Old 12-18-2014, 01:17 AM   #1
Hoof Hearted
Human being with feelings
Hoof Hearted's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 383
Default Dictionary of Audio Engineer Terms

I realize a lot of frustration I've had with the learning process is due to my lack of sound engineering terms, phrases etc.

For instance, When I think of an audio engineering sound effect, I also think of FX, as well as VST or VSTi's, but other terms such as plugins and filters also come to mind.

So what would I mean if I were to say, "I added an FX to my track."?

Would this be the same as saying, "I added an effect to my track."?

Also, How did I even add this effect to my track? Did I open a plugin? Or did I bring up an Add FX to Track Menu?

Once I bring up an Add FX to Track Menu, what do I see?
Am I looking at plugins or filters?

Some have titles which begin with VST or VSTi. There are also a good many that begin with JS, however the latter doesn't seem to be used as a generic name for plugins the same way VST's or VSTi's are used.
So what's the difference between a VST and a JS anyway? Are they both plugins, and are they both FX?

When we add one of these plugins to our track, we are confronted with a window which usually depicts a virtual image of a particular past/present style analogue machine used for sound balancing, leveling, effects etc. So what we are viewing is a digital replication, or forgery of the original equipment we once used daily in the music biz. These digital imitators do pretty much the same as the original, but in a different way.

Within this digital window we see both vertical and horizontal sliding levers, as well as round knobs. One lever may be labeled stereo width while another may say Lowpass or chorus. Are these different types of filters? Filters by definition block things, but many of these components seem to add to the sound, rather than take away from it, so referring to something that adds as a filter doesn't always come natural to many.
How exactly are we to describe the fundamental group of components within a plugin? Are we to just call them plugin components, Or, Can we be more definitive and differentiate between filters and effects?
We also may see columns or beams of light that may grow or shrink depending on sound's frequency or level. So, what are these moving columns of light called or referred to?

I wouldn't doubt there is at least a book or two out there which breaks down all of the terminology used in audio engineering, and I'd be happy to learn that there is an appropriate sticky or link within the confines of the cockos forums, discussing and disclosing such localized nomenclature.
If so, please point me in the right direction.
Either way, I will likely use this thread as a place to offer clarity to uncertain terms when I'm able, and I welcome anyone else's input that can help us all connect, so we can all get to where we want to be faster, more efficient, and with less smashing compooters

Thanks again, in advance.
Mongo broke compooters again D;
Vista, and Windows 7

Last edited by Hoof Hearted; 12-18-2014 at 09:13 AM.
Hoof Hearted is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-18-2014, 03:10 AM   #2
Human being with feelings
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Near Cambridge UK and Near Questembert, France
Posts: 18,941

FX = foreign exchange (money) first and foremost for me.
Been around for ages longer than plugin effects.
ivansc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-18-2014, 05:21 AM   #3
Human being with feelings
xpander's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Terra incognita
Posts: 4,838

Have to mention one of my favorite pro audio dictionaries, Rane Pro Audio Reference
xpander is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-18-2014, 05:54 AM   #4
Human being with feelings
Xenakios's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Oulu, Finland
Posts: 7,921

Signal processing literature often speaks of "filters" when they mean a component or system that somehow changes the incoming signal. The change need not be one that acts like a filter that removes frequencies. It is of course very confusing to use the word "filter" with that meaning in general audio talk since there the meaning is immediately understood to mean a filter that acts on the frequency balance of a signal. Nevertheless, for example the Tracktion DAW used to call its effects "filters".

Reaper uses the word FX to mean plugins that either change ("effect") the incoming signal or generate a signal (instruments). These plugins can be VST, DX, AU (on Mac), JS plugins. VSTi simply means "VST instrument" and is not a whole new plugin format.

Usually the user interface controls in a plugin correspond to a "parameter", such as stereo width or filter frequency. Each parameter may or may not belong to a subcomponent in the plugin, but this is usually of no concern for the user. These parameters can also be presented in a DAW like Reaper in alternative ways, such as automation envelopes. (Other presentations include the generic slider-based GUI that can be turned on for plugins that otherwise have a fancy looking user interface or adding parameters to the Reaper track control panels as knobs.)
For info on SWS Reaper extension plugin (including Xenakios' previous extension/actions) :
Xenakios blog (about HourGlass, Paul(X)Stretch and λ) :
Xenakios is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 10:30 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions Inc.