Explore commonly used terms by audio engineers and the music industry.


The traditional definition is a stereo track, a left and right. Today, this is a term most commonly used to describe a stereo bounce, especially when speaking of an instrumental, the two terms are almost interchangeable. The most common use of this term is when referring to the unmixed instrumental that is often used in the recording/tracking stage.


This is a version of the song that does not contain any instruments, it only plays the vocals of the composition. This version can be used to do post production after the final vocals have been recorded and is often required as an alternate version to turn into labels for final file delivery. This version is commonly printed in the mix stage and sent to mastering with the other versions of the song to later be delivered in master form to the label.


Panels made of fiberglass, and other things, that are hung from walls in order to deaden room reflections and balance the frequency response of a room. Treatment is very important when recording or when mixing using speakers.


When a Dolby Atmos mix is finished, you can export your project or a section of your project to a file that uses the Audio Definition Model Broadcast Wave Format (ADM BWF). The ADM BWF master file is the required file format when you submit a Dolby Atmos mix to a mastering engineer or streaming services. This file will only playback in full on a 7.1.2 system or better, if played through a stereo system, only the elements not in the object field will be heard.


Background noise added to a musical recording to give the impression that it was recorded live. Often done using short room reverbs.


A device that increases the volume of a signal. For instance, a guitar amp increases the volume of the signal picked up from the electric guitar, which is very quiet on its own.


Technology that does not use digital components. Often used to describe audio technology from before the mid-80’s. Analog gear tends to be sought after for the way that it “colors” sound.


This refers to the very beginning of a sound and also refers to the amount of time it takes after a sound begins for a sound processor to begin working. Usually measured in milliseconds, or ms.


Someone who records, edits, mixes, or masters audio. Usually works in a studio or live concert setting.


Automation is when a DAW automatically performs tasks over time, particularly moving knobs, faders, and switches for you. The most popular use of automation in mixing is to adjust the volume of a track.


A plugin for tuning something automatically, especially a piece of computer software that enables the correction of an out-of-tune vocal performance.


A track that has no audio on it, but has audio being sent to it for processing. Often used to process a group of sounds together instead of individually. Group processing can also save on the overall processing power used by the cpu to keep from overloading the session with plugin processing.


The amount of space on the frequency spectrum that the sounds of an instrument are being produced at. Often represented by the symbol “Q”, it represents the width of the curve of a frequency boost or cut.


A Bi-Directional mic is a microphone that picks up signal from 2 directions, the back and the front of the microphone capsule, but not the sides.


This file can be used to play back a simulated Dolby Atmos experience in binaural. It is a stereo fold down of the Atmos mix that can be played back on stereo headphones/playback systems. It will not portray the 7.1.2 speaker positioning, just a L/R stereo version of the mix. Sometimes used for artist approval when an mp4 version is not available.


A measure of the accuracy of a digital program. The higher the bit depth, the more accurate the output. For instance, running a recording session at 24 bits means the audio will be more accurate than if it was running at 16 bits. The lower the bit rate, the less detailed the sound is and vice versa.


A term used to describe the exported file, ie. “send me a bounce when you’re done.” Also can be used as verb, ie. “Bounce that record for me.” Bouncing is the same as exporting.


Beats Per Minute. It’s the tempo of the song.


How much data a computer program can handle at a time. Lower buffer sizes have lower latency (delay), but are more susceptible to crashing. Higher buffer sizes have greater latency, but are less susceptible to crashing. The rule of thumb is to set your buffer size as low as possible when recording and as high as possible when mixing. This setting can be found in your DAW’s preferences.


The pathway along which an electrical signal flows. For example, the output of a DAW is referred to as the mix bus or stereo bus. The term is also used to describe an aux track with several tracks of the same instrument flowing into it. For example, if I set the output of each of my drum tracks to a single bus, than the aux track with that bus as the input is referred to as the Drum Bus.


A unidirectional microphone with a heart-shaped pickup pattern. Unidirectional meaning a one-directional microphone that picks up sounds in front of it, but not behind it.


A pathway through an audio device. For example, sound engineers have multiple input channels and output channels. It is similar to a Bus.


A sound processor that makes a sound seem doubled by creating several delayed copies of the original sound and slightly varying the pitch of each copy. Used to “thicken” a sound.


This is an edited version of the final mix that omits the expletive material such as derogatory terms or phrases that may occur in the lyrics or composition of the song.


Audio clipping occurs when the input audio signal is at a level that's too high for the system it’s passing through. This is usually a sign you need to turn the signal down but, at times, can be used to create a desired distortion effect in certain circumstances.