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Glossary of Home Theater Terminology

Glossary of Audio, Video and Home Theater Terms

There is a very large vocabulary of technical and descriptive terms that go with home theater. We've included the terms that you are most likely to encounter. If you are very technically involved you may find some of the more technical terms omitted from our list.

Click on a letter to jump to that section of our glossary
# - A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M
N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z

Bandwidth - Its basic meaning is the width of a specified frequency spectrum. As it applies to sound, the human ear hears sound in the range of 20Hz to 20,000Hz (20KHz). The term is also used synonymously with bit rate and refers to the number of bits per second. It relates to data transfer and refers to the quantity of data that can be transferred.

Bass - Low frequency sound; typically frequencies below 185Hz.

B-Frame - Bidirection predictive frame. A video compression method used in MPEG encoding which creates an in-between frame by calculating only the differences from the frame before and the frame after it.

Bit - A binary digit that indicates 0 for "off" and 1 for "on."

Bit Rate - The rate at which data passes or is processed. Measured commonly as bits per second (bps) or millions of bits per second (Mbps).

Bitstream/PCM - Bitstream data is a digital audio signal decoded by Dolby and DTS decoders. DVD players often label the output jack with PCM (pulse code modulation) for the digital signal output by CDs.

Black Level - A measurement of a television's ability to display deep black. The ability to display detail in shadowy or dark parts of the picture is also a factor of a TV's black level capabilities. CRTs generally have the best black level performance.

Blu-Ray-DVD - DVD format that supports high-definition 1080 lines compared to standard DVD of 480p. It was the leading competitor to HD-DVD in the battle to establish a new DVD standard, until Toshiba finally threw in the towel, leaving Blu-Ray the winner.

Boost - To increase, as in to boost a signal.

Bridging - Combining two channels of an amplifier to make one channel that is more powerful.

Brightness - Video display brightness refers to underlying light level applied to the image displayed on the screen. Similar to a dimmer on a light bulb, the light level is increased or decreased when adjusting the brightness control. Increasing the brightness to its highest levels is common for TVs on display for sale, although this is not the optimal viewing level because it tends to wash out darker parts of the scene. Brightness is best used in conjunction with contrast or white balance to display the optimal image.

Burn-in - When a stationary image, such as a station logo, stock ticker or video game is left on for an extended period of time, it can become burned into the screen. It appears as a ghostly image, present at all times on any program displayed. Burn-in is most common on CRT and plasma displays. The risk of burn-in can be reduced by avoiding long periods of displaying a static image and by properly adjusting the contrast and brightness settings.

B-Y - Component video is comprised by three signals. One signal is luminance which is signified by "Y". The second signal is blue, represented by "B" and finally red, represented by "R". To extract the proper signal, luminance is subtracted from the blue signal, thus "B - Y". Depending upon equipment and cables, this may also be labeled as "Cb" or "Pb".

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