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Game Development Dictionary


Audio


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  Term Name Description

Bus

A feature on a mixer where a number of channels can have their settings modified together.

VCO

Voltage Controlled Oscillator. In analog synthesizers, a device that generates various waveforms, whose frequency is determined by a control voltage.

VCF

Voltage Controlled Filter. A filter in analog synthesizers controlled by voltage.

Sidebands

In modulation, "phantom frequencies" that are created when the modulator's frequency enters the audible range.

Echo

An effect where the original signal is repeated after a small delay.

Digital Modelling Amplifier

An amplifier that emulates the characteristics of other amplifiers, allowing for near authentic tone with much more versatility and a vastly lower price.

Fuzz

A type of distortion that intentionally adds noise to the signal.

MOD

MOD is a trackerbased music format well used and spread on bbs.

Tracker

A music sequencing program, in which the interface is primarily numeric. The interface of a tracker allows the user to arrange sound-samples on a timeline across several monophonic channels. Trackers generally save songs to disk incorporating both sequencing data and samples. This can give a relatively small file size, while still providing a generally better quality of sound that MIDI often produces.

Noise Gate

The noise gate is a piece of studio equipment used to control the volume of an audio signal. The original intended purpose of this is to clean up unwanted noise from a recording, but some nice effects can also be achieved using a noise gate. Used simply, the noise gate only allows an audio signal above a certain threshold to play. This can be used to clean up unwanted noise by setting the threshold above the level of the noise. A typical use of the noise gate as an audio effect is to have it controlled by an additional track - for example, a beat supplied by a drum machine. In this case, the gate can be applied over the top of an audio track such as a synth pad, or perhaps vocal 'oohs'. By 'opening' and 'closing' the gate based on the rhythm supplied by another track (which may or may not be audible itself), the track in question is effectively cut up into a nice rythm. This is often used in electronic music, especially Trance. Software noise gates are also available.

Gain

Boosting the power of a signal.

VOC File

Creative Labs' sound format made popular with the Sound Blaster.

Envelope

A representation of the dynamics of a single note.

MP3

a format for audio compression, MP3 uses psychoacoustics to eliminate/reduce redundancy.

Distortion

Any alteration of a signal -- can be desirable, with controlled distortion through effects boxes, overdrive, etc., or unwanted, such as with noticable distortion in hi-fi equipment caused by poor components.

Equalization

The manual shaping of various frequency ranges.

Digital Synthesizer

Synthesizers where sound is generated much like it is with analog synthesizers, though all processing and filtering is done digitally. Usually capable of much more realistic reproduction of natural instruments, though this is not always desirable. A common complaint is that digital synthesizers sound colder than their analog counterparts.

OGG

A compressed file format, similar to mp3. Features slightly better quality at the same compression rate. See http://www.vorbis.com for library and sources. Free, open source. Very liberal license. Can be used commercially without paying royalties.

MP3

The MPEG-3 format. An audio format with CD quality music. It is usually created by converting a WAV file to the format via an MP3 Converter.

Sustain

The duration a note is held before it decays away.

Vacuum Tube Amplifiers

An amplifier that uses valves (vacuum tubes) to make the signal louder. They add a bit of coloration to the signal, which is usually desirable, and sound very warm and rich when overdriven.

Tremolo

An effect where the amplitude of a signal is modulated by a sine wave. In the guitar world, the "whammy bar" is mistakenly called a tremolo -- it is used, in fact, to produce vibrato (modulation of frequency).

OpenAL

OpenAL is a cross-platform 3D audio API appropriate for use with gaming applications and many other types of audio applications. Visit site for more information.

Square Wave

A fundamental waveform whose shape is the same as a wave. Spectrum-wise, it's the same as a sawtooth, sans the even even harmonics.

DLS

Downloadable Sounds. A standard that encorporates custom samples into MIDI sequences. DLS samples are distributed in conjunction with a SMF and are played back as part of the sequence. DLS ensures that a sequence played back on one system sounds the same as the original.


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