(1) A signal that is constant in amplitude or frequency and can be modulated by some other signal. The carrier itself does not transmit any information; all of the intelligence is in the modulation sidebands, which are in a band of frequencies on either side of the carrier frequency. Some signals, such as FM stereo, involve more than one carrier to encode the information, and the lower-frequency carrier is called a subcarrier. The subcarrier is mixed with parts of the audio signal and used to modulate the main carrier. In the receiver, the subcarrier is recovered by demodulation of the main carrier and then demodulated to recover its signal. See amplitude modulationfrequency modulation.

(2) In FM synthesis, the carrier is the operator at the bottom of a stack in an algorithm, through which the composite effect of other modulating operators connected to it is heard.