Amplitude modulation (AM) is a technique used in electronic communication, most commonly for transmitting audio signals. It works by varying the strength of the transmitted signal in relation to the information being sent, for example, changes in the signal strength can be used to reflect sounds being reproduced. (Contrast this with frequency modulation, in which the transmitting frequency is varied; and phase modulation, in which the phase is varied.)
Frequency modulation (FM) is a form of modulation which represents information as variations in the instantaneous frequency of a carrier wave. (Contrast this with amplitude modulation, in which the amplitude of the carrier is varied while its frequency remains constant.) In analog applications, the carrier frequency is varied in direct proportion to changes in the amplitude of an input signal. Digital data can be represented by shifting the carrier frequency among a set of discrete values, a technique known as frequency-shift keying.
FM is commonly used at VHF radio frequencies for high-fidelity broadcasts of music and speech (see FM broadcasting). Normal (analog) TV sound is also broadcast using FM. A narrowband form is used for voice communications in commercial and amateur radio settings. The type of FM used in broadcast is generally called wide-FM, or W-FM. In two-way radio, narrowband narrow-fm (N-FM) is used to conserve bandwidth. In addition, it is used to send signals into space.
FM is also used at intermediate frequencies by most analog VCR systems, including VHS, to record the luminance (black and white) portion of the video signal. FM is the only feasible method of recording video to and retrieving video from magnetic tape without extreme distortion, as video signals have a very large range of frequency components — from a few hertz to several megahertz, too wide for equalisers to work with due to electronic noise below -60 dB. FM also keeps the tape at saturation level, and therefore acts as a form of noise reduction, and a simple limiter can mask variations in the playback output, and the FM capture effect removes print-through and pre-echo. A continuous pilot-tone, if added to the signal — as was done on V2000 and many Hi-band formats — can keep mechanical jitter under control and assist timebase