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AV Explained

1080p

1080p represents the ‘true HD’ format found on most TV’s. The number 1080 represents a vertical resolution of 1,080 lines and normally assumes a widescreen format ratio of 16:9 denoting a horizontal resolution of 1920 pixels giving a total pixel count of 2,073,600. The P stands for progressively scanned in which the all the lines of each frame are drawn in sequence. You can also see 1080i where the I represent interlaced video where the odds and even lines are drawn separately, although this doesn’t give the same picture quality that 1080p gives.

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5.1 surround sound

Consisting of two front speakers, two rears speakers, one central speaker, and a subwoofer, a 5.1 setup surrounds you with a room of sound to really immerse you into a cinema experience. With the front and rear speakers providing a sound stage for you to have an almost 3D audio experience while the centre speaker, mounted below or above the TV, provide you with a crystal clear dialogue. The subwoofer will provide the deep bass that the other speakers cannot provide and is .1 in the description.

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7.1 surround sound

Like the 5.1 surround sound but with two additional speakers added. These can be positioned in a number of ways in the room and are primarily there to add a more accurate positioning of the on screen effects. Sometimes added as side speakers, mounted high above the front speakers or rear speakers, this system helps in creating a feel of space (like a cinema) that your room wouldn’t normally be able to give.

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AAC (Advanced Audio Coding)

AAC is a file format system used for data files to offer abundant storage capacity over similar formats. Often linked with Apple’s iPhones and iPods due to its use on iTunes for its audio files, an AAC file offers superior quality for the same bit rate as an MP3 file format and uses less storage space. 

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Amplifier

An Amplifier is an electronic device that increases the power of a source signal and amplifies it to the preferred volume. An amplifier does this by using power form an external source and matching it with the input signal from say a tuner or CD player and increasing its amplitude.

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Analogue

An analogue signal is one for the purists in the HiFi world. Analogue is any continuous signal for which the time varying feather of the signal is representation of some other time varying quantity. Normally associated with turntables where the records have a physical appearance of the original recorded waveform (i.e. the groves in a record). Although it can give a warm and raw sound representation, analogue suffers from noise when copied or transmitted and can lead to unwanted sounds on your recordings like static. In the Visual world, analogue is all but phased out with the digital era of TV and DVD taken the quality to another level.

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Aspect ratio

Aspect ratio is the way in which your TV shows the programme you are watching. The two main formats are 4:3 (square) and the modern 16:9 (letterbox). 16:9 is the more common aspect used on films and HD television. Some TVs can adjust the aspect ratio with Zoom functions etc. but tend to degrade the picture quality by stretching or shrinking the picture making it look strange and is best to watch in its native ratio.

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Bass

Bass represents the lowest frequency range found in music and films. Mostly found in the AV world with subwoofers in a home theatre system, bass can normally be heard as a rumbling or vibration from a film and adds a certain depth to the audio. Once you’ve watched a film on a well setup subwoofer you’ll soon miss it when it’s not there! 

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Bi-wiring or bi-wired

Bi-wiring is a term used when connecting your speaker system to an amplifier. Is essentially a way to connect a single speaker to a dual output on your amplifier giving a separate circuit for high and low frequencies keeping them apart giving a cleaner signal to the speaker and in turn, improving the sound quality. Although there seems to be some for and against this practice, the ease of installation makes it fairly simple way in which getting the most out of your speakers.

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Bit and bit rate

Bit rate is used to measure the speed of which data can be transferred to a given media. Bit rate is also used to measure the quality of digital music where the higher the bit rate (in music measured in Kbps or Mbps) giving the superior sound quality.

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Blu-ray disc (BD)

Blu-ray disc is a high density optical disc used for storage of digital information. The disc is the same size and shape of a CD or DVD but has the ability to store a vast amount of information over CD and conventional DVD (up to 5x) meaning that superior sound and image quality can be recorded and replicated on your home theatre system. The blu part comes from the blue laser that is used to read the disc.

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Brightness

Brightness is the represented as the amount of light that is emitted from and TV screen or projector and then perceived by the eye. This can be adjusted on each normally in the menu presets and gives you the option to increase or decrease. If increased too much can mean an unnatural look to the picture and too low can be difficult to see. Having a wide range in which to adjust can give you the best chance to setup the image as you wish to see it accounting for variables like room darkness, viewing angle etc. Plasmas tend to offer less brightness range over LED but can be adjusted for a warmer more natural picture if the environment allows with LEDs being better in lighter situations.

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Colour

Much in the same way that brightness is adjusted to produce as natural a picture as possible, colour adjustment can make a massive difference in the way you view your programmes. LCD  screens produce there colours from removing certain colours from a white backlight. LED and Plasma screens create colours by combining Blue, Green and Red lights and are able to replicate 90% of the colour spectrum while LCD can only replicate 75% give LED and Plasma the edge of ability. 

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Component technology

Although these are the highest quality analogue video connections available, these are now becoming less common in the AV environment due to HDMI becoming more available. The component connections are split into three channels and connections are made using an RCA socket. This connectivity method cannot carry audio making HDMI much more useful for connecting up DVD and game consoles to your TV/Projector setup.

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Contrast ratio

Contrast ratio is the representation of the difference between the lightest and darkest content that a visual display is able to produce. Although the higher value is desired when looking at buying a TV or projector, the test to produce the ratio that a manufacturer states is always completed in a completely dark room, and therefore not a typical viewing environment. 

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Crossover

Used in speakers to separate the incoming the audio signal so the correct signal can be sent to its specific drivers.

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DAB

Digital Audio Broadcasting, offering a cleaner signal with a wide selection of radio stations all without having to tune the station in. Using the digital signal means that extra information can be sent over including up to date song information and who you’re listening too. DAB+ is another form of digital broadcasting that is set to improve on the sound quality of DAB it is not set to roll out in the UK for a while.

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DAC (audio)

A digital to analogue converter is used to covert digital information back into analogue waveform that amplifiers and speakers can process

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DTS-HD

Much like Dolby-HD, this it’s DTS’s answer to like for like studio master sound deliverance. Offering up to 24.5Mbps on a Blu-ray disc, this is a significantly higher rate than a standard DVD while also being able to offer audio at 24-bit/96kHz for 7.1 audio channels that is identical to the original studio sound.

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DTS

Similar to Dolby Digital, DTS is another multi-channel decoding format that offers surround sound for the home cinema system. DTS uses higher data rates to encode the surround sound information than Dolby (up to four times more) giving it better quality over Dolby Digital, however in the real world it’s difficult to tell the difference and most equipment that supports one, will support the other.

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DVD recorders

These offer the 21st century equivalent to VHS tapes being able to record a programme onto recordable DVDs.

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DVI

Digital Visual Interface (DVI) is designed to maximise the visual quality of a digital display like a TV or projector. The idea is that the signal is uncompressed from the source output to the display. DVI-I and DVI-D are a normal requirement for HD TV and computer Monitors that support HD.

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Digital tuner

A digital tuner is what is required to view your digital TV signal. Taking a signal from a satellite, cable or TV aerial and converting into a signal that can be shown on you display, these are normally integrated into your TV and as such not often seen. External digital tuners can be bought separately for older TVs that where built before the digital switch over so that modern digital TV can be viewed.

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Digital

Different to an analogue system due to the use of numerical encoded data rather than a continuous spectrum of values, the advantage that digital has over analogue is that it doesn’t get corrupted by noise and can be decoded by the intended receiver meaning more than one signal can be sent down the same cable.

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Dimensions

Providing the external sizing of any given product so that size of the item can be imagined, perfect for checking to see if that TV will actually fit on your wall. A note to make is that these normally exclude any stand, detachable speakers or wall brackets that may be included with the product.

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DivX

DivX is a file format that has the ability to compress large video files into smaller format without losing all the quality of the original file. Normally used in the PC industry for burning video files onto a hard disk, a lot of DVD and TV manufactures are supporting DivX on their products nowadays.

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Dolby Digital EX

Using the basis of Dolby Digital but adding a centre surround channel giving extra detail and increasing the involvement of the listener into the feature.

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Dolby Digital

Now common place on most AV amplifiers and helps bring the cinema into your home. Essentially a digital audio format that separates the sounds from the programme you’re watching into 5.1 surround sound system so that when a airplane goes flying over your head, it actually sounds like it too.

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Dolby Pro Logic II, Dolby Pro Logic IIx and Dolby Pro Logic IIz

Pro logic II is an expansion of the original Dolby Pro Logic technology and recreates the signal to a full 5 channel signal offering full stereo signal to the rear speakers. IIx expands further for 6.1 and 7.1 playback while IIz will take a 5.1 signal and can reproduce into a 9.1 system if using full height front speakers.

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Dolby Pro Logic

Dolby Pro Logic is a surround sound processing technology designed to decode soundtracks encoded with Dolby Surround. The technology takes a four channel sound input and uses matrix encoding to recreate into an ordinary stereo sound track. The centre channel is encoded by placing it equally in the left and right channels while the rear channel is encoded using phase shift techniques. A Pro Logic device will then unfold the original four channel input and replay the sound as the recording intended, while systems lacking the decoder technology will play back the sound in normal two speaker stereo.

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Dolby TrueHD

Dolby TrueHD is the a technology that offers sound that is identical to the studio master with 100% lossless coding offering up to 18Mbps bit rate and supporting eight full range channels of 24bit/96kHz audio. Due to the nature of the decoding this offers the best sound reproduction from any Dolby product currently out there. It’s also HDMI compatible.

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Driver

The driver is the round cone found in a speaker that is used to reproduce sounds. These replicate sound by pushing air in a manner that recreates sound waves that the human ear can hear.

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Dual-format DVD players

Able to play both Blu-ray and HD DVD disc offering a good base for anyone that has both formats. Although with Blu-ray taking more of a market segment then HD DVD and the limitations that these have when playing both file formats means that most people decide to have one or the other.

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Dynamics

Dynamics relates to how a system can reproduce the loudest and quietest parts of a section of music. A highly dynamic system can go from extremely loud to extremely quiet in a heartbeat.

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EPG (Electronic Programme Guides)

Electronic Programme Guide is the guide that shows you each channels programme listings on your Freeview receiver normally for 7 days.

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Free Sat

Freesat is a free to air digital satellite television joint venture between the BBC and ITV. It offers a satellite alternative to the Freeview service with extra channels; it also offered HD channels free of change before Freeview HD came to the forefront. Although not often used since Freeview HD was launch it still offers different channels that Freeview doesn’t offer.

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Freeview HD

Like Freeview, Freeview HD gives certain channels in 720p or 1080i and is great for seeing programmes in more detail than ordinary TV. Freeview HD gives the best quality that is currently available from broadcasting technology.

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Freeview

This is your basic programme packed offered to every household in the UK that has a Freeview compatible receiver and aerial. Replacing the out of date analogue signal, this offers a great choice of channels without having to pay out every month.

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Frequency

Frequency is the pitch of a signal that is measured Hertz (Hz). The frequency range has high notes and low notes. High notes are for things like whistles and flutes while low notes are produced by double bass and bass guitars.

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HD DVD

Was seen along with Blu-ray as the new generation of DVD technology, this offers HD quality video on a single DVD. Lost out in the format wars to Blu-ray and the support for this format is slowly fading away.

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HD Ready

A HD Ready sticker will show that it can display high definition pictures. To be able to be badge HD ready and screen must support a minimum of 720p resolution with HDCP and support a DVI-I/D or HDMI socket.

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HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection)

This is a way to stop unauthorised copying of digital data. It stops the interception of data between a source device and display and helps prevent unwanted copying of programmes. Any HDMI Socket on a HD ready TV must be fully HDCP compliant.

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HDD (hard drive/disk) recorders

This components offer an internal disk drive with huge storage capacity that gives you the option to record programmes onto your hard drive making it easy to record and review. A great example of this is the Sky+ box and its ability to record programmes and watch without the advert and skip to the end.

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HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface)

HDMI cables can carry both sound and vision and are digital high quality connection between your source player and your viewing screen. Coming in a number of versions, from 1.0 -1.4 and a new realised 2.0 versions, mostly used are 1.3 and 1.4, with 1.4 required for 3D playback. HDMI 2.0 increases the maximum throughput per channel to 6Gbits and will support the new 4K resolution at 60 frames per second.

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Hard Disk Drive (HDD)

A HDD is a way in which to store large amounts of data. These are used in a wide range of items from PCs, MP3 players, iPhones and PlayStations etc. The size is normally measured in gigabytes (GB) and Terabytes (TB).

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High Definition (HD)

There are 3 types of HD technology, 720p, 1080i and 1080p. All screens that show `HD ready’ will be able to display one or more of these technologies. 1080p is also known as `Full HD’ and is the best of these technologies and to AVFanatics, is the only one to have.

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Impedance

This relates to the load a speaker bears on any amplifier it connects to. If a speaker has a high rating of impedance, measured in ohms the easier it is for the amplifier to drive. 8ohm speakers, which are the highest you can get, are much easier to drive then the lower 4ohms speakers and work on lower power amplification.

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Integrated

Integrated normally refers to a self-contained design that has items in it that would otherwise require another component connected to it. TVs tend to have Freeview or Freesat integrated into the screen so that you don’t need a tuner to run digital TV.

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LCD screens

Liquid crystal display come in a wide range of sizes and is used for TVs, but primarily computer monitors as they offer a wider range of sizes over plasma screen. They generally have a much brighter screen and the picture tends to work better under normal viewing conditions. LCD can also be known as TFT (Thin Film Technology).

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LED TV

LED is an evolution of the LCD display using light emitting diodes (LED) to work as the backlight. LED tends to be the choice of TV over LCD as most manufactures use LED for their larger displays over LCD. LED offers the same bright display qualities over plasma and in a general viewing environment offers excellent viewing quality of plasma.

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Line-level or line input

A Line Level or line input means that a device has the capacity to either amplify or record form an audio source. RCA and 3.5mm headphone jacks are the most common types of these connectors. The `line’ in these component connectors represents the line voltage that these connectors operate at.

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Midrange

Midrange represents the middle of the frequency range. This range deals with the human voice and most instruments and therefore many HiFi speakers focus on this range to best replicate the sound. Normally teamed with tweeters and woofers to complete the full range and a great audio .

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Motion Processing – Refresh Rate

Motion Processing - Refresh Rate

This is the number of times per second the onscreen pictures is drawn. The higher the refresh rate the more solid the picture looks in appearance. Most TVs in the UK have a rate of 50Hz but higher quality TVs can refresh at 100/200Hz. A higher refresh rate is better for console gamers to help with making there gaming experience more fluid. Be careful when reviewing different manufacture refresh rates as they tend to use their own system of measurements and can only be compared across their own range.

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NTSC

This is the American standard TV broadcasting system and is not compatible with our own PAL system.  If you want to watch NTSC spec DVD from America then you will need to make sure your players is multi-regional or has a NTSC to PAL converter

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Ohm

The measurement of electrical resistance, in speakers this is the used to measure the impedance of a speaker system.

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Oversampling

This is a technique used by audio geniuses to improve the quality of audio replay by generating more pieces of information from a waveform that has already been recorded.

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PAL

PAL is the analogue broadcast system used in the UK, mainland Europe and 120 countries around the world.

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PC Input

This gives the option to plug a PC into any given component.

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Passive, Active

All speakers regardless of the number of power output, speaker size, Ohms rating etc. they fall into two categories, active or passive, and are classified depending on their relationship to the amplifier driving them. Active speakers have a integrated amplifier built into them and are driven from the source component by a interconnect (digital or Analogue) and requires a power source to run it. Most common active speakers are subwoofers. Passive speaker have no integrated amp and doesn’t require power to run so have to be driven from a separate amplified source and are connected over speaker wire.  Most speakers are passive as they offer the ability to pick amplifiers tailored to the audio system and give the flexibility in room placement.

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Pixel Resolution

Equates to the number of horizontal pixels times vertical pixels. The higher the resolution is the more detailed the image will be.

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Pixel

A pixel is a square dot on a TVs image, the more pixels per inch the better and more detailed the picture is.

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Plasma

Plasma screens use a heater phosphors system to recreate a picture from a signal. Plasmas offer a better contrast ratio, cope better with fast moving action, offer a wider viewing angle and can display a wider range of the colour spectrum over the likes of LCD and LED. Normally these screens only come in the larger format as smaller sizing is more expensive to manufacture.

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Power amplifier

An audio power amplifier is an electronic amplifier that takes a low power audio signal to a level suitable for playback through loudspeakers, and is normally the final stage in a typical HiFi stack system or home cinema setup. Always run in line with a pre-amplifier, as the power amp emits sonic noise as a by-product of power, this helps give the sensitive pre-amp circuitry away from the interference. With an integrated amplifier you will find the power amp and pre amp in a simple one box solution.

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Pre-amplifier

Also known as a control amp, a pre-amp is used in a system to prepare a small electrical signal from a source component for further amplification or processing and is installed before the power-amp to perfect the signal that is getting amplified.  As with the power-amp, in integrated amplifiers, a pre-amp is found alongside a power-amp in a simple one box solution. 

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Progressive Scan

Progressive scan offers a superior flicker free image over its interlacing counterpart. The way it does this is by drawing each frame simultaneously in once sweep rather than drawing the odds and even lines alternatively. This means that the high quality is Improved and gives a more stable a deep picture.

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RDS

Radio Data System is a basic text and data service to FM Radio that allows things like the station name to be displayed. It also gives the opportunity to get traffic updates from other radio stations when on the move in a car.

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Response Time

Relates to the difference between the darkest and lightest content that can be produced by a screen or projector. A high contrast ratio is always best when picking a display but all different manufactures tend to record the information using different methods.

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S-Video

An analogue video connection that separates the brightness and colour, hence S-Video and is seen as a quality video connection that most devices carry. While it is good for carrying video, it is unable to carry sound and separate cabling is required for the audio.

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SACD

Was meant to be the next generation of audio technology offering extremely high quality audio replay and an unfortunately never really caught on. It used a very high sampling rate of 2.8224MHz that was the equivalent to 64 times higher than a standard compact disc, hence the amazing audio quality. Its normally only found on high end expensive machinery now and has never been supported in a way in which has made it affordable.

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SCART

Bought audio and visual connection into one  where before it was dealt with separate cables SCART has now been replaced by HDMI and the usual connection. Now found on older equipment and doesn’t support HD.

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SRS TruBass

Enhances the bass frequencies to provide an developed bass response from the speakers improving the sound of depth of the bass.

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Sensitivity

Measured in decibels (dB) at a watt of electrical input (W) from a metre distance (m), sensitivity relates to how efficient a speaker is compared to the how hard the amplifier will have driving it. As a rule of thumb if a speaker has a figure about 88dB/w/m then the amplifier will have an easy job of running them, anything below and you’ll require a larger amplifier to run to get the same output sound.

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Soundstage

A correctly set up sounds stage will give the impression that the actual sounds isn’t be produced form the speakers themselves but actually coming from around them. It is seen as a three dimensional audio picture that a pair of speakers create and will make a massive difference in the way you enjoy your music.

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THX Select2 & Select2 Plus

The select certification form THX is a more affordable version of the original THX and is designed for rooms of 2000 cubic feet. Like Ultra2 Plus, select2 Plus off a wider range of features to the existing select 2 certificate.

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THX Ultra2 & Ultra2 Plus

This adds in a 7.1 speaker extension to the original spec and was designed to work with multi-channel presentations in rooms of 3000 cubic feet or larger. Ultra2 Plus adds volume control technology among other features.

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THX

THX certified equipment conforms to a standard set out by Lucasfilm and is headed up by George Lucas. It is a representation for high-fidelity sound reproduction standards rather than a recording technology and is mainly seen as a quality assurance classification. Equipment carrying a THX certification that there is high quality, predictable playback that is as close to the sounds the artist and sound engineers wanted you to hear.

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Transient

An excellent way for testing the response of your system, a transient signal is a short fast sound that will see how fast your signal travels in your system.

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Tweeter

A Tweeter is a driver in a speaker that handles the high frequencies that your system is reproducing and tends to be the smaller driver mounted in the top of the speaker.

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Twin Tuners

Twin Tuners give you the option on your set top box (like Sky) to record 2 programmes simultaneously or watch one and record another.

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Upscaling

Upscaling is a way to make your original DVDs that weren’t HD and make them seem more detailed. Although not full HD, the upscaling process can boost performance that’s to a complex algorithms system used to create data that is used to fill in the gaps. Not quite Blu-ray quality but does help improve the original picture.

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Watts

Used as a measurement of power to provide information as to how powerful a component is or what a speaker is capable of handling. A high power rating will not always mean that you will get the quality you want just by looking at the watt rating

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Wi-Fi

Wireless Fidelity, or Wi-Fi for short, is a certification to products that meet a certain standard for transmitting data over a wireless network. The devices can transmit and receive radio waves while also being able to convert a digital signal into a radio wave and back again. Wi-Fi devices communicate at a high frequency range of 2.4GHz allowing them to carry a larger amount of data.

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Woofer

Installed in a speaker normally below the tweeter, a woofer is used to deal with the lower frequency range.  In most speakers which are a two way design, the woofer will also deal with the middle frequency range making it a mid/bass driver.

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