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Audio Term Glossary

Audio/video terms can be downright confusing, so we've put together a little "cheat sheet" for customers who want to learn more. Don't worry, there will not be a quiz.

5.1 System: A designation describing a sound system incorporating 5 channels of sound/ speakers and one subwoofer.

Amp: The unit of measure used with an electric current.

Amplifier: An electronic component or device that takes low-level signals and recreates the signal with more power.

Attenuators: A device that reduces an amplified signal without distortion.

Baffle: A box-like structure that a speaker is placed into to enhance the bass sound of the speaker.

Bass: The lowest existing frequency range usually below 200 Hz.

Bookshelf Speaker: A small speaker which is designed to sit on a bookshelf or shelf.

Center Channel: A third front audio channel that is usually used to enhance the clarity of dialog being heard within a sound system.

Coaxial Speaker: A type of speaker driver where the high frequency driver (the tweeter) is located inside a low or mid-frequency driver (the woofer).

Crossover: An electronic component that splits up the frequency depending on ranges and directs them to certain drivers.

Current: The flow of electricity through a circuit as measured in amps.

dB Decibel: A logarithmic scale measuring the intensity of the sound pressure level of a noise.

Dolby Digital Surround Sound Describes an audio compression technology developed by Dolby Laboratories to provide digital sound in cinemas and home theaters.

Driver: The cone-like component of a speaker that pushes back and forth to sound waves.

Dual Voice Coil: A speaker that accepts both right and left channels into one speaker providing full range sound in a smaller space than two speakers.

Floor Standing Speaker: A specific type of speaker enclosure with an acceptable level of sound height that stands directly on the floor.

Frequency: The number of repeating sound cycles in a given period, measured in hertz or kilohertz. Human hearing is usually 20Hz to 20KHz with the lower frequencies representing the bass and higher representing the treble.

Grille: An aesthetic front plate covering for speakers.

Horn: An element used to increase sound efficiency by placing the driver at the end of a megaphone-like structure.

Hz (Hertz):  Number of cycles per second of sound waves used to measure frequency.

Impedance: The resistance to the flow of an electrical current as measured in Ohms. kHz (Kilohertz): One thousand sound cycles per second.

Magnet: A component of a speaker that uses electromagnets to create movement of the driver reproducing sound.

Midrange: The middle band of audio frequencies between 150/200 Hz to between 1,000/2,000 Hz.

Ohm: A measure of resistance in a circuit to an electric current.

Outdoor Speaker: A speaker that is weatherproofed.

Power Rating: The maximum amount of power in watts that an amplifier can put out or a speaker can be driven with.

RMS (Root Mean Square): The average continuous power output an amplifier is capable of producing or a speaker is capable of receiving.
Subwoofer: A type of speaker used to reproduce the lowest portion of the frequency spectrum, usually 80Hz and below.

Sensitivity or SPL: A measure of the sound pressure level measured from a distance of one meter from a speaker when the speaker receives a 2.83-volt signal - -1 watt at 8 ohm.

Shielded: A term relating to specific speakers having their magnetic fields contained as to not harm video displays.

Three-Way Speaker: A speaker system containing three individual drivers covering three frequency bands.

Transformer: An important component of the power supply that pulls electricity from a source and then transforms it into power that can be used in electronic devices.

Tweeter: A speaker driver designed for receiving high frequencies usually above 2,000 Hz.
Two-Way Speaker: A speaker system with two individual drivers covering two frequency bands.

Voice Coil: A tightly wrapped coil of wire attached to a speaker driver's diaphragm and located near the stationary magnet.

Watt: A measurement of power obtained by multiplying current by voltage.