Glossary of Terms

This section is a list of common mastering (and general audio) terms and definitions for them.  I try to be as simple and accurate in my explanations so my typical (non-technical) client is able to understand them.

.cda file format

By Nick Landis on Monday Oct, 17th 2011

Often a source of confusion is the .cda file.  On a windows computer, when you insert a RedBook Audio CD, the tracks show up as .cda files.  One might assume that these are the audio files on the disc because they are the only items that show up in the explorer window. . . that would be wrong.  The .cda files are merely placeholders pointing to a place on the CD that the song starts.

Jitter

By Nick Landis on Monday Aug, 22nd 2011

Jitter is a time-based signal error.  Often misunderstood, this problem can range from subtle and nearly inaudible to loud and distracting.  Jitter can reduce low-level resolution (add noise) and add distortion.What are they talking about when they say "Jitter"? Well, it can be several things.  This is part of the reason people are often confused with the topic.

Blue Book

By Nick Landis on Monday Oct, 4th 2010
Blue Book is the name given to the Enhanced Music CD or CD-Plus (a dual session yellow/red books) format. Its name comes from the series of books, also called the 'Rainbow Books' that define all compact disc formats. The first session on the disc is a red book session and can be played on any CD player. The second session is a yellowbook session. This can be any data readable by a computer. There is almost no limit to what you can add to you audio CD release.

Yellow Book

By Nick Landis on Monday Sep, 20th 2010
Yellow Book is the name given to the data compact disc (a common CD-ROM) format. Its name comes from the series of books, also called the 'Rainbow Books' that define all compact disc formats. It was developed by the creator of the compact disc, Sony/Phillips, and is now one of the most common CD formats.

CDDB

By Nick Landis on Monday Jun, 14th 2010
Often confused with CD-Text, the online Compact Disc Database stores metadata on audio CD's.  The online database was created by Gracenote and is accessed by client applications, such as iTunes.  The client application sends a 'disc thumbprint' then the information in the database is downloaded and displayed in the program.  Sometimes, especially with burned discs, there are multiple entries in the database for that thumb print due to several users adding their personal 'mix cds' to the database

CD Text

By Nick Landis on Tuesday Jun, 1st 2010

CD-Text extends the Red Book specification and allows metadata to be embedded into the physical disc.  The information about album artist, album title, track title, track artist, ISRC, arranger, composer, performer, songwriter, and a message can all be are stored either in the disc's table of contents (TOC) or in the subchannels R through W.  Only disc players with the special compact disc digital audio cd-text logo will read and output this data.  Most computers use anothe

UPC

By Nick Landis on Tuesday May, 25th 2010

Also known as a 'bar code,' the Universal Product Code consists of a series of black and white lines that contain information decodable by an optical scanner. The pattern represents 12 numeric digits that help retail stores manage inventory and sell items. This information can also be digitally embedded into your disc at mastering.

Duplication

By Nick Landis on Monday Apr, 12th 2010

The process of creating CD's by burning blank a CD-R in a computer's disc drive or with a stand-alone unit.  Although duplication yields an inferior product and costs more per unit when compared to replication, it is a better choice for small quantities (less than 300) or when a quick turnaround is necessary.

Replication

By Nick Landis on Tuesday Apr, 6th 2010

The process of manufacturing a CD where discs are created through injection molding polycarbonate plastic.  These 'green discs' are then aluminum plated and another 'top coat' of plastic is applied for the label.  Generally, a batch of one thousand discs is the smallest quantity that a replication plant can cost-effectively offer.  This process yields a very high-quality, professional product, and is not to be confused with duplication which is of lesser quality.