killer List of Every Term You Need

Electronic Music Production - The Last Glossary You'll Ever Need

When you’re new to electronic music production, you begin to realise that there are so many jargon-y terms that you have no idea about.

Some of them are technical, some of them are just straight up slang. Some of them are related to production, some of them to the industry, and everything in between.

This list aims to be the last glossary of terms you will ever need.

So make sure to bookmark this one! We are always updating this list, so feel free to drop us a line at [email protected].

New to music production? πŸ§‘β€πŸ’»

Watch our Free Masterclass on how to learn electronic music production the smart way (without months of confusion & frustration) πŸ‘‡

Table of Contents

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


A (Note) – A musical note.

AAC – A lossy audio file format developed by Apple, with a slightly better compression algorithm than MP3 for quality. iTunes Store purchases are 256kbps AAC files.

AAX (Avid Audio eXtension) – A plugin format more popular among audio engineers as opposed to producers – native to Avid Pro Tools only and requires a 64-bit system. The newer version of RTAS.

Ableton Live β€“ A popular DAW created by the company Ableton. Ableton Live is used by many artists like Skrillex, Flume and Diplo, and is very good in a live scenario. Ableton Live is the EDMProd Team’s DAW of choice.

Also see: Ableton Workflow Bible

AC (Alternating Current) – An analogue electrical current used to power hardware. The default power you’ll find from a standard electrical outlet. β€˜Alternating’ refers to the sine wave shape of the current.

Acapella – A vocal, typically ripped or is a recording from an existing song. Used in remixes, bootlegs and sampled in originals. Also used in DJ sets as a DJ tool. Could also refer to a group of vocal singers (Γ  la Pitch Perfect), but not usually in electronic music production.

Acoustic Instrument – An instrument that produces sound in the physical world without digital or analogue technology. Can refer to a guitar, piano, drums etc. Referred to by older people as β€˜real instruments’ πŸ˜‰

Acoustics – The sonic properties of any space that alter the qualities of a sound being played. Can refer to natural reverb, phase cancellation and/or background noise etc.

Acoustic Treatment – The process of reducing acoustic inaccuracies and reflections in physical spaces by introducing dampening materials, such as foam and bass traps etc., in key areas.

Recommended Reading: Acoustic Treatment 101

Active – A device that has its own built-in power amplifier. The opposite of a passive device. Most studio monitors these days are active.

A/D – Analogue to Digital Converter. Typically found in most Audio Interfaces to capture acoustic/analogue audio sources.

Additive Synthesis – A form of audio synthesis that outputs sound by mathematically adding harmonics (sine waves) to each other.

ADSR – Stands for Attack, Decay, Sustain and Release – refers to the envelope applied to a sound to shape it over time. Can be applied to the volume, filter, pitch or more. Can make things sound plucky, soft, or ambient etc.

Aftertouch – A MIDI parameter found on most keyboards. It senses the pressure applied to a key after it has been initially played, and then that can be mapped to control a specific modulation source, such as volume, a filter or anything.

AIFF – Stands for Audio Interchange File Format. It is a high quality (lossless) audio file format created by Apple. Comparable to WAV or FLAC in terms of quality. Sounds pretty nice, and unlike WAV, it actually allows decent tagging.

Aliasing – Subtle distortion that occurs in the digital realm when the input frequency is higher than the sample rate. The sample cannot be measured accurately and thus introduces imperfections into the sound.

Ambience – Can refer to a sound in a track which creates a sense of space or atmosphere – typically achieved by the use of time-based audio effects such as delays and reverbs. Also can refer to the level of sound in a recording that contains background noise, separate to the intended recording. Typically this background noise is undesirable, but sometimes it is an aesthetic choice.

Ambient – A genre of music featuring drawn-out drones and pads, typically features no drums and is very stripped back and loop-based.

Amen Break – When you stop producing to say a prayer. Not really, it’s actually one of the most sampled drum patterns of all time, a six-second clip from the song Amen Brother by The Winstons. Typically used in genres like Drum and Bass, Jungle and Breakbeat. You’ve definitely heard it before.

Amp (Amplifier) – Typically refers to a hardware or digital emulation of an amplifier, which is a tool that increases the level of a signal to increase loudness. Different methods of amplification can colour the sound in pleasing ways, and thus an amp is also a creative tool, rather than just a functional one.

Amplitude – Refers to the loudness or height of a waveform – higher means louder, lower means quieter. An amplitude of 0 (or -∞dB) means silence.

Analog(ue) – Audio that occurs in physical space as opposed to bits in the digital space. Analogue signals and technology are continuous and infinitely measurable, whereas digital signals are limited to the defined sample rate and bit depth. Thus, analogue is commonly referred to as having a warmer, more realistic sound.

Apple – Alright, you probably know this one already. But in case you don’t, Apple is the designer and manufacturer of laptops and desktops and has been the choice of audio professionals for years. Oh, and they’re one of the largest technology companies in the modern world.

Arpeggio (Arp) – A chord played in a series of repeating steps instead of at the same time. Makes you sound like a good producer without much of the effort.

Arpeggiator – A MIDI Effect that turns a static chord into an arpeggio. If that doesn’t make sense, it makes things go bleep-bleep-bleep.

Arrangement – The way that instruments and sections are laid out in a track/song. Referred to as Instrumentation and Structure, respectively. A very important concept in songwriting.

Artist – Someone who creates music and releases it. Not just people who play the guitar.

Arturia – A hardware and software manufacturer responsible for a lot of analogue and analogue-modelled equipment. They make the V Collection, a collection of synths that model famous analogue synthesisers.

Atmosphere – A sonic effect created by reverb, long tails and quieter sounds. Referred to as the background of a track.

Attack – The initial part of an ADSR envelope – describes the amount of time for a sound to reach maximum amplitude in milliseconds or seconds. Faster attack sounds plucky and comes in straight away (low milliseconds), slower attack sounds spacey and takes a while to fade in (high seconds).

Attenuation – The lowering of the loudness of a signal, usually measured in dB (decibels). The attenuation knob on a piece of gear or on a plugin is used to reduce increases in loudness introduced by other effects, such a distortion or amplification.

AU (Audio Unit) – A plugin format created by Apple for macOS/OSX only. Other formats include VST, AAX and RTAS.

Audacity – An audio editor used to edit audio, available on Windows and macOS. Powerful but lacks the functionality of a professional DAW like Ableton. Some people produce full tracks in it, yeah you heard me.

Audio – Technically, this just refers to all sound that we hear in the range of human hearing (~20Hz-20000Hz). Commonly, audio is used to refer to a recording of a sound, particularly when on an audio track and it being played in a track’s arrangement.

Audio Effect – Any plugin, stock effect or piece of gear that processes audio and alters the sonic properties of a sound. Can refer to EQ, compression, reverb, delay, distortion etc.

Audio Engineering – The process of recording, mixing and mastering studio or live recordings.

Audio Interface – A piece of hardware that can take sound as an input and also output sound. Most computers include a built-in sound card, but it is not a full audio interface, which is a more comprehensive and high-quality solution for music production and can be used to record instruments and output to studio monitors.

Audio Track – A track that stores and plays audio, as opposed to a MIDI Track.

Automation – The modulation of a parameter over time, such as a filter sweep or volume change. Usually, automation is recorded into the arrangement of a track and automatically adjusts a parameter once recorded.

Recommended Reading: The Definitive Guide to Automation

Aux Channel – A send or return channel that allows for additional parallel processing of multiple sources at once. For example, most people put reverb on an aux channel to allow group processing of multiple sounds that need reverb. Not to be confused with the cable that your friend asks for whenever they want to bump tunes in the car.

Avid – The company behind Pro Tools.


B (Note) – A musical note.

Balance – See β€˜Pan’.

Bandcamp – A website allowing artists and labels to set up an independent store for selling music and merchandise. Great if you don’t want to work with labels or with major distribution services and remain fully independent. Certain niches of music still love to purchase songs rather than stream, and Bandcamp also allows vinyl records to be sold online.

Band Pass Filter – A filter type that acts as both a low-pass and a high-pass, allowing only a narrow range of frequencies through. Can be used to get things to sound lo-fi.

Band Stop Filter – See β€˜Notch Filter’.

Bandwidth – The range of frequencies in an audio signal or stream, typically as a result of a limitation of technology (like a phone call recording).

Bank – A group of presets that can be loaded on a synth. Also called a soundbank. I wouldn’t put my money here, though.

Bar – A musical term describing a measure of beats. In electronic and dance music, typically this is a measure of 4 beats, but in different time signatures, it can be more or less. Can also refer to a lyrical section in a rap song. Or where you might DJ on the weekend. It’s a broad word, alright?

Bass – The lower frequencies in a sound – typically from ~20Hz to ~400Hz. Usually β€˜dropped’ at some point in a track, if you know what I mean.

Bass Drum – See Kick.

Bassline – The pattern of notes that fills up the bass area of the frequency spectrum – can be played by a synthesiser, bass guitar, an 808 or any sound with tonal quality.

Bass Music – A form of EDM that typically features loud, compressed bass growls and sounds. Genres include dubstep, trap, bass house, drum and bass and many more.

Beat – The consistent timing and rhythm of the music. Also can refer to a track, especially in hip-hop.

Beatdown – See Breakdown.

Beatmatch – A DJing process whereby two or more tracks are matched in time and tempo to ensure a seamless transition between the two. When someone has failed to beat-match and you can hear it, it is usually referred to as a trainwreck. It sounds awful, to be honest.

Beat Repeat – A type of effect that takes audio as an input and repeats the snippet back at timed intervals to create a glitch effect.

Beats – Sometimes used to refer to a genre of music that combines hip-hop with electronic, or something that a rapper would use as a track.

Bell – A synth sound that aims to have the sonic texture of a real bell, like tubular bells, a glockenspiel or similar.

Bell Curve – The most common curve on a parametric EQ, used to boost or cut a band of frequencies in a natural manner.

Berklee – A reputable music school that is known around the world as the premier music college – very coveted school that lots of people in the music world strive to get in to.

Recommended: Matt Lange – Ego, Berklee, and Working With BT

Bit Depth – The number of bits allowed for the dynamic range of an audio recording. Most audio is 16bit or 24bit, allowing for 65,536 or 16,777,215 levels of loudness, respectively. Most people can’t tell the difference, really.

Bitrate – The number of bits that are contained in an audio file every second, measured in kbps. 320kbps is an example of what an MP3 can store, whereas WAV usually has 1411kbps or higher. Higher usually means better quality. Can be CBR (constant) or VBR (variable). Below 128kbps is considered β€˜poor-quality’.

Bitwig Studio – A DAW created by Bitwig available for macOS, Windows and Linux. Started by some former Ableton employees and is regarded as the only decent competitor to Ableton Live, having both a session and arrangement view and being robust enough for live performance.

Boost – An adjustment on an EQ that increases the gain of a frequency spectrum. Also, see β€˜Cut’.

Bootleg – When you remix a song without permission – normally done without a full set of stems and only with the audio from the original track or just an acapella.

Bounce – Not to be confused with Melbourne Bounce, a bounce is usually when audio is summed together and/or exported and/or internally recorded within a DAW. Also, see Freeze/Flatten.

BPM – Beats Per Minute. Refers to the tempo, measured in the number of beats per minute. For example, a lot of house music is 128bpm.

Brass – Can refer to an acoustic brass instrument or a type of synth sound that attempts to sound like a brass instrument. Think of cheesy 80’s music.

Break (Breakdown) – A lower-energy section of a track. Usually has some or all of the drums removed, and adds macro dynamics to a track.

Breaks (Breakbeat) – Can refer to a genre of music or a sampled drum pattern that is not four-on-the-floor, like the Amen Break.

Brickwall Filter – A specific, advanced filter type of low-pass or high-pass filter that has a very steep slope (dB/oct), which visually looks like a brick wall, due to the sudden rolloff. Used to remove frequencies above and below the human spectrum of hearing. Doesn’t sound too nice in the realm of human hearing.

Brown Noise – A type of noise which is denser in the low end and contains less high-frequency content than both pink and white noise.

Browser – A features of most DAWs that allows you to browse files such as samples, presets and stock content in your software.

Build(up) – A section that leads into a drop – creates energy and tension in a track.

Buss – Will not take you to the station, but will provide group audio processing of multiple sources of audio. For example, a drum buss may group a kick, snare, hats, rides and other percussion recordings into one channel (after initial processing) and allow for group processing, such as compression, EQ etc.

Bypass – When an effect is temporarily disabled so that the signal can be heard with the effect off. Usually included as a button or switch on effect plugins.


C (Note) – A musical note.

Cable – Connects devices together by transmitting audio or some form of digital/analogue data.

Camel Audio – A defunct plugin company that created Camel Crusher and Camel Phat 3. Not to be confused with the music duo.

Cardioid Pattern – A common microphone polar pattern used for recording vocals – shaped like a heart and designed to record in a specific direction and reject background noise.

CBR – Short for β€˜Constant Bit Rate’, refers to the encoding of an MP3 at a bitrate that is consistent over the entire duration of the file. Opposite of VBR (Variable Bit Rate).

CD – Stands for Compact Disc – a physical disk used for storing audio and data.

Channel – a path that audio takes through an input to an output.

Chill – A loosely-defined term to describe the sound of more relaxed, deeper and melody-driven music in electronic music. Sometimes people refer to this as a genre in itself.

Chillstep – A sub-genre of Dubstep with an emphasis on melody, pads and less aggressive and loud elements. Notable artists include Blackmill, Mt Eden and Said The Sky.

Chord – A combination of musical notes played together (2-3 or more).

Chord Progression – A series of chords over time – serves as the harmonic foundation of a track or song.

Recommended Reading: Different Chord Types and How to Make Them

Chorus (Structure) – The main section of a song that usually includes vocals or a melodic hook of some sort. Typically is featured multiple times throughout a track.

Chorus (Audio Effect) – A time-based effect that adds multiple delays

Clip – A section of audio or MIDI on a channel in a DAW.

Clipping – A type of distortion introduced when the audio peaks above the headroom within an analogue or digital domain. Analog clipping is called soft clipping, whereas digital clipping is called hard clipping, and is less pleasant.

Clock Signal – A MIDI signal that provides BPM information for devices to stay in time. One device usually outputs the signal and the others are a slave to the timing.

Codec – An algorithm standard which compresses audio into a particular format for the purposes of reducing file size (e.g. LAME for MP3).

Cold – Refers to when a sound is harsh and digital, as opposed to warm, which is analogue and pleasant.

Compander – A compressor and expander in one. Yep, it’s that simple.

Comping – A vocal recording process whereby multiple takes of the vocal are recorded, and the best parts of each take are edited together to create a more β€˜perfect’ vocal.

Compression – A dynamic range effect that reduces the level of a signal when it exceeds a certain volume. Used to even out the volume of dynamic sounds. Contrary to popular belief, compression by itself does not make things sound super fat, although it is a tool that can heavily squash audio, it also requires a gain boost after this process to bring it up to a louder level. Also, see β€˜Ratio’ and β€˜Threshold’.

Condenser Microphone – A type of microphone that is more sensitive to loud sounds and is ideal for capturing less dynamic sounds, like vocals. Also, see β€˜Dynamic Microphone’.

Cone – The part of a loudspeaker that vibrates due to the signal from the voice coil. Very sensitive – not for ice cream.

Controller – A MIDI hardware device that controls the parameters of a piece of software or another device (e.g. a MIDI Keyboard.)

Control Signal – Data in the digital domain that tells a parameter to be modulated. Think LFO’s, Envelopes and other modulation sources.

Control Voltage (CV) – CV is an electrical signal in the analogue domain that signals another device to modulate based on a certain voltage level. Basically modulation routing for analogue/modular synths.

Correlation – The measurement of the phase relationship between the left and right channels. 1 means perfect correlation, 0 means no correlation and -1 means negative correlation (resulting in phase cancellation).

CPU (Central Processing Unit) – The β€˜brain’ of a computer that processes all information. Bleep bloop.

Crash – A percussion element from a traditional drum kit – a metallic noise sound with a long tail, good for signalling the beginning of a new section.

Crossfader – A control on a piece of hardware like a DJ Mixer, that fades between two audio sources.

Crossover – A point in the frequency spectrum where the frequencies are split into two signals. Used in subwoofers to only send bass information.

Cubase – A DAW created by Steinberg for Windows and macOS. Has a pretty cool sounding name.

Cue – A control on any DJ system that allows a track to be played from a certain point while being held down. Helps to find a point to bring a track in during a DJ mix. Not a place to line up.

Curve – In most cases, refers to the frequency response

Cutoff Frequency – A control on a filter that specifies where the frequencies will ramp off.

Cycle – A complete playthrough of a waveform. When talking about how many cycles occur in one second, it is measured in Hertz (Hz). Not a bike.


D (Note) – A musical note.

D/A – Digital to Analogue converter. Typically found in most Audio Interfaces to transform digital information from a computer to studio monitors or speakers for playback.

Damping – This has multiple definitions, but generally refers to the reducing of natural reverberations, particularly in the high frequencies.

Dance Music – A term for EDM referring to genres that are specifically made to dance to, like house, techno, trance, hard dance, garage and many more.

DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) – Pronounced like β€˜door’ or β€˜dee-ay-doubleyou’, a DAW is the centrepiece of the modern studio – the software in which music is created. Ableton Live, FL Studio, Logic Pro and many more are all DAWs. Non-producers can get very confused when you say this word.

Recommended Reading: Music Production Software Guide

DC Offset – An amplitude offset of a sound caused by very low, usually inaudible frequencies. Many audio effects have the option to add a DC filter to remove these frequencies.

Decay – The second stage of the standard ADSR envelope after the attack. Refers to the amount of time taken, once the maximum volume is reached, to reduce the signal’s amplitude to the specified sustain level (in dB).

Decibel (dB) – The standard measurement for loudness. Note that dB is a ratio measurement, always requiring a reference point from which to measure. Common dB measurements include dBFS (digital audio, where 0dB is clipping), dBA and dB SPL (acoustics, where 0dB is near silence).

De-esser – A type of multiband compressor that specifically acts on the frequency bands where sibilance is likely to occur. Removes β€˜sss’ type sounds from vocals.

Delay – A time-based audio effect that creates a series of echoes occurring at intervals one after the other, gradually decaying to nothing.

Demo – An nearly finished track sent to a label as a submission to be released. Can be sent to other producer/DJs for playing out live too.

Detune – Refers to the amount of tuning difference between voices on an oscillator when unison is activated. Gets really big supersaw-type sounds.

Dialogue – A recording or sample of spoken words, typically not rhythmically timed like a rap.

Diaphragm – The part of a microphone that picks up audio. Depending on the application, different mics have different-sized diaphragms.

Digging – The process of looking through music sources to find material to use as a sample in a track. The preceding meaning was specifically through crates of vinyl records, but in the modern era, it can refer to digital digging through sites like YouTube, Spotify and many more.

Digital – Audio that exists in the digital realm as bits and bytes, as opposed to continuous analogue signals.

Disco β€“ A genre of dance music that originated in the 1970s in the US – stylised by the use of drums with a bassline, synths and guitar.

Distortion – The processing of audio such that extra harmonics and loudness are added, creating a more fuller or aggressive sound. Distortion types include tube, clipping, tape, diode, overdrive, fuzz and many more.

Distribution – The process of distributing your music to stores and streaming platforms. Can be done independently or handled by a label.

DJ – Stands for Disc Jockey – someone who plays recorded music in a live scenario by mixing tracks together. Most producers

DJ Mix – Not to be confused with a mixdown, a DJ mix is a live recording of a DJ mixing multiple tracks together over a period of time.

Doppler Effect – The sonic effect of frequencies sounding higher pitched when moving closer to an audio source, and lower pitched when moving away. Like when you drive past a police siren.

Double – The process of recording a vocal twice, both times sounding very similar, to achieve a layered effect.

Download Gate – A website or service that exchanges social currency (e.g. Facebook like or Soundcloud repost) for a free track download.

Drop – The main section of an EDM song which contains most of the energy and loudness in comparison to the rest of the track. Does not usually feature vocals, unlike a chorus.

Driver – The component inside a pair of headphones that is responsible for producing the soundwaves.

Drum(s) – A percussive instrument and sound that usually drives the rhythm of a track.

Drum & Bass (DnB) – A subgenre of electronic music that consists of fast breakbeat patterns at around 174bpm, and low, rumbling basslines. There are many different subgenres within DnB.

Drum Buss – Can refer to an audio track summing together all of the drums, or the Ableton audio effect which adds distortion, compression and bass to a sound or collection of sounds, like drums.

Drum Machine – A hardware electronic instrument responsible for synthesising and sequencing drum sounds. Notable drum machines include the Roland TR808 and 909.

Drum Pattern – A phrase that a combination of drums and percussion plays. This pattern can repeat and is usually a bar or more long.

Recommended Reading: The Ultimate Guide to Drum Programming

Drum Rack – An Ableton instrument that allows drum samples to be triggered by MIDI notes like a drum kit, similar to a multisampler but for drums.

Dry – An unprocessed version of a signal, as opposed to wet, which is the processed version. A Dry/Wet knob blends these two signals, and it can be found on effects such as reverb.

DSP (Digital Signal Processing) – Any audio processing that occurs in the digital domain.

Dub – A copy of a track, sometimes with edits applied. Also can refer to the genre similar to Reggae, or sometimes is short for Dubstep.

Dubstep – A bass music genre characterised by half time 140bpm drum patterns with bass wobbles and heavy compression. Can range from subtle to heavy.

Dynamic Microphone – A type of microphone which has lower sensitivity and is better at recording loud sources, such as drums and guitars. Does usually not require phantom power.

Dynamic Range – Refers to the amount of dB between the highest point in the tracks’ amplitude and the lowest point. Low differences mean lower dynamic range and vice versa.

Dynamic Tube – An audio effect that emulates tube distortion introduced by hardware units. Often sounds harmonically pleasing and changes character dependant on the input material.

Dynamics – Describes that characteristics of amplitude differences in audio. A set of dynamics processors can include a compressor, expander and limiter (+ more).

New to music production? πŸ§‘β€πŸ’»

Watch our Free Masterclass on how to learn electronic music production the smart way (without months of confusion & frustration) πŸ‘‡


E (Note) – A musical note.

Early Reflections – Part of a reverb tail, the early reflections describe the initial body of reverb that comes from natural or algorithmic reverb.

Echo – A time-based effect introduced by delay, however, echo usually refers to an analogue delay as opposed to a digital-sounding one.

Edit – Can mean either an edit of a track, perhaps to change the structure or introduce a new element, or can refer to the audio editing process.

EDM – Stands for Electronic Dance Music. EDM technically describes the overall genre of anything electronic-sounding and produced by computers and electronics, but typically is used to describe more commercial sounding electronic dance music.

Recommended: What is Electronic Dance Music (EDM)?

EDMProd – Look, we had to include ourselves. One of the world’s biggest blogs on electronic music production. πŸ˜‰

Effects (FX) – Any processing unit, digital or analogue, that can be applied to an audio signal to alter the outcome.

Electronic Music – Music that is produced with electronics, such as computers, synthesisers and drum machines.

Envelope – Describes a characteristic of a sound (e.g. volume or filter) as it changes over time. Can be used as a tool to shape a sound over time.

E-Piano – An electronic piano instrument, common in electronic music and beyond.

EQ (Equalisation) – A widely used audio processing device that alters the gain of frequency content across the frequency spectrum by altering different bands of frequencies. EQ can be used to boost or cut the lows, mids, highs or anything in between.

Erosion – An audio effect included in Ableton Live that adds distortion by modulating the signal with a sine wave or noise. Very crisp sounding.

Eurorack – A standard modular synthesis system for which modules are designed so that they are all compatible with one another.

External – Usually refers to hardware or β€˜out-of-the-box’ instruments or gear, like an External Instrument or External Audio Effect.

Expander – The opposite of a compressor – an expander increases the gain of a signal once it passes a certain threshold. Good for making things super punchy.


F (Note) – A musical note.

FabFilter – A software company that makes both mixing and creative plugins such as Pro-Q, Pro-L and Saturn. They are pretty fab.

Fade – The process of adjusting the volume over time, usually to bring a sound in from silence, or from max volume to silence.

Fader – A physical or virtual slider on a mixer that adjusts the volume of a particular track, and is a primary tool in doing a mixdown.

Fat – A term usually used to describe when a sound or mix fills the frequency spectrum and is wide in the stereo image. Or just when something sounds good. β€œDude that sounds fat!”

Feedback (FX) – When an effect feeds the output signal back into the input signal, like a delay or distortion, to exaggerate the effect. When a delay has high feedback, the delay has a longer tail.

Fidelity – Refers to the quality of the audio. High fidelity meaning high quality, and low fidelity meaning low quality, in terms of bitrate/sample rate.

Field Recording – A type of recording that records the sound of a particular areas’ natural soundscape. For example, a recording of a beach or a storm.

Filter – An effect which only allows a certain band of frequencies to pass through it. Different filter types include low pass filter, high pass filter, band pass filter and many more.

Fire – Honestly I can’t believe I’m putting this in here, but it’s what producers, musicians and DJ’s say when the music is good. E.g. β€œThis track is fire, man!”

Flanger – A time-based effect that occurs in the range of 0ms to 5ms and features a metallic sweeping sort of sound.

Flat (Mixing) – Refers to when studio monitors or a playback device has an even response curve across the frequency spectrum and doesn’t feature boosts or cuts in areas to colour the sound.

Flat (Music Theory) – A note that has been reduced by a half step.

Fletcher-Munson Curve – The curve that illustrates how the human ear reacts to different frequencies at different amplitudes. Turns out we hear certain frequencies louder than others.

Flip – Another word for a bootleg – usually an informal remix of another track.

FL Studio – A very popular DAW among electronic music producers created by Image-Line, popular due to its flexibility and workflow abilities.

FM Synthesis – A form of synthesis achieved by modulating the frequency of basic waveforms with each other, creating interesting harmonic content. Popularised by the Yamaha DX7 synthesiser. FM Synthesis is used to create a lot of bell-type sounds, as well as complex basses used in bass music.

Foldback – A type of speaker used in live performance so performers and DJs can hear what is coming through the front-of-house speakers.

Foley – Recorded sounds of various objects used to emulate certain types of sounds or achieve a certain aesthetic. Examples of foley sounds could be coins in a can, banging on a wood table or a field recording of a train station.

Follow – A feature in many types of DAWs where the arrangement view follows the playhead as the track is being played.

Formant – A vocal quality of a sound relating to vowels, and a filter type that achieves a vowel-like sound. If you’ve ever heard an β€˜oooh’ or β€˜aaah’, then you’ve heard what a formant sounds like.

Format – Can mean a variety of things, but usually refers to the type of file format a file might come in (WAV, AIFF, MP3) or a plugin format (VST, AU etc.)

Freeze/Flatten – A process of bouncing audio internally in Ableton Live. Freezing temporarily renders it as audio while remembering previous settings (such as MIDI notes, plugin settings and FX settings), and flattening commits it to audio permanently.

Frequency – A tone measured in hertz that is reproduced by a speaker or audio source.

Frequency Range – Refers to the number of frequencies present in a sound between a low point and a high point. β€œThe frequency range of this low tom is 100Hz to 3000HZ.”

Frequency Shifter – An audio effect that shifts all the frequency content by adding a frequency amount to the sound. The resulting sound is typically inharmonic, as it is different to a pitch shifter, which multiplies the frequency content instead so that harmonic relationships between frequencies are maintained.

Front of House (FOH) – Speakers in a venue that reproduce sound for the audience.

Fundamental – The primary frequency of a sound that determines the tone of a sound. For example, a piano note may contain many frequencies that colour the sound, but the fundamental frequency is the pitch that we recognise. Typically it is the lowest frequency, but you can have sub-harmonics depending on the sound.

Future – Refers to a type of sound in electronic music that sounds fresh and new.

Future Bass – A subgenre of EDM characterised by large pulsating supersaws and 808 drum sounds, typically with a hip-hop type rhythm. Although early producers in this genre were inspired by the music of Flume, future bass tends to be a separate genre similar to trap with more melodic content and bright sounds.

Future Beats – An broadly-defined electronic music subgenre that combines electronic elements with elements borrowed from hip-hop, alternative and other genres. Usually sounds very experimental and unique.

FX – A shortened form of β€˜Effects’.


Gabber – A genre defined in the late 1990s that was the precursor to hard dance, hardstyle and other hard dance music genres. Features distorted kick drums at 140bpm+ tempos. The genre is very prominent at raves.

Gain – An increase or decrease in the amplitude of a signal, similar to volume change but boosts/cuts all aspects of a signal, regardless of content (so it will turn up/down noise too if it is present in a sound). Gain can be before an effect (input gain) or after (output gain) and is useful if an effect alters the perceived loudness of a sound.

Gain Reduction (GR) – The resulting decrease in gain after downward compression is applied to a sound. The effect is usually counteracted by adjusting the output gain afterwards.

Garage – A genre of music popular in the UK which is similar to house, but features more of a break-beat type sound and is a little bit faster.

Gate – An audio effect that reduces the volume of a sound once it passes below a certain threshold. It’s good for reducing background noise or unwanted sounds in a recording or sample. Just like your gate at home stops unwanted people coming into your house.

Genre – A term used to describe a subset of music that has similar elements or sounds (e.g. the genre of dubstep features ~140bpm half-time drum patterns with bass wobbles).

Glue – A sonic phenomenon achieved when a mix is done well or compression is applied to a mix. Sounds like everything fits together well.

Glue Compressor – A compressor included in Ableton modelled off an analogue SSL compressor with a unique pumping colour that allows elements to blend well together. Available outside of Ableton as β€˜The Glue’ by plugin company Cytomic.

Golden Ratio – A mathematical concept that can be used in music with the harmonic series. Hey, this is a production glossary, not a maths one.

Grain – A short snippet of audio, usually arranged in quick succession to achieve a glitch-type sound.

Grain Delay – A form of delay that splits sounds into grains and plays them in quick succession.

Granular Synthesis β€“ A form of synthesis that takes an audio file and splits it into grains to create new timbres.

Graphic Equalizer – A type of EQ that splits the frequency spectrum into pre-defined bands and allows gain adjustment for each band. Not to be confused with a Parametric EQ, which is more customizable.

Ground Loop – A (usually undesired) sonic effect where the ground signal from a power cable becomes audible due to the way certain cables are plugged in. Sounds like a low buzzing/hum.

Group – When audio tracks, effects, instruments or any physical or virtual device are grouped together for group processing or routing.

Groove – A timing offset from a quantized sound that adds a human feel to a track. Many DAW’s include groove adjustments. Grooves are popular in genres like house and garage.

Guitar – A popular instrument featuring 6 (or more) strings that can be played and recorded.


Haas Effect – A stereo effect where the left or right channel of a mono signal is delayed by ~20ms from the other channel to achieve stereo width. Also called the precedence effect.

Half Step – When moving one note up or down from another on a keyboard. Moving two notes is called a whole-step.

Hall – A type of reverb that features within or an emulation of a physical hall. Good for achieving big, spacious sounds that also sound natural.

Happy Hardcore – A subgenre of EDM that features ~180bpm, four-on-the-floor rhythms, similar to hairstyle but faster and with more bright, happy sounding synths and sounds. Not for the faint of heart.

Hardcore – A genre similar to hairstyle but usually ~180bpm, but shares similarities in darker timbres and distorted kicks.

Hard Dance – A genre that sits between trance and hardstyle, usually 140-150bpm and features a prominent kick drum and synthesisers.

Hard Knee – A setting on a compressor where the compression applied at the threshold is not gradual and is more sudden. Good for heavy compression and pumping sounds.

Hardstyle – A genre of EDM which features distorted kicks at ~150bpm, usually with a darker timbre.

Harmless – A native subtractive synthesiser included with some versions of FL Studio.

Harmonic – A frequency with is an even multiple of the fundamental.

Harmonic Distortion – Any type of distortion that introduces frequency content that is harmonic to the fundamental, as opposed to inharmonic.

Harmony – When two or more notes are played together, mostly in a pleasing manner. Chords usually form harmony throughout a track.

Recommended Reading: Harmony for Computer Musicians

Harmor – An additive synthesiser included in some versions of FL Studio, popular among users and sound designers. Available as a plugin on Windows for use in other DAWs.

Headroom – The number of decibels between the peak level of a sound and 0dB in audio. This term is usually used to describe the amount of level on the master channel that is available for a mastering engineer to work with.

Hertz (Hz) – A measurement of a frequency in cycles per second. For example, 50Hz is 50 cycles per second of a sine wave.

High-End – The upper content of a sound, also called treble. Although it isn’t a strict definition, it usually means the content from about 2.5kHz and up.

High-Pass Filter – A filter type that removes all frequency content below a certain cutoff point. Good for removing unwanted bass from a signal and for thinning out certain sounds. Also used in sound design to achieve a somewhat β€˜hollow’ sound.

High Shelf – A type of curve on some EQs that boost all frequencies from a specific point and above. Good for boosting the treble.

Hi-hat – A type of percussion present on most traditional drum kits that keeps rhythm and time. Can be opened or closed for timbral variation.

Hip-hop – A genre of music slightly removed from electronic music that features the use of drum machines, samplers and synthesisers. Many hip-hop tracks feature a rap over the top as the key element.

Hook – An element in a track that serves as the focal point and is usually the part people remember. Present in lots of EDM and pop music.

Horn – A type of sound that is emitted from brass instruments or synths that emulate them – usually means a lower pitched brass sound that is present in hip-hop/trap as an energy-adding element.

House – A popular genre of electronic/dance music originating in the early ’70s from the US that features a four-on-the-floor kick drum with a clap on beats 2 and 4, and a hat on the offbeat. There are many subgenres of house, that range from mainstream to underground.

Hum – A low pitched frequency that is usually unwanted in a recording. Some people also make this sound with their mouth to be annoying.


ID – When someone asks what a certain track is in a DJ mix, or when an unreleased track is played and the artist doesn’t want to reveal themselves and/or the track name yet.

ID3 Tags – Tags on an MP3 or similar audio file that determine the artist name, song name, album name, genre and much more. Some file formats, such as WAV, do not have ID3 tags.

Imaging – Refers to the process of adjusting the stereo image by using panning, stereo width effects and time-based effects.

IM Distortion – Distortion introduced when the sample rate is not high enough to capture all the frequency content – the audio has to lock on to the nearest frequency and can introduce unwanted artefacts.

In Phase – When the left and right audio channels are in time with each other. When they are not, phase cancellation can be introduced.

Impulse – An instrument in Ableton that allows 8 drum sounds to be selected and processed. Great for limitations and creative drum work.

Impulse Response (IR) – An audio file that can be loaded into a convolution reverb to apply a room or space’s natural reverb to any sound. Useful for producers who don’t have access to studios and recording spaces with a particular sound, but want to apply that sound to their productions.

Input – A broad term used to describe any audio signal that is fed into a channel or effect. For example, audio from a guitar can go into an input on an audio interface and into a DAW.

Input Gain – The amount of gain applied to a sound prior to effects processing. For example, input gain may be applied to a sound before it is compressed, to emphasise the amount of compression applied.

In The Box (ITB) – Any software or device that is on a computer, as opposed to outboard gear and instruments. It can also mean the process of producing music only on a computer or laptop. Many producers use only ITB tools, especially when travelling, due to convenience and simplicity.

Insert – An access point in software or hardware that allows a signal to be routed to an effects unit.

Instrument – Any physical or virtual device that produces sound. A guitar is an instrument, a hardware synth is an instrument, and a software synth like NI Massive is an instrument.

Instrument Rack – An Ableton feature that allows a virtual instrument to be grouped with other instruments and effects as a preset. Useful for saving sounds and using them on the fly.

Interface – See Audio Interface.

Intro – In the structure of a track, the intro is the first section that you usually hear. This can be short in pop tracks, and longer in DJ-friendly tracks.

I/O – Stands for Input/Output. Usually refers to a section of a DAW or piece of hardware where different routing between channels can be configured.

Isolation – The process of making a space absorb unwanted ambient sounds for the purposes of recording. Isolation is used to record vocals and instruments cleanly without other sounds also being recorded.

iZotope – A plugin software company responsible for Ozone, Iris, RX and much more.


Jack – Also called a 1/4” cable, a jack is a standard connection for studio monitors, audio interfaces and much more.

Jackin House – A subgenre of house music that shares similarities to tech house, but with more of an old school influence and is focused on a strong offbeat rhythm with groove applied. Very fun to dance to.

Jazz – Jazz? In an EDM production glossary? Why? Well, Jazz has influenced lots of electronic music and hip-hop since the beginning. If you don’t know what jazz is, well, it’s a genre of music that was established in the late 1800s to early 1900s, which at the time was musically revolutionary due to its inclusion of improvisation and unique chord progressions that often spanned multiple keys. It has since evolved over time but typically features soft drums, saxophones, trumpets, piano and bass guitar.

Jitter – An modulation effect that introduces randomness into the modulated parameter. For example, an LFO might have a jitter control that allows it to drift off its current value to add more of a human feel.

J-Pop – Short for β€˜Japanese Pop’, J-Pop is a music genre from Japan which essentially describes pop music from Japan. Although pop is a broad genre, J-Pop typically features heavy use of synthesisers and very bright sounds.


kbps – An abbreviation for β€˜kilobits per sound’ (not kilobytes), it refers to the data transfer rate of an MP3 file. Basically, more is better quality audio. 320kbps CBR tends to be a standard of acceptable quality for MP3 files.

Key – Determines the notes that can be played in a piece of music. For example, in the key of C Major, the notes that can be played are C, D, E, F, G, A and B.

Keyboard – Can refer to a computer keyboard for typing, which is used when producing in a DAW, but in music production, it mostly refers to a MIDI Keyboard that plugs in via USB and is used to play sounds in a DAW or plugin.

kHz – Abbreviation for kilohertz. 1000Hz = 1kHz.

Kick – A type of drum that forms the basis of many tracks, usually features a thump in the low end of the frequency spectrum and keeps the beat and rhythm of a track. Also the main part of a traditional drum kit, used for the same purpose.

Knee – A control on a compressor that determines how hard the compressor acts when hitting the threshold. A hard knee makes the compressor work instantly at the determined ratio, whereas soft knee ramps up the ratio as the signal gets louder, allowing for smoother compression.

Kontakt – A multi-sample plugin created by Native Instruments; an industry standard for multi-samples of traditional instruments, like strings, pianos and a lot more. Quite heavy on CPU but worth it for high-quality sounds of authentic instruments and synths etc.

Korg – An instrument, synth and drum machine manufacturer from Japan that is responsible for a lot of vintage hardware synths (that are now available in a variety of emulations).

K-Pop – Similar to J-Pop, K-Pop is a genre of pop music from Korea and is characterised by a variety of influences like EDM, jazz and R&B, as well as traditional Korean music.


Layering – The process of placing two complementary (or contrasting) sounds on top of each other in a track’s arrangement to achieve a unique and/or β€˜larger’ sound. You might layer a deeper synth with a noisy/bright one to fill out the audio spectrum and achieve a different effect than you could have with just one or the other.

Lazer – A type of sound made by a synth that features fast-moving pitch envelopes to create a β€˜pew pew’ type effect. Sounds pretty cool.

Lead – A synth or sound that carries the melody in a track, and usually is prominent in the mix.

LennarDigital – The company responsible for the Sylenth1 synth plugin.

Level – The measurement of the loudness of a sound in decibels. There are many different types of levels to a sound, including peak level (actual loudness), RMS (average loudness) and perceived loudness.

Library – A feature of most DAWs that carries all of the stock sounds and devices, usually with an option to add more to it. Usually navigated with a built-in browser.

LFO – Short for Low-Frequency Oscillator, an LFO is an oscillator typically below the range of human hearing, used as a modulation source to add vibrato, tremolo and other effects to sounds. LFO’s are found on most synths.

Limiter – An audio effect that acts as a compressor at a ratio of ∞:1, meaning that no audio can pass the threshold. Typically the threshold is set to 0dB allowing no audio to clip and allowing maximum loudness when gain is applied. Some limiters are also called maximisers, for this reason.

Line – Any physical channel which audio passes through. A line might refer to a microphone being recorded, for example.

Link – A technology standard developed by Ableton that allows software across platforms and devices to communicate with one another and play audio synced together in real time. You can use it to sync up iPad apps to Ableton wirelessly. Really cool.

LinnDrum – A vintage drum machine from the 80’s responsible for the timbre of disco and related genres.

Liquid DNB – A subgenre of DNB focused on pads, melodies and generally is more β€˜chill’ than the rest of the subgenres. I make this.

Live – Any act or performance done in front of people in real time. Usually refers to when an artist plays a β€˜live set’ instead of a DJ set.

Logic Pro – A popular DAW owned by Apple and available on macOS only. Has heaps of great built-in sounds and effects.

Loop – An audio/MIDI clip, or a section of a track, that can be looped to repeat.

Looper – A device that allows the looping of audio at a determined time interval. Can be used in live situations to loop recorded elements.

Lossless – Any audio format that doesn’t use compression and has full audio quality.

Lossy – Any audio format that compresses the quality of the file to save space.

Loudness – The amplitude of a track

Loudspeaker – The longer form of the word β€˜speaker’. A loudspeaker is a device that reproduces audio information as physical sound waves.

Low-End – Also called the Bass, the low end is the lower frequencies in the frequency spectrum. This is not specifically defined, but usually ranges from 25Hz-350Hz.

Low-Pass Filter – A type of filter that only allows a band of frequencies below a certain cutoff point through. Good for making things sound more intimate and less bright. Movement of a low-pass filter can achieve a β€˜wob’ type sound, especially with high resonance levels.

Low Shelf – A curve on most parametric EQs that boost all frequencies below a certain point. Used to boost the bass in a signal.

Lyrics – The words that an artist/vocalist writes to be sung or rapped in a track.

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Mash-up – A combination of two or more tracks (usually with similar tempos and elements) blended together to create a new β€˜track’. Typically achieved by layering the vocal of one track over another (usually the latter is instrumental).

Masking – A phenomenon when two sounds with similar frequency content cause one to become β€˜buried’ due to phase cancellation or differences is loudness. For example, two piano sounds playing at the same time might cause one of them to sound less powerful and thin in the mix.

Master – The channel which all other channels in a track pass through. Usually, the channel where a mastering chain is applied to master the track. Also can mean a mastered copy of a track.

Mastering – The art and science of preparing a track for release by standardising the mixed track’s loudness, and often applying other effects to make sure it is ready to be released into the world. In the past, mastering included preparing and copying the track to a CD and/or vinyl as well, but in the digital era, it mostly refers to making a track at a β€˜professional’ standard of loudness. This is why it is possible to self-master your own tracks for release.

Mastering Chain – The series of effects and processes applied on the master channel of a track. A mastering chain almost always includes a limiter (or soft clipper) and might include a compressor, an EQ, distortion, or any other relevant effect.

Measure – A range of time consisting of beats and bars.

Melody – A phrase of notes (one at a time) in sequence played by an instrument that forms the focal point of the track. This is the part of a song that gets stuck in your head that you hum or sing throughout the day.

Recommended Reading: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Better Melodies

Meter – Refers to the time signature of a track, or how many pulses are in a bar and how long each pulse is. Most electronic music is 4/4, meaning 4 1/4 notes per bar.

Metronome – A device in DAWs and the physical world that audibly reproduces a set tempo, by playing a set of timed clicks. Usually has a different sound for beat 1 to denote the start of a new bar.

Mic/Line (Inst/Line) – A switch on many audio interfaces that allow inputs to record either a microphone or a direct line in from an instrument. Basically, this switch changes the amount of pre-gain in the signal, as microphones tend to have a quieter signal.

Microphone (Mic) – An audio device that captures acoustic sound and turns it into an electrical signal. There are many different types of microphones for different purposes.

Midrange (Mids) – The central range of frequencies from ~500Hz – 2000Hz.

MIDI – Stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. It is a standard protocol that software and hardware devices use to send information to one another, like note information and parameter controls. When you plug a keyboard into your laptop to play sounds in your DAW, it most likely works via MIDI.

MIDI Controller – See β€˜Controller’.

Mini-jack – Also called a 3.5mm, a mini-jack is a smaller version of the 1/4” jack used mainly as a headphone connector. It’s the thing you plug into your phone or laptop to listen to music (well, at least you used to.)

Mix (Mixdown) – The adjusting of the tracks (volume, EQ, dynamics) in a finished song to help the final product sound cohesive and professional.

Mixer – A physical or virtual devices which allows multiple audio channels to have their volume, dynamics and frequency content adjusted.

Mixing – The art and science of blending the individual audio channels of a track into one so that they function as one whole track. The mixing process often includes volume/gain adjustments, EQ, compression, group processing, layering and parallel processing, among other things.

Modulation – In music production, modulation refers to the adjustment of a parameter based on a source. A filter might be modulated by an envelope, creating change in a sound.

Modulation (Theory) – In music theory, modulation refers to a key change.

Module – A module is a particular device (usually hardware) that creates or processes sound. Most commonly refers to modules as part of a modular synthesis system, like Eurorack.

Mod Wheel – A control on most keyboards and synths that allow a particular parameter to be modulated in real time. For example, moving a mod wheel might increase the amount of vibrato in a lead synth sound.

Monitor(s) – A type of loudspeaker used in studios because of their β€˜flat’ frequency response. This allows audio to be recreated as accurately as possible.

Mono – Refers to when a sound only has one channel for both the left and right speakers. It sounds β€˜centre’ because there are no differences between the left speaker and the right speaker.

Monophonic – When only one note can be played at a time on a synth or sampler. Good for baselines when you don’t want multiple notes muddying up a track.

Mud – Sonic content in the low-mids that make a mix sound unclean and messy. Usually in the 200Hz-500Hz range.

Music – In case you didn’t know, music is essentially sound that is organised into a form that is pleasant and artistically valid. We could talk about this all day, oh wait we can, we wrote this glossary.

Music Production – Following the theme of obvious definitions, music production is the art of creating music and arranging sound into a musical form. Although music production is still a very new discipline (in comparison to being a musician), some producers do not write their own music (instead they arrange other people’s songwriting into a full track) and some are responsible for the entire creative process, including writing, sound design, mixing and mastering. It can be whatever you want it to be.

Music Theory – A collection of knowledge and terms used to describe how music works (e.g. chords, melodies, notes, scales, rhythm etc.). Usually taught while learning a traditional instrument, and very useful for learning songwriting and arrangement if you are a music producer.

Multiband Dynamics (Compression) – An effect that splits the frequency band into multiple sections and applies compression/expansion to them individually. Great for technical details and for achieving a squished sound without ruining certain parts of it.

Multi-sample – A sampler that maps each keyboard note to a different sample. This allows a traditional instrument, like a piano, to be recorded and mapped to a digital sampler so that it can be played on a computer. Think of it is a bank of real, organic instruments and sounds right on your hard drive. Usually, multi-sample libraries are quite large in file size, so be wary.

Multitimbral – When a synth or electronic instrument is capable of producing two different sounds at the same time. This might mean playing different parts of the keyboard create a different sound, or changing MIDI channels may activate a different sound.

Multitrack – The process of recording multiple sound sources into individual channels. Most DAWs are essentially multitrack recorders on steroids.

MP3 – Stands for MPEG Audio Layer III, it is a lossy audio file format that compresses the audio to save space. High bitrate MP3 files sound indistinguishable from WAVs to most listeners on most systems.

Mute – A switch on a track in most DAWs that turns it off, allowing the audio to not pass through to the output.


Native – Refers to a device that was designed to be used in its current environment. For example, the Erosion audio effect is native to Ableton.

Native Instruments – A software and hardware company responsible for the Komplete, Maschine and Traktor series.

Nearfield – A type of studio monitors that are designed to be used closer to the user’s ear, rather than far away. Most studio monitors are near field.

Normalization – The process of increasing or decreasing the amplitude of a sound so that the highest peak hits 0dB, or a defined target level. This can be used to standardise the loudness of audio samples, for example.

Notch Filter – A type of filter that takes an entire band of frequencies out of the spectrum in a certain range. Creates a hollow effect and sounds cool when moving the cutoff frequency.

Nudge – An adjustment of timing, usually to keep something in time with something else. A DJ might nudge a record to keep it in time with the other, or a performer might nudge the Ableton tempo to keep in time with a live musician.

Nyquist Frequency – The minimum frequency required to sample audio into the digital realm. Usually is twice the rate of the highest frequency in a recording. Standard frequencies include 44100Hz and 48000Hz.


Octave – A type of note interval that indicates the same note at a higher pitch. Octaves are always multiples of the same frequency. If A4 = 440Hz, then A5 = 880Hz. Play it on a keyboard and you’ll hear what we mean.

Offset – Can mean multiple things, but often means a timing offset in ms from the grid, or DC offset, an artefact introduced by very low frequencies.

Omnidirectional – A type of microphone pattern that picks up audio from all directions. Good for ambience and for field recordings.

Omnisphere – A hybrid synth and sampler created by Spectrasonics. Insanely powerful and also massive in file size. Includes great sounds that are tweakable and ideal for atmospheric and chill music.

Operator – In Ableton, Operator is an FM/Additive synthesiser, but an operator can refer to a part of an FM Synthesizer that produces sounds, similar to an oscillator.

Oscillator – An oscillator is the part of a synth responsible for generating a particular waveform, usually a sine, sawtooth, square or triangle. An oscillator’s pitch can be changed based on notes or modulation.

OTT – Abbreviation for Over The Top. It is a preset for Ableton’s Multiband Dynamics effect which was made into a standalone plugin by Xfer, who make Serum. It is a very intense compression that results in a squished, bright sound with lots of energy.

Outboard – Any piece of physical gear that is not part of a laptop or computer.

Out of Phase – When the phases of two or more signals are not aligned with one another. This begins to cause a phasing effect (like a phaser) and can cause phase cancellation in extreme cases.

Out of The Box (OTB) – Any production work that is done on gear outside of a computer, like on an analogue mixer, or using hardware FX units.

Output – The signal that comes out of a device, usually after processing of some kind.

Output Gain – Gain applied to a signal after processing, usually compression. Also called β€˜Makeup Gain’ as it makes up for lost volume in compression.

Outro – A section in the structure of a track at the end.

Overdrive – A type of distortion achieved by increasing the gain on an amplifier too much.

Overdub – Recording something over the top of an existing recording.

Overtone – A harmonic that is a multiple of the fundamental frequency of a sound.

Ozone – A mastering suite plugin created by iZotope. Great as an all-in-one mastering solution, as it includes EQ, multiband compression, stereo widening, saturation and much more.


Pad – Usually refers to a type of synthesised sound with slow attack and release, often used to create a chill atmosphere.

Panning – The process of moving a sound either left or right in the stereo field. Panning is a great mix technique to achieve width and space.

Pan Law – Determines how panning functions. Usually either by reducing the volume of one side to emphasise the other or by moving one signal to the other side by adding it to the existing material on that channel.

Pan Pot – A knob used to pan sounds left or right.

Parallel – Any process that occurs in conjunction with the original, unprocessed signal. Both the processed and original signal play at the same time, allowing for processing to sound more subtle.

Parallel Compression – Compression that is applied in parallel to the original sound, usually to keep some dynamic content from the uncompressed version. Also called β€˜New York Compression’.

Parameter – Any control on a device that can be altered by modulating it, physically or by using a modulation source, like an LFO.

Parametric EQ – A type of EQ that includes a set amount of customisable frequency bands. The shape, frequency, gain, width and slope of these curves can usually be altered, allowing for very specific and surgical EQ processing. Most EQ’s included in a DAW as stock effects are parametric, like Fruity Parametric EQ 2 and Ableton EQ Eight.

Partial – A harmonic in a sound that contributes to the sound, usually in the high-end of the sound. Usually, a sound will contain multiple partials to make up the sound.

Passive – Describes a device (usually speakers) that require a separate power amplifier to power them. The opposite of active.

Patch – A combination of settings, saved to a file, which can be loaded into a device (like a synth or effect). Similar to a preset.

Path – The set of devices a signal goes through before being output to the speakers. Also called Signal Path.

Peak – The momentary level of audio at any given moment. Different to the average or perceived loudness or audio.

Peak Filter – A type of filter that acts as a narrow bell curve. Technically a peak filter doesn’t filter out any frequencies but acts as a resonator at a particular narrow band of frequencies.

Peak Meter – A meter that measures the peak level of audio.

Pedal – Refers to a guitar pedal or a digital effect emulating a guitar pedal. Usually, an audio effect compacted in a simple, easy-to-use version with a foot switch to turn it on and off.

Percussion – Any sound or instrument that keeps the rhythm of a track. Percussion is unique as it doesn’t necessarily have to be β€˜in tune’ with the melody and harmony of a track (like a kick drum, snare, hats and other various sounds).

Phantom Power – A setting on most interfaces or mixers that send +48V of power to input if required. Condenser microphones generally require phantom power, whereas dynamic mics do not.

Phase – The position of audio at a given time. Usually measured in degrees from 0 to 360, where 0/360 is the start point and 180 is completely inverted. If two copies of the same sound have their phases set opposite each other (one at 0 and the other at 180), they will cancel out to silence.

Phase Distortion – A type of distortion introduced by phase differences in a sound. Sometimes it is a desirable effect for sound design purposes (included as an effect in Logic Pro), but usually, it is an unwanted artefact.

Phaser – A time-based effect that introduces a delay under 1ms, introducing noticeable β€˜whooshing’ sounds especially when modulated with an LFO. Phasing introduces audible peaks into the spectrum, creating a pleasing, coloured sound.

Phono – Refers to RCA cable inputs/outputs. You will find phono plugs on many audio devices like interfaces and mixers and are great for outputting audio to or capturing an audio source like a record player.

Phrase – A musical section of time, usually one that is grouped together as one coherent section of a track or song. Usually measured in bars.

Piano – A traditional instrument featuring 88 keys that form the basis of most keyboard instruments and a modern understanding of music theory. The thing with the white and black notes.

Piano Roll – A MIDI sequencer type the lists all the possible notes on the left-hand side of the screen, arranged exactly like a piano on its side.

Recommended Tutorial: 19 Tips to Help You Master Ableton’s Piano Roll

Ping-Pong – A form of delay that bounces between the left and right channels with each echo.

Pink Noise – A type of noise similar to white noise, except with the high frequencies slightly dampened. Producers and mixing engineers use pink noise as a reference level for mixing due to its ideal response curve.

Pitch – Refers to the frequency of a note in Hertz. High frequency is a high pitch and vice versa.

Pitch Bend – A control on many keyboards and synths that changes the pitch of the note currently being played. The range of the pitch bend is usually 2 semitones, but this can be customised in some cases.

Plate Reverb – A type of reverb originally created by sending an electrical signal through a metallic sheet, known as a plate. This created a particular kind of reverb that sat well in the mix, as it sounds more β€˜two-dimensional’ and less intrusive, while still keeping a sense of space.

Play (Playback) – If it’s not obvious, it’s when you press that triangular button on something. It moves through the audio and reproduces it in real time. Pretty useful, you’ll use it a lot as a DJ/Producer.

Playlist – A selection of songs grouped together to be played at similar times. You can find these on Spotify, Soundcloud, Apple Music, or in DJ software to group together similar-sounding tracks.

Pluck – A type of synth sound that has a fast attack and decay, emulating something like a guitar or string. Deadmau5 is famous for these, pretty much.

Plug – Something you put cables into. Yeah.

Plugin – A piece of software that can be used in conjunction with a DAW to expand its functionality. These usually aren’t included and are a separate purchase. Something new producers have too many of too early.

Polar Pattern – The way a microphone picks up a sound. Some pickup sound in many directions, others only in one direction, and everything in between.

Polarity – Refers to the direction of phase and the side (negative or positive) of the central line the audio tends towards. Bipolar audio crosses over both sides of the line, whereas unipolar audio is present on one side.

Polyphonic – The ability for an electronic instrument to play more than one note at a given time.

Pop Filter – Not a filter in your DAW, a pop filter is something placed infant of a condenser microphone when recording vocals to avoid undesirable β€˜p’ sounds or similar effects, created when certain words are sung/spoken.

Port – Similar to a plug, a port is something that a USB or other device is plugged into. Maybe you have a hard drive with samples – put in into the USB port.

Portamento – A parameter on synths that allows additional notes to sweep between pitches when played. Try switching it on and play one note, then play another up an octave higher, and repeat. Kill Bill time.

Post – Anything performed after some sort of recording or processing. Usually used in signal routing when choosing whether the signal before FX is applied or after FX is applied. Opposite of β€˜Pre’.

Post-Production – A process performed after recording and production to tidy up any issues or errors present in the previous process. Post-production usually includes mixing and mastering.

Pre – Opposite of β€˜Post’.

Preamp – A device that boosts the gain of a signal before being recorded or processed. Usually applied to vocals.

Predelay – A setting on reverb that sets a delay before the initial early reflections of the reverb comes in. Helps to reduce muddiness and create a more realistic-sounding reverb.

Presence – A setting on amps and other effects, refers to a boost around anywhere between ~2-7kHz that brings out more definition and high-end in the sound.

Preset – Similar to a patch, a preset usually comes with a synth and is a combination of settings that can be loaded to recall a certain synth sound.

Processing – The altering of an audio signal by routing it through various FX and other devices.

Producer – Someone who engages in music production. A very broad term, it can refer to someone who is in charge of the entire music creation process, someone who engineers a track for another songwriter, or anything in between.

Production – Short for β€˜Music Production’.

Program – Can refer to a particular piece of software or a setting on a synth that can be changed to recall a patch/preset.

Project (File) – A file on your computer that can be loaded up/saved by a DAW that contains a track in progress.

Pro Tools – A DAW popular with audio engineers and mixing professionals due to it’s DSP environment and ideal workflow. The industry standard in many professional recording environments.

Psychoacoustics – Psychological effects caused when listening to sound and music. Can make you think you hear something that isn’t there.

Pulse – Can also mean β€˜beat’, it refers to the consistent measurement of tempo underlying a track.

Pulse Code Modulation (PCM) – The process that occurs in an A/D converter that represents analogue information as digital bits and bytes. This happens when you export a song from your DAW.

Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) – A synthesis process that changes a square wave into a pulse wave by adding silence into the wave cycle, β€˜thinning’ out the square wave.

Punch In/Out – A loop function that determines when a loop should start and then end to repeat.

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Q (Bandwidth) – The width of a curve on a parametric EQ.

Quantize – The process of taking MIDI/audio and shifting it so it is β€˜on the grid’ and in time. Useful when MIDI or audio has been recorded with improper timing.

Quantization Error (Distortion) – An artefact introduced by a difference in bit depth of a project and the bit depth of a sound in the project.

Quantization Noise – The resulting noise created by quantisation error.


Rack – A collection of devices interlinked with each other for creating sound or processing sound. Can be a physical rack of units, for example, a modular system, or a digital one in your DAW, saved like a preset.

Radio – A platform for broadcasting music, broadcast on a supersonic frequency level. Less common today, but are still around and popular in some niches.

Radio Edit – An edit of a song that is more friendly for radio – usually a version of a song with a shorter structure and with explicit lyrics removed.

RAM (Random Access Memory) – A piece of hardware inside your computer that is used to store things when needed for faster access. Makes it easier to render music in your DAW in real time. Having a lot of RAM is good if you intend on using lots of plugins, for example. Not the Daft Punk album.

Rap – An auditory form of poetry, usually as the focal point of a hip-hop track. Contains rhythmic words spoken in phrases, usually without a sense of melodic key.

Ratio – A control on a compressor that determines how much the gain will be reduced once the audio hits the threshold. For example, if a signal exceeds the threshold by 6dB and the ratio is set at 2:1, it will reduce the audio by 3dB.

RCA – A standard connector with a white left connector and red right connector. Plugs into a phono socket.

Read – The process of interpreting data from a disc drive. Usually refers to the playing of sounds and samples from a hard drive.

Reaper – A DAW made by Cockos that is less popular but a good cheap option with an indefinite trial. Good if you want to get started on a budget.

Reason – A DAW created by Propellerhead that is designed for users who like to work in a hardware-sequence environment, with cable routing and physical modelled equipment. Didn’t support plugins until recently.

Record (Track) – Another name for a track. Historically, this is because all music used to be available as a vinyl record.

Record (DAW) – A function in a DAW that allows audio, MIDI or automation to be recorded into the arrangement. Demoted by a big red circle.

Reference – The process of checking a mix on multiple systems.

Reference Track – A track that is used as a reference point for your own while you create it. This can help with composition, sound design and mixing.

Reflections – Part of a reverb that creates echoes based off sounds hitting walls and bouncing around rapidly.

Release – The final stage of an ADSR envelope that determines how long a sound will fade to silence once the note is no longer being pressed.

Remix – A derivative track of another’s original by taking the stems and using them in a new context through arrangement, processing, reducing the elements used and adding new elements.

Resampling – The process of sampling your own ideas and sounds for further processing and use.

Resonance (Reso) – A control on a filter that determines the level of accentuation on the current cutoff filter. Sounds ear piercing when turned up too loud.

Return – A track where other tracks are sent to be group processed in parallel to the original.

Reverb – A time-based effect featuring a series of echoes rapidly occurring one after the other. There are two types of reverb, algorithmic which calculates everything via maths, and convolution, which uses an impulse response to capture the natural sound of a room and superimpose it on another sound.

Rhythm – A musical element consisting of when all elements are playing and on what beat, bar or measure. Can be fast or slow.

Riff – A musical section of a melody, perhaps repeating through a track.

RMS (Root Mean Square) – A standard measurement of average loudness, as opposed to peak loudness.

Rolloff – A filter’s cutoff.

ROM (Read Only Memory) – Data on a hard drive or elsewhere that can be accessed but not changed (easily).

Room – A type of reverb that sounds as if it is a smaller space with less tail and more absorption.

Rumble – A low-frequency effect caused by a series of random frequencies in the low end.


Sample – A segment of audio used as a sound in a track. Samples can be kicks, snares, drum loops, fx, melodic lines, parts a whole other song etc.

Sample Pack – A downloadable folder of samples all grouped together. They usually contain many different samples of different kinds.

Sampler – An analogue/virtual electronic instrument that allows lots of different samples to be loaded up, processed and played back.

Sample Rate – How often a signal is encoded into a digital file, represented by what is called the Nyquist Frequency. The standard for music is 44.1kHz, which is approximately double the limit of human hearing.

Saturation – Distortion that is used in a more subtle way to add harmonic content.

Saw (Sawtooth) – A basic wave included in most subtractive synths. Saws sound bright and full.

Scratch – The process of rhythmically moving a vinyl record back and forth while being played, such that the pitch is warped and creates an effect. Popular in some styles of DJing.

Scrub – Searching through an audio file or a DAW’s sequencer to find a specific point.

Semitone –  See β€˜Half-Step’.

Send – A auxiliary control that allows a signal to be sent to a return for processing in parallel with the original signal.

Sensitivity – Refers to how sensitive a microphone can be. Condenser microphones are more sensitive, whereas dynamic microphones are not.

Sequence – A series of clips, notes and/or sounds that have placed into a particular order for playback.

Sequencer – A common element in any DAW, a sequencer allows the structuring of clips, notes and sounds to create a track.

Series – A processing technique done in order, one after the other. For example, 2 filters in series would mean one processes the original signal, then the other processes that signal.

Shelf – A type of EQ curve that boosts either all the high or low frequencies after a specific cutoff frequency.

Shock Mount – A microphone sits on this so it does get bumped around and pick up bass-y sounds. Good if you are clumsy.

Sibilance – Refers to the amount of ’sss’ sound in a vocalist’s recording.

Sidechain (Compression) – A form of compression that used a second input as the trigger for the threshold. Great for making kick and bass sit in the mix – when the kick passes the threshold, the bass ducks in volume.

Signal – An audio stream passing through any analogue or digital circuits.

Signal Flow – Refers to the path that audio takes to be processed. A signal flow might mean: EQ -> Compressor -> Overdrive -> EQ -> Output.

Sine – A basic wave in synthesis, and the fundamental wave shape that makes up all sounds. Sounds like a pure tone, because it is. Sounds mellow and deep.

Slapback – A type of delay that includes one loud feedback echo at a short delay time. Great for cheesy 70’s-80’s stuff and big sounding things.

Slave – Something that is being controlled by some other MIDI clock source. A MIDI clip’s timing may be controlled by the master tempo of the DAW, for example.

Snare – A common type of drum, characterised by a peak around ~150Hz-200Hz and some high-end noise.

Soft Clipping – A type of distortion created by driving a signal beyond 0dB. Soft clipping differs from hard clipping, as it β€˜rounds’ the waveform off as opposed to slicing it off, allowing it to sound more subtle.

Soft Synth – A synthesiser that exists inside a computer, like Serum or Massive.

Solo – A control that temporarily silences all channels besides the selected one.

Song – Traditionally, a song is a track that features vocals.

Sound – See β€˜Audio’.

SoundCloud – Where rappers live. Just kidding, it’s a major streaming platform that allows artists to upload their works directly to the platform, unlike Spotify etc.

Sound Pressure Level (SPL) – A measurement of decibels in the physical world. It’s what normies mean when they say, β€˜that’s like 100 decibels!!!’

Soundproofing – The act of using damping materials in a room to reduce reflections, and to stop sound from escaping and coming into the area.

Sound System – A collection of loudspeakers, subwoofers and amplifiers that work together to produce sound, usually in a live venue.

Soundtoys – A plugin company that creates FX plugins inspired by older hardware units, with new creative features. Check out Crrystaliser for sure.

Sound Waves – See β€˜Waveform’.

Source – Any place where audio or data originates from.

Speaker – Short for β€˜Loudspeaker’.

Spectrum – Refers to the range of frequencies in the audible realm.

Spectrum Analyzer – Graphically represents the amplitude of all frequencies in the audible spectrum.

Splice – A company that has a sample subscription service, a project file sharing service, and many other useful tools for producers.

Spotify – A popular streaming service that artists can distribute their music to.

Spring Reverb – A type of reverb that is created by sending an electrical signal through a spring.

Square – A wave found in most subtractive synthesisers. Sounds bright and hollow. Can be created from any sound if you distort it enough.

Stems – The individual audio tracks rendered from a finished track, usually used for remix purposes.

Stereo – Any sound that contains both left and right channel information.

Stereo Image – Refers to the level of difference between the content in the left channel and the right channel. The more difference in content, the wider the mix will sound.

Stock – Any sound, device or preset that comes with the software it was designed to be used with. Ableton’s audio effects are called β€˜stock’ for this reason.

Stop – A control that stops playback.

Strings – An instrument that features a string played by a bow. Many synths have also recreated this sound.

Sub Bass – Bass in the range of under around 70Hz.

Subgroup – A group of audio tracks, usually that itself belongs to another group.

Subtractive Synthesis – A form of synthesis that works by starting with basic waves (sine, saw, square, triangle) and β€˜subtracts’ through the use of envelopes, filters, and LFO’s.

Subwoofer – A loudspeaker designed to reproduce frequencies under ~200Hz only.

Summing – The process of adding waveforms from different sources together.

Supersaw – A saw wave with unison and detune, usually with around 8 voices. Sounds very wide and big.

Surround Sound – A sound system featuring a ratio of 5 speakers arranged in a space at different angles, and 1 subwoofer for bass. The angles of the speakers give an illusion of 360-degree sound.

Sustain – An ADSR control on a synth that determines the level that the synth will decay to (in decibels).

Sync – A type of oscillator modulator that duplicates the wave in the same cycle space, creating a sort of pitching effect that still keeps the same fundamental pitch.

Sylenth1 – A subtractive soft synth created by LennarDigital that is ideal for creating analogue-type sounds.

Synthesizer (Synth) – An electronic instrument that creates sound by using oscillators and a series of processing.


Take – A singular recording of audio. Usually, multiple takes will be done to achieve a good recording.

Talkbox – A vocoder-like effect that uses the voice to modulate an instrument, like a guitar. Unlike a vocoder, speech is not usually as intelligible and only vowel sounds are heard.

Tap Tempo – A control on a delay where tapping determines the bpm for the delay time.

Tape Delay – Delay that occurs by writing the audio file onto tape and playing it back at a determined interval. Usually has a pitch warble due to the imperfections.

Tape Hiss – A byproduct when recording something to a tape or cassette tape due to a low noise floor.

TDM (Time-Division Multiplexing) – Okay, so apparently this is a thing. Apart from it sounding like something straight out of Doctor Who, TDM refers to Pro Tools plugins specifically used on systems with dedicated DSP processors for high-quality processing without straining your computer – found in very high-end studios only. Frees up the CPU for more Serum, I guess.

Tempo – Measured in Beats per Minute, the tempo determines the speed of the track.

Test – A render of an incomplete track that is used to be tested on multiple systems.

Thin – Used to describe when a sound doesn’t have much of a body, usually containing only mids and highs.

Threshold – A control on a compressor (or other devices) that determines when the compressor will start compressing (a specific dB level).

Timbre – The quality of a sound that distinguishes it from other sounds, based on factors like frequency content, amplitude, modulation and other factors.

Top-line – A vocal or lead line that acts as the hook point of a track, usually with a strong melody or with memorable lyrics.

Toms – A type of drum in the low-mid rs he that keeps rhythm. Usually comes in sets of 3-4, set at different pitches.

Tone – A single frequency.

Tone Generator – A device that generates a tone, usually for pitch correction purposes.

Track – Either means a full piece of digital music, or an individual audio channel in the production process.

Traktor – A DJing system created by Native Instruments that includes a range of controllers, and the Traktor Pro software.

Transient – The initial start point of a drum sound, where the audio goes from near silence to sudden loudness. Sounds clicky.

Transient Shaper – An effect designed to analyse where transients are in a sound and make them louder or softer.

Transpose – The process of moving notes or audio up or down in semitones.

Transport – A section of a DAW that houses the play, stop, record and other buttons.

Trap (Genre) β€“ A genre of music that combines hip-hop and rap elements with bass music (a la dubstep) elements.

Tremolo – Subtle volume modulation with an LFO to achieve a movement in a sound.

Triangle – A wave in most subtractive synths that sounds like a sine wave with a few more harmonics.

Trigger – When pressing a button on a MIDI controller activated something on a piece of software, usually a sound.

Trim – A gain control on some audio effects to counteract an increase in volume introduced by some effects.

Truncate – What happens to a wave when it has been hard clipped – it chops the top of the wave off at 0db with sharp edges.

Tube – A distortion type that sounds (and emulates) like it is being driven through an analog vacuum tube.

Tune –A control on an electronic instrument that determines the pitch of an oscillator (in cents).

Tuner – A device that listens to audio to measure if it is in tune.

Turntable – A player that plays vinyl records. Can be used for playback and/or DJing.

Tweak – Adjusting a control on a device. DJs pretend to do this to look cool.

Tweeter – A speaker come designed to reproduce high frequencies around 10-20kHz. Usually featured above the main cone on a pair of studio monitors.


Underground – Describes any music or related culture that is the opposite of mainstream.

Unison – A control on many synthesisers that layer the same oscillator voice over each other with slight detuning, to create a thick sound. Very popular in trance and future bass.

Unity Gain – When the audio level of audio is preserved after processing. For example, distortion may be applied to a sound, adding loudness as well as extra harmonics, but the output gain it turned down so the level is the same after the processing.

USB – Stands for Universal Serial Bus. A standard socket on many computers and devices that allow things to be connected to a computer and transfer MIDI information. If you’ve got a computer, you’ve got a USB port.

Utility – A device in Ableton that allows the adjustment of technical parts of the sound, like gain, phase, panning, DC offset and more.


VBR – Variable Bit Rate. When an MP3 or lossy audio file has a bit rate that changes with the type of content in the file. Good for maximising audio quality while still saving space.

VCA – Voltage Controlled Amplifier. The section on an analogue synth that controls the ADSR envelope and the volume.

VCF – Voltage Controller Filter. The section on an analogue synth that controls the filter and the filter ADSR.

VCO – Voltage Controlled Oscillator. An oscillator on an analogue synth.

Velocity – A MIDI parameter for each note that is played, usually determining the loudness of that notes. Emulates the effect of playing a piano or physical instrument at different levels of loudness.

Verse – A section of a vocal track that normally comes after the intro. Individual verses usually only feature once per track, with future verses sounding similar but containing different lyrics.

Vibrato – An audio effect achieved by modulating the pitch of a sound with an LFO at a small amplitude. Sounds wavy.

Vinyl – A physical format of music created by inscribing the waveform onto a wax disc, reproduced by playing it with a needle on a turntable, so that the needle vibrates in real time, reproducing the audio.

Vinyl Distortion – A type of distortion represented by poor dynamics on an old/broken vinyl record.

Virtual Instrument – An instrument in the digital domain, usually in plugin form, that is used to create sound much like a traditional instrument would.

Vocal – A recorded piece of audio of somebody singing.

Vocal Booth – A small space with soundproofing and isolation designed to record vocals in.

Vocoder – An audio effect that uses a carrier (the effected sound) and a modulator (the effecting sound) to create a superimposition of sound. Usually, the voice acts as a modulator and a synth acts as the carrier, and this creates a robotic sort of voice sound. Still unsure? Go listen to Daft Punk.

Voice – Something generated by a synthesiser. Adding unison to an oscillator, or using multiple oscillators, will increase the amount of voices created by a synth.

Volume – The amplitude of a sound. Usually, a parameter that can be adjusted on a device.

Vox – Short for vocals.

VST (Virtual Studio Technology) – A plugin format developed by Steinberg (for Cubase) that has been adopted as one of the industry standards. Probably the most popular plugin format.

VU Meter – Stands for β€˜Volume Unit Meter’, and is a way of measuring audio in the analog domain. All VU meters, where digital or analog, feature a needle that moves with the audio, and has a slower response to represent average loudness as opposed to peak volume.


Warm – A vague term that describes anything with an analog feel. This can mean anything with noticeable low-mid information, subtle noise in the signal, reduced high-end frequencies and many more audible effects.

Warp – Has many meanings, but usually refers to the warp algorithms in Ableton or other DAWs that change the timing and pitch of audio, mostly to keep it in time with the DAW’s clock tempo. DAWs have different warping algorithms that are suited to different types of audio, like drums, synths or vocals.

Wavefolding – A audio effect that processes audio when it reaches a threshold in a variety of ways, usually by folding the waveform back in on itself instead of clipping or compressing. Creates an interesting type of distortion.

Waveform – An audio signal represented visually as a wave.

Wavelength – Refers to the length of one cycle of a sine wave. As frequency increases, wavelength decreases.

Waves – A brand of audio plugins for music production. Check out our plugin roundup here.

Waveshaper – An audio effect that recreates a variety of distortion algorithms through an input/output envelope. All types of digital distortion are essentially β€˜possible’ with a wave shaper, but it is not ideal for recreating analog distortion.

Wavetable – A series of waveform cycles that can be scanned through in a wavetable synthesiser.

Wavetable Synthesis – A form of synthesis similar to subtractive synthesis, but instead oscillators can feature a wider variety of waveforms, sometimes with the ability to customise them. Xfer Serum, NI Massive and Ableton Wavetable are three very popular Wavetable Synthesisers.

WAV (Waveform Audio File Format) – A standard lossless audio file format used for its high quality. Most samples, stems and other production-related audio files typically come in WAV format. WAV cannot have the same ID3 tags that an MP3 or AIFF does.

Wet – A processed version of a signal, as opposed to the dry, which is the unprocessed signal. A wet signal can be blended in with a Dry/Wet knob.

White Noise – A noise produced by many synthesisers that is the result of playing the entire frequency spectrum at once.

Whole Step – A movement of two notes in a given direction.

Woodwind – A group of traditional instruments that generate sound by wind passing through. Includes flutes, saxophones, clarinets, oboes and more.

Woofer – A loudspeaker driver that reproduces the low-mid frequencies, usually from ~40Hz up to ~500Hz. Similar to a subwoofer but with a higher range.

WOW – A type of filter that creates formants. Usually refers to the plugin created by Sugar Bytes which is a filter that does exactly that. Sometimes people make this noise when trying to recreate dubstep with their mouths.


XLR – A standard electrical cable/connector in audio that features three pins and is round. Found on many mixers and audio interfaces.


YouTube Music – A streaming service by YouTube that artists can distribute their music to.


Zero-crossing – A point on a waveform that passes through the central zero line (silence).


303 – A vintage baseline synth created by Roland. It is famous for creating the β€˜acid’ baseline sound. There are many 303 emulations available in hardware and software.

4/4 – Also called common time, 4/4 is a time signature determine that there are 4 beats in 1 bar.

707 – A drum machine created by Roland. Used in many disco and house tracks.

808 – Another drum machine created by Roland. Used in many house and hip-hop tracks. The drums from the 808 pretty much describe the trap genre. Especially the snare.

909 – Yet another drum machine created by Roland. Used primarily in house and techno.

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