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Glossary

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Welcome to Sound On Sound's indispensible, regularly updated, explanations of technical terms from the fields of Recording, Audio Production, Music Technology, MIDI, Music Software, Audio Plug-ins, Mac and PC Computing, Live Sound, Acoustics, Electronics and more...

If we do not explain a particular term below, please email glossary@soundonsound.com and we will add it to our next update.

Last updated: 04/08/20

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Talkback

A system designed to enable voice communication between rooms.

Tape Head

The part of a tape machine that transfers magnetic energy to the tape during recording, or reads it during playback.

Tempo

The rate of the 'beat' of a piece of music measured in beats per minute.

Test Tone

– A steady, fixed level tone recorded onto a multitrack recording, or passed over a signal connection to test the signal path and act as a reference when matching levels.

THD

Total Harmonic Distortion. A measure of the linearity of a device. The THD+N measurement includes the noise contribution as well and is an indication of the quality of an audio product.

Thru

A MIDI connector which passes on the signal received at the MIDI in socket.

Thunderbolt

A bi-directional computer interface based on the PCI Express protocol, used for both data transfers and to connect display monitors (it supports DVI, HDMI, and VGA monitors via adapters). Introduced by Apple in 2011.

Timbral

Referring to the tones that can be created by a synthesizer (see multi-timbral and bi-timbral)

Timbre

The tonal 'colour' of a sound.

TOSlink

see S/PDIF.

Track

The term dates back to multitrack tape where the tracks are physical stripes of recorded material, located side by side along the length of the tape.

Tracking

The process of recording individual tracks to a multichannel recorder. Tracking is also often discussed in the context of MIDI guitar synthesizers or controllers where the MIDI output attempts to track the pitch of the guitar strings.

Transformer

An electrical device in which two or more separate and electrically isolated coils of wire are wound around a common ferromagnetic core. Alternating Current passing through one coil creates a varying magnetic field which induces a corresponding current in the other coil(s). In audio applications transformers are often used to convey a signal without a direct electrical connection, thus providing 'galvanic isolation' between the source and destination. Winding a transformer with different numbers of turns for each coil allows the output voltage to be increased or decreased in direct proportion – a feature widely employed in mains power-supply transformers to reduce the mains voltage to something more appropriate for the circuitry, for example, or in microphone preamp step-up transformers.

Transmission-Line

When the length of an electrical cable is shorter than about 10% of the wavelength of the signal it conveys, the voltage and current are effectively the same at all points along the cable. However, if the cable is longer than 10% of the wavelength, it can be considered to propogate as electromagnetic waves along the cable, and this condition is referred to as a 'transmission-line'.

Triangle Wave

A symmetrical triangular shaped wave containing odd harmonics only, but with a lower harmonic content than the square wave.

TRS

A type of quarter-inch jack plug with three contacts (Tip, Ring and Sleeve), used either for stereo unbalanced connections (such as on headphones) or mono balanced connections (such as for line-level signals). Physically compatible in size with the TS (Tip, Sleeve) quarter-inch jack plug used for electric guitars and other instruments.

TRS — Tip, Ring, Sleeve

A type of quarter-inch jack plug with three contacts (Tip, Ring and Sleeve), used either for stereo unbalanced connections (such as on headphones) or mono balanced connections (such as for line-level signals). Physically compatible in size with the TS (Tip, Sleeve) quarter-inch jack plug used for electric guitars and other instruments.

True Peak Meter

– A form of digital audio meter which is capable of determining the absolute amplitude value of a digital signal by using oversampling to fully reconstruct the waveform.

Truss Rod

A metal bar within a guitar neck which is tensioned so as to counteract the tendency for the neck to bend under the tension of the strings.

TT Plug

see Bantam Plug

Tube

see Valve

Tweeter

The colloquial term to describe a loudspeaker drive unit optimised for the reproduction of high frequencies. (See Woofer).