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Digital Audio Essentials by Bruce Fries, Marty Fries

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Digital Signal Processing

Audio editing functions that change the sonic character of a recording, from loudness to tonal quality, enter the realm of digital signal processing (DSP). This includes commands that remove parts of the sound, such as noise, and those that add to the sound elements that weren’t present in the original recording, such as reverb. To make an analogy with word processing, signal processing is similar to font manipulation: you can adjust the size and style of your fonts, bold them for emphasis, and apply dramatic effects to grab a reader’s attention. Most of us have seen a newsletter designed by a novice—too many fonts and sizes and too little whitespace produce an effect that is cluttered and overwhelming. The same idea applies to audio: the less processing, the better.

Gain

Adding gain is the technical term for increasing the level or amplification of a signal. (Reducing the gain is called “adding” attenuation.) Changing the level of a signal up or down is often just referred to as adjusting the gain. Most people wouldn’t think that changing the level of a signal requires complex processing. Most audio editing is just moving data around, inserting parts clipped from one place and deleting others; the sample values themselves are not changed. But increasing the gain—the level of a digital audio signal—involves multiplying the value of every sample, which takes a computer many steps to perform. Gain can be applied to an entire file, or a section. In Sound Forge, ...

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