When it comes to music production, there are a lot of different terms and terminologies that you need to be aware of. This can be quite overwhelming for newcomers, but don’t worry – we’re here to help.
In this article, we’ll introduce you to some of the most common music production terms, so that you can start understanding what all the fuss is about.
So without further ado, let’s get started! 📝
Music Production Glossary
DAW (Digital Audio Workstation): DAWs are software programs used for recording, editing, and producing audio files.
Sample: A small sound file that can be loaded into a digital audio workstation and played back or manipulated.
Loop: A repeating section of audio that can be looped to create a longer piece of music.
VST (Virtual Studio Technology): A software interface that allows for the use of virtual instruments and audio effects within a DAW.
MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface): A protocol for communicating musical information between devices, such as synthesizers and computers.
Synthesizer: An electronic instrument that generates sound using oscillators and filters.
Sequencer: A tool that allows for the creation and arrangement of musical patterns and sequences.
Beat: A unit of musical time, typically defined by the tempo and time signature of a piece of music.
Tempo: The speed of a piece of music, measured in beats per minute (BPM).
Time signature: A notational symbol that indicates the number of beats per measure and the type of note that represents one beat.
Pitch: The perceived highness or lowness of a sound, determined by the frequency of the sound wave.
Frequency: The number of vibrations per second of a sound wave, measured in Hertz (Hz).
Phaser: An effect that creates a sweeping, phase-shifting sound by combining the original audio signal with a copy of itself that has been phase-shifted by a set amount.
Limiter: A type of compressor that allows the audio signal to pass through unmodified until it reaches a certain level, at which point it reduces the volume of the signal to prevent it from going any louder. Check our complete guide on limiters here
Mastering: The process of preparing a finished audio recording for distribution, which may include equalization, compression, limiting, and other processes.
Mixing: The process of combining multiple audio tracks and balancing their levels, panning, and effects to create a cohesive final audio recording.
Arranging: The process of organizing the elements of a piece of music, such as instruments, melodies, harmonies, and rhythms, to create a final arrangement.
Sound design: The process of creating or manipulating sounds for use in music production or other audio applications.
Foley: The process of adding sound effects to a film or video to enhance the realism of the audio.
Automation: The process of using software to record and play back changes to parameters such as volume, panning, and effect settings over time.
Plugin: A software program that can be used within a digital audio workstation to add functionality, such as virtual instruments or audio effects.
Channel: A virtual or physical path within a digital audio workstation or mixing console for routing and processing audio signals.
Bus: A virtual or physical path within a digital audio workstation or mixing console for routing and processing audio signals from multiple sources to a common destination.
Patch: A set of connections between audio devices or software programs, used to route audio signals between them.
Input: A connection or port on an audio device or software program used to receive audio signals.
Output: A connection or port on an audio device or software program used to send audio signals.
Latency: The delay between the time an audio signal is input into a device or software program and the time it is output.
Phase: The position of a sound wave in relation to its starting point.
Panning: The process of adjusting the balance of an audio signal between the left and right channels of a stereo field.
Stereo field: The perceived width and depth of an audio signal, created by the separation of the audio between left and right channels.
Gain: The measure of the strength of an audio signal.
Headroom: The amount of room available in an audio signal before it reaches the maximum level.
Transient: A brief, high-amplitude event at the beginning of a sound wave, such as the attack of a drum hit.
Attack: The initial portion of a sound wave, during which the amplitude of the wave increases.
Release: The portion of a sound wave after the attack, during which the amplitude of the wave decreases.
Envelope: The shape of a sound wave over time, including the attack, sustain, and release portions.
Sustain: The portion of a sound wave between the attack and release, during which the amplitude of the wave remains constant.
Threshold: The level at which an effect such as compression or limiting is applied to an audio signal.
Ratio: The amount by which an audio signal is compressed or limited above the threshold.
Makeup gain: The process of increasing the level of an audio signal after it has been processed by an effect such as compression or limiting.
Sidechain: The process of using the signal of one audio track to control the volume or other characteristics of another audio track. Learn more about sidechaining
Normalization: The process of adjusting the level of an audio signal to the maximum level without clipping.
Dithering: The process of adding a small amount of noise to an audio signal to reduce quantization errors when converting between different bit depths or sample rates.
Bit depth: The number of bits used to represent the amplitude of an audio sample, which determines the dynamic range and resolution of the signal.
Sample rate: The number of samples of an audio signal taken per second, measured in Hz.
Dynamic range: The gap between a signal’s loudest and quietest levels.
Crossfade: The process of smoothly blending two audio clips together by fading out the first clip while fading in the second clip.
Bounce: The process of rendering a multi-track recording into a single audio file.
Stereo widening: The process of creating a sense of width and separation in a stereo audio signal.
Pre-delay: The time delay between the arrival of the direct sound and the arrival of the first early reflections in a space.
Understanding music production terminology is an important part of learning how to produce music. From basic concepts like “BPM” and “Beat” to advanced techniques like “Sidechain” and “EQ,” knowing the language of music production can help you communicate more effectively with other producers and make informed decisions about your own work.
Whether you’re a beginner producer looking to improve your understanding of the terminology or a non-producer interested in learning more about music production, we hope that this blog post has helped clarify some of the key terms in the field.
I'm Kobe and I'm addicted to the art of music production. I started KnowsAudio because I wanted to help music producers with their musical journey. My favorite place is my studio where you probably find me most of the time playing with some new plugins 🙂