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Cable Glossary

A

A/V Audio/Video
A/V, or Audio/Video, is a general term used to describe products and services that are associated with audio and video.
Abrasion Resistance
Ability of a wire, cable or material to resist surface wear.
AC
Alternating current.
AC-3
A proprietary digital compression scheme developed and licensed by Dolby Laboratories.
Acoustic Suspension
A type of speaker enclosure that is totally sealed with no port or other device allowing air that is inside the enclosure to flow outside.
Acoustics
The physical properties of sound as they pertain to a particular situation.
Active Speaker
A speaker that uses drivers that are powered completely by their own internal amplifiers.
AES/EBU
Term for an XLR connector that is used only with digital audio components to transfer low-level signals in a balanced configuration.
AF
Audio frequency.
Alternating Current (AC)
Electric current that alternates or reverses polarity continuously. The numbers of alternations per second are described as cycles, (hertz or Hz).
AM
Amplitude modulation.
Ampere
A standard unit of current. Defined as the amount of current that flows when one volt of emf is applied across one ohm of resistance. An ampere of current is produced by one coulomb of charge passing a point in one second.
Amplifier
An electronic component that accepts a low-level signal and recreates the signal with greater power; this term is usually used in A/V to describe an audio component which takes in line-level audio signals through interconnect cables and outputs a high-powered copy of the input in order to drive speakers and create sound.
Amplitude
The Maximum value of a varying wave form.
Analog
Refers to a non-digital continuous waveform signal, which often contains an infinite number of points along a frequency range.
Analog-to-Digital Converter
Electronic equipment used to convert an analog (waveform style) signal into a digital signal (made up of 1s and 0s).
Anamorphic
The DVD format is specially designed to support widescreen displays. Widescreen 16:9 video can be stored on the DVD disc in anamorphic form, meaning that the picture is squeezed horizontally to fit the standard 4:3 rectangle, then unsqueezed during playback.
Antenna
Metal rod or sometimes a piece of wire that sends or receives electromagnetic waves.
Aspect Ratio
Aspect ratios are simply the width to height ratio of how a movie or television show is filmed. For example, in the United States, television shows are filmed in 4:3 aspect ratio. By doing the division, you can calculate that on a standard television the screen width is 1.33 times the height. On a widescreen TV the ratio is expanded to 16:9. Keep in mind, however, that not all theatrical movies are filmed in 16:9 (or 1.78 aspect ration). Many movies are filmed in 1.85, 2.15 or 2.35 widescreen. Movies filmed in an aspect ratio greater than 16.9 will result in black bars on the tops and bottom of the screen on a widescreen television. The 16:9 aspect ratio is also the standard for the new HDTV format.
Attenuation
The decrease in magnitude of a signal as it travels through any transmitting medium, such as a cable or circuitry. Attenuation is measured as the logarithm of a ratio. It is expressed in decibels or dB.
Audible
Able to be heard.
Audio
Something that is heard or is related to something that is heard; in A/V having primarily to do with the process of reproducing sounds through a system of electronic components.
Audio Frequency
Frequencies within the range of human hearing: approximately 20 to 20,000 Hz.
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Audio Input
In an A/V system, the audio input is a connection on an electronic device that allows electronic signals with audio information in enter from another component.
Audio Output
The connection point from which an audio signal is electronically transferred via a wire from one audio component to another; the origination point of an audio signal as it travels over a wire.
Audiophile
A person who is intensely interested and appreciative of audio.
ATSC
Advanced Television Systems Committee. The ATSC is an international organization of 200 members that is establishing voluntary technical standards for advanced television systems.
 
 

B

Balance
The degree to which two or more sound sources present an equal sound level (equal loudness) when driven with the same material.
Balanced
Balanced wiring in electronics refers to wiring with a wire shield and two conductors.
Banana Connector
A speaker wire termination consisting of a single, fat shaft which bulges on the sides similar to a banana and inserts in 5-way binding posts.
Band
Grouping of audible frequencies from the frequency spectrum.
Basket
A component of a speaker drive that holds the driver together.
Bass
The deepest or lowest frequencies of the audible spectrum - generally those below 200 Hz.
Bass Reflex
Type of speaker enclosure that uses a port to enhance bass output resulting in 2 to 3 dB (decibels) proved more sound pressure than similar sealed enclosures (also known as an acoustic suspension enclosure).
Baud
Unit of data transmission speed meaning bits per second (500 baud=500 bits per second).
Beaming
Term used to describe a sonic characteristic in which high frequency sounds produced by an audio system tend to be too loud and harsh or grating with a distinct directional component.
Bi-Amping
Bi-amping refers to the use of two separate amplifier channels connected directly to individual loudspeaker drivers optimized to reproduce a particular frequency range.
Big Screen
Some form of a video display such as a television with a diagonal size of 35 inches or more.
Binding Post
A means of connecting speaker wire to an amplifier or speaker.
Bipolar Speaker
Type of loudspeaker that directs sound in two directions using speaker driver on two sides of the enclosure, that are opposite one another operating in phase (which means that they both push out and come in at the same time).
Bipolar Transistor
A transistor made from a sandwich of n- and p-type semiconductor material: either npn or pnp. The middle section is known as the "base" and the other two as the "collector" and "emitter".
Bit
The smallest piece of digital data possible; a one or a zero represents bits.
Bit Rate
The number of bits a digital devise such as a CD player can transfer in one second.
Bi-Wire
Technique used where there are two wires that connect speakers to amplification sources ran from each amplifier terminal to the corresponding speaker terminal instead of one.
BNC (Bayonet Fitting Connector)
A coaxial cable connector used extensively in video and R.F. applications and named for its inventor.
Bookshelf Speaker
A speaker of a small size, usually under 18 to 24 inches in height, which is best suited to be placed on some sort of stand; a bookshelf, table, speaker stand, etc.
Boundary Effects
Reverberations and sound irregularities caused when sound waves bounce off hard surfaces such as walls, floors and ceilings.
Braid
A group of textile or metallic filaments interwoven to form a tubular flexible structure, which may be applied over one or more wires, or flattened to form a strap.
Braid Angle
The angle between a strand of wire in a braid shield and the axis of the cable it is wound around.
Bright
Sound quality with a harsh or brittle high-end where to much concentration is put on the upper frequencies.
 
 

C

Cable
A group of individually insulated conductors twisted helically.
Cabling
The grouping or twisting together of two or more insulated conductors to form a cable.
Calibration
Setting up a piece of electronic equipment; primarily used to properly calibrate or adjust a video display and/ or an audio equalizer.
Capacitance
The ability of a dielectric material between conductors to store energy when a difference of potential exists between the conductors. The unit of measurement is the farad. Cable capacitance is usually measured in picofarads (pF).
Capacitive Crosstalk
Cable crosstalk or interference resulting from the coupling of the electrostatic field of one conductor upon one or more others.
Capacitive Reactance
The opposition to alternating current due to the capacitance of a capacitor, cable, or circuit. It is measured in ohms and is equal to 1/6.28fC where f is the frequency in Hz and C is the capacitance in farads.
Capacitor
Two conducting surfaces separated by a dielectric material. The capacitance is determined by the area of the surfaces, type of dielectric, and spacing between the conducting surfaces.
CD Changer
Type of compact disc player that holds more than one disc internally and that can switch between discs without the user physically changing a disc.
CD-R
One type of compact disc that consumers can record on by using a special CD "burner" or CD recorders.
CD-ROM
Compact disc read only memory; CD that cannot be recorded on, is used only for data retrieval.
CEA (Consumer Electronics Association)
Group of consumer electronics manufacturers dedicated to providing information on the industry, guiding legal and public policy issues in regard to consumer electronics, maintaining industry information, running the consumer electronics show, and more.
CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association)
Organization of custom audio/video installers and retailers dedicated to providing high moral standards and ethics within the audio/video community, acting as a repository for industry information, ensuring consumer satisfaction with members, promoting the audio/video industry, and ensuring top-notch quality and conduct with its members.
Center Channel
The primary task of the third front audio channel (in addition to main stereo left and right channels) in a surround sound audio system is to reproduce movie dialogue.
Center Channel Speaker
A speaker that's is used to output information from the center channel in a surround sound audio format.
Channel
A single discrete grouping of audio information that plays through a sound system that results in a steady flow of sound from one single source; for example a stereo system with two speakers has two channels, one left channel and one right channel.
Channel Leakage
Audio signal that creates distortion because it travels from one channel to another where it is not supposed to go; bleeding of audio information between channels.
Channel Separation
The amount of channel leakage that occurs, measured in decibels; the higher figures usually indicate that there is little channel leakage (see Channel Leakage).
Characteristic Impedance
In a transmission cable of infinite length, the ratio of the applied voltage to the resultant current at the point the voltage is applied. Or the impedance which makes a transmission cable seem infinitely long, when connected across the cable's output terminals.
Class
Describes the method used by an electronic component's output devices to amplify signals; common classes are Class A, Class B, and Class AB.
Class A
Type of amplifier (amplifier class) where both negative and positive polarity output devices conduct at all times so that a current is always flowing through them.
Class AB
A combination amplifier design found in class A's continues current flow design coupled with class B's turn-off of unused output devices resulting in an amplifier that allows very minimal current flow through output devices when signals of the opposite polarity are being created.
Class B
Class B amplifier is the exact opposite of a class A amplifier, it completely shuts down its output devices when not needed (when the signal is negative the positive polarity output is off and when the signal is positive the negative polarity output is off).
Coaxial Cable
Type of cable design that has two conductors, one that runs through the center of the cable and is surrounded by some type of non-conductive insulator and has a second braided conductor that wraps around the insulation material, both layers serve as a shield against any possible interference.
Coaxial Speaker
Type of speaker driver where a high frequency driver (often a tweeter) is positioned inside a low or mid frequency driver to replace the dust cap.
Compact Disc (CD)
A small optical disk on which data such as music, text, or graphic images is digitally encoded and can only be read by lasers.
Component
An individual piece of equipment in an audio or A/V system.
Component Video
Method of transferring video information using multiple, individual signals such as red, green and blue (RGB) or luminance, luminance minus blue, and luminance minus red (Y-Y/B-Y/R or Y-Pb-Pr) resulting in the highest quality signal transfer with the lowest distortion.
Composite Video
Video information carried in a single signal that combines color and brightness information into the one signal.
Compression
Method used to reduce the size of data.
Cone
A type of speaker driver that resemble an ice cream cone, the larger part of the cone on the front of the enclosure and narrowing as it goes deeper into the enclosure.
Conductivity
The ability of a material to allow electrons to flow, measured by the current per unit of voltage applied. It is the reciprocal of resistivity.
Conductor
A substance, usually metal, used to transfer electrical energy from point to point.
Connector
A device designed to allow electrical flow from one wire or cable to a device on another cable. A connector will allow interruption of the circuit or the transfer to another circuit without any cutting of wire or cable or other preparation.
Crossover
Splits up the frequency spectrum into pieces, which are then distributed to various speaker drivers.
Crossover Point
The rate at which a crossover splits the audio signal.
Cross Talk
Audio distortion that occurs when information in one audio channel leaks over into the signal of another channel.
Current
Flow of electricity through a circuit over a period of time that is measured in Amperes (Amps, A).
 
 

D

DAC (Digital to Analog Converter)
A device which takes a digital value and outputs a voltage which is proportional to the input value.
DAT (Digital Audiotape)
A format for storing music and other data digitally on magnetic tape.
dB (Decibel)
A unit used to express relative difference in power or intensity, usually between two acoustic or electric signals, equal to ten times the common logarithm of the ratio of the two levels.
DBS (Direct Broadcast Satellite)
Digital format for music and video that beams high-powered signals across North America from satellites that orbit above the equator to 18-inch mounted satellite dishes that provide a wide range of programming in a high-quality digital format.
DB-25
Unique form of interconnect wire commonly used to connect computers to printers and is also used in audio to transmit six separate channels of audio information over a single cable; 25 pin connection and special wire design able to transmit large amounts of line level data at a time.
Delay
Commonly described in audio terms as the delay in time it takes for a front speaker to play a sound and a rear speaker to play the corresponding sound.
Depth
In audio, the degree to which reproduced sound has a sense of spaciousness that extends in front and behind the actual speakers.
Diaphragm
The moving part of the speaker driver that vibrates to receive or produce sound.
Dielectric
An insulating (non-conducting) medium when used in a signal-carrying design.
Dielectric Breakdown
Any change in the properties of a dielectric that causes it to become conductive. Normally a catastrophic failure of an insulation because of excessive voltage.
Dielectric Constant
Also called permittivity. That property of a dielectric which determines the amount of electrostatic energy that can be stored by the material when a given voltage is applied to it. Actually, the ratio of the capacitance of a capacitor using the dielectric to the capacitance of an identical capacitor using a vacuum (which has a Dielectric Constant of 1) as a dielectric. A number which indicates the quality of a material to resist holding an electrical charge when placed between two conductors.
Dielectric Heating
The heating of an insulating material when placed in a radio-frequency field, caused by internal losses during the rapid polarization reversal of molecules in the material.
Dielectric Loss
The power dissipated in a dielectric as the result of the friction produced by molecular motion when an alternating electric field is applied.
Dielectric Strength
The voltage an insulation can withstand before it breaks down. Usually expressed as 'volts per mil'.
Dielectric Withstand Voltage
The voltage that an insulating material can withstand before breakdown occurs.
Diffraction
This occurs when the sound wave hits a speaker cabinet, grille cover, etc., causing the wave to break-up or be distorted.
Diffuse
The spreading or dispersing of sound, allowing it to localize and fill an entire listening area.
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Digital Audio
Method of encoding analog audio signals into digital bits of information typically using pulse code modulation resulting in high-quality signals that suffer from very little distortion and noise compared to analog signals, are easy to record and edit without degradation, are easy to transmit and record, and can be modified or adjusted quickly and without signal degradation.
Digital Signal
An electrical signal which possesses two distinct states (on/off, positive/negative).
Digital Surround Sound
A Surround sound format that uses all five channels (left front, front center, right front, right rear, left rear and an optional sixth sub-woofer channel) in a discrete and full-range manner (the subwoofer channel is not full range), that is recorded in digital audio, and compressed to fit in a smaller space (see 5.1).
Digital-to-Analog Converter
Electronic equipment used to convert a digital signal (made up of 1s and 0s) into an analog signal (waveform style). (Also known as a D/A Converter)
Dipolar (Speaker)
Dipolar refers to speakers with drivers that are fired in two different directions and are in reverse phase causing a cancellation of sound waves in front of the speaker. This is usually done in rear speakers that are wall mounted. The front of the speaker is aimed at the listening area, which causes all of the sound to bounce off the walls before it is heard. This makes it almost impossible to determine where the speaker is, creating a true surround effect.
Direct View TV
A television with a picture tube. These TVs are what have been the standard from the beginning. They are limited to a screen size of 40 inches and can produce a very good picture.
Directivity
The perception that can help determine that sound from a speaker is actually coming from that speaker; as well as the degree to which sound from a speaker travels to the listener and can be perceived as traveling from that source.
Discrete
The separation between two elements with no interaction.
Dispersion
In A/V terms it describes the radiation pattern of sound waves coming from a speaker; often also described as the amount of air surrounding a speaker that is motivated by the sound waves it produces.
Distortion
An undesired change in the waveform of a signal, occurs between the time the signal is input to the output when the signal should remain constant with no change.
Distribution Amplifier
An amplifier that is used to improve a low-level signal that has to travel over a long distance.
Dolby Digital
Dolby Digital (AC-3) is an advanced perceptual coding technology for transmission and storage of up to five full-range channels, plus a supplemental bass-only effects channel (referred to as a .1 channel due to the smaller number of bits needed for the information), in less space than is required for one linear PCM coded channel on a compact disc. Dolby Digital is a more powerful and flexible coding system than AC-2 and provides a feature set including -- 1) down mixing for optimal reproduction in mono, stereo, and Pro Logic compatible configurations as well as full 5.1 channel sound; 2) carriage of dynamic range and dialog level control information to decoders; and 3) operation over a wide range of bit rates. Dolby Digital can be heard on the soundtracks of a thousand plus films, and on the current generation of laser discs. Dolby Digital is being used on the audio tracks on DVD, and is the audio standard on the new high definition television (HDTV) system which went into operation in the United States in 1998.
Dolby Digital EX
Dolby Digital Surround EX adds a center rear surround channel to the 5.1-channel format, providing a new tool for delivering greater sonic reality and excitement to the audience. Since the format was introduced in May 1999, with the release of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, audiences have thrilled to the added excitement in Toy Story 2; The Haunting; The World is Not Enough®; Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me; Fight Club; Pitch Black; The Bone Collector; The Messenger: The Joan of Arc Story; Bats; and Mission to Mars, among others. To date, more than 4,600 screens worldwide have been equipped for Dolby Digital Surround EX playback.
Dolby 3-Channel
Dolby 3-channel uses the front speakers only - the front left, front center, and front right speakers. It is a form of surround sound somewhere between a stereo two-speaker system and a full surround sound set-up with two additional surround sound speakers in the rear.
Dolby Pro Logic
Dolby Pro Logic is Dolby's second generation licensed home surround system. A major advantage of Dolby Pro Logic is the use of an active center channel with its own speaker. Conventional stereo systems create a phantom center channel, which is effective for viewers seated directly in front of the television screen. However, for viewers seated off center, the dialog can appear to come from off center. But with Dolby Pro Logic and the use of an appropriately placed center channel loudspeaker, the dialog always appears to come right from the screen, allowing the main left and right stereo speakers to be widely spaced for a good spread on music and effects. Dolby Pro Logic decoders also optimally decode surround information which is typically fed to a pair of surround speakers slightly behind and to the left and right of the listener.
Dolby Reference Level
An audio systems level of volume, with the volume at the 0 decibel setting resulting in 85 decibel volume with a test tone and 105 decibel peaks.
Dolby Stereo
After introducing the use of A-type noise reduction to the film industry, Dolby's next major contribution was Dolby Stereo. This contribution allowed movie makers to put 4 channels of sound information (left, right, center, surround) on motion picture release prints using matrix technology, and gave theaters the ability to replay this 4-channel format for the movie going public. Dolby manufactures equipment which is used to make Dolby Stereo movies, making the equipment available on a picture-by-picture basis in conjunction with Dolby engineering assistance. Dolby also manufactures the playback equipment which is sold to theaters around the world.
Dolby Surround
Dolby Surround is the home embodiment of Dolby Stereo. Video production companies are licensed to make VHS tapes and laserdiscs which contain the same 4-channel matrix encoded information that was contained on the original motion picture release. Consumer electronic companies are licensed to make consumer surround decoders which reproduce these 4 channels in the home.
DSP (Digital Signal Processing)
Commonly audio and video signals that are manipulated or altered of analog signals after they are converted to a digital signal.
DSS (Digital Satellite System)
A broadcasted video and audio format that beams downs premium digital programming to small 18-inch satellite dishes from geosynchronous satellites that rotate around the equator (see DBS).
DTS (Digital Theater Systems)
Discrete, digital 5.1 surround sound format that is used for movies as well as music.
DTV
Digital Television. DTV is composed of three separate standards: HDTV 1080i (1080 lines of resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio); HDTV 720p (720 lines of resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio); and SDTV (480 lines of resolution, 16:9 or 4:3 aspect ratio).
Dust Cap
A small, circular piece that is inserted into a speaker diaphragm or cone near the bottom, to cover the voice coil.
D-VCR (Digital Video Cassette Recorder)
Audio/video recording and playback device that uses digital information on standard VHS tapes to produce premium-quality, digital videos (see VCR).
DVD (Digital Versatile Disc)
A 5-inch diameter optical disc that is capable of holding digital video and audio information for movies, music, computer games, and more.
DVI Digital Visual Interface
A data transmission port which supports up to 5 Gigabits/sec speed. Bandwidth of 2.2 Gigabits/sec. is required to support uncompressed HD video transmission. With bandwidth of up to 5 Gbps for a single DVI link, compared to the 400 Megabits/sec. supported by IEEE 1394, DVI is the only digital interface capable of accommodating uncompressed digital data such as HD video. DVI also has the bandwidth to support higher audio fidelity, such as more channels of surround sound or 96 KHz sampling rates, as well as higher video resolution such as 1080p-ensuring no risk of long-term obsolescence.
Dynamic Range
The difference between the highest and lowest sound level a sound system can reproduce.
Dynamics
Describes how well an individual surround sound system can accurately represent sound, from its lowest amplitude or volume to it's highest; relating to variation of intensity.
 
 

E

Easter Egg
Term used to describe hidden special features on a DVD.
Enclosure
The surrounding structure of a speaker that the various speaker elements (the drivers, the crossover, the binding posts, etc.) are positioned and attached.
Equalization
Changing the frequency response of a given audio signal you would adjust the amplitude of a signal, usual to create a flatter sound or to make a more uniform sound.
Equalizer
A tone control system or electronic devised that was designed to compensate for frequency distortion in audio systems, a device which provides signal equalization.
Excursion
The distance a speaker driver travels to reproduce an audio frequency.
 
 

F

F-Connector
A type of cable termination (end) used for cable television.
Farad
A unit of capacity that will store one coulomb of electrical charge when one volt of electrical pressure is applied.
Feedback
Energy that is extracted from a high-level point in a circuit and applied to a lower level. Positive feedback reduces the stability of a device and is used to increase the sensitivity or produce oscillation in a system. Negative feedback, also called inverse feedback, increases the stability of a system as the feedback improves stability and fidelity.
Feeder Cable
In a CATV system, the transmission cable from the head end (signal pickup) to the trunk amplifier. Also called a trunk cable.
Fiber-Optic Cable
A type of cable that uses light beams to transmit information rather than the use of electrical signals traveling over metal wires.
5.1
Five point one is a term used to describe digital surround sound audio formats such as DTS and Dolby Digital.
5-Way Binding Post
A high-quality terminal connection that accepts multiple types of speaker wire with a variety of terminations or ends.
Flat Response
A theoretical ideal for audio components, especially speakers, representing a frequency response that does not deviate from a flat line over the audible frequency spectrum when fed a flat-line test signal.
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Floorstanding Speaker
A specific type of speaker enclosure that sits directly on the floor, that does not need to sit on something to raise its speaker drivers to an acceptable height in line with the listener.
Four-Way Speaker
A speaker system with four or more individual drivers that cover four separate frequency sections or bands.
FPTV
Front-Projection Televisions. The really big screens. FPTVs include two separate parts, the projector and the screen. Screen can typically measure from 100 inches to about 20 feet. Projectors are available in either LCD (liquid crystal display) models or CRT (cathode ray tube). CRTs are usually more expensive but tend to produce better and brighter pictures.
Frequency
The number of repeated occurrences, that are distinct and make up a complete element, that occur within a given time period.
Frequency Response
The range over which an audio component can successfully produce a useable and reasonably uniform, undistorted output signal.
Front Speakers
These are the two speakers (right and left) placed in the front of the listening position. The front speakers handle most of the musical soundtrack of a movie as well as special audio effects. In a typical surround sound system, the left and right front speakers should form an angle of approximately 45 degrees to the listening position. This simulates the speaker arrangement used both for mixing surround soundtracks and for a center seat about two-thirds of the way back in a well-designed movie theater. The left & right channel speakers should also be capable of reproducing the full frequency range.
Full Power Bandwidth
The range of frequencies where an amplifier can supply its full power rating to a speaker.
Full-Range Surround Sound Channels
A feature of 5.1 digital surround sound formats, that allow discrete surround sound channels, that are fully capable of playing across the frequency band that is audible to human hearing (20 Hz to 20,000 Hz).
 
 

G

Gain (Audio)
Increase the level of sound by increasing the amplitude of a frequency.
Gauge
The diameter of a wire, with higher numbered gauges being smaller wires and lower gauges being larger.
Grille
Perforated covering that is placed over a speaker baffle to protect the speaker drivers and make the speaker more aesthetically pleasing while allowing sound waves to pass through freely.
 
 

H

HDMI Video & Audio (Digital Signals)
HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) carries video, audio, and control data, and offers the highest quality digital picture along with sound. HDMI cables are used to connect any HD display that utilizes the HDMI input interface, and are compatible with DVI video, if the DVI is HDCP enabled. HDMI supports nearly 5 Gbps, which is more than sufficient for High Definition DTV at its highest resolution.
HDTV
High-Definition Television. HDTV offers wider pictures with greater detail and the clarity of motion pictures. Compared to standard television (NTSC), the true HDTV image has twice the luminance definition - vertically and horizontally - and is twenty-five percent wider.
Home Theater
A system of sophisticated electronic equipment for the presentation of theater-quality images and sound in the home, consists of a video display, at least one video source, and speakers.
HTPC
Home Theater Personal Computer. A personal computer tailored to use with a home theater system. Usually consists of a DVD-ROM drive, sound card with digital out and high-quality video card.
Hz (Hertz)
A unit of frequency equal to one cycle per, in audio it is commonly used in reference to sound waves.
 
 

I

IDTV (Improved Definition Television)
Not to be confused with digital television, IDTV uses particular electronic means, such as line doubling to improve the quality of its analog NTSC video signals.
Imaging
Term used to describe the quality of a sound field put out by an audio system, which supplies an individual measure as to how well a system can recreate depth, width and height from the recording.
Impedance
The resistance to the flow of an electric current in a circuit, measured in ohms.
Impedance, High
Generally, the area of 25,000 ohms or higher.
Impedance, Low
Generally, the area of 1 through 600 ohms.
Inductance
Varying current in one circuit produces a varying magnetic field that in turn creates a voltage in that circuit or in an adjacent circuit.
Input Impedance
The impedance (resistance to the flow of electric current) of the inputs on an audio/video component (see Impedance).
Input Sensitivity
The range of input voltages required to produce outputs from the minimum to the maximum output of an amplifier; may also refer to the input sensitivity for maximum output, which is the input in volts required for an amplifier to create its maximum power output.
Integrated Amplifier
Audio component combining the elements of an amplifier with a preamplifier without the tuner.
Integrated Circuit
Small electric semiconductor device constructed on a small piece of silicon and consisting of multiple transistors and other electronic components put into one element.
Interconnect
Wire used to connect various pieces of equipment (components) in an A/V system that carry both audio or video information via low-level electric signals (not very powerful) or via light pulses (carried through optical connectors). In short, a generic term for all of the audio and video cables that connect your system together.
 
 

J

Jumper
Used to connect multiple speaker binding posts on speakers that are capable of bi- or tri-amping.
 
 

K

kHz (Kilohertz)
One thousand cycles per second.
 
 

L

LFE (Low Frequency Effects)
Audio channel found in 5.1 digital surround sound audio schemes (the .1) that carries only low frequency information of 80 Hz and below.
Line Conditioner
Electronic device that "cleans" the electricity coming out of a wall outlet to be used by A/C components and protects them from possible electric spikes and surges.
Line Doubler
Video display accessory that is used to enhance the picture quality of a video image by combining the two interlaced fields and progressively displaying complete frames instead of separate fields.
Line Level
Term for a low-level signal that is sent over a patch cable (interconnect) and it connects various components within an A/V system in order to transfer information, but doesn't connect amplifiers to speakers (where more power is needed).
Line Quadrupler
Video display accessory that generates a near-HDTV image from standard NTSC video by combining the interlaced fields into progressive frames and then doubling the number of lines in those frames through a process of interpolation.
 
 

M

Matrix Surround Sound
Method of encoding more than two channels of audio into a pair of analog audio channels.
Megahertz (MHz)
Unit of frequency equal to one million hertz (one million hertz per second).
mFd Microfarad
(one-millionth of a farad).
Microfarad
One-millionth of a farad (uf, ufd, mf, and mfd are common abbreviations).
Micron
Millionth of a meter.
Microphone
An instrument that converts sound waves into an electric current, usually fed into an amplifier, a recorder, or a broadcast transmitter.
Midrange
Middle band of audio frequencies typically from between 150 and 200 Hz to between 1,000 and 2,000 Hz; a speaker driver designed to operate in the middle frequencies (midrange) of the audible spectrum.
Mono
Consisting of only one channel.
 
 

N

Near Field
In close proximity to a speaker or speaker driver.
Noise
Typically a low-level electrical distortion and interference that is created in an electronic component from power supply hum, interactions between internal electrical components, etc.
 
 

O

Ohm
The measure of resistance in a circuit to the flow of an electric current.
On-Axis
Directly in front of a speaker; positioned at a right angle (90-degree angle) to the front of a speaker enclosure on which the speaker drivers are located (the baffle).
Optical Cable
An interconnect cable that is used to transfer digital data between digital components using bursts of light that is carried over glass or plastic fibers (see Fiber-Optic Cable).
 
 

P

Patch Cable
Low level cable used to transfer information in an electronic form between components in an A/V system (see Interconnect).
PCM (Pulse Code Modulation)
A method by which an audio signal is represented as digital data.
Peak Output
Maximum output (sound pressure level) in decibels a speaker can produce without distortion.
Peak Power
Amplifier power in watts available for a short time when needed to reproduce loud, sudden sounds (transients).
Port
Tube of a specified length and diameter (dependent on specific application) with an end open on the outside of a speaker enclosure through a round hole and the other open to the inside of the speaker enclosure.
Ported Enclosure
Type of speaker enclosure where a port allows air to travel from the inside of the box to the outside, using the speaker driver's output and increasing sound pressure (sound output or volume) by 2 to 3 dB compared to a similar speaker with a sealed enclosure (see Bass Reflex).
 
 

R

RCA Connector
Type of standard, low-level signal interconnect termination (end) featuring a single, cylindrical metal rod and an outer, round metal belt.
Receiver
A combination in one component of an amplifier, preamplifier and tuner.
Resistance
Blocking the flow of something; particularly the flow of an audio signal as a current in terms of A/V (see Impedance).
Resonant Frequency
Frequency at which a speaker vibrates in unison with the audio signal creating vibrations in the enclosure and driver with very little input.
Retractable Screen
Video screen that is used in a front projection video display, that reflects images back to the viewers and can be rolled up and stored out of site.
Reverberation
The reflection of sound waves against room boundaries and objects within the room that continues after the original sound has ceased.
RF (Radio Frequency)
Wide frequency range of electromagnetic signals from around 10 kHz (10,000 Hz) to 300 GHz (300,000,000,000 Hz).
RF Modulation
Method of placing an audio signal with a relatively low 20 to 20,000 Hz frequency on top of a much higher radio frequency (in the area of 100,000,000 Hz) by varying the frequency of the radio signal according to the audio signal so that the audio signal can be sent over long distances and distributed through broadcast antennas.
RGB
The three additive primaries - red, green and blue - that unite and form the color spectrum. Also a video transmission method.
River Slinx™ Gold FX
A unique River Cable™ proprietary protective, outer covering, mesh, threaded with gold for added style and distinction.
RPTV
Rear-Projection TV. The big screens. A RPTV is generally between 50-80 inches in size. In the past, the main drawback to RPTVs was poor picture quality. However, recent models of RPTVs can produce images sharper and clearer than the best direct-view sets. RPTVs are available in standard 4:3 models and widescreen 16:9 models.
 
 

S

S-VHS
Super VHS. Better than standard VHS, not as good as DVD. A S-VHS recorder will allow you to record programs in up to 480 lines of resolution (a standard VHS will only record/play 240 lines of resolution. S-VHS VCRs will allow you to play standard VHS tapes. Also, a Super-VHS VCR will have at least one S-Video output & input. In theory, a S-VHS tape will give as good quality playback as DVD, however, because it is a magnetic tape it still suffers from the same drawbacks of standard VHS such as tape degradation and deterioration.
S-Video
A video format offering a higher quality signal than composite video, but a lower quality than component video; this mid-level format divides the signal into two channels - luminance and chrominance.
Satellite Speaker
A small to medium-size speaker usually 12 to 24 inches in height designed to be positioned on stands or other objects and operated with a subwoofer (see Bookshelf Speaker).
SDDS
Sony Dynamic Digital Sound. A competing format with Dolby Digital and DTS in the theater market. It uses 7.1 channels of sound consisting of left, left center, center, right center, right, rear right, rear left and a dedicated subwoofer channel. SDDS is used exclusively in theaters; there is no home audio equipment which uses the processing system.
Sealed Enclosure
Type of speaker enclosure in which the speaker driver is mounted into a sealed box, with no air exchange from the inside of the box to the outside (see Acoustic Suspension).
Shield
A tape, serve or braid (usually copper, aluminum, or other conductive material) placed around or between electric circuits or cables or their components, to prevent signal leakage or interference.
Snake Cable
A name given to individually shielded or individually shielded and jacketed, multi-pair audio cables. Used in the connection of multi-channel line level audio equipment.
Sound Pressure Level
Measurement in decibels of the pressure or force exerted by a sound wave on the environment with increasing pressure generating increased loudness or higher volume; physical intensity of sound.
Soundstage
The perceived width, depth and height of recorded sound played back over an audio system; the setting similar to a theater stage from which sounds seem to emanate when reproduced through an audio system.
Sound Wave
Continuous audio frequency signal taking the form of a wavy line; a longitudinal pressure wave of audible or inaudible sound.
Spade Lug Connector
Type of U-shaped speaker connector attached to the ends of speaker wire and used to connect the wire to the input or output terminals (five-way binding posts) of amplifiers and speakers.
Speaker
Mechanical device that is used to reproduce sound waves, after a power signal is applied, representing those sound waves by vibrating some material that creates vibrations in the air which generates sound.
Speaker Level
High-level audio signals that travel between an amplifier and speakers, having been amplified and capable of producing output from the speakers.
Speaker Wire (Speaker Cable)
Metal wire used to connect the speaker-level outputs of an amplifier to the bindings on a speaker, which transfer power from the amplifier to the speaker.
Spectrum
A band or range of frequencies; the audible spectrum runs from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz (20 kHz).
Spring Connection (Guillotine Connection)
Inexpensive method of connecting speaker wires to amplifiers and speakers using a thin sheet of metal that is pushed against bare speaker wire or a pin-type connector by a small spring.
StarFlex™ SPX
River Cable's™ robust, moonstone grey, hand-assembled Starquad speaker cable. Perfect for the most demanding power amplifier to speaker runs, long runs and power amp to passive subwoofer assemblies.
StarFlex SPX SubWoofer
Power Perfect! River Cable's™ garnet red for a powerful impression - hand-assembled interconnects that deliver super signal power from your amp to your active subwoofer.
Stereo
Designates sound transmission from two sources through two channels or audio information recreating a sound stage giving depth and breadth to audio reproduction.
Stereophile Recommended Component
Audio or video component recommended by Stereophile magazine or the Stereophile Guide to Home Theater as having exceptional quality with components receiving a grade from A to F (A being top quality and F being a good quality component, which is still superior to others, but has limitations).
Subwoofer
A special form of speaker that is used to reproduce only the lower portion of the audible frequency spectrum usually from 80 Hz down to or below 20 Hz - very deep booming bass sounds.
SUPER HT™
Exclusive Innovation ONLY FROM River Cable™. "The Super Silencer™" -- proprietary directional audio RCA to RCA pair. Nothing else like it anywhere to eliminate induced RF and environmental interference. Perfect for any high noise environment including your car stereo system.
Super Tweeter
Speaker driver that is designed to function only at the highest frequencies (typically above 10 to 15 kHz), augmenting the output of the tweeter.
Surge Protection
Protection against lightning strikes and other power increases, which may damage electrical equipment.
Surround (Speaker Driver Surround)
Flexible rubber, plastic, foam or other material that attaches a speaker driver's diaphragm (the moving cone or dome - the drive unit) to the basket (the structure holding all the parts of the speaker driver in place) and allows the diaphragm to vibrate in and out.
Surround Channel
Specific path of audio information (the channel) that are provided in a surround sound audio system to drive speakers situated on the sides or rear of a room, primarily providing ambience and atmosphere.
Surround Channel Speaker
Speaker used to reproduce surround channel information primarily to create ambience and sonic realism.
Surround Speakers
Surround speakers are designed to handle the surround effects is a Dolby Digital, DTS, or Dolby Pro-Logic soundtrack. Ideally, for Dolby Digital and DTS, both the left and right surround channels should be capable of reproducing the full frequency range. However, because the surround speakers receive a relatively small portion of the soundtrack, it is a common practice to have the surround speakers be the lowest quality speakers in a setup. The ideal placement of surround speakers is on the right and left walls of a room, above and only slightly behind the listening position.
Suspension
The flexible element of a speaker driver that attaches the moving diaphragm to the basket and holds the diaphragm in proper relation to the rest of the speaker driver components and helping to enable the diaphragm to move and produce sound (see Surround).
SVHS
Abbreviation for Super VHS. A video format in which the two parts of the VHS video signal, the chrominance and luminance, are transmitted separately providing for better picture resolution with less noise.
Sweet Spot
Prime listening position for an audio system; also known as "the best seat in the house."
 
 

T

Television
Video display or monitor that contains its own tuner and is designed to reproduce broadcast images.
Test Tone
A constant pure sine wave tone or tones that are played continuously over an audio system to allow critical measurement and adjustment of an audio system, when individual components are being developed and when a complete system is being installed.
THD (Total Harmonic Distortion)
Distortion derived from the creation of harmonics (multiples of a base frequency signal) in an audio system adding additional frequency peaks to the output.
THD+N (Total Harmonic Distortion plus Noise)
The combination of total harmonic distortion (THD) with noise to achieve a complete figure representing distortions that are present in an electronic component with lower levels below one percent being preferable (see THD and Noise).
Three-Way Speaker
Speaker system with three or more individual drivers covering three separate frequency sections or bands.
THX
Tomlinson Holman Experiment. THX is a set of technical standards developed by Lucasfilm to ensure that moviegoers see and hear a film at optimum performance levels, as the director intended. This comprehensive set of standards includes rigorous specifications designed to optimize equipment, room acoustics, background noise levels, and projection and viewing angles. Think of THX as the auditorium itself.
Toe-In
Angling a speaker in toward the primary listening position in order to achieve superior imaging and sound quality.
Tone
A steady, audible frequency or sound. A test tone is a pure tone or a single, pure frequency sound wave.
Tone Arm
Metal shaft attached at one end to a phonograph turntable with a phonograph cartridge on the other end.
TOSLINK
A type of fiber-optic cable connection that uses beams of light to transfer information through a clear plastic cable. (see River Cable's "top of the line" TOSLINK - the best money can buy)
Transformer
A device used to transfer electric energy from one circuit to another, especially a pair of multiply wound, inductively coupled wire coils that effect such a transfer with a change in voltage, current, phase, or other electric characteristic.
Transient
A sudden, sharp signal increase; often referring to a sudden increase in sound volume or power.
Transistor
Three-terminal semiconductor device, that is regularly used in electronics and has the capability to amplify signals.
Transmission Line
Type of speaker enclosure in which the back-force of a bass driver (the acoustic energy generated from the backside of the driver) is routed through a fairly long, winding channel or "hall" before being ported to the outside of the cabinet.
Treble
High frequency sounds.
Tuner
Electronic device that's used to receive electromagnetic transmissions in the form of electromagnetic waves and decode from the signals useable audio or video information that can be reproduced by an audio or video system; device used to select signals at a specific radio frequency for amplification and conversion to sound.
Tweeter
High frequency speaker driver that is used to replicate frequencies typically above 2,000 to 3,000 Hz all the way up to 20,000 Hz.
Two-Way Speaker
Speaker system with two or more individual drivers, and covers two frequency sections or bands.
 
 

U

Unbalanced
Wiring scheme in which one of the two necessary conductors further serves as the insulation for the cable.
Universal Remote Control
Remote control that can send commands and control multiple components.
 
 

V

Vacuum Tube
Sealed container, usually glass, with all air removed which create a vacuum and two electrodes are placed at opposite ends of the container, from which electrons can flow (electrons flow freely in the vacuum environment with no air present).
Variable Audio Output
Low level audio output (usually in the form of a RCA connection) varying in strength with the volume or level of the source component.
Vent
A hole in a sealed speaker enclosure enabling air that is moved by the back of a speaker driver inside the enclosure, to reinforce the movement of air generated outside the enclosure by the outward facing side of the speaker driver (see Port).
VGA-Pro Gold
Unbeatable for pure performance and flexibility from River Cable™. To unlock the full potential of your HDTV, satellite, line doubler, monitor, home theater, computer, or projection TV – 15 pin or 15 pin to BNC/RCA connection.
Videophile
A person who is particularly engrossed in and appreciative of video.
VidiFlex Platinum PLUS
For Ultimate clarity and ultimate value - the best composite video cable from River Cable™. Top-of-the-line emerald green cables for composite video and RF distribution. Extremely low loss, and perfect for short OR long runs, with excellent shielding for resistance against outside interference.
VPX-Pro Series 3
The component video choice from River Cable™. This 3 channel RGB cable provides outstanding color accuracy and picture detail for analog or serial digital equipment (home theater receivers, DVD) featuring component video connections.
VPX-Pro Series 5
Move up to River Cable's™ 5 channel RGB (HV) component video cable. Remarkable bandwidth, color accuracy and pro-picture definition for HDTV, projectors, video scalers and all of your analog or digital equipment featuring RGB (HV) input/output.
Voice Coil
Tightly wrapped coil of wire attached to a speaker driver's diaphragm and situated in close proximity to a stationary magnet.
Voltage
The rate at which energy is drawn from a source that produces a flow of electricity in a circuit; expressed in volts; or electric potential between two points in a circuit that generates force to move energy through that circuit.
Volume
The virtual loudness of an audio signal resulting from the amplitude of a sound wave.
 
 

W

W/ch (Watts per Channel)
The units of measuring the power output for each channel in an amplifier.
Watt
Measurement of power derived by multiplying current by voltage; measurement used to quantify the amount of power output by an amplifier.
Wave
An audio waveform that increases in length, with decreases in frequency and increases in height (amplitude) with increases in volume or power applied to it (see Sound Wave).
Wave Form
A graphical representation of a varying quantity. Usually, time is represented on the horizontal axis, and the current or voltage value is represented on the vertical axis.
Wavelength
The distance between one peak or crest of a wave of light, heat, or other energy and the next corresponding peak or crest.
White Noise
Noise that has equal energy at each frequency.
Widescreen
A television with an aspect ratio of 16:9.
Woofer
Speaker driver that handles the low frequency signals of a sound wave.
 
 

X

XLR
A multi-pin audio connector (typically) 3 pins used in microphone, line level and snake cable connections.
 
 

Y

Y/C
Luminance (Y) and chrominance (C); type of video signal transmission format that separates the color (chrominance) from the brightness signal(luminance) resulting in superior picture quality compared to composite video, which combines the two into a single signal.
Y-Connector
Connection that splits a single cable into two, allowing it to start from one source and one connection and end in two connections on two components (or it may go the other way where two outputs are joined to the same input but this may not work if both outputs are sending information at the same time).
YpbPr
Another term for component video.
 
 

Z

Zip Cord
Inexpensive, thin speaker wire normally 16 or 18 gauge.
Zone
In audio terms, a zone is an area in a home, office or other structure to which audio and/or video signals are dispersed.